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1. A Trip to Remember

So they say-- when you are finished writing and revising, take a break for a little bit to get fresh eyes. 

So I did- 

But what a trip. Started our Anniversary Trip in Paris, then Venice, Florence, and Rome.

So I'm sharing a few pictures.

But now I'm
back. And back to work...

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2. Nathaniel Popkin asks about LOVE (in Hidden City)

Philadelphia long ago discovered the gem who is Nathaniel Popkin. He shows up at Emmy Award celebrations, on the jackets of wonderful novels and nonfiction collections, in the pages of Philadelphia magazine, as book review editor at Cleaver. He is, as well, a force behind Hidden City, and what I say here is the truth: few people know more about this city, or think about it more deeply, than Nathaniel Popkin.

So it was a distinct pleasure to be interviewed by him for Hidden City. Our conversation about walking, seeing, thinking, and believing (and Philadelphia) can be found here. I always learn from the questions he asks.

Thank you, Nathaniel.

We're launching Love: A Philadelphia Affair at the Free Library tomorrow night on a stage that will sparkle with the warm wit and intelligence of broadcast pioneer Marciarose Shestack. We hope you'll join us.

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3. Goodhouse

Marshall's eerie, violent, beautiful dystopian story feels all too real when seen through the eyes of her remarkable main character. James is a student at the combination school/prison Goodhouse because of his genetic sequence, not because of anything he's done wrong. But the longer he's there, the more threats abound. This unusual novel is both [...]

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4. Black Tower Comics and Books

And just to prove how I love you all...I decided now might be a good time to treat you to a listing of some of Black Tower's books.

If you are an overseas (non-UK) publisher interested in publishing any title under licence please get in touch via blacktowercg@hotmail.com
BTCG has specialised in presenting original material covering super heroes, crime, adventure, sci fi, horror as well as illustrated prose -not to mention ground breaking books on "world mysteries" and wildlife.  Oh, and even a huge book of interviews with comic creators and publishers.

All the books are, naturally, available for overseas licence -but we cannot translate work: that will be up to any licensed publisher.

What follows is a brief glimpse at some books but you can visit the online store to see more details and books at:


You  can also find some on Amazon and other sources but they do not make me much money so, come on, buy from the online store and remember that at least these books will be collectibles! 

To contact me please check out "About" at the top of the page -thanks!


Black Tower Comics began in 1984 as a Small Press publisher of A5 (US -Digest size) titles such as Adventure,Presents,Windows and Hanley's Garage.  Then came the news, reviews, previews and interviews publication backed up by the mart and mail order service -Zine Zone (later Zine Zone International).

In 2009, with the innovation in publishing of Print On Demand (POD), Black Tower jumped in head first!

One of the first titles to see print in the new comic album format (A4) was The Bat Triumphant! This saw the complete story, begun in Black Tower Adventure vol. 1.  William A. Ward's long lost 1940s character once again saw print as he fought a host of  enemies in an attempt to reclaim his homeland.


And while The Bat may have fought fist and nail to reclaim his homeland, another 1940s Ward creation, Krakos the Egyptian, seemed far from willing to claim a new Egyptian Empire as promised to him by the Gods.  Tackling a number of foes and even encountering the Many-Eyed One, Krakos turned his back on the gods and the final panel of Krakos -Sands Of Terror, delivered a true twist!

Krakos -Sands Of Terror!

Of course, the flag-ship title had to return!  And so Black Tower Adventure -eventually reaching new heights when the legendary Ben Dilworth jumped on board!  Volume 2 consisted of  ten issues. Just look at these covers....

Black Tower Adventure 1Black Tower Adventure 2BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 3Black Tower Adventure 4Black Tower Adventure 5Black Tower Adventure 6ADVENTURE 7Black Tower Adventure 8BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 9Black Tower Adventure 10

And, with something like 40 years worth of files and investigation reports could all that much delving into UFOs, lake and sea creatures and many other mysteries not result in a book or two...or three? Some Things Strange & Sinister, Some More Things Strange & Sinister as well as Pursuing The Strange and Weird: A Naturalist's Viewpoint set a precedence.

Whereas for decades those involved in "UFOlogy", "Cryptozoology" and "Forteana" declared many mysteries, that photographs were lost "to history" and so on, these three books swiped away the false claims.  Alleged lost photographs -found.  'Mysteries' solved by doing actual research work and reading the sources -something others had never done.
Some Things Strange & SinisterSome More Things Strange & SinisterPursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint

And, of course, mention natural history and Black Tower Books broke new ground with that in The Red Paper: Canids -over 40 years research work crammed into one handy book for you!  It's also available on Amazon, etc..

The Red Paper: CANIDS

But not all the prose books covered mysteries and wildlife.

There were the comic creator interviews, too!

The Hooper Interviews!  To celebrate, at the time of publication, over 25 years of interviewing comic creators -writers, artists and publishers- this 365 pages book was produced.

Interviewees included Yishan Li, Marv Wolfman, Dave Ryan, John Cooper, Mike Western, Donna Barr, Roberta Gregory, Sonia Leong, Emma Vieceli, Pekka A. Manninen, Alan Class, Karen Rubins, Kate Glasheen, Ron Fortier, Jon Haward, Franco Francavilla, Rick Geary, Tania Del Rio, The Etherington Brothers, Olivier Cadic (Cinebook the 9th Art), Holly Golightly and MANY others.

 Profusely illustrated with art and photographs!
The Hooper Interviews

And if there is one thing "Herr Professor" loves it is discovering and presenting long lost UK Golden Age (1939-1951) comic strips and characters from publishers such as Gerald Swan, Foldes, Denis M. Reader, Cartoon Art Productions and others.

Scanned and restored as best as can be considering the poor print quality of the rationing years -especially red, orange, yellow, blue and purple ink printing!

Ace Hart The Atomic Man!  The Tornado!  TNT Tom!  Dene Vernon!  Acromaid!  Cat-Girl! Bring 'Em Back Hank! Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead and so many other action heroes and humour strip characters -William A. Ward, Jock McCaill and a host of known and unknown creators contribute -either in single volume " Black Tower Gold" albums or all six collected into the 400+ pager -The Ultimate British Golden Age Collection!

The Collected book is available on Amazon, etc. -but I get VERY little back from sales.

The Ultimate British Comics Gold CollectionBlack Tower British Gold Collection 1Black Tower British Gold Collection 2Black Tower British Gold Collection 3UK GOLD COLLECTION 4Black Tower Gold 5:Back From The Deadblack tower gold 6

Another great love is Centaur Comics from the United States.  Right at the very start of the American Golden Age of Comics Centaur had creators who were ahead of the others!  Before Plastic Man there was Plymo!  Before The Human Bomb there was TNT Todd!  Before Green Arrow and waaaaaaay before Hawkeye there was the mysterious red hooded archer called The Arrow!  And, to just break your comic mind world there was even a Black Panther -decades before Kirby came up with his character of the same name.

The Eye Sees All.  The Owl. The Iron Skull.  Amazing Man. The King of Darkness.  The Invisible Terror. The Blue Lady. The Shark. Mini Midget & Kitty.  Mighty Man. Super Anne.  The company may have been short-lived but it's characters -oh boy!

The two volume Centaur Heroes Collection has been compiled into one sweet 140 page comic collection!
The Ultimate Centaur Collection 2011

Horror. Ghost stories.  The twist-in-the tale.  Did you think that a publisher who is a big horror comic/film fan would ignore these?

Nope.  Each year since 2010, BTCG has published a Tales Of Terror anthology album and 2014s included some fun and spooky lost Swan Comic strips.  I mean how can you go wrong -even Ben Dilworth is in these!

 Tower Tales Of TerrorTales Of Terror 2TALES OF TERROR IIITales Of Terror 4

The Church Of England has it's own basher of dark forces in the Reverend Merriwether -"God's Demon0-Thumper" as the press billed him.  From an ancient Egyptian demon to a village of the damned and Varney the Vampyre, werwolves and a final confrontation with Satan himself -Merriwether pulls no punches and offers no compromise.  And in those last few seconds between life and death, Merriwether's mind recalls past cases -thanks to Ben Dilworththe Tall Man of Osaka.

Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper and Merriwether: The Test Of Satan are available as individual comic albums or in one swanky book The Collected Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper.

 Merriwether:God's Demon-ThumperMerriwether:The Test Of SatanMerriwether: Gods Demon Thumper

Oh, did I forget to mention Dene Vernon -British comics' first investigator of the supernatural and strange mysteries?  I did? Unbelievable since Gavin Stuart Ross drew the 1948 based Dene Vernon: The Thing Below!

 Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

 And did you know Ross also drew the two adventures of Victorian mystery man Chung Ling Soo? Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon and Chung Ling Soo: The Case Of The Thames Serpent were two cracking tales of magic, adventure, murder and deception -still available as single comic albums or collected together to form The Adventures Of Chung Ling Soo!

Chung Ling Soo 1Chung Ling Soo Man Of Mystery


Ben Dilworth is no slouch either!  Chung Ling Soo's police "counter-foil" isnone other than old London "Jack" (police man) Inspector Wilberforce and when Dilworth says "Here's a Wilberforce one-off: PUBLISH IT!" you do not argue!


And did you know you can be a Gold Master of Japanese Haiku?  Well, neither did I -but guess what?  Ben Dilworth is such a master and his Osaka Brutal features his Haiku in English!

 Osaka Brutal

Old saleman that he is, Dilworth just keeps on going.  He produced Aesop's Fables -a darker version of the childrens tales and then went on to write two well illustrated prose albums looking at spirits and demons -Dilworth's Japanese Yokai and Dilworth's Western YokaiOsaka and the Yokai books were combined with Aesop's Fables into the one volume The Collected Ben R. Dilworth -though the single volumes are also still available.

The Collected Ben R. DilworthDilworth's Japanese YokaiDILWORTH WESTERN YOKAIDilworths Aesop's Fables

Horror comics yes but also some nice illustrated prose from Dilworth in...Dilworth's Horror & Ghost Stories but for the connoisseur those stories were collected together with the Phantom Detective comic strips into The Complete Phantom Detective!
Dilworth's Horror & Ghost StoriesTHE COMPLETE PHANTOM DETECTIVE

And could anyone forget the sensational Iron Warrior Versus Big Bong:When Giants Fought? But add to that the various Iron Warrior strips from Adventure and you get The Iron Warrior Collection -When Giants Fought!  In the 1940s, William A. Ward's creation was to be the most graphically violent comic strip seen until the 1970s.  That is some legacy. It continues....with a touch of fun!


In case you are wondering, yes, obviously there are super heroes.  Mix in ancient pantheons of gods, giant robot, alien invasion, Lovecraftian dark ones and so much more that the book runs to over 320 pages then you have part 1 of Terry Hooper-Scharf's Invasion Earth Trilogy" or as it is titled Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes!  And epic ending with the words: "Dr Morg has killed us all" -and if you have never read the mind altering counter actuality that is The Dr Morg Trilogy you may be saying "What? Who-?"

And part 2 of the trilogy The Cross Earths Caper ought to get you in the mood for 2015s big 31st Anniversary third part of the trilogy The Green Skies.

Again, these two are available via Amazon and other online services -just check!

 The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super HeroesTHE CROSS EARTHS CAPERJourney Of The ID:The Dr Morg Trilogy

If you pass the ESTC (Epileptic Seizure Test Cover) on Dr Morg well, you are fit and healthy enough to read it and to check out all the Black Tower Comics and Books at the online store -see why we are the UKs largest publisher of  Independent Comics!

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5. Ben R. Dilworth Silvermaigne:Knight Ghoul Hunter

Black & White
42 Pages
Price: £5.00 
The Silvermaigne line is said to go back to the time of the Ancient Britons. 
Silvermaignes ancestors were part of a druidic clan based in the great forest that is today known as Leigh Woods, overlooking the River Severn entering (today) Bristol. All the members of the tribe had white hair from birth and they were known as the mwng arian (Silver Manes). 
Even the druids bowed to their knowledge of demons, spirits and things of the darkness. 
But at a point several centuries ago the family split and took two paths -one embraced magik for its own fight against evil.  The other renounced the use of personal magik so as not to become tainted and seduced by it.
For the first time Ben Dilworth looks at the latter branch of the Silvermaigne family and what one of them endures to keep the fight Holy! 

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6. The Courage to Act

In this extraordinary story of politics and the people, the former chair of the Federal Reserve offers an insider's account of the cataclysmic financial crisis of 2007 and the extraordinary effort of the Fed and the Treasury Department to buoy the U.S. and world economies, preventing further catastrophe. Books mentioned in this post The Courage [...]

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7. Gold Fame Citrus

Watkins received much well-deserved attention (and several awards) for her debut story collection, Battleborn. Her first novel is just as dazzling. Set in a vividly rendered near-future West that has turned dry as bones, Gold Fame Citrus follows the journey of an ex-model, an ex-soldier, and a toddler they've rescued. This eerie, hypnotic tale of [...]

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8. Watch: Pixar Releases New Full-Length ‘Good Dinosaur’ Trailer

Can Pixar release two great films in one year?

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9. The Song Machine

A fascinating look at what goes into making today’s pop music, including the ever-helpful question that producers have learned to ask: "How does it sound in the car?" Seabrook takes us inside the hit factories, introduces the major players, explains how pop music ended up where it is now, and reveals why Sweden has been [...]

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10. Who Was The Phantom Who Drew The Phantom Sheriff?

When I originally posted this Phantom Sheriff page over at the now redundant Golden Age blog, I knew it was from Knockout weekly of 14th June, 1947.  And I thought it might be the work of  Jock McCail.  So I've checked and double-checked.

Artists used a specific standard style so unless you can identify quirks such as how a hand is drawn it's hard to tell who did what.  I still think it looks very McCail so I'll soon be getting my Swan Comics volumes out to check the styles.

But if YOU know who drew this let me know.....I ain't proud.

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11. Portrait of a Lady

I know Henry James is not everyone’s cup of tea but I love the long sentences, the way the story kind of oozes along, the psychological analysis, it’s good stuff! James was well aware what people thought of his stories. In the introduction to Portrait of a Lady he writes,

I’m often accused of no having ‘story’ enough. I seem to myself to have as much as I need — to show my people, to exhibit their relations with each other; for that is all my measure.

And that is what he does, examines relationships.

In Portrait of a Lady we have the young American Isabel Archer whose father has just died. Her two older sisters are married and Isabel is left with only a small income and no idea what to do with herself. He aunt swoops in from England and whisks her to Gardencourt where Isabel meets her uncle, Mr. Touchett and cousin Ralph. The Touchett’s are American expats who have more or less gone native, so to speak.

Isabel is naive and energetic, she wants to live life to its fullest on her own terms. She is without guile and so utterly charming that all the young men seem to fall in love with her. She left a suitor behind in America who eventually follows her to England in hopes of getting Isabel to marry him. Ralph’s friend and neighbor, Lord Warburton, is smitten and within days of meeting Isabel proposes. Isabel turns them all down because she is too well aware of the trap marriage will make for her.

Ralph loves Isabel too but keeps it to himself. Instead of asking her to marry him, when Mr. Touchett dies, Ralph asks that he settle a large part of his estate on Isabel. Ralph wants to see what kind of person and life Isabel will have when she has the money to do whatever she pleases.

At first it all goes well. But then Isabel falls into the clutches of Madame Merle who is nothing but gracious and perfect on the outside but a wicked schemer on the inside. Madame Merle sets up Isabel with Gilbert Osmond, an American expatriate living in Italy. He has a young daughter, Pansy, and a sad story of his wife’s death. He has no money but exquisite taste revealed in his collections of art and other items. Isabel is such a unique piece of work herself, plus she has money, so Osmond turns on the charm and adds Isabel to his collection by convincing her to marry him.

Of course it is not a happy marriage. Isabel refuses to properly fit into Osmond’s collection. There is much that happens with Isabel and Lord Warburton, with Pansy and her suitors, with Osmond and Madame Merle. Many times Isabel is offered the chance to escape her marriage but she refuses to leave out of sheer stubbornness and a belief that she made her bed and now she has to lie in it.

There are exciting secrets revealed. Marital arguments. Threats. For nothing happening there is quite a lot that happens! The ending is infuriatingly ambiguous. Isabel went to England against Osmond’s wishes to attend Ralph on his deathbed. Afterwards she returns to Italy but we are not sure if she returns to Osmond or if she returns to rescue Pansy from the convent Osmond has put her in as punishment.

Isabel is a frustrating character. She is independent and smart and speaks her mind. Yet she is always trying to be the good wife. She submits to Osmond as best she can, but her nature will only allow her to bend so far before she rebels. So she suffers both mentally and emotionally. It is well within her power to do something about it but she refuses. I wanted to yell at her. Ralph and Lord Warburton do. Well, they don’t yell, they are gentlemen after all, but they express their concern and strongly urge Isabel to leave. But the ending leaves us hanging. Will she go back to Osmond? I like to think she won’t but I don’t feel confident in that.

Isabel’s marriage is in direct comparison in many ways with the independent Henrietta Stackpole, feminist, journalist, and friend of Isabel. Henrietta and Ralph’s friend Mr. Bantling hit it off and begin traveling together. It is an entirely unconventional relationship but it works. Eventually Henrietta and Mr. Bantling get married but it is on Henrietta’s terms and we can believe that theirs will be a successful marriage. I loved Henrietta, she is what Isabel wanted to be (kind of) but couldn’t manage. The novel would be fun to reread some time and compare the two women and their marriages more carefully.

I read Portrait of a Lady along with Danielle. I liked it a lot more than she did but I think we both enjoyed it. It is one of James’s most popular long novels and if you are wanting to try Henry James and are a bit nervous about it, I think Portrait of a Lady is a good place to start.

Filed under: Books, Reviews Tagged: Henry James

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12. Pinterest

How can you use Pinterest to raise awareness of your book?


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13. Thank You and Good Night

Clement, Jean, and Alan Alexander are having a sleepover. They play and play and play... and finally snuggle in. Illustrated with Patrick McDonnell's sweet, small, whimsical cartoons, Thank You and Good Night is a story about bedtime that makes the perfect bedtime story. Books mentioned in this post Thank You and Good Night Patrick Mcdonnell [...]

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14. NYCC 15: Kodansha comics big announcements and signings

    Here’s Kodansha’s complete line-up and giveaways. Junji Ito cat comics and Tony Moore Attack on Titan? I think I see where this is going.   The Biggest Attack on Titan Manga Announcement Ever    Thu Oct 8 | 4-5 | Room 1A18 In which we make the biggest announcement about Attack on Titan comics […]

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15. Now Call Me A Miserable ***** But.....

I wasn't good enough for a table at last weekends zine event in Bristol.  Apart from Mr Brown I have to say I was not made very welcome either.  And so the last thing I expected was for someone -whom I did not see take a photograph nor ask if I/we minded- to surreptitiously take a photograph while I was having a private conversation -as is obvious if you look at this.

The photo is obviously focussed on the two of us and I'm not aware of anyone asking "do you mind if-?"  As part of a crowd at an event okay but I just take this as an intrusion -especially as it is, I am told (I've not visited the unnamed Face Book page) on the event's FB page.  The organisers know me.  They know Mr Brown.  They couldn't check first with their "right on" attitude?

It is common courtesy to ask if you can take a photo of someone -and I DO NOT want people thinking I support this event.  Maybe I ought to find out who the photographer is, follow them and take photographs of him/her?

Sorry, just totally fecked off at the current crop of Small Pressers and hangers on.  You want to take a photo of me -ASK.

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16. The Rest of Us Just Live Here

You know all those books where the Chosen Ones are busy saving the world? This isn’t one of them. Ness gives us the story of what everyone else is doing while the world is being saved. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the tale of (more or less) ordinary teens growing up in [...]

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17. Anne-Margot Ramstein

Anne-Margot Ramstein


Beautiful work from Anne-Margot Ramstein an author and illustrator based in Montreal.




Anne-Margot Ramstein

Anne-Margot Ramstein

Anne-Margot Ramstein



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18. The Doldrums

Archer Helmsley wants to be an explorer and is constantly cooking up schemes. When he decides to rescue his long-lost grandparents, he enlists his reluctant sidekick Oliver Grub and Adelaide, a girl with a wooden leg (because of a crocodile?), to help him. This is an amusing illustrated novel of friendship and adventure. Books mentioned [...]

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19. Writers' Block Biscotti

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20. Inktober 2015 - Day 6

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21. #Diversiverse Challenge

I am participating in the #Diversiverse Challenge, in which you have to:
  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the first two weeks of October (October 4th-17th, 2015)

I wanted to include a Jewishly diverse angle, so I selected My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman (Amulet/Abrams, 2013). The author and the protagonist have a mixture of European Jewish and East Indian heritage. The novel is aimed at 10-14 year olds.

I found this to be a delightful book. Twelve-year-old Tara Feinstein forges her identity as a Jew with strong pride in both the Jewish and Indian sides of her family. She struggles and grows as her relationships with best friends and boys change and develop, she expresses her individuality while respecting her family relationships, and she takes her Bat Mitzvah lessons seriously. Despite all the important learning going on, the tone remains light and upbeat, a fun read. Characters are well-developed and likable. Comparisons with Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume (1970) are inevitable, as a mixed-heritage girl contemplates her religious identity, but Tara seems to have a pleasing confidence that Margaret lacks. As a bonus, the paperback edition (2015) has recipes included at the back for Jewish traditional dishes with an Indian twist

For those who enjoyed the Indian/Jewish mix of Mira in the Present Tense, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, or the cultural tensions of the film Bend It Like Beckham, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah will be very welcome. For an interesting comparison of Basmati and Mira, check out Matzo Masala in The New York Times, Nov. 2013.

Check out other entries in the #Diversiverse Challenge here!

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22. Genius Act - Raising the Bar of IQ

There are a wide range of IQ of the general population. Some of us like to think that we are at the upper end of the spectrum. How do you really know for certain what your situation is, right? Some people believe that it is just a matter of IQ test online. The problem is, if at all, only a few of those who are actually on the standardized test methods IQ. Many of them point in the same test procedure.

So how do you decide if a person is really a genius?

There is a way to know if someone who is a genius is absolutely clear. This means that the test limit bandwidth resources.

I'm sure most people at some point heard references to MacGyver. It was a television series about a man of devices that would be created using the basic and simple ingredients that can not take anybody really. Against expectations lower chance he could. This is the most obvious sign of genius, you will find far.

Note: MacGyver is a fictional character, and only in reference to the current correlation between the concepts in this article is passed.

Give me one example!

If you are a genius uneducated person, but also has a strong sense of ambition, with interest in a particular area and a man with 3 doctors and ask them both to a hypothetical application, while only build in the existing theory can be used to his surprise.

Candidate members with many years of training and discipline in this area is automatically provided with the best possible means to solve the problem. However, if he can not do it, and uneducated man could. It is clear that people without education in order smarter than the opponent.

Intelligence is not too good to keep to the tests or information from books. These elements of data storage simply a useful tool to the intellect, which directly helps to facilitate understanding. But the preservation of data is not smarter than the power of a parrot. This data and semantic knowledge, a true genius does come. The more information can be correlated likely success.

Can we increase our IQ?

A person can actively work to increase their IQ by semantic knowledge of information in a particular area. This can be partially relieved of research, but mainly depends on the development practices and the use of knowledge in the form of a solution for a particular problem.

In retrospect, the withholding of information from the doctrine that knowledge is to be attentive to the other person, which should visit the student's perspective. Act reformulation to make them understand the other person, the sense of your individual level of knowledge is probably the most effective ways of strengthening itself.

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23. welcome to rufflife

Let us know what you think about new film.  Don't forget to join in the Ruff Life Online YouTube Shout Out. Let's make this the BIGGEST THANK YOU EVER!

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24. A Different Neighborhood

Walk a different neighborhood
From where you do reside
And you’ll feel the deviation,
Like a widening divide.

For the stores are unfamiliar
As are all the passersby.
You’re a stranger in your city
Which your age does magnify.

For the downtown crowd is hipper
And they’re brandishing their youth,
Making everyone invisible
Who’s longer in the tooth.

Somehow when I’m on vacation
In a place I do not know,
There’s excitement being part of
All the dwellers’ ebb and flow.

But within my own environs,
In a neighboring frontier,
There are times it really feels like
I just seem to disappear.

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25. Lucifer cat!

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