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1. Curious George's Train (2014)

Board Book: Curious George's Train. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Choo-choo! Choo-choo! The engine's pulling in. George is so excited for the train ride to begin!

Premise/Plot: George and one of his friends--a boy, not the man in the yellow hat--are going for a train ride. George is excited, of course. Don't expect this curious little monkey to get into trouble during the ride. It doesn't happen. He stays in his seat like a good little monkey. The text is simple; it rhymes. It's okay. Nothing special.

My thoughts: This was an okay book for me. I liked that this book is in the style of the original Curious George. And I do think that there's always, always a demand for more train books. This one works well enough for that need at least. The wheels on the front cover do spin a little. This book like Curious George's Crane features press-out pieces for children to play with.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Colleen McCullough, Nevertheless

Colleen McCullough has the kind of life I wanted to live. She was insanely popular but didn’t go on tour or have much of a public life. I guess she wrote a bunch of books, but probably didn’t need to. The Thorn Birds probably makes enough money every year to sustain a slightly indulgent lifestyle. It is the bestselling book of all time to come from Australia, and is that rarest of things, an international bestseller. I now know that she was also a scientist, who pursued her career long past needing the money.

The Thorn Birds was as commonly seen in houses as bread when I was a teenager, even living abroad, and that book also stands out for me as one of a dozen that everybody was reading the same time, and one of a handful I thought deserved every inch of its success. (A couple of others in that exclusive group are Perfume and Pillars of the Earth).

In recaps of her career this past week it’s been unfairly compared to books like Fifty Shades of Grey, which makes me think that reviewers have not read or don’t remember it well. It was a romance, of course, but made of slowly simmering passions left on the back burner for a decade before they were brought to a boil. It is also, for the first third or so, simply a wonderful growing up and coming of age story, for both its heroine and Anglicized Australia. Maybe there’s sexism or anti-genre sentiment in bracketing the two together, a hallmark great novel with a titillating accidental bestseller. But maybe it’s just the laziness of reporting.

I admit that when I saw the news of Ms. McCullough’s passing, I had not thought of The Thorn Birds in decades, but once prompted, I recalled several scenes vividly. What better testament can a book get than being memorable?

She is now known as a person with a bad obit. Nevertheless, she was a remarkable and inspiring person, both for what she did and how she went about it.


Filed under: Miscellaneous

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3. Little Red's Riding 'Hood (2015)

Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Here and there, up and down, in and out, Little Red loved riding around his 'hood. One day, Big Blue Mama gave Little Red an important job. "Poor Granny Putt Putt is feeling run-down," she said. "Her oil is muddy, her exhaust pipe's exhausted, and her wiper fluid is wiped out. Please take her this basket of goodies right away."

Well. I almost don't know what to say about it. It's unusual and original all in one, I suppose. I'd never have thought about retelling the tale of Little Red Riding Hood in this way. The book is set in Vroomville, and all the characters are machines. Little Red is a scooter; Granny Put-Put is a golf cart; and the Big Bad Wolf, well, he's a very mean monster truck. The story is familiar enough, I suppose, in the end, yet it has an original feel to it. That doesn't mean that I personally love it.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. What I Make

Logos  •  Icons  •  Emoticons

Characters  •  Packaging

Brochures  •  CD Covers

Books and Magazines

Ads • Product Renderings

Textiles  •  Posters

Banners  •  Illustrations

Silk Screen Prints

And So Much More...

       

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5. Daffodils

Daffodils-01

Sometimes beauty is its own reason. These daffodils (any daffodils really) bring me joy.  Building these vector flowers was every bit a love affair. As with every project, I get to practice what I know and stretch into areas unknown. For those of you that know Illustrator, the leaves are brushes with the twist built in. The flowers themselves are blends, and radial and linear gradients (no gradient mesh).

Whenever a sign of spring is needed, this little beauty is there to remind me.

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6. Golden Advice: My Fellow Worms!

Hi folks, this is my February series on Golden Advice. I like to spend the month of February digging into the wisdom that has come my way, and that guides my art, my craft and my life. I find having some wise stuff in the soul helps me write stories with purpose.

I like to start with American poet Carl Sandburg. I always have this feeling that Carl is with me on my writing journey. His words whisper in the back of my heart. Something about his homespun writing gives me hope that I can be so much more. This week I'm going to respond to Carl Sandburg's broadcast in the 1950s called "My Fellow Worms."

Here's the first thing up. You grow older and you start getting a sense of what you really believe. This is the stuff that is tried and true. If you ask the question, "What do I believe?" and then answer it -- you end up writing a book or making a cute poster with a smart saying on it. Carl believed in "getting up in the morning with a serene mind and a heart holding many hopes." I am one the fellow worms. This little thought makes me want to put on some music and dance. Life is all about the small, tried and true things. I hope that you are waking up to this truth.

We are small in this universe. Tiny, tiny, tiny. Like Carl said about us: insignificant speck of animate star dust each of us is amid cotillions of billion-year constellations. When you realize this, it helps put perspective on all those hills you are trying to climb. In view of the universe, the towers of achievement that men proclaim just don't make a lot of sense. Note: I wrote a poem to bless my friends or I wrote a book that reached the planet -- not much difference in the scheme of things. Always keep things in perspective.


Next up, stop being so freaked out by pride. Pride is a good thing though it has a bad rap as a deadly sin. Be proud of your achievements but stay out of the sticky glue of  arrogance.  You know, don't lose your perspective and jump into vanity -- look at me!  Not so easy in this life -- we live in the look-at-me generation -- selfies, social media, online life.  Keep out of  the mirror gazing. Your personality is sacred. It's a holy thing.  Keep that in mind every time you share a bit of yourself. If you cut off enough, you will lose who you are. 

Finally, I share a love of platitudes like Carl. Occasionally I here someone disparage my love platitudes but old well used thoughts are hard won.  Moral content and thoughtfulness is much more than banal. You won't convince me otherwise. We should hold old sayings dear and not use them as lip service. 
Share the platitudes that you have earned the right to share. 

I especially like Carl thoughts about preserving our freedoms.  We live in a world that seems to forgotten that "eternal vigilance is price of liberty."  We are all in the struggle of freedom. You must get up today and fight. You will do it again tomorrow. Every life will find some "fiery trial and agony." Don't forget that as you share those tried and true words and suffer degradation because you have trusted others. 

We are small but wondrous. Every little thing is going to shine, shine. Every little thing is going to shine. I hope my response to Carl's wisdom helps you find your way. Let it guide your creative journey.  I will be back next week with more Golden Advice.   

Here is a doodle:  Spring is around the corner.
Here is a quote for your pocket. 

Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you. Carl Sandburg

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7. Vermeer-related film

onscreen

Girl with a Pearl earring and other Treasures from the Mauritshuis
produced by Exhibition on Screen
in cinemas from 13 January
http://www.exhibitiononscreen.com/girl-with-a-pearl-earring

from Exhibition on Screen’ website:
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is one of the most enduring paintings in the history of art. Even today, its recent world tour garnered huge queues lining up for the briefest glimpse of its majestic beauty – In Japan 1.2 million people saw the exhibition. Yet the painting itself is surrounded in mystery. This beautifully filmed new documentary seeks to investigate the many unanswered questions associated with this extraordinary piece. Who was this girl? Why and how was it painted? Why is it so revered?

After its world tour, the Girl with a Pearl Earring returned to the much-loved Mauritshuis in The Hague, Netherlands, which has just completed extensive renovations. Enjoying unparalleled exclusive access to this historical exhibition, the film takes the audience on a journey as it seeks to answer many of the questions surrounding this enigmatic painting and its mysterious creator, Vermeer. Using the recently completed and highly complex makeover of the museum as its starting point, the film goes on a behind the scenes detective journey to seek out the answers that lie within the other masterpieces housed in the collection.

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8. Seuss on Saturday #5

McElligot's Pool. Dr. Seuss. 1947/1974. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence:
"Young man," laughed the farmer, "You're sort of a fool! You'll never catch fish in McElligot's Pool!"
Premise/Plot. Marco, the young boy in the story, is fishing at McElligot's Pool. Though the farmer warns him that the pool is just where people throw junk, the young boy claims he's not foolish or wasting his time fishing there. He tells how the pool could be--might be--connected to the sea itself. And how right this minute even all sorts of fish might be making their way to the pool for him to catch. He describes hundreds of fish, giving his imagination room to shine. But is the farmer convinced? Are readers?

My thoughts: It is nice to see Marco again. (I'm assuming that this Marco is the Marco of And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, which was published ten years previously.) Marco's imagination is going strong.

Even though I don't like fishing. I liked this book about fishing. I liked it more than I thought I would.
I might catch a thin fish,
I might catch a stout fish.
I might catch a short
or a long, long, drawn-out fish.
Any kind! Any shape! Any color or size!
I might catch some fish that would open your eyes!
and
Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish
If a fellow is patient, he might get his wish!
This one won a Caldecott Honor. Half the illustrations are in black and white. Half the illustrations are in color.

Have you read McElligot's Pool? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I would love to hear what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss' picture books (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Catching up with Sara Levine, Multimedia Producer

Another week, another great staff member to get to know. When you think of the world of publishing, the work of videos, podcasts, photography, and animated GIFs doesn’t immediately come to mind. But here at Oxford University Press we have Sara Levine, who joined the Social Media team as a Multimedia Producer just last year.

When did you start working at OUP?

I started working at OUP this past August, three months after completing my Master’s degree at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology Program.

How did you get started in multimedia production?

I’ve been drawing comics and making short videos since I was a kid. My first big hit was in high school. I wrote, directed, filmed, and edited a parody of Wuthering Heights called “Withering Estates.” I played Heathcliff. No, it’s not on YouTube.

What is your typical day like at OUP?

My workdays at OUP vary depending on the projects that I’m currently working on. I’m usually filming, animating, drawing, recording audio, editing footage, or multi-tasking any of the above.

sara-as-heathcliff
“Sara as Heathcliff.” Drawing by Sara Levine.

What will you be doing once you’ve completed this Q&A?

After I complete this Q&A I’m going to continue making illustrations for an animated short I’m producing for the Oxford Dictionaries YouTube channel.

What gear or software are you obsessed with right now?

I learn something new about Adobe After Effects every time I use it. The unlimited amount of techniques and shortcuts in After Effects seems daunting at first, but I really enjoy exploring everything it can do.

What are you reading right now?

I just started reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I have a bad habit of reading books too quickly (developed over years of tearing through Harry Potter books on their release dates), so I’m trying to pace myself with this one.

batwoman
“Batwoman.” Drawing by Sara Levine.

What’s your favorite book?

Instead of one favorite book, I’m going to list five of my favorite comics:

  • Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III
  • The Long Journey by Boulet
  • Pancakes by Kat Leyh
  • Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Which book-to-movie adaptation did you actually like?

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed teen movies that are modern adaptations of older works. Films like Clueless, She’s the Man, O, Easy A, and 10 Things I Hate About You are very clever and sometimes overlooked because of their target demographic.

sara-backpack
“Sara’s backpack.” Drawing by Sara Levine.

What is in your backpack right now?

A Maruman Mnemosyne sketchbook, a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet, Orlando, a manual for the Canon C100, a pencil case, a red umbrella, a disposable rain poncho, a pear, and a small bag of gluten-free pretzels.

Most obscure talent or hobby?

I’m not sure how obscure this is, but I played the French horn for about eight years. The experience gave me very powerful lungs and some great French horn jokes.

What do you do for fun?

I make more multimedia, of course! You can find my doodles, comics, .gifs, and videos under the handle “morphmaker” on Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo, and Deviantart. I also run a podcast with my sister. It’s called Sara & Allison Talk TV. We discuss television shows and web series that feature central female characters and include elements of fantasy, action, and science fiction.

The post Catching up with Sara Levine, Multimedia Producer appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Mysteries Prevail Today

The long silence since my Christmas
posting was due to the exciting news that my middle grade mystery, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, will be published in June by MX Publishing. I was busy with formatting and editing issues to get it ready. (MX Publishing specializes in Sherlock related books, so Sherlock fans can go HERE to see a wonderful selection.) You can also read more about my book  next  door on my Victorian Scribbles blog HERE:

Not surprisingly, I have been reading a lot of mysteries both for young people and for adults. I recently joined Capitol Crimes, the local chapter of Sisters-in-Crime, since I'm currently working on a cosy mystery for adults. I was invited there by a friend, and it's her book I want to talk about today: Flint House, by Kathleen L. Asay, published by Bridle Path Press.

Flint House is a mystery, in fact a bundle of mysteries revolving

around what happens when disparate lives intersect over what should be a tragic event and stir up past events each character would like to forget.

Liz Cane, a cynical journalist with The Sacramentan, goes for an interview with Maisie Flint, the unpleasant owner of Flint House, a Victorian landmark in town. At one point, Maisie interrupts the interview to check on something upstairs. A few minutes later she tumbles down the stairs and dies.

Did she trip? Or was she pushed?

The tenants of Flint House are life's strays, hiding out from life in this rickety, shabby old Victorian. One mysterious tenant is called The Princess. No one knows her real name, but all the tenants seem to adore her, whereas none of them were especially fond of Maisie. The tenants also face eviction once Maisie's distant relative shows up to claim the house. The Princess claims to have a solution that will save Flint House. Then she is found in an alley, beaten nearly to death.

A random attack by a stranger? Or was she attacked by someone who knew her?

Despite herself, Liz gets drawn into their lives. She finds herself pursuing the story, partly as hard-bitten reporter, and partly because she cares about this motley collection of people who have become a family to each other. She's also obsessed with solving the mystery of The Princess's real identity.

I know it's almost a cliche these days to say "I couldn't put the book down," but I couldn't.  It was an engrossing read, and the characters are memorable. Despite the events I've mentioned, it's also a heartwarming read. I highly recommend it.

And no spoilers here. You will have to read the book to answer the questions raised above.

You can buy the book HERE: and HERE:

You contact the author at her website HERE:

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11. Vermeer-related publication

beholder

The Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing
Mar 16, 2015
by Laura J. Snyder
http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?id=4294985240

from the publisher’s website:
In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns, and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing. With charm and narrative flair Snyder brings Vermeer and Van Leeuwenhoek—and the men and women around them—vividly to life. The story of these two geniuses and the transformation they engendered shows us why we see the world—and our place within it—as we do today.

reviews:
“Laura Snyder is both a masterly scholar and a powerful storyteller. In Eye of the Beholder, she transports us to the wonder-age of seventeenth-century Holland, as new discoveries in optics were shaping the two great geniuses of Delft—Vermeer and van Leeuwenhoek—and changing the course of art and science forever. A fabulous book.”
— Oliver Sacks

Eye of the Beholder is a thoughtful elaboration of the modern notion of seeing. Laura J. Snyder delves into the seventeenth century fascination with the tools of art and science, and shows how they came together to help us make sense of what is right in front of our eyes.”
— Russell Shorto, author of Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City

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12. "I Just Do NOT Want To Sort Through This Box!"

And with those words....I sorted through the box.

Go figure.

Papers, journals....hello....a piece of artwork?

Wow.  It was the original, pre-Letraset lettering, 1986 Black Tower ad that I thought had been lost years ago.  Featured are Wildmane, Runestone (the flying guy with the big moustache if you have never -WHAT?!- read a Black Tower book before) and to their rear, Team Nippon's own Red Dragon (when Black Tower had a super hero group).

You see -you can make surprise finds!


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13. My Totally I̶r̶r̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶ Rational Fears

Is it weird that I want bus drivers to like me?


I was thinking about this the other day.  Like, why does it matter if I'm on their good side?


I've never seen the same driver twice.  It's kind of an irrational fear.


But then I thought


Is it really that irrational?


I mean, nothing's really stopping THIS


from happening.



















Later...



*******





Another Totally Rational Fear I have:

Why waiters scare the tar outta me.

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14. Home Again in Greencastle

So here I am, home again in Greencastle, as happy a Hoosier as I was before. I'm living again with my friend Julia, and her six-year-old son Alex, in her cozy home on Anderson Street, a few blocks from the campus. (Ignore my thumb at the top of the photo. I'm still new to taking pictures with my phone.)


I'm teaching two courses: Children's Literature for the English department (28 students - 25 girls and 3 boys!), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau for Philosophy (9 students who fit comfortably into our tiny classroom tucked under the eaves on the third floor of Asbury Hall). The picture below is the walk from my house down Anderson Street to campus. (Any better quality photo on this blog is one I didn't take.)

 I spend Tuesday/Thursday on campus, and MWF out at my office at the peaceful, pristine Prindle Institute for Ethics situated in the DePauw Nature Park on the site of a reclaimed quarry.

Ahhhh.....

The strangest thing about my happiness here is that I don't have as many of my four "pillars of happiness" as I do at home. Writing, reading, walking, and being with friends are my four most reliable sources of everyday joy. Here I walk vastly less than I do at home, without my little dog Tank and best friend Rowan as faithful walking partners, and without Colorado's winter warmth and sun. I've been writing less, as I'm so busy, filling every day with DePauw-related activities and conversations, and reading less for the same reason. I do have lots of delightful catching up to do with DePauw friends, but I have even more dear friends back home in Boulder.

So why do I feel so fully alive here? Maybe it's the strong sense of community, similar to what I find with my church. On this campus, even as we're struggling with some painful issues of racial discrimination and exclusion, we work so hard together as a community to try to make things better. So maybe a strong sense of community is more important to me than I realized. I also love living in a small town - perhaps for the same reason? Or just because I like a certain scale to my life. I like having hardly any stuff, walking everywhere, residing in a town where the public library is steps away from the post office, which is steps away from the campus, which is steps away from the courthouse square. I've always loved small spaces.

And yet my life here doesn't feel small. It feels big, stuffed full of intellectual challenge through constant talks and reading groups, concerts and conversations. I feel so fully alive, what Rousseau calls the "sentiment of existence." Or maybe I just like being constantly busy. I've always been the kind of person who likes having a long to-do list and then crossing things off, one by one.That, too, makes me feel like I'm living more intensely.

I just found out yesterday that I lost a new friend to a tragic car accident. She was someone who lived with extravagant generous fullness, as writer, mother, friend. So whatever we can find to make ourselves feel the wonder of our existence most keenly, that's what we need to do. Today and always.




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15. Re-Post: Dear Committee Member

(This post was orignially published in January 2014, but I think it's fitting that I have friends serving on the award committees this year and I want them to read this encouragement once again and know it's for them too!)

Dear Committee Member-

On the eve of the youth media awards and your committee announcements, I offer you some words of advice from someone who has been there before.

Your choices are amazing. You have done a fantastic job and worked the hardest you have ever worked over the past year. You have read, and re-read, and re-read yet again, taken notes, analyzed, and discussed titles in more depth than you ever thought possible. Your hard work is appreciated.

When the announcement happens and your choices are known, just remember that your titles are amazing. You know why you honored the books you did and now you get to share those amazing titles with the world. You get to watch as others read them and discuss them and discover the intricacies in the plot, setting, characters, and voice that you did. Be proud that you get to share these titles with readers everywhere. Be proud that you have honored an author for their incredible work. Be proud that you get to highlight literary excellence in children's and young adult literature.

Be happy with your choices and don't listen to any naysayers. They don't know these titles as well as you and your fellow committee members. Remember it's not about popularity. That popular mock favorite that you didn't honor? It's OK. The obscure title that surprised everyone? It's OK. The title that everyone has mixed opinions on? It's OK. No matter what you choose, your titles are worth reading, worth knowing, and worth sharing. It doesn't matter if the honored titles don't match everyone's expectations-you know why your books were honored and be proud of giving these books a chance to shine. Feel good about sharing these fantastic titles with readers everywhere and giving them books to discover (or re-discover).

Understand that you just undertook a year of immense critical reading and it's OK to take a break from reading. Your work was exhausting and you deserve a chance to step away from books and not read for awhile. It doesn't make you a bad librarian or a bad reader-you deserve a break. Come back to reading when you're ready-and read something you want to read and find fun. And don't be surprised if the way you read has forever changed-you'll find yourself reading critically, but you can also give yourself a break and read for fun-and sometimes those things will intertwine.

Feel good about the work you did and be proud of your committee. Seek out your titles in a bookstore and library and feel proud when you see that shiny sticker placed on the cover.  Be excited when you get to booktalk one of your titles and share it with a reader. And share away-that's one of the best parts of committee work-sharing your titles with others and getting them to read the books you worked hard to honor.

Thank you for your amazing year of reading and re-reading. Thank you for taking the time to discuss titles with your fellow committee member. Thank you for working hard to shine a light on great titles and honoring the best children's and young adult literature has to offer. Thank you for your amazing list of titles and congrats on a job well done! We're all cheering you on!

Now sit back and enjoy celebrating your hard work over the next year!


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16. THE TASTIEST FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD! Venice Carnival 2015


Official Carnival site
(Venice, Italy) The theme of the 2015 Carnival of Venice is, in Italian: La Festa più golosa del mondo! Which translates to: The Most Golosa Festival in the World! because there just is not an English word that means "golosa." If you ask Google to translate it, or if you look in an Italian-English dictionary, you will find it means "gluttony" or "greed." I have translated it to "tastiest;" the Carnevale site translates it to "most delicious." But golosa is more than that.

Carnival poster 2015 by Giorgio Cavazzano
I love Gorgonzola cheese, which also doesn't really exist in English; it is called "blue cheese" and is a distant cousin from genuine Gongonzola. In Italy, Gorgonzola is protected and can only be produced in certain regions according to certain methods. The result is something divine; an oozy center that is almost liquid, and a distinct taste... if you gob some Gorgonzola onto fresh warm bread... and sip some white wine... AH. It is something I cannot stop eating. If I buy two etti... (a unit of measure that also doesn't exist in English; there are about 4.5 etti in a pound:) I eat the entire two etti; it is impossible for me to control myself. I am GOLOSA for Gorgonzola. If I were male, I would be GOLOSO for Gorgonzola. Some people have this craving when it comes to chocolate. Or Girl Scout cookies. Or Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream. It is something you crave, usually something decadent and delicious. So, the Venice Carnival is the most golosa festival in the world, and there will be plenty of goloso food to tempt you.

Official Carnival site
There is a new spirit of cooperation and comradery in the city (someone joked it's because we are still without a mayor, so politics are not involved). While Piazza San Marco will still be the center of the action when it comes to parading in costumes, in the evening the party moves down to Arsenale on February 7 and 8, and then again on February 12 through Fat Tuesday, February 17, complete with nightly fireworks.

Official Carnevale site
This year, many local foundations and organizations are contributing to the Carnival, with some dynamic collaborations. Women in Love or Shakespeare's Women written and directed by the Teatro Goldoni's own Giuseppe Emiliani will be performed inside two impressive Venetian palaces that are now part of Venice's Civic Museums -- Ca' Rezzonico and Palazzo Mocenigo -- with costumes by the renowned Venetian atelier, Stefano Nicolao.

Teatro Goldoni
The Civic Museums are highlighting The Art of Food, featuring cultural and social influences on traditional Venetian cuisine through the ages, keeping with the theme of EXPO 2015 in Milan: "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." Also, on Fat Thursday, February 12 there will be a theatrical and musical marathon at Palazzo Ducale, Museo Correr, Ca' Rezzonico, Palazzo Mocenigo and Casa Goldoni -- for example, at Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice's museum dedicated to fabric, costumes and perfume, there will be a 10-15 minute performance entitled, "THE GOLOSO LIBERTINE," about the appetites and tastes of the infamous Venetian lover, Giacomo Casanova (now that you know what "goloso" means, you can imagine the show!).

Official Carnival site
There is so much going on that it would take me days to tell you everything. Luckily, the Official Carnival Site is well organized this year, once you understand how it works. At the very top of the Home page, up on the right, you will see five categories: Home, Events list, Parties, Venice Info, Multimedia and Language. Click the Events list. There you can search by day, or venue, or what type of event you would like to see: Traditional, Live Concert, Food, etc. You can see everything that is going on in Piazza San Marco, or everything that is happening on Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the last day of Carnival.

The Most Golosa Festival in the World, the Venice Carnival, runs from today, January 31 to February 15, 2015.

CLICK TO GO TO THE OFFICIAL CARNIVAL OF VENICE SITE.

Tweet your photos: #carnevalevenezia

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

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17. Jewelry Boxes, first gifts, and stories

Downsizing isn't easy, but it must be done if we are to become more mobile for this move to Scotland. I'm realizing that a photo of a precious item can sometimes be enough to keep - that I often don't need the actual item. What I do need is the trigger for that memory. Because I plan to use these memories in my writing. Strong writing comes from being able to relate experiences that feel true and I have a lifetime to draw upon.
     One item I let go of was the first gift I ever received from a boy...
     My 5th birthday was looming and somehow Danny came into my life. He lived in a neighborhood that backed up to ours in Maryland. I don't recall how we met, but I do remember standing on the back stoop to our house. If I stepped off or tried to open the door to go inside, Danny would run forward to tickle me. He made me laugh - I like him!
     When I finally did make it inside, I asked my mother if Danny could come to my birthday party. He did! And he gave me a lovely jewelry box as a gift - a music box. It used to have a little ballerina that spun around with the music, but that disappeared long ago. It remained one of my most precious possessions for many years...until I realized it was the memory I cherished. The photo is enough to trigger the memory, and that is what I hold dear and what I will use - that first feeling of a heart in play. The jewelry box hasn't shown up in any of my stories yet, but I imagine it's just a matter of time. Meanwhile, maybe some other little girl is enjoying it.

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18. Actress Geraldine McEwan dies

BBC News Online

Geraldine McEwan  
 
Geraldine McEwan died following a stroke, her family said
 
Actress Geraldine McEwan, known for playing Agatha Christie sleuth Miss Marple on ITV, has died aged 82, her family have said.

She died on 30 January following a stroke at the end of October, her family said.

She appeared as Miss Marple from 2004 until 2009.

The Bafta award winner had a long and successful career in theatre, television and films.

Her son Greg and daughter Claudia said in a statement: "Following a stroke at the end of October and a period in hospital, Geraldine McEwan passed away peacefully on January 30.

"Her family would like to thank the staff at Charing Cross Hospital who cared for her incredibly well."

Actors she worked with during her career included Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Williams, and she won a Bafta TV award for best actress in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.


Geraldine McEwan as Marcella in Troy Kennedy Martin's exciting thriller "The Man Without Papers",  
 
She played Marcella in Troy Kennedy Martin's thriller The Man Without Papers in 1965.
 
 
Geraldine McEwan  
 
She also played Miss Rose Farnaby in the 1990s comedy series Mulberry

Tempus fugit

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19. I left my heart on a park bench and a pigeon used it as a nest…

feathered heart


Filed under: children's illustration, flying, moon, pigeons, songs

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20. Week In Review: January 25-31

Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
The Art of the English Murder. Lucy Worsley. 2014. Pegusus Books. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
The Case of the Velvet Claws. (Perry Mason #1) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1933. Random House. 215 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]
To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.  [Source: Bought]
The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]
Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1905-1906. Dodo Press. 260 pages. [Source: Bought]
Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
McElligot's Pool. Dr. Seuss. 1947/1974. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Board Book: Curious George's Crane. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board Book: Curious George's Train. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Russ Ramsey. 2015. Crossway. 240 pages.
Last Words of Jesus. Stu Epperson. 2015. Worthy Inspired. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Exalting Jesus in Matthew. (Christ Centered Exposition) David Platt. 2013. B&H. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Living by the Book. Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. 1991. Moody. 350 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

This week's recommendation(s):
Plenty of genre fiction reviewed this week.

For science fiction lovers, I recommend Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I did enjoy it very much. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it. Only time will prove that one way or the other. I personally still love Worthing Saga more. But that could be because I've reread it four or five times!

Brave New World was a good read. I didn't "love" it. But I'm so glad I read it. If you enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 or The Giver, you should definitely seek this one out.

I would definitely recommend Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Velvet Claws. This is the first Perry Mason mystery. It was just a fun read from start to finish.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. Curious George's Crane (2014)

Board Book: Curious George's Crane. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One day out his window George looks and sees a bright shiny crane as high as the trees!

Premise/plot: The book is one of four in the "mini-movers-shaped" board book series starring Curious George. There's also a train, a firetruck, and a dump truck.  The arm of the crane is movable. But the wheels are not. The text is simple, as you'd expect, and features George investigating a construction site. What are they building? A playground!

My thoughts: Not particularly thrilling for adults to read. But for a construction-obsessed toddler, this one probably has some appeal. The book also has press-out pieces so kids can play construction on their own. I'm not sure if these pieces would really work and stand up to repeated use. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. 2015 -Hey, It's Buy Black Tower Books Year. Honest.

 From Monday I will be running a good few adverts on CBO to promote Black Tower Comics & Books since this is, after all, my blog!

Also,  I need to start saving for my retirement!

So first off, today, here is the excellent Dark Night Detectives  by Ben R. Dilworth.  Makes Soylent Green and Blade Runner look like kiddy stories.

The Dark Night Detectives
Ben R. Dilworth
 Paperback
A4
Black & White
50 Pages
Price: £8.00
Its a world where if you stand up for what is right you'll be lucky if its just a beating you get. A world where people are starving (if poor) and the rich live in luxury. 
 
A world where you have to have birthing Rights. Where sacrificing someone to the Devil is acceptable -as long as they pay the wages. 
 
A world where if you DO NOT take that bribe you WILL be made an example of. 
 
Some of Ben Dilworth's most provoking and dark work in ages.

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23. Free First Five Pages Workshop with Agent Shelby Sampsel Opens in One Week!

Our February workshop will open for entries at noon EST on Saturday, February 7, 2015. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have the very talented Chelsea Pitcher, author of THE LAST CHANGELING.  If that wasn’t enough, in the final week agent Shelby Sampsel will not only review the first five pages, but a query letter too!

FEBRUARY GUEST MENTOR: Chelsea Pitcher

Chelsea Pitcher is a native of Portland, OR where she received her BA in English Literature. Fascinated by all things literary, she began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light.
Chelsea’s paranormal fantasy, THE LAST CHANGELING, is available now!

 A Kingdom at War . . .

Elora, the young princess of the Dark Faeries, plans to overthrow her tyrannical mother, the Dark Queen, and bring equality to faeriekind. All she has to do is convince her mother’s loathed enemy, the Bright Queen, to join her cause. But the Bright Queen demands an offering first: a human boy who is a “young leader of men.” 

A Dark Princess In Disguise . . .

To steal a mortal, Elora must become a mortal—at least, by all appearances. And infiltrating a high school is surprisingly easy. When Elora meets Taylor, the seventeen-year-old who’s plotting to overthrow a ruthless bully, she thinks she’s found her offering . . . until she starts to fall in love.
 









We are thrilled to announce that Shelby Sampsel of the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency will be our guest agent for February – and Shelby has agreed to review a query letter, too! See below for Shelby’s bio!

Shelby Sampsel joined the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency after graduating from NYU. She comes to the agency with previous internship experience at Thomas Dunne Books, Simon and Schuster, Tor Books, Penguin Group, the Maria Carvainis Agency, and McIntosh and Otis. She is interested in Young Adult and New Adult Fiction as well as memoirs with a strong voice.

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24. Rose Byrne to reprise role of Moira MacTaggert for X-Men: Apocalypse

X Men07 1000x667 Rose Byrne to reprise role of Moira MacTaggert for X Men: Apocalypse

In an interview with EW, X-Men: Apocalypse writer Simon Kinberg confirmed Rose Bryne will be returning for the X-Men: First Class sequel to reprise her role as Moira MacTaggert.

“We ended First Class with Charles having wiped portions of her memory of her experience with the X-Men. They are, essentially, strangers to her when she meets them,” he told EW.

Byrne will join returning co-stars Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy. She will also join recently-introduced Oscar Isaac, who will be playing a central villain, and Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan and Alexandra Shipp, who will be playing younger versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm, respectively.

The sequel is set in the 1980s, which means the time period will jump forward by about 20 years – Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are said not to be reprising their roles, and we’re guessing the rest of the cast will have just aged very gracefully?

X-Men: Apocalypse releases May 27, 2016

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25. Vermeer-related article

“Most rare workmen”: Optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft”
Huib J. Zuidervaart and Marlise Rijks
The British Journal for the History of Science, pp. 1 – 33, (March 2014)

online article can be accessed at:
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9202672&fileId
=S0007087414000181

abstract:
A special interest in optics among various seventeenth-century painters living in the Dutch city of Delft has intrigued historians, including art historians, for a long time. Equally, the impressive career of the Delft microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek has been studied by many historians of science. However, it has never been investigated who, at that time, had access to the mathematical and optical knowledge necessary for the impressive achievements of these Delft practitioners. We have tried to gain insight into Delft as a ‘node’ of optical knowledge by following the careers of three minor local figures in early seventeenth-century Delft. We argue that through their work, products, discussions in the vernacular and exchange of skills, rather than via learned publications, these practitioners constituted a foundation on which the later scientific and artistic achievements of other Delft citizens were built. Our Delft case demonstrates that these practitioners were not simple and isolated craftsmen; rather they were crucial components in a network of scholars, savants, painters and rich virtuosi. Decades before Vermeer made his masterworks, or Van Leeuwenhoek started his famous microscopic investigations, the intellectual atmosphere and artisanal knowledge in this city centered on optical topics.

Especially of interest is the authors’ tie between three optical practitioners who lived in Delft simultaneously with Vermeer. One of them, Jacob Spoors, was in 1674 the notary of Vermeer and his mother-in-law Maria Thins. Another was an acquaintance of Spoors, the military engineer Johan van der Wyck, who made an optical device in Delft in 1654, most likely a camera obscura. A report about the demonstration in nearby The Hague has been preserved. Van der Wyck also made telescopes and microscopes and an apparatus that probably was a kind of perspective box. As a telescope maker he was preceded by Evert Harmansz Steenwyck, brother-in- law of the Leiden painter David Bailly and father of two Delft still-life painters: Harman and Pieter Steenwyck. The latter was familiar with Vermeer’s father Reynier Jansz Vermeer, at a time when the young Vermeer was still living with his parents. According to the authors, this is the first real archival evidence that such a device existed in Delft during Vermeer’s life.

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