Shivers, Phantoms, Goodies, and UFOs! by da-AL

da-AL and her husband in Halloween costumes: monster and witch
Recognize this pair of creepy characters?

October is a colorful season, literally and emotionally!

Leaves turn from green to orange, to red, to brown, and then cascade to earth. Shadows get longer. Harsher weather makes me more conscious of how I feel, what I wear. My senses at the fore, I see better than ever their limitations, that there are greater forces beyond my mortal self.

Here in the U.S., October 31 is always Halloween, a folk holiday that exponentially gains popularity each year. The month before, costume warehouses pop up like pumpkins at every other strip mall. Pharmacies to clothing stores hang cobwebs, bats, and ghouls in their windows. Step on a neighbor’s welcome mat, and a blood-curdling screech might make you jump!

Here in Los Angeles, Mexican traditions give us the opportunity to celebrate death and phantoms! Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is on November 1. Neon painted calaveras (skulls) glow on home altars, at cemeteries, and most places that decorate for Halloween. In dioramas, the skeletons go about daily activities. In food, crunchy sweet confections, as well as fragrant yeasty buns and cookies, are baked to look like bones.

A Dia de los Muertos student altar at East Los Angeles College's Vincent Price Museum, which features Mexican-American and Mayan art.
Student altar, East Los Angeles College’s Vincent Price Museum. Price, an actor, collected Mexican-American and Mayan art. The museum is his gift to everyone!

U.S. libraries often get in on Halloween and Dia de los Muertos through storytelling. For the past several years, my local library has hosted annual lectures by a UFO specialist.

The years when I dress up, one of my favorite things to do is peruse used clothing stores for costumes with my husband. Out of the Closet, which benefits people with AIDS, features especially fab selections, prices, and excellent window displays.

Dear reader, share your ghost stories — first-hand tales of the supernatural only, please. Do you have personal or cultural traditions for this month, spooky or non-spooky?

Post them in the comments section below.

If your recollections run longer than 50 words, email them to me:

That way I’ll run them as their own separate post on this blog. Got pictures that chill? So much the better!

Love Your Public Library and Librarians — the Video! by da-AL

Here’s the video version of my previous post, the one that trumpets the wonderfulness of U.S. public libraries. This was my 7th speech for Toastmasters, and it fulfilled a project called, ‘Research Your Topic.’ Toastmasters is an organization for people who want to learn public speaking and leadership. Worse than public speaking, I fear memorizing things. This speech was when I finally understood that props help me to loose up and prompt me in term of what comes next in my speech.


Reasons to Love U.S. Public Libraries and Librarians by da-AL

Los_Angeles_-_Lesesaal_1_International By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Los Angeles Public Library: Readers Room for Foreign Language Literature, photo by Wolfgang Sauber,
Every single public libraries is paradise. Each building, modest and grand alike, is utopia. Why? Because thanks to every taxpayer chipping in, the entire country benefits.

In an age of greed and selfishness, the public library stands as an enduring monument to the values of cooperation and sharing. In an age where global corporations stride the earth, public libraries remains firmly rooted in local communities. In an age of widespread cynicism and distrust of government, the tax-supported public library has widespread, enthusiastic support.
Yes Magazine, devoted to offering solutions to world problems
Los Angeles Central Library By Mquach, via Wikimedia Commons

The County of Los Angeles Public Library network is my favorite. I tell everyone about it, and I have yet to meet someone who already knows how far its wonderfulness extends.

90% of Americans believe that the closing of a library is a tragedy for their entire community: The Pew Research Center

To begin with, no one already knows that any Californian can get a Los Angeles County Library card.

Public libraries are as American as it gets. (Prepare for a lot of exclamation points)

Richard Henry Dana Branch Library, 3320 Pepper St., photo from

1. They’re free! To everyone! Regardless of age, gender, income, education, or race!

2. They respect our privacy. Librarians continually fight to keep it that way.

3. Since they started in the 1800s, they’ve promoted literacy for all. They began by defying the complaints of religious officials to stay open on Sundays. Then, in the 1930s, passionate librarians selflessly delivered books on horseback! These days, the Los Angeles library system gladly mails books – free shipping! – to Angelinos to whom getting to the library is a hardship.

4. The resources they offer to business owners and job seekers makes them essential to economic recovery.

Libraries epitomize cooperation!

Pio Pico Koreatown Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, By Downtowngal, via Wikimedia Commons
Pio Pico Koreatown Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, By Downtowngal, via Wikimedia

The Los Angeles County system shares the resources of 68 libraries. From the comfort of home, Angelinos may order materials from any location to be sent to any other L.A. library for free! See #3 above about having books mailed to you.

Public Library
Washington Irving Branch Library, Los Angeles County, By Downtowngal, via Wikimedia

Libraries for Real Life reports that 68% of Americans have library cards. 75% use them.

They offer way more than mere books, CDs, and DVDs.

Los Angeles offers free virtual classes – tons of them – many that feature real teachers! Subjects run from vocational to fun. Kids can get help with homework, too!

They have downloadable audio books, e-books, music, and movies!

Vibiana Little Tokyo Branch, Los Angeles County Public Library, by Bobak Ha'Eri, via Wikimedia Commons
Vibiana Little Tokyo Branch, Los Angeles County Public Library, by Bobak Ha’Eri, via Wikimedia

Libraries often host fun events. All ages can enjoy music, crafts, reading, and life skill workshops. Sometimes they offer fragrant cooking classes and hand out tasty snacks! They’re havens from the weather, loneliness, noise, and they offer meeting spaces for groups and tutors.

They have free wifi, plus lots of computers and printers. Photocopying is available for a nominal cost.

And there’s more! Another reason you have to check them out for yourself.

Public Library
John C. Fremont Branch Library, Los Angeles, photo thanks to

Almost every single L.A. library is free. Tragically, Cerritos Library charges a yearly fee. As far as I know, they’re the only one, which is one too many.

Libraries love us. They deserve our support.

Yes Magazine’s public library manifesto
County of Los Angeles Public Library
Overdue: Los Angele’s first African-American library director!
The Pew Research Center
More interesting facts about librarians...and more of them.
Los Angeles County libraries mails books to those in need.
Libraries for Real Life