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Friday, August 27, 2010

Commission Hosts Works of Pet Portraiture, Master Woodcarver

Jackson, Mississippi – On Wednesday, September 1, 2010, pet portraiture artist Dyann Gunter and Master Woodcarver George Berry, Sr.’s exhibit will open at the Mississippi Library Commission and continue through Friday, October 29, 2010. An opening reception is set for Thursday, September 16, from 5 –7 p.m. at the Library Commission which is located at 3881 Eastwood Drive, on the grounds of the Education & Research Center in Jackson. The exhibit can be viewed Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

Currently residing in Ridgeland, Dyann Gunter has been painting since the age of five. She attended Hinds Community College, University of Southern Mississippi, and Memphis Academy of Arts where she majored in fine art. Over the past 30 years Gunter has attended workshops and figure drawing classes with artists such as Daniel Green, Bobby Pennebaker and Jerrod Partridge.

Gunter says she is mostly self-taught, “I learn by doing,” she said. Most of her work hangs at Summerhouse in Ridgeland, where the owner recommended that she contact Alex Malouf at John-Richard, an art and furniture manufacturer out of Greenwood, Mississippi and submit some of her art. Last October, In High Pointe, North Carolina, Neiman Marcus and Horchow picked up five (5) pieces of her art from a John-Richard showroom. “I think it is amazing that a painting I did in my kitchen is now being sold by Neiman Marcus!” John-Richard now has about 40 pieces of Gunter’s artwork.

Visit Dyann Gunter’s colorful pet portrait gallery at

Originally from Vinita, Oklahoma, Berry moved to Mississippi in 1970 to teach Industrial Arts at the Piney Woods Country Life School. The youngest of eight children, his father taught him, at the age of six, how to manage a knife and his woodcarving career began. He is a charter member of the Craftsmen Guild of Mississippi, the National Woodcarvers Association, and is a frequent instructor at the prestigious Allison’s Wells School of Arts and Crafts.
Berry was the artist who carved the sculptures for the 1996 and 1997 Mississippi Governor’s Awards for Excellence. In 2001, Berry was the recipient of the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in The Arts, Artists’ Achievement Award. He believes, “Nothing is worth doing if it is not worth fighting for. My carving is a never ending task, for each piece I finish; I look for some fault so that I may do a better job on the next piece.”

Visit George Berry’s STALLION in his gallery at

For More Information Contact:
Gloria J. Washington, Public Affairs Director
Mississippi Library Commission
601-432-4056 or 1-800-647-7542
Fax: 601.432.4482

About the Mississippi Library Commission
The Mississippi Library Commission is a state agency with the mission to ensure all Mississippians have access to quality library service. The agency operates a large library providing direct and indirect library services, consults with and advises local entities on library issues, supports electronic access to information through public libraries, and manages state and federal grant programs for public libraries. For more information, visit the Library Commission’s website at

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are You Trying To Kill Me? Yes Or No!

This morning when I logged into Meebo, I noticed that a patron had left us this question:
Why doesn't Mississippi have a law for attempted murder?
Well, I'm definitely not a lawyer, and as a reference librarian, I'm not allowed to attempt any interpretation of the law, but I, naturally, thought, "Piffle! Of course Mississippi has a law for attempted murder!" First I turned to the Mississippi Code (Did you know you can access it online here?) and flipped through the index to Homicide (§ 97-3-15 - § 97-3-47). Attempted murder was not listed, but funnily enough, right above homicide (found in the chapter on Crimes Against the Person) is a law entitled § 97-3-1 Abduction For Purposes Of Marriage. Apparently it is illegal to force anyone over the age of fourteen to marry you. Good, at least I'm covered there! I tried the same search with manslaughter (nope) and began to become suspicious. Could it be? Was my patron right after all? Does Mississippi not have an attempted murder law?

I turned next to Lexis-Nexis State Capitol, one of our subscription databases where it is possible to look up past legislation. It turns out that nearly every year since 1992 someone has introduced legislation proposing that attempted murder become a criminal offense along with associated penalties. Guess what! Every year that it has been introduced the bill has died! I even spoke with Representative Bill Denny, who sponsored so many of these bills. He expressed his frustration about the failure for the bill to pass in the past, but stated that he plans to try again this year.

I did a quick Google search and found a news article from a few years ago all about this very topic. Donnie Register, a man who was shot in the head during an armed robbery stated
When I said that it was attempted murder, (police officers) said ‘We don’t have that charge.'

This article from the Jackson Free Press is even more recent and iterates the same thing. I did turn up several blog posts from enterprising law field people like this one and this one, but these leave a lot of room for interpretation and you remember, I'm not allowed to do any legal interpretation! One of those blog entries references § 97-1-7, and sure enough, it is entitled Attempt To Commit Offense; Punishment. I think I remember why I decided to go into a field other than law when I started college--This is all very confusing!

I finally decided that I don't know if Mississippi has an attempted murder charge. It kind of doesn’t look like we do, at least not one that is called “attempted murder.” We might! We might not! Here, however, are some sources for legal services in Mississippi that may help you in your search.

Good luck, Meebo patron! And thank goodness for lawyers out there who do real live legal interpretation!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Typhoid Mary!

This blog post originally appeared 3/28/2008.

I was browsing charming little reference book called Final Placement: A Guide to the Deaths, Funerals, and Burials of Notable Americans and came across this entry about Typhoid Mary. Maybe I wasn't paying attention in school, but I don't think I knew that Typhoid Mary was a real person, especially a real person...named Mary...who had typhoid.

Here's the entry:
Mary Mallon, nicknamed "Typhoid Mary," was born, probably in the United States, in or around 1870.

In a 1904 typhoid epidemic, she was recognized as the carrier of the bacteria. By the time the disease was traced to her, she had already left the house where she had worked as a cook. She continued to moving from household to household but was eventually found and institutionalized at Riverside Hospital. ... She was finally released when she promised that she would find other employment besides cooking.

During a later epideemic in 1914, she was again found to be working as a cook, and was again detained. Although she herself was immune to the disease, her system was so full of typhoid bacteria that some doctors referred to her as "the human culture tube."

She died of a stroke on November 11, 1938, aged 68. A requiem mass was held for her at St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church in the Bronx, on the morning of November 12, and was attended by three men, three women, and three children, all of whom refused to be identified.
Here are some of the headlines regarding ole Typhoid Mary from the New York Times:

"TYPHOID MARY" MUST STAY.; Court Rejects Her Plea to Quit Riverside Hospital. July 17, 1909

"TYPHOID MARY" FREED.; Lederle Thinks She's Learned to Keep Her Germs to Herself. February 21, 1910

'TYPHOID MARY' ASKS $50,000 FROM CITY; Not a Germ Carrier and Never Had a Contagious Disease, She Says. HER LAWYER TO FILE SUIT Her Standing as a Cook Has Been Injured by Her Three Years' Imprisonment as a Public Danger. December 3, 1911

HOSPITAL EPIDEMIC FROM TYPHOID MARY; Germ Carrier, Cooking Under False Name, Spread Disease in Sloane Institution. CAUGHT HIDING IN QUEENS Blamed for Twenty-five Cases of Fever Among Doctors and Nurses -- Now In Quarantine. March 28, 1915

"TYPHOID MARY" HAS REAPPEARED; Human Culture Tube, Herself Immune, Spreads the Disease Wherever She Goes. April 4, 1915

TYPHOID MARY BURIED; Nine Persons Attend Mass for Her at Church in the Bronx. November 13, 1938

I feel sort of bad for Mary. She ended up having to live at Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island for the rest of her life. I'm not sure what the 1915-era alternative would've been (except maybe, uh, checking in with the Department of Health and NOT WORKING AS A COOK IN A HOSPITAL), but still.


Dickerson, Robert B., Jr. Final Placement: A Guide to the Deaths, Funerals, and Burials of Notable Americans. Reference Publications, 1982.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Crime in Jackson? Get Out!

At some point Wednesday night someone (are they still called “perps”?) broke into my car and removed my iPod, some pocket change, and a socket set. My intuition said something was amiss Thursday morning when I stepped in glass and noticed my Subaru had one fewer window. Jackson, like any urban area, can be dangerous but I usually feel pretty safe. I live downtown and frequently walk to restaurants at night, keep my doors unlocked, and jog in revealing outfits. No one’s ever bothered me before but I guess my time had come.

After finishing the police report I vowed never to be a victim again. So, while waiting for the concealed weapons permit to arrive, I decided to search the stacks at MLC for a book on crime prevention. I quickly found Captain Robert L. Snow’s Protecting Your Life, Home, and Property: A Cop Shows You How. Here are two of my favorite tips from Capt. Snow:

“Engrave your initials or some other identifying mark in an inconspicuous spot on all valuable property.”

Good idea, I’m putting "JK" on all my John Tesh CDs.

“If you must park your car in a bad neighborhood, put a note under the wiper that says “Won’t start- have gone for help.” or “Out of gas--will return soon.”

This is a great idea. In fact, I’ve already made my sign: “Check Frank’s car--he’s loaded!”

By using Captain Snow’s book and a little more common sense hopefully my car will remain intact. Lastly, I would like to thank Officer Bullock and all the good people at the Jackson Police Department for all their hard work. They have a difficult job and they do great work keeping Jackson safe.

Snow, Robert L. Protecting Your Life, Home, and Property: A Cop Shows You How. New York: Plenum Press, 1995.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Death

I've been merrily whistling that tune to myself ever since I ran across one of our books on the new non-fiction display: The Whole Death Catalog: A Lively Guide To The Bitter End. This is the end-all be-all Book of the Dead. The author, Harold Schechter, found room for anything and everything even remotely related to the dead and dying including:
  • Instructions, like how to make your own mummy, how to make your own corpse, and yes, how to make your very own Hand of Glory (really complicated, let me assure you!)
  • Useful websites, like The Death Clock to find your date of death (mine is Monday, October 14, 2030) and Dead Baby Jokes, which warns that those who are squeamish ought to visit Cute Quotes instead. (Please note-I am squeamish.)
  • Superstititions, like "If you see an ant in winter, all the members of your household will die" or "If you walk or ride past a cemetery without tucking in your thumbs, one of your parents will die" (p 135).
I could, and would, go on and on. I promise to bring this to a quick and bloodless end and leave you with my two top toxic tidbits:
  • "Ancient Greeks...buried their dead in coffins from a special limestone that was supposed to speed composition. As a result, these coffins were called sarkophagi, or 'flesh-eaters' (from the Greek sarx, meaning 'flesh,' and phagos, meaning 'to eat'). The word sarcophagus subsequently came to mean any stone coffin" (p 109).
  • In some cultures, when a husband died, the wife was expected to quickly follow suit. "In the Melanesian New Hebrides (and yes, I had to know where that was!) ...a special conical cap made of spiders' webs was used for smothering widows--the task being performed by the widow's son. (p 236)"
How do you make a cap out of spiders' webs?

Schechter, Harold. The Whole Death Catalog: A Lively Guide To The Bitter End. New York: Ballantine Books. 2009.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Filthy Fly!

This post originally appeared 3/19/2008.

Maybe it's because she has an eye for such things, or maybe it's because I always make her search the microfilm, but Elisabeth has found yet another funny advertisement from the Purvis, Mississippi newspaper The Booster, sometime from 1928:

This reminds me of the "Cluckin' Chicken" restaurant commercials on Saturday Night Live. Click here to read a transcript of the commercial.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Trust in the Waffles

This post originally appeared 3/14/2008.

We all know that Mississippians like to eat -- we don't rank #1 in obesity for nothing -- but we also like to write and talk about eating. Eudora Welty wrote "The Flavor of Jackson" as the foreward for The Jackson Cookbook, published in 1971, which contains these tasty quotations:
"I often think to make a friend's fine recipe is to celebrate her once more, and in that cheeriest, most aromatic places to celebrate, the home kitchen."

"Jackson believed in and knew how to achieve the home flavor. And if ever there were a solid symbol of that spirit, one that radiates its pride and joy, it is the hand-cranked ice cream freezer. I see it established in a shady spot on a back porch, in the stage of having been turned till it won't go around another time; its cylinder is full of its frozen custard that's bright with peaches, or figs, or strawberries..."

"John Woodburn was a New York editor who'd come through Jackson on a scouting trip for young unknown writers and spent a night at our house. He carried my first collection of stories back with him and worked very hard trying to persuade his publisher to take them. Several years later, when he succeeded, he sent me a telegram to say, 'I knew as soon as I tasted your mother's waffles it would turn out all right.'"
The cookbook includes a recipe for something called Squash Eudora, which sounds more like a children's game than something to eat. Instead of telling you how to make it, let us concentrate on what I am currently thinking of: that homemade ice cream with peaches, figs (figs!), or strawberries melting over some of Chestina Welty's waffles.

This makes the package of peanut butter crackers I'm about to eat look really, really sad.

The Jackson Cookbook. The Symphony League of Jackson, 1971.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Traveling, Old-Timey Style

While hunting through an 1876 issue of The Southern Herald newspaper out of Liberty, MS, I ran across an article listing several travel tips. Some of these tips won’t do you any good in 21st-century America, but several are still great ideas, surprisingly. Following these tips will likely make your last-minute summer get-away or any other trips go a little more smoothly.

  • Take one-fourth more money than your actual estimated expenses.
  • Acquaint yourself with the geography of the route and region of travel.
  • Take with you a month’s supply of patience, and always think thirteen times before you reply once to any real or supposed rudeness or insult, or inattention.
  • Do not allow yourself to converse in a tone loud enough to be heard by a person at two or three seats away; it is the mark of a boar, if in a man, and want of refinement and lady like delicacy if in a woman. A gentleman is not noisy; ladies are serene.
  • Comply cheerfully and gracefully with the customs of the conveyances in which you travel, and of the places where you stop.
  • Respect yourself by exhibiting the manner of a gentleman and a lady if you wish to receive the respect of others.
  • Travel is a great leveler; take the position which others assign you from your conduct rather than from your pretentions.
There were a few more suggestions on the list, but I’m not sure of how useful they would be to modern travelers. For example, the paper suggests a way to rig a security system using a room key and a wash basin:

“The most, if not the only secure fastening of your chamber door is a common bolt on the inside; if there is none, lock the door, turn the key so that it can be drawn partly out, and put the wash basin under it; thus any attempt to use a jimmy or put in a false key will push it out and cause a racket among the crockery, which will be pretty certain to rouse the sleeper and rout the robber.”

Hmm, it sounds like a good idea. All you have to do is find a hotel room featuring a moveable wash basin and doors that require a key to lock from the inside!

Then there’s the paper’s advisement against eating on the run:

“A sixpenny sandwich eaten leisurely in the cars is better for you than a dollar dinner bolted at a station.”

The message is clear: it’s better to take your time eating a simple meal than to rush through an expensive one. But the language could get in the way of the message. Nowadays, paying only a dollar for a whole meal would be an unbelievably good deal (as long as it’s tasty). I don’t even think ordering only the least expensive offerings on the value menu at (inserted favorite fast-food restaurant here) would enable you to get an entire meal for that cheap. Then again, if you had water as your drink and sacrificed a side item … hmm …

Hogan's Heroes? Not Quite!

Yesterday, a Meebo patron inquired as to whether or not Butts Park in Clinton is located at the site of a long-forgotten German POW camp. After some initial searching, I contacted Mike Allard, local Clinton historian. According to Mr. Allard, Butts Park is directly west of and abuts the former Camp Clinton. Here are a few fast facts:
  • Clinton was actually the site of one of four POW camps in Mississippi during World War II. The others were Camp Como, Camp McCain (near Grenada), and Camp Shelby (New Southern View).
  • It was actually more cost effective to ship the POWs to Mississippi rather than keep them in Africa. That's because instead of trying to ship supplies to both their troops and prisoners, they could fill their empty supply ships with prisoners and send them stateside (MS History).
  • General Hans-J├╝rgen Von Arnim, Hitler's replacement for Rommel, was one of the 3,400 POWs at Clinton. It is rumored that he used his car and driver (Ahh! The perks of being a general!) to escape to the one place in the surrounding area with air conditioning: the Jackson movie theatre (New Southern View).
  • The enlisted prisoners in Clinton were paid 80 cents an hour to build a mile square working model of the Mississippi River Basin (MS History). The model was in use until the late 1980s/early 1990s, when the Corps of Engineers moved to sole use of their model in Vicksburg (Allard).
In the early 1970s, the camp was declared surplus and eventually given to Mississippi College. The site of the model was given to the city of Clinton.

I now have the irresistible urge to read The Summer of My German Soldier. I wonder why!

Allard, Mike. Personal interview. 10 Aug. 2010.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Summer Fling with The Bachelorette

Since the season finale aired Monday, I’ve been searching for a book that could explain why I spent sixteen hours of my life watching ABC’s The Bachelorette. My only explanation was that I found the show funny, but what’s funny about terrible television? Or, better yet, what does it say about me that I found the show funny? Luckily I found Dr. Avener Ziv’s Personality and Sense of Humor to help me make better understand why I love to laugh at bad television.

Dr. Ziv’s argument is that there are five basic functions of laughter: aggression, sexual, social, intellectual, and humor as defense mechanism. I don’t know if each function fits my Bachelorette habit, so I’ve chosen the three most relevant.

First, Dr. Ziv argues laughter is an important way to release aggression in a socially acceptable way. The good doctor says, “When we succeed in reducing someone’s power or status, it is as if we have elevated ourselves in comparison with him” (8). Dr. Ziv would argue that by mocking Ali (The Bachelorette) I’m bringing her down a level and thus making myself feel better. I won’t deny that mocking Ali is good fun but I would argue that her social “status” is not really high enough to obtain much satisfaction. Mocking Ali the first time she tried to say “important” properly was fun. But by “impor’ant” one hundred, the thrill was gone. My point is that I’m certainly a bad enough person to mock Ali but I’m not a boring enough person to mock her for sixteen hours. There has to be something else.

That something else could be what Ziv calls the “social function of humor.” This is an important part of The Bachelorette because it provides the social group a shared experience to loath. I was speaking with one colleague about the show and she remarked (I’m not naming names) that during parts of The Bachelorette she imagined causing Ali harm, by “punching her in the face.” Now in general it’s not nice to say you’d like to punch another person but we both laughed because, sadly, we both would like to punch Ali. This colleague and I shared a moment through our mutual disdain for The Bachelorette. I’m not saying it’s nice but it’s less terrible when you know other people feel the same way. Isn’t it? NOTE: The MLC Reference Department does not condone punching anyone at any time, unless it is in one's imagination.

The last important function of The Bachelorette is that it provides an uncomfortable stimulus. On the surface this may seem unlikely because people usually do not like uncomfortable situations. Dr. Ziv recognizes this is not the case. He says, “We are all aware of the natural tendency to withdraw and escape from frightening situations. Less generally known but no less well established is the fact that the frightening also attracts and stimulates. Adults have an undeniable need for anxiety, as is evident from the literature and movies that take advantage of the need for the enjoyment of mankind.”(45) This is what could be called the “train wreck” phenomenon where you can’t look but you can’t look away. If The Bachelorette doesn’t cause you to be uncomfortable then you really do have problems.

So what did I learn from Personality and Sense of Humor? Well, I learned that I am not a very good person. Mocking and wanting to hit someone is not very mature behavior for an adult. More importantly though, I learned that no one is a very good person because mocking and wanting to hit someone, especially someone like Ali, is totally natural.

Ziv, Avner. Personality and Sense of Humor. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1984.
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