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1. Micky Moran Visits the Stately Beat Manor Staff Pull for 9/2/15

Team Comics Beat, the world’s most important comic book website ever to grace the internet, sought out adventure and fun after a hard work week.  However, we were graced with the appearance of Micky Moran. As soon as he entered the halls within the residence of the Stately Beat Manor we knew that he was none-other-than […]

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2. Moonbot Enters the Oscars Race with ‘Taking Flight’

Premiering September 18 in West L.A., 'Taking Flight' is a whimsical tribute to the life of Radio Flyer wagon inventor, Antonio Pasin.

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3. WORK by Beatrice Goh

work

Submitted by Beatrice Goh for the Illustration Friday topic WORK.

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4. My DC Comics Rant. 52 and You. Part 1

YEAH, YEAH. hooper rants but I AM not the only one saying this stuff and here Howlermouse has his turn.  And, yes, it may well be that my age ain't making me "hip"!

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5. TURNING PAGES: LUMIÉRE, by JACQUELINE GARLICK

I'm a big, big fan of novels in which Girls Have Adventures. I love a girl with swash in her buckle and plenty of impetus to find answers for herself and not depend on anyone else. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, adventure novels only meet this... Read the rest of this post

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6. Interview with Fiona Ingram, author of 'The Search for the Stone of Excalibur'

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in the multi award winning The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has just published the second book entitled The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, a treat for young King Arthur fans. She is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?

I think so. I have always scribbled something, either plays for the family, stories to entertain my young brothers, poetry to amuse family members, and then later writing a book just came naturally. Being an avid reader also helps!
 
Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is the second book in my Middle Grade adventure series The Chronicles of the Stone. Book 1 began the adventure after my mother took me and my two young nephews on a family trip to Egypt. I came back and penned The Secret of the Sacred Scarab right away and, when I reached the end of the book, I realised my young heroes hadn’t saved the world yet; they needed more books! The second adventure takes the heroes to Britain, where King Arthur’s sword has been discovered and there is a powerful stone embedded in the hilt. Could this be the source of Excalibur’s legendary powers?

Tell us about your children's books.

I never imagine that one book, which began as a short story filled with anecdotes about our trip to Egypt, would end up as a book, and then a book series. The series is extremely gripping: young heroes Adam and Justin have to locate seven ancient Stones of Power scattered throughout the known world of several thousand years ago. Adam has a special connection with the stones. United, the stones enable someone to read the legendary Egyptian Book of Thoth, the most powerful book in the world, and thus learn the secrets of ultimate knowledge, achieve immortality, and control time, eternity, and the creatures of the land, sea and air. Of course there are baddies who also want these stones, and they pursue our heroes as they travel the globe in search of these powerful objects. Each book takes the kids to a new country, exploring ancient history, geography, culture, mythology, legends, and archaeology within each story. It’s an amazing adventure for the heroes as they meet people who help or hinder them on their quest. 

What are you working on now?

Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeperis non-stop adventure! Continuing the adventure that ended in Britain just a short while ago, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair, with their friend Kim Maleka, are now hunting for the third Stone of Power, one of seven mysterious stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be located in an ancient city, hidden in the depths of the Mexican jungle. When their small plane crashes in the jungle, Adam, Justin, Kim, and James – their archaeologist friend - are rescued by an uncontacted tribe. James, who is wounded, must stay behind as the kids, with only a young boy, Tukum, as their guide, make their way through the dense and dangerous jungle to find the city. Raft riding on a crocodile-infested river and evading predators are just part of this hazardous task. Of course, their old adversary Dr. Khalid is close behind as the kids press on in search of the lost city of stone gods. But he is not the worst of their problems. This time Adam will clash with a terrible enemy who adopts the persona of an evil Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca, and is keen to revive the ancient tradition of human sacrifice. Adam, Justin, and Tukum must play a dreadful ball game of life and death and maybe survive. Will they emerge alive from the jungle? Will Dr. Khalid find the third Stone of Power before they do?

What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?

It’s an understatement to say I have tried everything because I have. I work very hard at marketing my books. Some options have been a waste of money; others have yielded mediocre results. However, a hugely successful strategy for me is what I am doing right now; going on a blog tour. It is organised; the hosts are keen to have you; their readers are interested in the genre you write; you can tell potential readers things that maybe you don’t get an opportunity to do otherwise; and also you have a chance to offer readers something special as a thank you, and to encourage them to read further. You can also get reviews from hosts interested enough to read your book/s and give their opinion. It’s also a way of creating a following of people who will continue to read your books and will look out for them in the future. Another very successful strategy is entering book awards because that tells people your book is of a high quality. I was fortunate that my first MG adventure, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, won a bunch of awards, and that certainly influenced my getting international publishing contracts. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
If you are a parent or have young relatives just getting into reading, the greatest gift you can give them is to instil a love of reading. Enjoying reading is a learned process, and a young child associates the pleasure of reading with a parent or beloved relative with the pleasure of reading as they grow older. Literacy is priceless, and reading and loving books will set that child’s feet firmly on the path to a successful future.

 For More Information
About the Book:

Title: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur
Author: Fiona Ingram
Publisher: Biblio Publishing
Pages: 376
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook


Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur. However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotlandto investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them? 

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped. Book extras include some historical background on King Arthur, the Dark Ages, warfare and weaponry during Arthur’s time, and details on Excalibur. A fascinating peek into the life and times of the real King Arthur, perfect for young time travelers and budding archaeologists.



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7. Begonia Blooms


It's a Mod, Mod World...

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8. THE IMAGE EFFECT: Are Editors Outdated?

This is the first in a planned series of articles about the “Image Effect.” Over the past 20+ years Image Comics has grown from a vanity publisher for the top talents of the 90s into a trendsetter and home to a diverse range of popular titles and creators. How did they accomplish that? Image’s well-known […]

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9. Eight Essential Attributes of the Short Story and One Way It Differs from the Novel

1) There should be a clean clear surface with much disturbance below. 2) An anagogical level. 3) Sentences that can stand strikingly alone. 4) An animal within to give its blessing. 5) Interior voices which are or become wildly erratically exterior. 6) A novel wants to befriend you, a short story almost never. 7) Control [...]

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10. Book Reviews: The Three and Day Four by Sarah Lotz

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed 'The Three' by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival...
 

From Goodreads:
Hundreds of pleasure-seekers stream aboard The Beautiful Dreamer cruise ship for five days of cut-price fun in the Caribbean sun. On the fourth day, disaster strikes: smoke roils out of the engine room, and the ship is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon supplies run low, a virus plagues the ship, and there are whispered rumors that the cabins on the lower decks are haunted by shadowy figures. Irritation escalates to panic, the crew loses control, factions form, and violent chaos erupts among the survivors. 

When, at last, the ship is spotted drifting off the coast of Key West, the world's press reports it empty. But the gloomy headlines may be covering up an even more disturbing reality. 
These two are technically a series, but honestly could easily be read as stand alone novels.  They take place in the same set of circumstances and the twist at the end of Day Four is a lot more meaningful if you read them together, however.

Writing
Very well done.  I love the more literary take on horror and the subtlety represented here.  While I'd definitely put this squarely in the horror category, it's not the blood and guts form of horror that you think of when the genre comes to mind.  It's a lot more beneath the surface, although the terror is definitely there in both books.  Lotz does a great job of creating massive amounts of suspense without resorting to cheap thrills.  Especially in Day Three, there is so much under the surface suspense regarding the children that I found extra creepy just because it wasn't as overt as many authors would have made it.

Entertainment Value
I first read The Three a year ago and somehow never got around to reviewing it.  I didn't remember enough about the ending to feel ok just jumping into Day Four, so I decided to give it a quick reread.  Funnily (and creepily) enough, I wound up starting it on the exact same day this year as I started it last year.  I'm glad I did the reread because it provided some details that enhanced aspects of Day Four's story.  Both books were finished in a matter of days because I just could not put them down.  The Three had me enthralled even as a reread, and Day Four kept me up super late finishing.  I'd classify both as "worth being exhausted tomorrow" books.

Overall
I highly recommend both books to fans of horror who don't require lots of blood and guts to keep their interest.  In my opinion, they're best read in order, but if tales of the high seas interest you more than plane crashes, you'd be fine reading them in any order.  They're also perfect for reading this fall with the darker nights and cozy settings.

Thanks to my local public library for providing me with copies to read!

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11. ...pretty much what we feel like every time we finish an AMAZING book and realize that it's the beginning of a series... and the next book ISN'T OUT YET...

This work is copyrighted material. All opinions are those of the writer, unless otherwise indicated. All book reviews are UNSOLICITED, and no money has exchanged hands, unless otherwise indicated. Please contact the weblog owner for further... Read the rest of this post

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12. Hawk Leads the Self-Published Bestsellers List

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13. Kurdish writing

       At Your Middle East Aras Ahmed Mhamad has a Q & A with Kae Bahar on Breaking new ground with Kurdish literature.
       As Mhamad explains:

While Kurdish language has two major written and spoken dialects, it also has numerous sub-dialects such as Kelhuri, Hewrami, Zazaki, and Leki. Moreover, Soranis use Arabic script whereas Kurmajis use Latin script. The division of Kurdistan has not only affected the geopolitics of the Kurdish land, but it also negatively influenced its literature and language.
       No wonder Bahar wrote his novel in English .....
       (Get your copy of Letters from a Kurd at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)

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14. Silver in the blood, in the hand and everywhere

Media of Silver in the BloodDacia, and her cousin LouLou, are traveling to Romania to meet their mothers' family for the first time.  While Lou visits Paris and shops the fashion houses there, Dacia travels by ship with her Aunt Kate.  Dacia, ever the rebel, is in disgrace since she had an escapade with a certain nobleman in England.

Dacia catches sight of her prim aunt passionately kissing a stranger when the train they have boarded is stopped by snow in the mountains.

Meanwhile, Lou is stalked by That Awful Man, a stranger who accosts her on the ship asking if she is The Wing or the Claw.  Another time, he announces that she is the Smoke and an houri, which upsets her terribly.

In Romania, Dacia meets Prince Mihai, charming to the nth degree.  Then she meets her maternal grandmother, the dread Lady Ioana.  "Dread" does not come close to describing this woman.

Dacia and Lou are trapped by their genetic make-up in a destiny that neither wants nor can control.

But things are worse.  Their family believes that these two girls are the answer to a prophecy.  And the family is at odds about what the prophecy means.

And the English Lord, That Awful Man and Prince Mihai are, none of them, what they seem to be.

Ahh, a proper paranormal romance, set in the home of paranormal activity, the mountains of Eastern Europe!   Terror, entrapment, kidnapping, poison, armed guards, swoon worthy men, Victorian fashions and manners... It's all in here.   Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George.

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15. Guardian Critic Trashes Terry Pratchett

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16. The Well-Appointed Writing Space

To write well, you don't need much equipment. An inexpensive pen or pencil and enough paper to hold whatever you are writing, and you're good. However, the modern writer, if he hopes to publish, needs a little more. Today, I'm going to write a little about my writing space.

I love my writing space. I want to be in here. Loving that space is important, considering how much time I spend in here. I work from home most of the time in my day job, and this is my writing retreat for my creative time. I call my space my Schreibwinkl, or writing nook, and I've set it up to be a kind of refuge, which is not necessarily how we usually think of a work area. But if I'm going to spend a lot of time here, I want it to be comfortable, have what I need, and most importantly. be pleasant enough that I want to spend time in my room.

We all have a different writing space. Some write on the kitchen table, or a small desk in the corner. I'm lucky enough to have a room of my own. It's a small room, about 9x10 feet, which presents some challenges when making the room both functional and welcoming.


A shelf with books and toys can help personalize a room while being functional

No matter how big your space is, personalizing it makes it more comfortable. I need my own space, so making this little room my own is important to me. When I moved into this room, it had basic dark brown carpet and brown 1980s paneling on the walls and fluorescent tube ceiling lights. I lived with that for a while, but I got tired of somebody else's decor, especially since it was dark and dreary. I tore down the paneling (and discovered unfinished drywall with huge gaps behind it. I finished the walls, painted, and replaced the light fixture with bulbs on a dimmer switch. I gave one wall a half-timbered look, as close as I could come to the real thing because I've spent a lot of time in Germany and Austria, and enjoy medieval stuff, and I enjoy the kind of rough, rustic look I created. This summer, I finally pulled the carpet and replaced it with durable vinyl planking that looks like wood. Real wood would have been nicer, but I roll my chair all over the place, so I need something that won't easily scratch. Some people might hate this decorating style, but that's OK. It's me, and it's comfortable. You'll want to do your space your own way.

All of that's great, but this room is for working, and I need it to be a workspace, not just a place where I escape and hide out. For me, that means this is a TV-free room--but with plenty of music, thanks to a sizeable hard drive and decent-enough speakers--and it has plenty of work surfaces.

I have two desks. One is a large corner desk with my personal computer and lots of empty surface space where I can lay out notes or tablets or whatever I need at the moment.


Where the magic happens: the computer where I do much of my writing

The other is an old, small, inexpensive wooden kitchen table, just big enough for the laptop and two monitors I need for my day job.


Most of my day job duties are performed on an old table

And, being me, I also need plenty of technical gadgetry to improve efficiency and help me overcome my natural tendency toward clutter and disorganization. This is where Amazon has been useful.

For example, I have several tablets and other gadgets that I use as part of work and writing life. All of these gadgets need to be plugged in and charged, and that creates a spaghetti of tangled cords that takes up space and does little to add to the comfort of the room. So, I bought a 6-port USB charger that only requires one power outlet but can charge six devices at once.


Organizing cables makes the desk less cluttered

To further reduce the tangle of cords, I bought a pack of ten 7.5" microUSB cables. These cables replace many of my longer cables, and look about as attractive as you can make a cable look. For non-microUSB cables, like the one for my iPad, a simple twist tie helps keep the cable from taking over my desk.

Also, because I always manage to run out of USB ports, I found a monitor stand that has four easy-to-access ports right on the front, and allows me to tuck my keyboard away when I need empty desk space.


My monitor stand helps me free up desk space when I need it, and provides
handy USB ports and a headphone jack

Finally, because this is meant to be a creative space, I have little inspiration things wherever I look. Like my Goats In Trees calendar (hey, we're all inspired by different things) and objects that encourage me to be creative.


I've scattered objects around the room that remind me why I'm here

These are just a few of the things in my Schreibwinkl that help me make it my own and maximize my small space. Everything in the room is meant to facilitate work, make me feel creative, help solve my tendency toward clutter and disorganization, or help me enjoy being in the room. Writing takes a lot of time, and I need a space that is all mine, decorated my way (for better or worse), and makes me prefer to be in here doing what I need to do rather than Out There doing all the other things that compete for my time. Without this personal space that I enjoy, it would be difficult to keep my butt in my chair for the number of hours needed to live the writing life. 

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17. Library Sales

Do libraries buy books the same way other outlets do?

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2015/07/industry-question-library-sales.html

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18. Library of America profile

       In Humanities -- the magazine of the (American) National Endowment for the Humanities -- David Skinner recounts some of the history of the launched-with-the-help-of-an-NEH-grant Library of America, in Edmund Wilson's Big Idea: A Series of Books Devoted to Classic American Writing. It Almost Didn't Happen, providing some interesting background.

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19. Humphries and Del Mundo Introduce 16-Year Old Becca to Weirdworld

Marvel has just announced more details on the post-Secret Wars ongoing series for Weirdworld taking place in the All-New, All-Different Universe launching immediately after the publishing event. The series is switching creative teams from writer Jason Aaron to Sam Humphries of Legendary Star-Lord fame — previous Weirdworld artist Mike Del Mundo is returning to the […]

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20. Dmitry Bykov Q & A

       At Russia Beyond the Headlines Olga Mamayeva has a Q & A with Russian author (and visiting lecturer at Princeton) Dmitry Bykov.
       Some interesting responses -- and title-suggestions, including re. the Russian view of the United States:

In modern literature, the prevalent image of the USA derives from Anatoly Ivanov's novel The Eternal Call (written in 1971-76).
       This has been translated -- but the Progress Publishers (i.e. Soviet) edition isn't too readily available; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

       Dmitry Bykov's own Living Souls has been published by Alma; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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21. Comics In Germany -A Bit Of A Pipe-dream?







D-GRUPPE THE ZEIT GEIST SAGA 



Going by a few Face Book comments it seems that some people have the idea that I think I can just turn up at a European comic convention and the sales and money will flow.

Obviously, these people have NOT read the CBO posts that elicited these 'responses'.

Back in the 1990s I tried to chat to German comic fans on various forums.  I think I had a couple positive experiences -darkjedi and, unless my memory has really gotten so bad that I've got it wrong -Subzero and his brother, Enrique.  I even contributed to various groups -scans of 1960s/1970s comics from Germany that most had heard of (or not) but never seen.  Sadly, that group (basically) took away my membership after earning that I was opposed to illegal scanning of new comics.

The other forums got me these responses:




1.  "Who do you think you are?  English and you think you know German comics!"
2.  "We have seen your work* and it does not fit in Germany!"
3.  "It seems you like the low-brow, childish comics of Bastei and those others.  Comics have to be
     taken as a serious medium not frivolous!"

meh. Arschlochs everywhere.

All I can say regarding (1) above is that I was able to provide cover scans of old German comics back to the 1950s as well as covers and art of Hansrudi Wascher and provide background information most of the members had never heard of.  However, when two very "vocal" members took over they all faded away and, obviously, weren't going to support the foreigner out loud!

(2) well, I had contributed to German zines and was a very active correspondent with many of the Small Pressers of the 1980s/early 1990s and some of my work had been translated into German -including "Revenge of the Ice Queen", the first published D-Gruppe story.  So it was odd that after so much positive feedback, the internet (shock!) produced very negative idiots.

(3) It's true that this type exists everywhere.  They feel that comics cannot be anything other than intellectual or very arty.  These people considered 99% of comics published in Germany as "purile".

 Where are they now?

I partly grew up on a farm in a German village -Dalborn- along with other kids and we read and talked comics and played. At that time (1960s/1970s) there was, amongst some young people, the need for everything "to be German" and not in a bad way. 

My cousins decided that they could no longer understand English -"Auf Deutsch! Ich kann dir nicht verstehen!" It's not as though I was talking English all the time but if you've not spoken a language in a while and go back to it you need a couple weeks to get in the stride again so if I could not remember certain words such as, say, Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz, I said it in English to get a prompt to the German word.  My cousins carried on this "Ich kann dir nicht verstehen" ever since.
THE IRON WARRIOR COLLECTION
In a way it's a bit like the British, in general terms, and "I cannot understand you so I'll shout!"


But I do know that there are a lot of German comic fans who do speak and read English -buy Marvel and DC comics and a lot are into Independent comics. People seems to misunderstand things and think "But they speak German -they won't understand an English comic" which is a bit insulting to be honest.  Germans like comics as much as anyone else.  My uncle used to read Micky Maus or Donald Duck, Lupo and so on. This was back in the 1960s/early 1970s when it was looked down on to be an adult reading a comic -they were for kids!  And, yes, I came across that attitude.

German comickers, publishers and comic history are not exactly unknown to me!  That gives a clittle bit of an edge.

The thing is to make sure that German comic fans know about Black Tower Comics but forums I would never like to try again.  So what is the alternative?  That is something I am looking into. It is also why the idea of spending a fortune going to a big German convention is out.  Maybe smaller events but then mainly to let people know what Black Tower is and see what is available.

After all, there is no reason why a German comic fan who reads English should not enjoy The Iron Warrior or Phantom Detective or even Chung Ling soo or Dene Vernon.  It is making them aware of these books and making it very clear the idea is to exist alongside existing German publishers not push them out of the way (not very likely to happen!).

So all of this needs to be assessed and mainly because to translate books into German will take a long time and if the interest is not there...

It is a necessary move, though as today I am told I have "been unlucky this time" in getting a table at another event.  Very depressing when you have the books but no direct customer contact.  Of course, if an entrepreneur backer for comics comes forward (UK or Germany) it makes it easier.

I've not given up.  And I've no fantasies about the "big time" in Germany.  But we all need to eat, right?
THE CASE BOOK OF CHUNG LING SOO

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22. what is it that we really need? brief reflections following the reinvention of a family home

I have spent much of my summer at my father's side, working through the reinvention of his home of many years. Today, with the help of realtor extraordinaire, Marie Gordon, the reinvention comes to a close. The house is staged. In a matter of days it will be for sale.

We hold onto many things in this life—our third-grade reports, our fifth-grade medals, our computer-science grades, our uncle's letters, the pots and the pans, the ceramic bunnies and the glass ducks, the extra lamps and tea cups. This summer, working through the many shelves and drawers and boxes and closets and frames, the tools on nails, the orchids in pots, I reflected endlessly on the questions: What is it that we really need? What material objects mark and shape a life?

Today, following several morning hours of heavy lifting and flower arranging (and learning a thing or two about picture wire from Marie), I returned to my own modest house thinking about peace and peaceable space—the families we build inside the hope we create. My father and mother raised three children (and a cat named Colors) in this house of many years. We touched the things. We lived the life. The memories remain.




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23. See the New 50th Anniversary ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ Stamps

A dedication ceremony, open to the public, will take place on October 1st.

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24. Railroad Ruminations

Rode on a railroad (narrow gauge)
Along the scenic coast,
A little taste of life gone by,
When folks used trains the most.

We sat on benches, facing out,
The car with open side
And school kids joined the tourists
For an old-time railroad ride.

Pedestrians on nearby paths
All paused to glance our way
And as we rumbled past, we waved
And grinning, so did they.

A train has charm we seldom see -
The whistles and the clacks
Of choo-choo noises as it moves
Along the metal tracks.

No matter if they're very young
Or closer to the grave,
When people see a train chug by,
It makes them want to wave.

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25. The Marvel Studios “Creative Committee” is reportedly dissolved

While the films under the Marvel Studios banner have proven to be enormously popular with moviegoers (even in what’s presumed to be an “off” year for the studio, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man are both currently in the Top 10 grossing films of 2015), there’s no doubt that there are certain creative difficulties behind the […]

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