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1. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. Comic: First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

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6. 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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7. 2015 Walk for the Animals Volunteer T-Shirt

WFTA2015 T-shirt 1 FINAL-01

Each year I have the privilege to illustrate and design the T-shirts worn by all the volunteers and staff at the Humane Society of Broward County’s huge fundraiser “Walk for the Animals.” The dogs on this T-shirt are very special to me. They are the friends of Small Dog, the lead character in my picture book series.

The Walk will be held February 28th this year. If you love dogs, this is a must attend event!

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8. 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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9. 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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10. Library Loot: Fifth Trip in January

New Loot:
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
  • Historical Romances: The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • The Painted Bridges by Wendy Wallace
  • Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Covers by Margaret C. Sullivan
  • Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas 
Leftover Loot:
  • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
  • The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
  • Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
  • The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  • Socks by Beverly Cleary
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss
  • On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
  • If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
  • A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
  • My Own Two Feet: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
  • The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
  • The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
  • Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden
  • The Foundry's Edge by Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz
  • Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas
  • Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys
  • Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini

     Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. 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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12.



Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus

The First ‘Chrismukkah’ Classic 
has launched on INKSHARES, the crowd-driven publisher

Will you help guarantee its publication? Project must fund in 60 days!

Go to
to see the full text, sample illustrations, and to help bring this book to life!

Thank you for your support!
Over one million families in North America alone celebrate “Chrismukkah.” Around the globe more and more families are incorporating the hybrid holiday into their lives, yet there is no “go-to” story about it for them to embrace. Until now. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus will be cherished by every child who grows up in a Chrismukkah home, but it will  be enjoyed by all readers because it’s fun, funny, and full of heart.
Howie climbed out of the Hanucopter and approached his first house. He sprinkled some oil, then slid under the front door with his bag of gifts. Everything was going smoothly, a typical first night of Hanukkah. Or so he thought! There was someone else in the house, and he had presents, too–Santa Claus! When the shocked pair realized there were families on both their lists…It. Was. On. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus is the hilarious and heartfelt story of how two holiday heroes wind up with the greatest gift of all for themselves: friendship.
About the Illustrator: Andy Catling is a professional illustrator with more than 30 illustrated titles under his belt.  See http://www.catling-art.com/ for more.


Reviews

“Hey, you got Hanukkah in my Christmas!” “Hey, you got Christmas in my Hanukkah! Mmmmmm…reads great!”             
Finally: a holiday tale that is affecting without heaping on the schmaltz. Meet Howie AKA Hanukkah Howie—who is to the Festival of Lights as Saint Nick is to Christmas—as he prepares for his annual trek to visit all of the good Jewish children of the world: “Delivering eight nights worth of gifts at one time was a serious shlep!” With Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus, you get exactly that: a festive arms race between two holiday heavyweights, each seeing who can outdo the other in terms of bringing some joy vey to the world. Of course, it all works out in the end, but if you don’t find yourself snickering at Slater’s whimsical world of Hanukkopters and other well-oiled contraptions, then you are definitely in the menorah-ty!
Dale E. Basye, author of the Circles of Heck Series
“What do you do when your family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah? You celebrate Chrismukkah! David Michael Slater has written a delightful story capturing the joy of the holidays with humor and sensitivity. A must read for families of all faiths!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Penny Warner, Author of the award-winning series, The Code Busters                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
“A new holiday tradition deserves a new holiday classic read aloud, and David Michael Slater has delivered just that, right to our door, by sleigh and by Hanukkopter.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      David Lubar, Author of Hidden Talents and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
“This is the most Hanukkacool book I’ve read this year! David Michael Slater is one funny mensch—and Hanukkah Howie is my favorite new holiday hero.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Bart King, Author of The Big Book of Boy Stuff                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       “Well, really, folks, when you get down to it, are Christmas and Hannukah really all that different? They are both celebrations steeped in the spirit of love and friendship, and who’s to say Loveship can’t be found in the combined celebration of both. Howie and Santa are onto something big! They just kind of make you want to hug everyone.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Graham Salisbury, Author of the bestselling Calvin Coconut Series and Under the Blood Red Sun
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Great fun! I always wondered who brought the Hanukkah gifts.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Eric Kimmel, Author of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
“In celebration of blended families and modern-day cultural, religious and ethnic fusions, David Michael Slater’s Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus has a unique, and refreshingly “real” take on one of the holiday’s biggest icons, Santa Claus. By bringing a new player to the game, Hanukkah Howie, gift giving becomes a cutthroat competition of who can “gift” better to win over those families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. And the silliness bar is raised with each encounter.
Funny. Unexpected. Sprinkled with laugh-out-loud lines, this book reads like a “well-oiled machine,” and will no doubt be a new holiday, Christmakkah favorite.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heidi Ayarbe, author of Freeze Frame                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “One thing I always expect from a David Michael Slater book is an outrageously imaginative story. In Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus he delivers just that. But he also captures the struggle between competing characters and competing traditions in a way that warms the heart and enlivens the mind. You cannot read this story without wondering what would change in the world if everyone from different traditions could find the same kind of friendship as what develops between Hanukkah Howie and Santa Claus. We can only hope so. I want every child to have a chance to read this story and be touched by its magic.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Roy M Carlisle, Advisory Board Member and Editorial Consultant for Relish Media, an imprint of Little Pickle Press                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
“A book involving the true message of the holidays for families of mixed faiths in today’s world has been long overdue, and we hope that “The World’s First Chrismukkah Classic” will become a household name. This book captures the essence of finding joy and being with those you love around the holidays regardless of belief.”                                                                                                                                             
Danny Foley & Sarah Robinson of Watch for Rocks, Creators of “The Chrismukkah Song”                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At long last: the dueling holidays reconcile as Hanukkah Howie and Santa Claus discover Chrismukkah. This is the tradition-defining story that every blended family will want to read as they sit beside the Chrismukkah bush amidst an avalanche of presents.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sage Cohen, author of The Productive Writer

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13. 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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14. Author Platforms

Does every author need to have a platform, and what is a platform anyway?

https://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/julie-hedlund-busts-myths-about-author-platforms/

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15. 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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16. 25th Anniversay Walk-for-the-Animals T-shirt FOR SALE

WFTA Anniversay T-Shirt-01

2015 marks the 25th anniversary for the Humane Society of Broward County’s annual “Walk for the Animals” fundraising event. For something special I was asked to illustrate and design a commemorative T-shirt that will be sold on the day of the Walk (Feb. 28th, 2015).

 

Part of the fun of the “Walk for the Animals” is seeing the thousands of dogs all in one place. There are big dogs, little dogs, old and young, purebreds and mixed breeds. There are dogs in wagons and dogs playing Frisbee. The “parents” of all these pets are as varied as the dogs themselves. There are vendors of every type imaginable. I can’t say enough how much I look forward to attending, with or without my beloved dog.

There is only one condition, no cats allowed at the event (but the money raised does go for all the animals the HSBC cares for, not just dogs).

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17. 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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18. Identifying Great Visual Effects Work: A Short Video Primer

If you were voting to give someone an award for best visual effects, how would you judge the work?

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19. 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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20. January Reflections

In January I reviewed 64 books.

Board Books:
  1. Curious George's Crane. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Curious George's Train. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Picture Books:
  1. Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups. Stephanie Clarkson. Illustrated by Brigette Barrager. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Selina Alko. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] (Nonfiction)
  3. Glamourpuss. Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by David Small. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. Dr. Seuss. 1937/1964. Random House. 40 pages [Source: Library] 
  6. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. 1938/1965. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The King's Stilts. Dr. Seuss. 1939/1967. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Horton Hatches An Egg. Dr. Seuss. 1940/1968. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. McElligot's Pool. Dr. Seuss. 1947/1974. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Xander's Panda Party. Linda Sue Park. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  11. Please, Mr. Panda. Steve Antony. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Early Readers/Early Chapter Books:
  1. Rescue on the Oregon Trail. (Ranger in Time #1) Kate Messner. 2015. Scholastic. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Eva's Treetop Festival (Owl Diaries #1) Rebecca Elliott. 2015. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Big Bad Detective Agency. Bruce Hale. 2015. Scholastic. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Dory Fantasmagory. Abby Hanlon. 2014. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
Middle Grade:
  1. El Deafo. Cece Bell. 2014. Harry N. Abrams. 233 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Operation Bunny. Sally Gardner. Illustrated by David Roberts. 2014. Henry Holt. 192 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. The War That Saved My Life. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2015. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Red Pencil. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Shane Evans. 2014. Little, Brown. [Source: Library] 
  5. The Question of Miracles. Elana K. Arnold. 2015. HMH. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. Katherine Rundell. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. [Source: Library] Mild spoilers.  
  7. The Perfect Place. Teresa E. Harris. HMH. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. The Windy Hill. Cornelia Meigs. 1921. 210 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. The Trumpeter of Krakow. Eric P. Kelly. 1928. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony Inspired by Historical Facts. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Michele Wood. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. The Paper Cowboy. Kristin Levine. 2014. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library]  
  12. The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie Haskell. 2014. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
Young Adult:
  1. Audacity. Melanie Crowder. 2015. Penguin. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. This Side of Home. Renee Watson. 2015. Bloomsbury USA. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. It's The End of the World As We Know It. Saci Lloyd. 2015. Hachette Books. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Adult Fiction:
  1. Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Case of the Velvet Claws. (Perry Mason #1) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1933. Random House. 215 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  5. 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]
  6. Twelve Drummers Drumming. Father Christmas Mystery #1. C.C. Benison. 2011. Doubleday. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Eleven Piper Piping. Father Christmas Mystery #2. C.C. Benison. 2012. Delacorte. 474 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Ten Lords A-Leaping. Father Christmas #3. C.C. Benison. 2013. Delacorte. 512 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]   
  10. Jezebel's Daughter. Wilkie Collins. 1880. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. Trifles. A Play in One Act. Susan Glaspell. 1916. 20 pages. [Source: Read online
  12. Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1905-1906. Dodo Press. 260 pages. [Source: Bought]
Adult Nonfiction:
  1. The Art of the English Murder. Lucy Worsley. 2014. Pegusus Books. 336 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Girl With The White Flag. Tomiko Higa. Translated by Dorothy Britton. 1989. 130 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. Hampton Sides. 2014. 454 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian Fiction:
  1. Like a Flower in Bloom. Siri Mitchell. 2015. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Remember the Lilies. (Women of Courage #3) Liz Tolsma. 2015. [February] Thomas Nelson. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Love Gently Falling. Melody Carlson. 2015. Center Street. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Lizzy & Jane. Katherine Reay. 2014. 339 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. The Bracelet. Dorothy Love. 2014. Thomas Nelson. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy
Christian Nonfiction: 
  1. Living As A Christian: Teachings from First Peter. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Weighed and Wanting Addresses on the Ten Commandments. D.L. Moody. 1898. The Bible Institute. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Russ Ramsey. 2015. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Exalting Jesus in Matthew. (Christ Centered Exposition) David Platt. 2013. B&H. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Living by the Book. Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. 1991. Moody. 350 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  6. Last Words of Jesus. Stu Epperson. 2015. Worthy Inspired. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. Don't Give Up, Don't Give In. Lessons From An Extraordinary Life. Louis Zamperini and David Rensin. 2014. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive. Thom S. Rainer. 2014. B&H. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Meeting God in Mark. Rowan Williams. 2015. Westminster John Knox. 108 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. How To Worship Jesus Christ. Joseph S. Carroll. Foreword by John F. MacArthur, Jr. 1984/1991. Moody Publishers. 90 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. 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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22. Watch the Annie Awards Live on Cartoon Brew Tonight

Watch animation's biggest awards show live on Cartoon Brew tonight.

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23. 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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24. "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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25. 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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