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You may have been wondering why it's so quiet around here lately…
The answer is I've been hard at work! Above are my new postcards (created with my agents, ABLA). They're designed and printed in time for theSCBWI conference (aka #LA15scbwi), which kicks off tomorrow morning bright and early. It takes a good bit of preparation — new portfolio art, new postcards, new dummies or manuscripts. New shoes! Some people begin to prepare months in advance, but I couldn't. I have another project on the go, also demanding my 1000% attention. I'm working on my picture book for Nord Süd (North South Books): getting to know the characters ...
and playing around with the hero...
...with his eponymous green umbrella…
And above all, trying to get the visual narrative to work:
Here is the famous storyboard clothesline, with earlier versions of many of the spreads. Of course, by the time the book gets into print there will be more changes, revisions and endless effing tweaks.
So that's where I have been lately. This blog will probably stay quiet for a little while longer, but nowadays I can also be found on Instagram and even tweeting on Twitter.
Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
by Ann Bausum
Viking-an imprint of Penguin, 2015
The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.
Ann Bausum is known for writing nonfiction books about civil rights and social justice. Her latest book for teens, Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights, describes how the Stonewall
Magical girls have been a part of shoujo since nearly the beginning; stories of idols and other performers are almost just as old. Magical girls haven’t changed much over the years, but today’s idol shows like Love Live! are rather different when compared to works like Creamy Mami. Mitsuki of Full Moon o Sagashite (Searching for ... Read more
Chief James Billie (center) with Hard Rock Cafe staff in Venice
(Venice, Italy) Chief James E. Billie, Chairman of the Seminole Tribal Council, is a colorful character -- gutsy, outspoken, warm and sincere, a Native American whose culture rings from his heart. Leader of the only unconquered Native American Tribe in the United States, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who own Hard Rock International, Chief Billie served 22 years as Chairman/President of the tribe, from 1979 to 2001, "the longest tenure of any elected leader in the Western Hemisphere, other than Fidel Castro." The Seminoles are the only tribe that never signed a formal peace treaty with the United States.
Chief Billie's mother belonged to the Bird clan; his father was was a white sailor who went to Europe during WWII without knowing of the pregnancy. As an infant, Seminole medicine men wanted to kill Jim Billie the traditional way -- by stuffing mud in his mouth and leaving him to die in the Florida Everglades -- because he was a half-breed. His mother, Agnes Billie, who died when he was nine, and Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, another half-breed -- who went on to become the first and only tribal chairwoman -- put a stop to it. To earn money, Jim Billie went on to wrestle alligators for tourists, as well as build chickee huts.
Chief Billie is one of the people responsible for giving birth to the Indian gaming industry in the United States by pushing through a contract to operate high-stakes bingo on the Seminoles' Hollywood reservation in 1979, and then leading the tribe when it won a US Supreme Court 1996 decision upholding the sovereign rights of tribes to conduct gaming on their reservations. Like many Indian tribes, the Seminoles were heavily dependent on federal welfare, which Billie believed were used to keep Indians "down, uneducated, inexperienced in the business world."
When the money started gushing in, Chief Billie became a thorn in the side of the Florida government and big business, insisting on behaving like a Native American by refusing to put toxic dumps and landfills on Seminole land, and being uncooperative about pipelines, flight paths, roads and telephone towers. No American Indian has been more investigated by the US government than Chief Billie-- including by the FBI and the IRS -- yet no agency has brought a single criminal charge against him. When he started to criticize his fellow councilmen's spending habits, and brought in an outside administrator, Chief Billie rankled the Seminole ranks, who began to block him. However, what actually brought him down was a woman scorned, who later said she had been coerced into filing suit against Billie for sexual misconduct by other Seminole leaders. Chief Billie was impeached by the Seminole Council in 2001, and started, once again, to build thatched chickee huts in South Florida, waiting for his opportunity to make a comeback.
Hamish Dodds, Chief Billie & Pablo Castrogiovanni - Hard Rock Cafe, Venice
In 2011, at age 67, James E. Billie defeated Mitchell Cypress, the previous two-term chairman, by a landslide to return, once again, as Chairman of the Seminole Tribe... which is why he was here in Venice at the Hard Rock Cafe on Monday, July 27 -- which also happened to be my birthday.
Cat Bauer with Seminole Chief Billie at Hard Rock Cafe, Venice
With James E. Billie was Hamish Dodds, Hard Rock International President and CEO, as well as Chief Billie's wife, Maria, 13-year-old son, Eecho, 12-year-old daughter, Aubee, and other members of the tribe including Josh John, Nancy Willie, Danny Tommie and Trishana Storm, a descendant of George Storm, the man who had taught Jim Billie how to wrestle alligators. It was a tight group.
As President and CEO of Hard Rock International, Hamish Dodds, a Scotsman, oversees all aspects of the global enterprise, and is responsible for strategic development. Previously, he worked as CEO for Cabcorp, and then in the upper ranks of PepsiCo. He said that Italy was a very, very important market for Hard Rock, and spoke of the passion the Seminole owners have for their own brand. Dodds said that it was not easy to do business in Italy, but that he thought that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was trying to make it easier.
Dodd said he had been looking into investing in the casino here in Venice for about five years, but back then the environment was not conducive. Hard Rock is interested in buying the casino out by the airport and turning it into a Hard Rock Casino. When it comes to Ca' Vendramin Calergi, the casinò here in Venice on the Grand Canal -- the world's oldest casino -- Dodds said it was a beautiful, historic building that needed to be preserved, and they would be interested in an operating partnership with Venice, but do not want to put the Hard Rock name on it.
At that point I was bursting with excitement -- I had come to the conference hoping for the opportunity to discuss just that topic, and here the CEO of Hard Rock was presenting it himself! To me, if the Hard Rock transformed the casino by the airport into a Hard Rock Casino, yet was behind the scenes at Ca' Vendramin Calergi, it would bring much needed wealth and positive energy to Venice. Venetians and Seminole Indians under the leadership of Chief James E. Billie are a good fit. I THINK THIS IS A FANTASTIC IDEA.
Seminole Indians at Hard Rock Cafe, Venice
Chief Billie then told the story of how he had always loved rock and roll, especially Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and plays himself (he was even nominated for a Grammy for his song, "Big Alligator"). He got back from serving in Vietnam, and kept seeing Hard Rock Cafe tee-shirts everywhere. So he bought a tee-shirt. Then, his tribe opened the first high-stakes bingo on the land of a sovereign Indian nation, and they got some money. One day he found himself sitting next to a guy named Pete on a first-class plane trip, who ended up being Peter Morton, who, together with Issac Tigrett, had founded the Hard Rock Cafe. They spoke about doing business together -- Chief Billie said he thought something along the lines of Hard Rock garb and a franchise, nothing like buying the company, which happened when he was not on the council.
Several times Chief Billie said how grateful and thankful he was. He taught us the Seminole word "Sho Na Bish," which means "thank you," and wants to put that on all the Hard Rocks, too, in addition to the LOVE ALL - SERVE ALL put there by Issac Tigrett.
When the conference was over, Hamish Dodds said that anyone -- the press, the employees, the kitchen staff, anyone -- could ask them anything. He was immediately interrupted and told that a list of questions had already been prepared. He responded that it would lose the spontaneity, but acquiesced. They were then asked several innocuous questions by the translator; for example, to Chief Billie: 'Why do you think the word "Hard Rock" is so successful, and what do you like about it?" To which he replied, "You can probably answer that yourself," and then went on to say it was a romantic word, a sexy word.
Maria, Chief Billie's wife, and Cat Bauer
Chief Billie also spoke about how much he loved his wife, Maria, and how grateful he was that she was here with him. He said that the Seminoles were good hunters, and that now they hunt for businesses instead of animals. He said that running into Hard Rock was a good hunt.
Chief Billie ended the conference by saying that back when the Seminole used to fight the military that they called themselves the unconquered, and that he had discovered that Venetians call themselves unconquered, too. Then he exclaimed: "Sho Na Bish!"
From the press notes:
With a total of 202 venues in 64 countries, including 154 cafes, 21 hotels and 10 casinos, Hard Rock International is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar Hard Rock owns the world's greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe.
The New York Times Book Review has Juan Gabriel Vásquez (The Informers, etc.) answer this week's 'By the Book' Q & A.
Like so many prominent foreinh-language-writing authors, he has also translated works into his mother tongue -- and one of the questions they ask him is: "Has translating changed your approach to reading fiction in translation ?"
I realize the column is about reading, but of course the really interesting question is how it's affected his writing.
(As longtime readers know, I'm a big proponent of writers at least dabbling in translation -- as far too few US/UK authors of fiction do ...).)
Some interesting answers, though -- worth a look.
I get quite a few requests to review items on my blog - some jump out at me and some don't. This one, however, was one that I truly hoped I'd make it on the blog review team. The Apologetics Study Bible for Students is one I wish we'd had when my boys were younger. One of my sons has been deep into theology and apologetics since he could read - he just devoured anything on these topics and he would have thoroughly enjoyed this Bible as a reference tool he could sink his teeth into! The articles in the Bible (120 of them) are written by some of today's leading Christian thinkers and they deal with some of the big questions - Homosexuality, Yoga, New Age Movement, Cloning, Gambling, Scientology, Rape and Incest and more. The articles are thoughtful and well-written and give our teens some great topics to ponder. The Bible is created to be appealing to teens - both the design and layout. We also thought the Twisted Scripture articles were great! These are written to discuss topics that current religious movements use to twist Scripture and go against historic Christian teaching. This is another area where we want to strengthen our kids' faith in the world in which we live.
The other thing we loved about this Bible is the resource library of videos online. There are videos still yet to be added - but some there already as well that answer the tough questions in video format - you can stream them or download them OR even share to social media. I was excited with the quality of the videos and the topics they covered. http://www.apologeticsbible.com/video-archive/
ADDED BONUS - I was told I could give away a copy as well here on my blog! So - you get an entry for commenting below. AND leave a separate message for each social media platform you share this giveaway on and you will get additional entries. Winners will be chosen on August 7!
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
Last Saturday the Detroit Drunken Historical Society celebrated Detroit's 314th Birthday and as part of the celebration, Corktown Studios hosted a pop-up silent art auction. The exhibition featured local Detroit artists who were asked to take inspiration from an 1883 book, " The Legends of le Detroit " described by the organizers as " a compilation of myth and lore from Detroit's French era." I was fortunate to be able to participate. The party was a blast, the people and art were great, and as an added bonus, my piece sold! I took a little creative liberty and just wanted to present the fact that French Fries come from France and Detroit loves them!
Written by Phil Bildner Illustrated by John Parra Chronicle Books 8/04/2015 978-1-4521-2578-7 44 pages Age 3—5
“In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along—The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm bigger than anyone had seen before. Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspirational story of a humble man, and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”[inside jacket]
Review Marvelous Cornelius, the person, embodies the best of us. Day-to-day he performed his job—one many would consider unglamorous—with dignity, enthusiasm, and a spirit of giving to those he served. People responded positively to this larger-than-life man. Kids enjoyed his spirited antics. When disaster struck in the name of Hurricane Katrina, this French Quarter-New Orléans resident went to work cleaning up his city with the same joyousness as before, only this time, the residents responded not only with enjoyment to see their local “hero,” but pitched in following his lead. Together—including many volunteers from outside of New Orléans—Marvelous Cornelius led his neighbors in cleaning up their beloved city. Just as he did on his daily job, Marvelous Cornelius helped keep New Orléans clean, for he was a garbage man by trade; garbage man extraordinaire.
With the use of many writing techniques—alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration—author Bildner keeps the story lively. Children will enjoy Cornelius Washington’s story of how an ordinary citizen can help keep their city or town upbeat, their neighbors friendly and joyous, and their streets clean, making for a wonderful place to live.
At times, the illustrations portray Marvelous Cornelius as a literal giant emphasizing his larger-than-life persona. He becomes more realistic when portrayed with the residents he served. I would have liked to have seen a more multicultural representation of the residents of New Orléans, though artist Parra may have decided to show a true representation of the resident’s Cornelius Washington actually served. Of note: the illustrations do show a multicultural people once the city is swept clean of the “gumbo of mush and mud.”
The art is a delight with its rustic feel and animations of Cornelius “Tango-ing up Toulouse” and “Samba-ing down St. Peter.” I loved the changing text size and font when Marvelous Cornelius sang out his familiar calls:
At story’s end, the author writes more about New Orléans, its people, and Hurricane Katrina (which brought major devastation to this coastal city). Bildner also delves into his writing style, saying his use of alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration helped him write Cornelius Washington’s story as a folktale, similar to that of John Henry. Together with artist Parra, Bildner has succeeded in writing a story every child should read and will most definitely enjoy. Teachers can find many lessons in Mr. Washington’s story of an average person who rose to heroic heights simply by doing his best every day.
Full Disclosure: Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, by Phil Bildner & John Parra, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Today we are celebrating Natasha Preston's newest YA Thriller, AWAKE, which will be releasing August 4th.
Natasha has graciously provided us with an exclusive excerpt from the book, and make sure you check out the awesome giveaway at the end of this post!
Excerpt from AWAKE by Natasha Preston
“Come here,” I said, holding my hands out.
Usually she would curl into my side but
At around the 2:45 mark of the video of Norm MacDonald roasting Bob Saget, he tells a ridiculous joke about Saget looking "like a flower...yeah, a cauliflower" and he then repeats and somewhat explains the joke. Not a stand-up comedian, it is my determination that MacDonald does this repetition/explanation to hammer home just how absurd this joke (and the others in this fantastic routine) was. In other words, he HAD A REASON to do so.
Maybe my biggest recent pet peeve in reading is when an author does NOT trust their own writing, or apparently believe that their reading audience is of a junior high school level or below. After writing a beautiful passage, with a nice subtle point to it, they'll follow that passage and period up with the explanation. WHY??? Why not trust that you've made the point with your writing? Why not believe that the person reading your work has the ability to piece together what you've sewn?
I'll show no example of this as it would be incredibly rude, but I think it's something younger writers especially should pay attention to--TRUST YOUR WRITING//TRUST YOUR READERS--it will make your work stronger.
I love my wife so much. This is an animation by animator Avi Ofer that uses a voice memo from Amanda's phone of a conversation she had with me while I was asleep.
(I can have conversations while I am asleep, I am told).
She found the message she had left on her phone for herself, whispered in a bathroom while I slept, a year or so after she’d left it, and played it to me. I said it sounded like an animated film, and she agreed, and used her Patreon to make it happen…
Only watch it if you want to know what the inside of my head is probably like while I am asleep.
Quietly, one of the best current super-hero series being published is Nathan Edmondson & Phil Noto’s run on Black Widow. I first noticed Noto’s work on Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force, a few years back. His work brings a nice combination of fine art & design aesthetics to mainstream comic books. One of Noto’s earliest and most frequent collaborators was writing team extraordinaire Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; starting off with a number of issues on their classic Jonah Hex run in the mid-2000’s, then projects like Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom and Trigger Girl 6 for Image’s Creator-Owned series.
Phil Noto and writer Gerry Duggan received an Eisner award nomination in 2011 for their original comic series The Infinite Horizon, which tells a post-apocalyptic war story inspired by Homer’s Odyssey.
Phil Noto has worked for Disney Animation, as well as a concept artist for video games, including the mega-hit BioShock. Noto continues to be one of the most sought after cover artists in comics. He recently created a series of classic magazine inspired covers for Marvel.
You can follow the latest Noto news and see the newest art on his tumblr site here.
For more comics related art, you can follow me on my websitecomicstavern.com– Andy Yates
Entertainment Weekly has gathered some wacky and wild tweets from writers on the maddening things people say to them about writing. Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, kicked off the trend when her hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter caused a hilarious uproar on literary Twitterverse, July 28, 2015, with other writers following up with their own funny and awful things they've been told.
A few highlights from the Entertainment Weeklyarticle:
S.E. Hinton@se4realhinton: I thought you were dead. #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
Harlen Coben@HarlenCoben: Eye surgeon: I'm thinking of writing a novel! Me: Cool, I'm thinking of doing eye surgery! #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
I've been having fun adding my own #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter tweets:
"You still haven't written that novel about the mating habits of orangutans I told you to write?" #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
"You really write poetry? Really? No kidding! Does it rhyme?" #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
"Hey, wasn't your short story about the hermaphrodite nun who longed to sing in The Sound of Music really about you?" #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
"It would be really far out to write a novel about Pluto with you." #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
"Why don't you get a real job?" #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
Feel free to share your own humorous #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter both on Twitter and in my comments section below.
Hope you enjoyed this post! To be notified of future updates, use the subscription options on the right side bar.
I admit it. I was wrong about the new film, Annie. At first, I was upset when it came out. I thought to myself why ruin a good thing? I vowed that I would not see it. I kept that vow until I noticed that it was running on Stars cable network. Reluctantly, I took a shot. I also always believed that Little Orphan Annie should have red curly hair as the prototyped Annie. However, they put a spin on things and added new songs. They took the story and added a modern day spin that didn't hinder the movie from being good. I only wish they would've titled it different. To keep the original Annie sacred, I feel that they should have titled it: Annette: A new spin on Annie. Otherwise, I felt it was a very good flick. Cameron Diaz portrayed a good Miss. Hannigan. I liked that they changed the name from Daddy Warbucks to Mr. Stacks. I appreciated the character Annie to be spunky as the original movie portrayed Annie to be. I was a true fan of the movie. I remember going to see it and was mesmerized by the plot and music the first time. Again, I felt mesmerized by this modern tale. I can be quite a sap and by the very end of the movie, I was in tears. They may have been happy tears, but they were tears. So, I give the new Annie a thumbs up and would definitely watch it again.
There are lots of reasons that the University of New Hampshire, where I'm currently working toward a Ph.D. in Literature, should be in the news. It's a great school, with oodles of marvelous faculty and students doing all sorts of interesting things. Like any large institution, it's got its problems (I personally think the English Department is underappreciated by the Powers That Be, and that the university as a whole is not paying nearly enough attention to the wonderful programs that don't fall under that godawful acronym-of-the-moment STEM, but of course I'm biased...) Whatever the problems, though, I've been very happy at the university, and I'm proud to be associated with it.
But Donald Trump and Fox News or somebody discovered a guide to inclusive language gathering dust in a corner of the UNH website and decided that this was worth denouncing as loudly as possible, and from there it spread all over the world. The UNH administration, of course, quickly distanced themselves from the web page and then today it was taken down. I expect they're being honest when they say they didn't know about the page. Most people didn't know about the page. The website has long been rhizomatic, and for a while just finding the academic calendar was a challenge because it was hidden in a forest of other stuff.
I, however, did know about the page. In fact, I used it with my students and until today had a link to it on my Proofreading Guidelines sheet. It led to some interesting conversations with students, so I found it a valuable teaching tool. I thought some of the recommendations in the guidelines were excellent and some were badly worded and some just seemed silly to me, like something more appropriate to an Onion article. ("People of advanced age" supposedly being way better than any other term for our elders reads like a banal parody of political correctness. Also, never ever ever ever call me a "person of advanced age" when I become old. Indeed, I would like to be known as an old fart. If I manage to achieve elderliness — and it is, seriously, a great accomplishment, as my amazing, 93-year-old grandmother [who calls herself "an old lady"] would, I hope, agree — if I somehow achieve that, then I will insist on being known as an old fart. But if you would rather be called a person of advanced age rather than a senior or an elder or an old fart, then I will respect your wishes.)
The extremity of the guide was actually why I found it useful pedagogically. Inevitably, the students would find some of the ideas ridiculous, alienating, and even angering. That makes for good class discussion. In at least one class, we actually talked about the section that got Donald Trump and Fox and apparently everybody else so upset — the recommendation to be careful with the term "American". Typically, students responded to that recommendation with the same incredulity and incomprehension that Trump et al. did. Understandably so. We're surrounded by the idea that the word "American" equals "United States", and in much usage it does. I sometimes use it that way myself. It's difficult not to. But I also remember a Canadian acquaintance when I was in college saying, in response to my usage, "You know, the U.S. isn't the whole of North America. You just think you are." Ouch. And then when I was in Mexico for a summer of language study, at least one of our teachers made fun of us for saying something like, "Oh, no, I'm not from Mexico, I'm from America!"
We don't have another good noun/adjective for the country (United Statesian is so cumbersome!), and the Canadians can say Canadian and the Mexicans can say Mexican and so we kind of just fall back on American. And have for centuries. So it goes. But it's worth being aware that some people don't like it, because then as a writer or speaker you can try to be sensitive to this dislike, if being sensitive to what people dislike is important to you.
This and other recommendations in the guidelines lead to valuable discussion with students because such discussion helps us think more clearly about words and language. The guide had some helpful guidance about other things that people might take offense to, whether the gentle, somewhat mocking offense of my Canadian acquaintance and Mexican teachers, or more serious, deeper offense over more serious, deeper issues.
It all comes down to the two things that govern so many writing tasks: purpose and audience. (When I'm teaching First-Year Composition, I always tell them on the first day that by the end of the course they'll be very tired of hearing the words purpose and audience.) If your purpose is to reach as wide an audience as possible, then it's best to try to avoid inadvertently offending that audience. Just ask anybody in PR or marketing who didn't realize their brilliant idea would alienate a big, or at least vocal, section of the audience for whatever they were supposed to sell. Ultimately, you can't avoid offending everybody — indeed, it's hardly desireable, as some people probably deserve to be offended — but what offends different people (and why) is useful knowledge, I think. In any case, it's much better to be offensive when you're trying to be offensive than when you're not trying to be and discover much to your surprise, embarrassment, and perhaps horror, that you actually are. (As we used to say [before we were people of advanced age]: been there, done that.)
Advice about inclusive language is similar to advice I give about grammar and spelling errors. All of my students should know by the time they've had me as a teacher that the prohibitions against such things as splitting infinitives or ending sentences with prepositions or starting sentences with conjunctions or any number of other silly rules are just that: silly. They often lead to bad writing, and their usefulness is questionable at best. However, I think every writer should know and understand all the old and generally silly prohibitions. Why? Because you will, at some point in your life, encounter someone who really, deeply cares. And you should be able to explain yourself, because the person who really, deeply cares might be somebody you want to impress or convince about something.
In fact, that's why I give my students my long and probably very boring proofreading guide. I want them to impress me, and I don't want my pet peeves about language and usage to get in the way. (No matter how anti-hierarchical we all might want to be, ultimately I'm the guy responsible for my students' grades, and so it's in their best interests to know what my pet peeves are.) They can dismiss my pet peeves as silly or irrelevant if they want, but they can't say they don't know what they are. Indeed, if I say to a student, "Why did you use 'he/she' when my proofreading guidelines specifically say I would prefer for you not to use that construction in my class," and they respond with a thoughtful answer, I may not be convinced by their logic, but I will be impressed that they gave it thought; if, on the other hand, they respond, "Oh, I didn't read that, even though you said it was important and could affect our grade," then I will not be impressed, and my not being impressed may not be a good thing for their grade. Such is life.
But really my purpose here was just to say that despite all the horrible things said about that poor little language guide, I will miss it. True, it shouldn't have looked so official if it were not (I, too, thought it was pretty official, though clearly it was not binding and was little read). The UNH statement is wrong, though, when it says, "Speech guides or codes have no place at any American university." I don't like the idea of speech codes much, either, because speech codes sounds punitive and authoritarian, but guides — well, I like guides. Guides can be useful, especially if you're feeling lost. As a university, we're a big place full of people who come from all over the country and the world, people who have vastly different experiences, people who use language in all sorts of different ways and have all sorts of different feelings about the languages we use. It can be helpful to know that somebody might consider something offensive that I've never even given a second thought to, and helpful to know why that is, so that I can assess how much effort I want to put into rethinking my own language use. The guide to inclusive language had its flaws, certainly, but it was a useful jumping off point for conversation and education. I'll continue to have similar conversations with students (my own proofreading guide has plenty in it to talk about and debate), and will continue to think such conversations are not about somehow curtailing speech, but are in fact about freeing it by empowering speakers to be more aware of what they say and how the words they use affect other people.
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As writers, we put our books out into the world, and they take on a life of their own, apart from us. But sometimes, we get an echo back about what the book is doing, who is reading it and how they are affected. This week, I had one of those incredible, amazing and powerful moments.
Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma
When I worked on the story of an orphaned puma cub from Brazil, the scientists involved were incredibly generous with their time and information. Dr. Marcia Goncalves Rodrigues and Sergio A.P. Ferreira made this book possible. With the publication of the Brazilian translation, they are able to go into the schools with Project Abayomi and do education of teachers and students. Recently, over 500 teachers listened the story of the plight of pumas and other wildlife in urban areas of Brazil.
That’s exciting news, for sure. To see a book travel to a different country and start to make a difference is amazing.
And then, I received this special version of the Portuguese version of the book. What’s so special about it? Why am I grinning so crazily?
Because Abayomi himself signed this book. When the puma was receiving a regular medical checkup, Sergio inked his paw and added his paw print to my book. This is one of those teary moments when you realize that a book isn’t JUST a book. It’s an idea. Pumas face very real dangers from loss of habitat and urban encroachment on their habitat. It’a a small thing to write a book; but a small book can have a huge impact. Thanks, Marcia and Sergio for allowing me the privilege of having a small part in Abayomi’s story. It’s been incredible.
30th July marks the 35th birthday of Neville Longbottom, a character who shows that we can prove ourselves to have more strength and courage than we could ever know.
At first appearance, Neville was an unexpected Gryffindor, and his first few years at Hogwarts were riddled with mishaps. He made his entrance as a clumsy boy looking for Trevor – his toad – on the Hogwarts Express.
He was almost a hatstall at the Sorting Ceremony (pleading with the Sorting Hat to be in Hufflepuff), he melted Seamus Finnigan’s cauldron in his first Potions class, and broke his wrist at his first flying lesson. His luck never seemed to improve, as he was relentlessly mocked and bullied by Draco Malfoy (who pranked him with the Leg-Locker curse in their second term). Even in his first year, however, Neville showed us his courageous side, as he challenged Malfoy (and then proceeded to single-handedly take on Crabbe and Goyle) at the Gryffindor vs Hufflepuff match:
‘Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy.
“I’m worth twelve of you, Malfoy,” he stammered.
Malfoy, Grabbe and Goyle howled with laughter, but Ron, still not daring to take his eyes from the game, said, “You tell him, Neville.” ‘
The Chamber of Secrets saw Neville fearing for his life, facing the prospect of a basilisk in Hogwarts. Though pure-blood, he feared that his squib-like tendencies would lead to him being a target. In one of Gilderoy Lockhart’s lessons he is hung up on a chandelier by his ears, and utters what came to be his most famous quote:
‘Why is it always me?’
In his third year, Neville revealed in Remus Lupin’s Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson on boggarts that his worst fear was Professor Snape, leading into the great scene in which boggart-Snape emerges wearing Neville’s grandmother’s clothes.
He attended the Yule Ball with Ginny Weasley in his fourth year, after being declined by Hermione Granger.
Neville was a devoted member of Dumbledore’s Army in his fifth year, being one of the first to sign up. After we learned that his tortured parents were being treated in St Mungo’s, and that three of their torturers had escaped Azkaban, Neville improved his skills with the DA at a significant rate. He accompanied the trio to the Ministry of Magic to save Sirius Black, was captured and briefly endured the Cruciatus Curse under Bellatrix Lestrange, attempting convince Harry to hand over the prophecy. It is in The Order of the Phoenix that we learn that as both Neville and Harry were born at the end of July to parents who had escaped Voldemort three times, they were both in line to becoming the child Sybill Trelawney’s prophecy spoke of, but Harry had been ‘marked’ as Voldemort’s equal as a baby:
‘The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies’
Neville returned to Hogwarts in The Deathly Hallows, and re-started Dumbledore’s Army, rebelling against the Death Eaters (specifically the brutal Carrows):
‘Alecto, Amycus’s sister, teaches Muggle Studies, which is compulsory for everyone. We’ve all got to listen to her explain how Muggles are like animals, stupid and dirty, and how they drive wizards into hiding by being vicious toward them, and how the natural order is being reestablished. I got this one ((indicates to a large gash on his cheek)) for asking her how much Muggle blood she and her brother have got.’
After being physically punished for his efforts, the Ministry targeted Neville’s grandmother as a method of blackmailing him, however, she managed to escape capture. This led to plans to kill Neville after singling him out as ring-leader of the rebels, and then to his subsequent hiding in the Room of Requirement, a newly-turned hiding place connected to the Hog’s Head and Aberforth Dumbledore.
During the Battle of Hogwarts, Neville received orders from Harry to set killing Nagini – Voldemort’s horcrux – to their highest priority, which he later fulfilled due to having pulled Godric Gryffindor’s sword out of the Sorting Hat. Neville’s bravery in directly standing up to Voldemort and his followers not only proved him worthy of the sword, but also proved just how much of a Gryffindor he had become (and always had been!).
Later in life, Neville became an Auror, then Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts. He married Hannah Abbott, and they now live together above The Leaky Cauldron. Like other members of Dumbledore’s Army, he has kept his enchanted D.A. coin as a badge of honour, occasionally showing impressed students.
J.K Rowling has said that Neville ‘finds happiness in his grandmother’s acceptance of him as a gifted wizard and as the new herbology professor at Hogwarts’. You can read more about his later life in Rita Skeeter’s Daily Prophet article on Pottermorehere.
Join us in wishing Neville a very happy 35th birthday!