Mooresville Public Library

Mooresville Public Library
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Friday, April 30, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #24: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals, by Rupert Sheldrake

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cambridge, served as a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and has published a flotilla of technical papers and books. He also studied natural sciences at Cambridge and philosophy at Harvard. He is a scientist with a solid grounding in philosophical thought. This enables him to think beyond the standard limitations of a single discipline, to place scientific theory in a broader perspective. But make no mistake: Sheldrake is first and foremost a scientist, and he fully adheres to the objective, evidence-driven, scientific method.

This reliance on scientific procedures is evident in his many books about morphic resonance, Sheldrake's theory of the interconnectivity of existence and formative causation, the process by which energy systems organize and meaningfully interact. According to Sheldrake, energy fields exist, which he called morphogenetic fields, which are responsible for the organizing characteristics of systems--in biology, chemistry, and physics--throughout the universe. In particular, this theory explained non-sensory capabilities that psychics and mediums apparently possess, and it also answered mysteries of animal migratory and other so-called "instinctive" behaviors. The morphic fields not only shaped the universe; they also informed its inhabitants, providing a universal source of information, much like the Akashic Records of the Theosophists. Suddenly, one could understand extra-sensory perception (ESP): how nonlocality functioned in physics, how psychics could perform successfully in remote viewing experiments, how intuitive archaeology was possible, how psychokinesis could occur, and much more that parapsychologists and psychical researchers have wrestled with for over 150 years.

A complete bibliography of Sheldrake's books on morphic resonance is beyond the scope of this blog; however, here is one of his works, which is the subject of our book trailer below.

Morphogenetic fields, and the ways that organisms (and other matter) resonate with them to organize and acquire information through non-sensory means, could explain a commonly observed experience of which many pet owners have attested--namely, the ability that dogs, cats, and other pets or animals appear to have of knowing when their owners (or other significant humans) are coming home at unexpected, unusual times. Sheldrake constructed a series of scientific experiments testing this alleged ability, which the results validated. He theorized that morphic resonance could explain the animals' conduct.

It is a fascinating theory, and, in addition to Dogs That Know, I recommend Sheldrake's other books on this and related subjects [e.g., Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation (Park Street Press, rev. 3rd ed. 2009); The Sense of Being Stared At and Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (Crown, 2003); The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance & the Habits of Nature (Park Street Press, 1995); The Rebirth of Nature: the Greening of Science and God (Park Street Press, 1994); Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: a Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science (Riverhead Books, 1st American ed., 1995). Sheldrake has the writer's gift of communicating complicated scientific ideas so that a layperson may readily understand. He will excite and provoke your thinking, which should always be welcome for any reader.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Thursday, April 29, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #31: Who Murdered Chaucer: a Medieval Mystery, by Terry Jones et al.

Most people who know about Terry Jones are familiar with his work as a founding member of Monty Python's Flying Circus. I, too, first encountered Jones while watching the BBC television series (1969-1974) on American public television. As I learned more about the group, I discovered that these six Pythons, besides being hysterically funny, were highly educated, intelligent people.

So it came as no surprise when Terry Jones began publishing carefully researched, well documented, and scholastically sound books about history. I had read that his literary analysis of the knight in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales was considered by academic specialists as preeminent in the field--high praise, indeed, for a television writer and performer!

I read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales during my high school senior year. Perhaps read is the wrong verb; rather, I struggled, gasping for breath, like a drowning man going under for the second time. In a word, it was tough ploughing. Yet my teacher assured us that this was hilarious, biting social and political satire. We would have appreciated it more if we had known something about medieval England 575 years ago. Still, it was required reading, and so we slogged along.

It has been roughly 610 years now since Chaucer disappeared from the historical record. If what he was writing were so inflammatory, he must have made many powerful political enemies. But he himself was well connected to English authority, and he was enormously popular with the people--equivalent to a pop star today--which is why he probably felt relatively safe to stir things up. What happened to him? Terry Jones and a team of Chaucer experts confronted this query and, through careful, in-depth study, uncovered clues that he may have been murdered. They present their evidence in Who Murdered Chaucer: a Medieval Mystery, by Terry Jones et al. Have a look at our book trailer below, to see what the fuss is all about:

Jones and his team write wonderfully well, clearly explaining their thesis and offering evidence galore. I now understand Geoffrey Chaucer and his world, as well as The Canterbury Tales, quite a bit better than I did in high school. Plus a mystery! The book packs a punch, but it is insightful and enjoyable. After digesting it, you may be compelled to try (or try again) The Canterbury Tales. I recommend Peter Ackroyd's retelling of the stories, which may be the subject of a future blog, if my hold on our library's copy finally surfaces (it is frightfully popular, to coin an old Monty Python line).

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

P.S. "If what he was writing were ..." is subjunctive tense, requiring the plural verb following the subject phrase. I was an English major in high school (minor in college). It is minutiae of this sort that interests me in catalog librarianship, to use, somewhat awkwardly, the passive voice in sentence construction. (I taught communications and writing courses for most of my two decades as a college professor, which apparently hasn't helped my own writing much. if my blogs are any indication.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MPL BookTrailer #32: Unfinished Symphonies, by Rosemary Brown

Our book trailer summarizes today's recommended read:

Rosemary Brown (1916-2001) purportedly was inspired by deceased, world-famous composers to write classical music in their respective styles. Conventional wisdom offers two possible explanations: (1) she was lying; or (2) she acquired knowledge through ordinary, sensory means of rare compositions but had forgotten having previously seen them (a process called cryptomnesia). We may quickly dispense with the first. Despite rigorous investigation by musical experts, paranormal investigators, journalists, scientists, and other academics, there was no evidence of fraud. The second explanation is equally deficient, given the fact that Brown's compositions had not previously existed. The deceased composers never wrote them while living, so Brown could not have previously seen, and then forgotten seeing, them.

With fraud and cryptomnesia out-of-court, we must objectively, but critically, consider other explanations. In her book, Brown proposed a psychic solution: she claimed to be directly communicating with the deceased composers, who were directing her to write new compositions in their respective, distinctive styles. Could it be true? Musical experts who have spent their professional careers studying these famous composers attested to Brown's stylistic authenticity. The experts frankly stated that they themselves could not have created such realistic imitations.

There is a third conventional explanation: Brown, either through prior study or natural aptitude, was a musical genius. If she were, Brown did not acquire the skills through academic rigor. Her overall education was limited, and her musical training was rudimentary. She could read music and play piano reasonably well. Again, the musical experts stated that she was insufficiently trained to compose such masterful works. So, aside from Brown's psychic medium allegation, we have only one alternative: she was a musical prodigy. Generally, prodigies demonstrate their abilities at early ages (Mozart is a prime musical example). Brown was well into adulthood before her compositional talents manifested. Furthermore, she never exhibited any musical talents beyond the ordinary except when she was writing the compositions she claimed to be receiving from the deceased masters. Prodigies usually perform at the highest levels as a matter of routine. Brown's compositional output was intermittent, as if she were relying upon outside communications to produce the work--exactly as she claimed.

Whether you believe Brown's narrative about how she composed this wonderful music is, of course, left to your sound judgment. But Brown's book is, in any event, an intriguing exploration into the uncanny. Take this interesting trip with the author, keep an open-mind, critically evaluate the information presented, and see what you discover.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #30: Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide

I first stumbled upon Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) while channel-surfing. I was house-sitting for my vacationing parents (this was in early 1992), and I happened upon Comedy Central, a cable network that had been called The Comedy Channel. Onscreen was an unusual sight: an old, black-and-white, very bad movie was playing, and, at the bottom, there was a silhouette of three figures--one person and two robot puppets--sitting among a row of what appeared to be movie theater seats. As the movie droned, the three figures cracked jokes, making fun of the lame dialogue, the cheap sets, the horrendous plot, and the cheesy overacting. This awful movie, which I wouldn't have spent five seconds watching, was now enjoyable. No, it was better than that: it was tremendous fun. I was hooked.

This was my initiation into the art of movie-riffing, which was truly pioneered by the show's creator, Joel Hodgson, and his collaborators, Mike Nelson, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu, Josh Weinstein (who left after the first Comedy Channel season), Frank Conniff, Paul Chaplin, Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett, Bridget Jones, "and the rest" -- to borrow the tag line from the Gilligan's Island theme song, which omitted two regular cast members and was later amended to include "the Professor" and "Mary Ann.," and which became an MST3K joke during the riffing of the movie This Island Earth (as part of the group's own motion picture, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie). The MST3K gang essentially created movie-riffing; at the very least, they refined it to high-class comedy.

Our book trailer showcases the TV series' episode guide, which is great fun to read, even apart from watching the program.

If you have not yet seen MST3K, it has been off-the-air for nearly a decade, ending its run on the Sci-Fi Network. But you can watch episodes on DVD or VHS -- check your local public library, or order copies from your favorite online sellers. It is a treat, and you miss it at your funny bone's peril.

To learn all you could possibly want to know about MST3K, visit the official website at

Push the button, Frank!

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Monday, April 26, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #28: American Fantastic Tales (edited by Peter Straub)

People who enjoy stories about the supernatural will join readers fond of terror tales when they peruse American Fantastic Tales: Terror to the Uncanny From Poe to the Pulps (edited by Peter Straub; Library of America, 2009). Here are giants of the genre: Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch, H. P. Lovecraft, and many others. Readers familiar with the romantic works of Edith Wharton might be surprised that she, too, wrote chilling ghost stories. Great authors can write in many styles, particularly if they are familiar with the paranormal, as was, for instance, Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Our book trailer gives a quick glance (please excuse our typo in Robert Bloch's name):

Peter Straub has assembled a top-notch list of spine-tingling, hair-raising stories (if I may use somewhat cliched adjectives). Give yourself a scare and check it out from your local public library, or purchase a copy from your local or online bookstore. Vicarious fear is much more fun than the first-person kind, so enjoy these from the safety of your armchair.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

MPL Book Trailer #29: Sayonara, by James A. Michener

James A. Michener's Sayonara was released in 1953, which marked the end of the Korean War. This short novel, especially by Michener standards, followed the tradition of "star-crossed lovers" made famous by, among many other writers, William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet) and Emily Brontë (Wuthering Heights). Sayonara stands among these great love stories because of its poignancy and its honesty to the time period. Michener knew first-hand about the societal barriers to interracial marriage (he married Mari Yoriko Sabusawa in 1955, and Sayonara was framed partially from an autobiographical perspective). He clearly understood the stigmas and associated difficulties such couples endured in the 1950s and continue to endure today. But love is blind to national boundaries, skin color, religious and cultural differences, and other such superficial characteristics. Human hearts connect, regardless of anything, when love brings them together. That makes for a great story, and Michener delivers what many consider to be his finest work.

Our book trailer borrows some images from the motion picture adaptation (1957), starring Marlon Brando, Miiko Taka, Red Buttons, James Garner, and Miyoshi Umeki, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Likewise, Red Buttons won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The film was directed by Joshua Logan.

Michener novels are typically gigantic tomes with broad, sweeping vistas of plot covering enormous time spans. He had a lot to say, and he said it very well, in his longer books. But this novel showed, as did his other short work, Tales of the South Pacific, that he was a master of shorter forms, too. Sayonara is a quick read, but here, too, there is much to tell.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Sunday, April 25, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #18: The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells

My first exposure to The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells, was through the 1960 movie adaptation starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, and Alan Young, and produced and directed by George Pal. The film's special effects were dazzling for its day, and the screenplay, adapted from Wells' novel by David Duncan, remained mostly true to its roots, adding some modern references to nuclear weapons, about which Wells, in 1895, could not have fully anticipated. The movie won the Academy Award for its use of time-lapse photography to create the movement-through-time special effect. MGM art director Bill Ferrari created the time machine, which had a Victorian era appearance and was quaint and yet, somehow, scientific.

Like all science fiction and fantasy, The Time Machine requires the reader (or, for the movie, the viewer) to suspend disbelief and accept the premises the plot presents. Our book trailer (above) summarizes the plot, borrowing images from the 1960 movie. The time traveller, as Wells called him throughout the story, begins by demonstrating a model of his newest invention, a time machine (a term Wells coined and which became the standard for all subsequent time travel stories). The time traveller explained that time is merely a fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions. This, the "block time" or "block universe" theory (also known as the theory of eternalism), was the mainstay of later novels (e.g., Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five), and it reflected the gradual change from Newton's mechanistic universe model to the relativity-based physics of the 20th century.

The time traveller demonstrates his model, but his friends are incredulous. He decides to visit the future in his full-scale time machine to see if humanity has improved beyond its war-mongering, destructive tendencies. In the year A.D. 802,701, he encounters an Eden-like society, the Eloi, which has forgotten all of humanity's history and technological achievements. They live the carefree life, having everything provided, without apparent effort, for them to enjoy. Strangely, they fear the night, but the time traveller attributes this to their child-like innocence.

The time traveller discovers that, beneath the earth, there lies the actual ruling, producing class, the Morlocks. Pale and apelike, the Morlocks operate the technology that controls food production and the environment for the Eloi above. When a signal is given, the Eloi, like sheep or cattle, are driven underground, never to be seen again. They are, bluntly put, the Morlocks' food supply. The Morlocks are cannibals.

The cannibalism aspect of the novel must have shocked his Victorian readers, but it is significant to remember that Wells trained to become a biologist, studying under the renowned English biologist, Thomas Huxley, whose grandson, Aldous Huxley, became a famous novelist and wrote such dystopian classics as Brave New World (1932). Wells is warning about a degenerative future society, in which economic class distinctions have so separated humanity as to reduce its "ruling class" to the worst imaginable excesses. The masses have literally become food for the industrial machine. It gives the modern phrase human resources a chilling overtone.

How Wells chooses to resolve the story is an important socio-economic lecture, if you remember he was writing at the end of the 19th century. Wells favored social reforms that would improve workers' conditions in factories and increase wages to improve the overall quality of life for millions. More than science fiction, his novel is an allegory for social change and the dangers presented by too great a concentration of industrial wealth and power.

But you don't have to read Wells' novel that way. You may enjoy it, as I did when I first read it in the early 1970s, as an exciting science fiction adventure. The time travel concept is a compelling fantasy, and Wells was a master at delving into the fantastic without offending his readers' willingness to suspend disbelief. Along with Jules Verne, the French author who avoided studying law to become a writer, Wells' early books established the genre of science fiction, and their social or political significance can be considered separately.

If nothing else, Wells and Verne should be read today because their novels were imaginative and established the groundwork for science fiction and fantasy. If you enjoy this genre, you owe it to yourself to discover its roots. The Time Machine was there, in the beginning. Give it some of your time. It is time well spent.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Saturday, April 24, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #17: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, is a dystopian view of a future society in which fire fighters are called upon to burn books. It is a cautionary tale of the continuous danger that censorship poses to humanity. The plot is straightforward: possession of books is illegal. All books shall be burned. Society functions better, according to the ruling rhetoric, when its citizens fill their brains with superficial, mindless chatter from television. People are happier when they don't have to think about difficult ideas that books often present.

Bradbury had seen the overt censorship of totalitarian governments run by the likes of Hitler and Stalin, and he, like many of the 20th century's great political writers, warned that freedom of expression could easily evaporate, as seemed to be happening in America during the "red scare" days of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

But this is less science fiction today than perhaps it was when Bradbury originally penned his masterpiece in 1953. Modern censorship is much more subtle than that applied by the Nazis or the Soviets 60 to 75 years ago. As ownership of communication media becomes more centralized, it is easier for a few to restrict the majority's access to factual information. Bradbury discovered this himself when portions of his own book were expunged, without his knowledge or consent, because his publisher's editors felt that some of the language he used might offend or mislead readers.

Our book trailer below summarizes this absolute "must read" for everyone over the age of 13 years:

Some believe that, with the omnipresence of the Internet, it would be impossible to silence divergent viewpoints that the powers-that-be considered unsuitable or unpopular. The same was said in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and those people ended their days in concentration camps. Before he died in 2008, Alexander Solzhenitsyn would have told you something about the dangers of expressing a casual opinion (he was imprisoned in a Soviet concentration camp for referring to Stalin as "the whiskered one" in a letter to a friend). This isn't "ancient history," since some of my readers may have been alive during those times. Regardless, censorship like Bradbury's story happens now. There are people in the world today languishing in prisons because of their public (and private) opinions.

Couldn't happen here, you think? A brief review of the history of American speech in the legal literature might give you a different perspective.

Bradbury, like George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and many other great novelists, deserves a permanent place on every generation's "must read" list. Their cautionary tales are alarming, even scary, but forewarned is forearmed. It can't happen if we know what to protect ourselves against. Thanks to writers like Bradbury, we know the risks censorship pose. It is up to us to defend our society's freedoms against those dangers.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Postscript: If you have an opportunity after reading the book, watch the motion picture adaptation (1966), starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie, and directed by François Truffaut.

Friday, April 23, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #16: The Sixty-Eight Rooms

Our book trailer features The Sixty-Eight Rooms, by Marianne Malone (New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2010). This is a children's book recommended for readers between the ages of 9 and 12 years, but adults may find it interesting as well.

The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago captured the past in miniature. Designed in the 1930s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne, these 68 displays recreate in exacting detail the appearance of various rooms throughout history.

Marianne Malone has created an engaging, fascinating fantasy tale about the Thorne Rooms, which pre-teen readers in grades 3-6 should find both exciting and intriguing. Readers should easily identify with the characters as they explore and discover the secrets of the rooms. It is loads of fun, and without giving away too much of the story, our video summarizes the highlights.

After reading the book, you should visit the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. You will be truly amazed. The world is a big place, but, sometimes, it is the small places that capture your imagination.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Thursday, April 22, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #15: Fairy & Fantasy Art

Mooresville Public Library (MPL) encourages patrons to develop their artistic talents through programs and reading. This book trailer showcases two books: Watercolors Made Easy: Fairies and Fantasy, by Meredith Dillman; and Fairy Artist's Figure Drawing Bible, by Linda Ravenscroft. For more information about these artists, visit their websites at and

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #13: Celia and the Fairies, by Karen McQuestion

This book is simply charming. Celia and the Fairies, by Karen McQuestion (ISBN 978-1449924997) is an uplifting tale written for readers ages 9-12. Our book trailer gives a peek:

No one is beyond redemption. People can, and do, change for the better. Karen McQuestion has handily captured these themes while presenting an engaging fantasy. It is a delight to read. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

To learn more about the author and books, check out her blog at

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

MPL Book Trailer #12: OBEs

In the field of psychical research, there is an extensive literature discussing out-of-body experiences (OBEs), or astral projection. This is the purported ability of certain persons to separate their consciousness from their physical bodies. There have been extensive examinations of the available source materials by respected researchers (see, e.g., Crookall, Robert. The Study and Practice of Astral Projection. University Books, 4th ed., 1973; Rogo, D. Scott. Leaving the Body: a Complete Guide to Astral Projection. Fireside, 1983; Sidgwick, Eleanor, Gurney, Edmund, Myers, Frederic W.H., et. al, Phantasms of the Living. University Books, 1962), and OBEs are a common feature to near-death experiences (NDEs).

There is something to be said, however, for the first-person approach to the subject, and the two books featured in our book trailer provide this insightful perspective. The video showcases two books: The Projection of the Astral Body by Sylvan Muldoon & Hereward Carrington (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., (c) 1969, 1973) and Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe (New York: Broadway Books, (c) 1971, updated 1977).

As William Shakespeare aptly observed,

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #11: The Zombie Survival Guide

Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at zombies in our book trailer about The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead, by Max Brooks (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1st ed., © 2003). The book is a parody of the Y2K melt-down survival guides (and other post-apocalyptic survival manuals) that have been popular during the past 15 years. Zombies, like vampires, are popular fiction, and this book presents its subject matter in as straight-faced and deadpan a fashion as possible. That's no mean feat; it takes a gifted writer to carry off good satire. Brooks does that, and then some, in this clever, engaging parody.

About the Book Trailer's Artwork

Original zombie drawings were created by Brian Mills of Mooresville, Indiana. He is a student at the Art Institute of Indianapolis.

About the Book Trailer's Soundtrack

Live performance (February 18, 2010) of "Starmap to Orion" (2009), composed and arranged by Danny Buckley. Performed at Millikin University's Student Composers' Forum III in Kaeuper Hall, School of Music. Conductor: John Stafford II. Musicians: Chris Petterson & Robert Stein, electric cellos; Scott Agner, electric guitar; Neil Johnson, electric bass; Nick Murphy, drums.

To see a high resolution YouTube video of this performance, check out (a low resolution video is also available at ).

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Monday, April 19, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #9: Marshall "Major" Taylor

I have discussed this book in my MPL Indiana Room Treasure Trove blog (, but it is worth another look.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

MPL Book Trailer #10: The Velveteen Rabbit

If you have children under six years of age, you should read them The Velveteen Rabbit; or, How Toys Become Real, by Margery Williams. Our book trailer features an edition illustrated by Michael Green:

Love makes everything real.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Saturday, April 17, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #8: The Bunny Book

One of my favorite books as a child was The Bunny Book, by Patsy Scarry & Richard Scarry (New York : Simon & Schuster, c1955). I still have my copy, which is held together by duct tape. My children thought that was funny looking, but they, too, enjoyed the story of the baby bunny whose family speculated about what he would become when he grew up.

Our book trailer affords a glimpse:

The Bunny Book seemed an appropriate work to discuss in this blog, since yesterday my first baby bunny got married. He is all grown up. Like the main character of the story, he knew what he would be when he grew up. And so he is! To learn more about my baby bunny, listen carefully to the music in our book trailers.

It is a truly wonderful gift in life to see your children grow and blossom. The Bunny Book encapsulates the experience in a most charming tale.

Bill Buckley

MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Friday, April 16, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #7: Psychic Archaeology

In 1973 Dr. J. Norman Emerson, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Toronto, who was commonly acknowledged as the "father" of Canadian archaeology, shocked his archaeological colleagues by publicly presenting the results of his research into "intuitive archaeology." Emerson had begun using the services of several psychics who had achieved statistically significant levels of non-sensory awareness of unknown archaeological finds that were later confirmed through traditional excavation techniques. Chance, fraud, and prior knowledge were each ruled out as possible explanations.

The psychics used a technique called psychometry, in which each psychic was given an unidentified artifact, the origins of which Emerson or his colleagues already knew (or thought they knew) through traditional archaeological methods, and the psychic gave his/her mental impressions about the object. In their "mind's eye," they perceived visual, tactile, olfactory, and auditory information about the artifacts that they could not possibly have deduced from the objects' physical characteristics. They could pinpoint approximate age and location where the artifacts were found.

The psychics could also walk across an unexcavated archaeological site and indicate where to dig for particular structures or objects. They could apparently reconstruct the site as it had looked at sometime in the distant past.

Emerson worked with several psychics, but one of his exceptional "sensitives" was George McMullen, who also worked with archaeologist Stephan A. Schwartz (in Alexandria, Egypt) and several law enforcement agencies (to solve crimes). McMullen published a book, One White Crow (Norfolk, VA : Hampton Roads, 1994) (ISBN 1-57174-007-4), which presented many of Emerson's papers and research, and which also provided insights in the ways McMullen was able to psychometrize objects and places.

Other scientists, such as Stephan A. Schwartz and David E. Jones, had used psychics in archaeological experiments. Like Emerson, Schwartz and Jones obtained highly successful, statistically significant results for which chance was not a viable explanation. Both Schwartz and Jones published books about their experimental findings, both of which are discussed in the following book trailer:

Although Emerson, Schwartz, and Jones were continuing important research into psychometry, they were not the first. As parapsychological writer Colin Wilson wrote in his book, The Psychic Detectives (London: Pan Books, 1984) (ISBN 0-330-28119-4), geologist William Denton published his psychometry research findings in 1863 in his book, The Soul of Things, which Wilson republished in his "Library of the Paranormal" series (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: Aquarian Press, 1988) (ISBN 0-85030-707-4). Dr. T. D'Aute-Hooper analyzed apparent mediumistic communications "through a Welsh woman" in his book, Spirit-Psychometry and Trance Communications by Unseen Agencies (London: William Rider & Son, 1914). Others have studied psychometry during the 19th and 20th centuries [e.g., S. G. J. Ouseley, A Guide to Telepathy and Psychometry (London: L. N. Fowler & Co., republished in 2003 by Kessinger Reprints, ISBN 0-7661-3001-0)].

Each of these works presents a fascinating world in which extraordinary perceptions are revealed. These abilities could revolutionize the fields of archaeology and criminology, to give just two examples, provided that the scientific establishment would encourage, and accept the factual information from, unbiased, objective scientific research in this area of the paranormal.

If you happen to read any of these titles (particularly Schwartz's and Jones' books featured in the book trailer), you should also consider Schwartz's The Alexandria Project (1983, reprinted 2001--ISBN 0-595-18348-4).

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #14: Haunting at Sycamore Lake

Today would have been my sister's 52nd birthday. She was the second twin born, and because she was three months premature and had been oxygen-deprived during delivery, she passed after about 90 minutes. My father said that he could hold her in the palm of his hand. She weighed less than two pounds. Her twin brother survived but spent three months in hospital. He came home on the day his mother's obstetrician had predicted he would be born, which happened to be his parents' wedding anniversary.

I have often wondered where my sister is now. Thanks to some convincing personal experiences and 35 years of research, I am confident that she continues to live and grow. Someday, I will meet her again, but, for now, I send loving thoughts to her and our parents.

Survival of bodily death has an extensive scientific literature. There are, too, mountains of well-documented, authenticated anecdotal cases, but individually these can be much less persuasive. Taken aggregately, however, these become a compelling evidentiary cornucopia.

There is no shortage of ghost stories in the literature, but I'd like to offer one of our book trailers featuring an Indiana account. To preserve anonymity and protect the privacy of the principals involved, the author has transfigured his and the key participants' names into anagrams, so if you are good at deciphering, you could learn who the actual people are. The story is from eastern Indiana, near a small town on the Ohio border. In an ancient farmhouse, built in the 1890s, there resides the spirit of a teenage boy who met an unfortunate fate in the adjacent barn in the 1950s. The author, a university professor, was an open-minded skeptic interested in the paranormal, and his extensive investigation of the case convinced him of the reality of the phenomena.

Here is our book trailer describing the book:

As Rosah Brando, the pseudonym the author assigned to the homeowners' daughter who lived there with her two children, said, "You'll know it's real when it happens to you." It did; it is; I am convinced. A digitized abridged version of the book is available online (click here or here). Perhaps you may be convinced, too. In any event, if you like ghost stories, you will enjoy it.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #6: Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes

My first exposure to the book Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, was through the motion picture adaptation, Charly (1968), starring Cliff Robertson and Clair Bloom, and directed by Ralph Nelson. Robertson won the Academy Award for best actor. Variety sang the movie's praises, particularly for the "shrewd [and] talented score" written by Ravi Shankar, whom Beatle George Harrison characterized as "the best musician on the planet." If you have not seen the movie, you should see if your public library or local video store has a copy. You could probably download an online copy from an authorized movie renting website.

However you might come by it, you should definitely watch the movie, but NOT, repeat, NOT before reading the book. The complexities of character, plot, and theme that are superbly spun by the author deserve your first impression. Keyes was honored with two of science fiction's highest honors, the Hugo (1959) and the Nebula (1966). But make no mistake; this is not a "typical" science fiction novel. It doesn't seem like science fiction at all; in fact, it reads like an actual, real life event, which makes the science and situations altogether plausible.

What makes Flowers for Algernon truly memorable is the immensely likable Charlie Gordon, who has an I.Q. of 68 and is what our society called (at the time) mentally retarded but whom we would label today as "mentally challenged." An experimental operation turns Charlie into a genius. But, like Dr. Frankenstein's attempt to generate life from lifeless tissue, the processes degenerate, and the cognitive enhancement fades. The reader is hurled through what social psychologists call cognitive dissonance, as we watch Charlie first evolve into a "normal" person, blossom into a prodigy, surpass his medical and scientific "benefactors" in intelligence, reach levels of amazing genius, and then, inexorably, slide backwards into the abyss from which he had labored so honestly to escape. We are reminded of Plato's query: Which is more frightening, to escape from the darkness into the light, or to be thrust back from the light into darkness?

Like most of my readers' advisory blogs, we have a book trailer to illustrate:

There are scientific ethical questions to be considered, of course, and I leave these with you to wrestle. Regardless of the greater good and the lesser evil (or perhaps the lesser good and the greater evil), one point is salient: Charlie is a fundamentally good, decent man of high integrity who deserves more than our sympathy. He deserves our respect.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #19: Making Rounds With Oscar

Anyone who shares a home with cats knows that felines have certain sensitivities most humans have forgotten. Like dogs, cats often know when their owners are coming home at unusual and unexpected times. Scientific studies by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake have demonstrated conclusively that household pets have an awareness that enables them to connect with "their people" in ways that defy traditional explanations.

An interesting case study is presented in the new book Making Rounds With Oscar, by David Dosa, M.D. (New York : Hyperion, 2010). Oscar, a cat at Steere House Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island, knows when patients are about "to cross over," to use the psychical term. Ordinarily, Oscar is, at best, tolerant of human attention and maintains a discrete distance from people. However, whenever someone is about to die, Oscar jumps up on the patient's bed and remains there, providing loving companionship at a time when people most need it. Cynics sneer that the cat is a "harbinger of death," but this book rightly characterizes Oscar's role as care-giving and therapeutic, especially for surviving loved ones who know that he will stay with the dying patient until the end. Oscar's behavior alerts staff to contact family in time to say their last goodbyes.

Here is our YouTube video showcasing this book:

No one should die alone. Thanks to Oscar, the folks at one nursing care facility will always have a loyal friend with them when the time comes. I hope to be so fortunate.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Monday, April 12, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #5: The Christmas Secret, by Donna VanLiere

Is there a part of your past from which you would like to escape? Does it sometimes return to haunt you? This experience is the centerpiece of a new novel, The Christmas Secret, by Donna VanLiere (NY: St. Martin's Press, 2009). The main characters must face their pasts and their present circumstances. They discover that running from oneself leads nowhere (how can you escape yourself?), and that community binds old wounds as well as a more promising future. It is a romantic tale, full of hope, redemption, and sharing.

Our YouTube video summarizes the plot and central themes:

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Sunday, April 11, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #4: Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman

Go, Dog. Go!, by P. D. Eastman, was one of the first books I learned to read as a child, and it has been a family favorite. Both of my children loved the colorful canines and their zany antics. If, by some remote chance, you and your children have missed this classic preschooler book, please visit your local public library and check out a copy. There will be laughs aplenty!

Watch our YouTube video and see if you don't agree:


Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Saturday, April 10, 2010

MPL Book Trailer 23: CodeQuest Hieroglyphs: Solve the Mystery from Ancient Egypt by Sean Callery

Hieroglyphs: Solve the Mystery from Ancient Egypt, by Sean Callery (Kingfisher, 2010) (ISBN 9780753464113), slated to be released on June 8, 2010, is one of the new CodeQuest series of nonfiction historical mysteries in which the reader becomes the central character in these challenging interactive stories. Readers learn to interpret historical codes, symbols, and pictograms and hone code-breaking skills to follow clues and find answers.

In Hieroglyphs, author Sean Callery presents the reader with a museum displaying one golden Egyptian cat statue. Its mate has gone missing. It's up to the reader to find it. Starting with a display case, the reader searches for clues and must learn to interpret ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to solve the mystery. The key to Egyptian history, the hieroglyphic record, comes alive in this interesting test of the reader's deductive prowess. There is an accompanying CD disc.

The book is recommended for readers ages 9-12.

Our YouTube book trailer tells the tale (or tail, since we're talking about cats):

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

MPL Book Trailer #22: Path of the Pole, by Charles Hapgood

I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down, tumbling down

--Carol King, I Feel the Earth Move (copyright © 1971)

Carol King was already a songwriting legend when she released her first single in 1971, and it was an ideal vehicle to feature her percussive, upbeat piano style. Although she was singing about the passionate feeling of being in love, her lyrics could be borrowed to describe an important scientific book, The Path of the Pole, by Charles Hapgood (Kempton, Ill. : Adventures Unlimited Press, 1999) (ISBN 0-932813-71-2). Our YouTube video explains:

The famous scientist Albert Einstein wrote the preface to this book, which he favorably recommended to anyone interested in the theories of Earth's development. Scientifically detailed but written for the general public, this book, in Einstein's words, "set[s] forth, cautiously and comprehensively, the extraordinarily rich material that supports [Hapgood's] displacement theory."

Can you think of a better recommendation for a scientifically-oriented book than Albert Einstein? If he thought Hapgood's work was worthy of serious consideration, then I'm willing to invest some time and effort in it. (I did, too, when AUP first republished it in 1999.) Perhaps you might, too. Take a look. Perhaps you, too, will feel your world view move under your feet.

Bill Buckley
Indiana Room Librarian

Friday, April 9, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #3: Looking for Carroll Beckwith

Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, you should enjoy Captain Robert L. Snow's book, Looking for Carroll Beckwith: the True Story of a Detective's Search for His Past Life (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999) (ISBN 1579541011). Captain Snow, a homicide commander with the Indianapolis police department, was an experienced crime investigator. Here was certainly no novice easily duped; instead, we have a skeptical, but open-minded, researcher. This seasoned law enforcement officer was faced with an enigma. When Snow participated in regression therapy (just to learn what it was all about), why did he vividly recall details about the life of 19th century portrait painter Carroll Beckwith, about whom Snow knew absolutely nothing? Snow painstakingly investigates the case as he would any crime mystery, carefully piecing together the evidence until he becomes convinced that he lived before as Beckwith. You may or may not be persuaded by Snow's thesis and supporting proof, but you should find his quite human story intriguing.

Watch our YouTube video showcasing this book:

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Thursday, April 8, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #21: The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight

If you're like me, you have wonderful children. Mine are adults now, but there was a time, not so long ago, when they were babies. Those were the days of sleep deprivation for us parents! Why was it so hard for them to go to bed and go to sleep? I was always tired, and I wanted, and was readily willing, to sleep at any opportune moment. But they had boundless energies! There was this exciting world to explore, and they didn't want to miss a minute of it. That's understandable, but it did wear thin from the parental perspective.

If you, too, have trouble getting your kids to sleep, there is an excellent book available to help: The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy by Kim West, LCSW-C, with Joanne Kenen (New York : Vanguard Press, rev. & updated ed., [c] 2010). This book clearly explains how parents can teach their children how to fall (and stay) asleep. West, a child and family therapist, relates the most up-to-date pediatric research about sleep safety, pacifier use, breastfeeding, teething, toddler naps, phasing out nighttime feedings, and interpreting newborn cries. She includes discussions about bedtime baby yoga, room sharing and bed placement, and emphasizes gentle behavioral modification techniques, such as the Sleep Lady Shuffle, to change your young children's habits and train them to develop healthier, self-soothing, sleep-friendly behaviors. Of particular interest to travelling families will be West's suggestions to deal with "routine busters" that disrupt children's (and, therefore, parents') sleeping patterns. There are chapters specifically addressing age groups between newborns up to age five, so there will be answers that directly relate to your situation, if your children fall within these age ranges.

West's book will help you avoid the traumatic battleground that bedtime can become, helping your children, and, consequently, you, get a good night's sleep. I can hear the welcoming sigh from every tired parent!

Watch our YouTube video showcasing this excellent resource:

Sleep well!

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #2: French for Cats, by Henry Beard

I do my best writing in the shower (or bathtub). It doesn't require too much mental attention to scrub and rinse, which frees the mind to spin fantastic phrases, witty observations, and insightful commentary. Sadly, this, like the soap, trickles down the drain, and so I am left now at my keyboard to vainly attempt reconstruction of these wondrous musings.

Traditional note-taking techniques fail miserably in such environments. Pencil and paper simply won't do, especially in the shower; there is simply too much water, which makes things slippery and, well, frankly, wet. I tried a hand-held tape recorder in my younger days, but the humidity damaged its inner workings. A colleague suggested that I hire a stenographer, but I couldn't afford the hazard pay, and, as my wife suggested, such a job would make career unemployment infinitely preferable.

There seemed no harm in trying the stenographer route, if I could secure someone who would not object to the working conditions. The obvious answer was to hire one of my cats. They often hung around the bathtub to drink from the tap, and my presence there didn't seem to put them off overly much. So the deal was done. My first stenographer/cat, Jack, simply was a wash-out (pun intended). He could handle the quadruple syllable words I favor, but his stenographic speed was poor (25 wpm), and he tended to translate what I said into what he was thinking about. For instance, if I dictated

The trouble with writing is where to begin

. . . he would notate it as

There is no tuna left in the tin

Similarly, he would jumble such clever phrases as

We stand on the shoulders of those who came before

. . . into this mishmash

The litter box smells like your old sock drawer

I went through seven cats, and none were any better stenographers. Unfortunately, three filed for unemployment compensation; two won (and won again on appeal).

This brings me, rather haphazardly, to today's recommended read: French for Cats: All the French Your Cat Will Ever Need, by Henry Beard and John Boswell (ill.) (New York: Villard Books, 1991). An updated, expanded edition was published in 2005 by Random House under the title The Complete French for Cats, which included the 1991 title as well as Advanced French for Exceptional Cats, by Henry Beard and Gary Zamchick (ill.). To read a copy of the 1991 edition on Google Books, click here.

Cat lovers and foreign language students share something in common: trying to understand what seems incomprehensible. Anyone who has used a foreign language phrase book while travelling in another country will appreciate the author's clever melding of French phrases from a cat's viewpoint. Beard is witty and satirical, and his parody works well. Boswell's illustrations match the tone of the writing without being too cute.

Watch our book trailer to learn more about this enjoyable read:

If you like this book, you will probably enjoy another Beard title, Poetry for Cats: the Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse (New York: Villard Books, 1994). Poetry for Cats brilliantly lampoons the typical high school or college poetry anthology textbook, rewriting classic poems from the cat's perspective.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #20: Random Harvest, by James Hilton

Fans of the novels Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips! can tell you all about James Hilton, an English author of remarkable scope and subtle power. Here is one of the library's YouTube book trailers featuring another Hilton classic, Random Harvest. I dare anyone not to cry (or at least get all choked up) at the end of the book!

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Monday, April 5, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #1: Ghost Stories

Who doesn't like a chilling ghost story to read just before bedtime on a dark and stormy night? Okay, that's fairly bad prose, but ghost stories are pretty cool. Here is a video book trailer showcasing actual ghost stories from around the world. The book is True Ghost Stories by the Marchioness Townshend of Raynham and Maude ffoulkes (Old Saybrook, Conn. : Konecky & Konecky, 2009, c1936). ISBN: 978-1-56852-745-1. Don't watch it alone! Ooohhhh, that's scaarrry! Maybe just a little bit . . .

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Special Offer for Libraries Needing Royalty-Free Soundtrack Music

Does your library prepare promotional videos (e.g., book trailers, library programs and promotions, book talks, etc.) to distribute to the public (e.g., via YouTube or another Internet web site, or on CD-ROM, etc.)? Are you looking for royalty-free music to use as soundtracks?

There are many resources available on the Internet, but I'd like to pass along this special offer to libraries: the original compositions of Danny Buckley, Millikin University senior and a former employee of Greenwood Public Library (Greenwood, Indiana).

Danny has been composing music for library videos since the beginning of the year. He has been composing for several years and has several CDs available. His music graces the soundtracks of Mooresville Public Library's YouTube videos (visit our YouTube Channel at to listen to these selections).

Danny is offering his music royalty-free to public libraries to use in their promotional videos, book trailers, book talks, etc. There are no license fees or royalties. Each library would receive a limited license to use his works in library-related videos and promotions. To learn more about his music, please visit the composer's website at  Danny asks only for an artist's attribution in the credits of library videos.

As libraries have discovered, many online offers for "free" soundtrack music can run into hundreds of dollars in license fees and royalties. Such soundtrack music can be quite expensive to purchase, and public domain music is often unavailable in a recorded format or of limited variety. Danny's music covers an expansive range of musical themes. We have used portions of his compositions in nearly all of our library videos, and we have only begun to tap his rich musical reservoirs.

So . . . libraries, take advantage of this wonderful offer. We have, and I hope you will enjoy the results by watching our YouTube videos (