Monthly Archives: August 2014

Look What’s in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of what new books the library bought.

(2014-07-12 004)Author: Tom Mueller

Title: Extra Virginity: the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

Publication Information: New York: W.W. Norton, c2012 (1st ed.)

ISBN: 978-0-393-07021-7 (0393070212)

Library of Congress Classification: TP683

Dewey Decimal Classification: 664

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Olive oil–History
Olive oil industry
Food adulteration and inspection

This is a very interesting book, and one that should be read by anyone who is interested in eating real olive oil.

Those barbarian tribes that overran the Western Roman Empire did more than just conquer the land. They changed the diet of the former Romans. From bread, wine and oil, the new masters introduced meat, beer and animal fat, which quickly caught on. As Mueller goes on to say (p. 70), forests were no longer measured in hectares but in hogs (amount of land that could be grazed in a day), the images of the oil harvest in December gave way to hogs fattening on acorns and slaughterhouses, and the descendants of those ancient writers who wrote with disgust and fascination at the barbarian diet now celebrated it. Ironically, only the Church preserved the ancient respect for olive oil through the rites and rituals.

And just what makes good, virgin olive oil? After reading this book, anything that actually IS virgin olive oil. The olive oil industry is a big market for forgery and deception. The European Union was cracking down on the “watering down” (oiling down?) of olive oil with other oils–vegetable, cotton, etc.–that are easier to make and can be doctored to taste like real virgin olive oil. Sometimes it’s only in a laboratory that the truth about an olive oil is discovered. Olive oil fraud is big business in the EU, and in a country where olive oil is in no way regulated–everyone together, the United States–you really don’t know what you are buying.

Buying from big olive oil companies doesn’t guarantee you purity; most of these companies get their oil from different distributors who get their oil from different fields as well as countries that produce olive oil: Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Tunisia. Getting all this different oil from all over is an easy way to introduce impurities (read: adulterated oil) into the process. Price doesn’t always guarantee you quality or purity, either, although cheap olive oil is probably always made from what is called lampaste–traditionally whatever is left from the olive oil process that was used in lamps. Now lampaste is being turned into olive oil. There are now chemical solvents and processes that can draw out the residue oil and destroy the bad taste to make it palpable to humans.

Problem with all this adulteration and processing is that the benefits of olive oil–what makes it so good for humanity–begins to be destroyed. What’s the point of buying what is supposed to be olive oil when it isn’t it and that most of the benefits from the olive have been destroyed? There’s evidence that even in Roman times there were attempts to falsify olive oil by adulterating it with cheaper oils–perhaps where the Latin saying Caveat emptor, “Let the buyer beware,” comes from.

Mueller travels all over the world to talk to different olive oil producers about their product. There’s a lot here, not only about corruption but about laboratories and people attempting to raise the quality of olive oil and stop those who are just trying to make a quick buck. Mueller met with people who can sample olive oil and tell what harvest, where it’s from, if it has any impurities–although he also admits that sometimes even tasters can be fooled.

It’s a very good book (one that really needed an index), and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in learning about the world of olive oil.



G. Wayne Clough, Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, and Archives in the Digital Age

(2013-11-15 001)TitleBest of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age

Author: G. Wayne Clough

Publication Information: Washington, DC: Published by Smithsonian Institution, c2013

ISBN: 978-0-9819500-1-3

Library of Congress Classification: Q11.S8

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Smithsonian Institution–Planning
Museums–Technological innovations
Museums–Educational aspects
Libraries–Technological innovations
Archives–Technological innovations
Digital media
Cultural property–Digitization

Clough is the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. His entire focus of is that the new technology bringing about a digital humanities for archives, libraries and museums should not be seen as destructive but as innovative. This technology is allowing the public to find out what resources are in archives, libraries and museums, thereby titillating the interests of those on the Internet into wanting to visit the institutions and explore the collections even more.

Just as importantly, the differing institutions can now partner and collaborate on various online exhibitions, thereby giving the public a powerful tool to educate and increase interest. Also, partnering with K-12 brings a new way to teach information to those already savvy in online access. Clough does credit libraries and archives as among the first to adopt digital technology. Libraries and archives not only promoted “open access” but also used social media to allow the  interaction with what the public encounters online; comments and re-postings only enhanced the information online and generate attention for those institutions.

According to Clough, the Internet is fundamental to a democracy simply because it promotes the free flow of information. (I assume he would support Net Neutrality.) Clough’s book is free to download.

Look What’s New in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of new books added to the library collection.

(2014-07-12 001)Title: The Ice-Cream Shop Detective

Author: Ronnie Levine

Publication Information: [No place given]: New Views Press, c2014

ISBN: 0692204482 (i.e. 978-0692204481)

Library of Congress Classification: PS3562.E8474

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Franklin, Lissa (Fictitious character)—Fiction
Artists–New York (State)–Tarrytown—Fiction
Criminal investigation–New York (State)–Tarrytown—Fiction
Ice-cream parlors–New York (State)–Tarrytown—Fiction
Detectives–New York (State)–Tarrytown—Fiction

Ronnie Levine is a name I know. She’s a local artist who has had at least one installation at the Silver Tips Tea Room in Tarrytown. She has done paintings of downtown Tarrytown that are quite striking. Main Street Sweets, the family-owned ice-cream shop upon which Bellini’s is based, was in one of the paintings. That painting contained the buildings around the shop, and the sky was a breathtaking blue. I remember how beautiful I thought that blue was.

Lissa Franklin is also a local artist who enjoys the old masters, particularly the French Impressionists. She painted a mural in Bellini’s, and then is asked to add to it. (Main Street Sweets also has a mural which I believe Levine also painted.) Bellini’s is owned by Detective Nick Bellini, whose family owns the shop. (Detective Sargent Eugene Buonanno of the Tarrytown Police Department’s family owns Main Street Sweets.) The book begins with the Lissa discovering the body of an acquaintance who she knew from the local artists’ association. The book then backtracks to bring us up to date, and then continues on until the murders are resolved.

Lissa’s opinion of contemporary art was fascinating and informative. She not only doesn’t like it, she explains the idea behind it: expressing ideas or feelings in physical form. This form can be anything but what the French Impressionists and other artists from the past did, namely painted what they saw around them. I have no real interest in modern art, and this explanation came as a revelation.

The idea fits nicely into the story, as Lissa ends up being enlisted by Nick to help the Tarrytown Police crack a case that deals not only with murder but also with art forgeries, particularly those of Monet. Lissa loves Monet’s art, and has studied him and the other French Impressionists. As a result, she is able to tell by looking at a painting whether or not it is a forgery. In one dialog with an art critic, she discusses the idea behind modern art which, paradoxically, she points out that art forgeries should be considered contemporary, since the entire idea behind them is to mimic and copy something. With a laugh, he agrees. This would theoretically turn forgeries into acceptable modern art.

Lissa’s just had a past relationship that we learn little about, except she had been in it for several years and left after realizing that the man was no good. Nick’s ex-wife materializes after having run away to Europe to work with a world famous doctor that she met where she worked. We find all this out from Nick’s sister, who goes on to tell Lissa that Nick’s ex quickly became dissatisfied with her life and walked out on Nick, but not before having an abortion and not telling her husband beforehand that she was pregnant. The ex and Nick’s sister had been friends since childhood. She came back because she realized her mistake and wanted Nick.

And that’s it. We never see the ex again in the entire book. Occasionally she’s referred to; as far as we (and Lissa) can tell, Nick does not learn about the abortion. Whether or not the ex even talked to him is never revealed. However, Lissa’s attraction to Nick is not only evident, but his evident attraction to her ends with their pillow talk in the last scene of the book. No big surprise.

There were an awful lot of typos, too. I normally don’t pay much attention to typos, unless there are many, and this book has misspellings as well as words repeated or the wrong word used.

This is a first novel. However it is not evident if this is going to be a one-shot novel or if it is the first in a series.