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As the silence around here indicates, I've been tremendously busy the past few weeks. One project I managed to complete was a new video essay, this one about Jim Jarmusch's films Dead Man, Ghost Dog,
and The Limits of Control
. It's now available at Press Play, along with a brief introduction.
Of Time and the City is a 2008 documentary collage film directed by Terence Davies. The film has Davies recalling his life growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s and 1960s, using newsreel and documentary footage supplemented by his own commentary voiceover and contemporaneous and classical music soundtracks. The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival where it received rave reviews... (wikipedia)
I just went to my YouTube channel to reply to a lovely comment about one of my films and discovered that the filmed demo I did of me drawing a piece of artwork from Swap! has recently gone over 20,000 views. How exciting is that?! It's kind of weird too, to think that 20,000 people, probably all over the world, have watched me drawing.
If you haven't seen the demo already, here it is again:
Do 'like' or 'share', if you find it interesting - every little helps in this business!
Since we did this film, John and I shot another demo film in the studio: this time it's me creating some artwork from Jungle Grumble. It's a larger illustration and so, when it's ready, it will be a longer film. We recorded pretty much the whole way through the illustration, from first marks to completion, which means lots of footage, so it needs quite a bit of time spending on editing, to get it down to a manageable length. That's a tricky business, as I am talking about process all the time, so we need to cut big sections, without losing too much that's interesting.
Trouble is, things have been so busy ever since we filmed it, there has not been time to finish the editing process yet. We are about a third of the way through, I reckon.
It's another thing on the 'to-do' list. Life is quieting down though, now we are out of the main school-visits season, so hopefully it won't be too long before I can share the new demo with you. In the meantime, here are a couple of films we made of me talking through how I drew the roughs for Jungle Grumble. If you haven't watched them already, you might find them interesting:
So, a week and a bit ago, I got invited to the premiere of Divergent. Needless to say, I accepted!
The premiere was last Sunday, and I took one of my friends from school. We got to Leicester Square which had been transformed into a Fan Experience area, so there were lots of things for people to do. There were lots of Erudite and Dauntless faction members running around, doing tattoos, initiations, aptitude tests and more.
|I am most definitely not Dauntless|
Back to the day. I met Rita, which was really good. My friend and I did the aptitude testing, which said we were Erudite within a few questions. Rita and I went on the rock climby thing, which she won by miles. We were going to do some other things, but then we saw how long the queue to get into the cinema was already and decided to go join it before all the good seats were gone!
I'm not sure, but I think we were in the queue for over an hour. Not complaining-we're British, we know how to queue. While we were in that queue, all the important people started arriving. We were on the other side of the square, so we didn’t get to see them up close, but we could see them on screens and hear the fans screaming (I’m not sure if my ears have yet recovered from the cheers when Theo James arrived).
|look! wristbands! |
Finally we got to the front of the queue. After an Erudite guy checked that we were allowed in (I am so jealous of all the people who got to spend a weekend pretending to be people from Roth's Chicago), we got on the red carpet and chose a faction, and we got wristbands that correspond to our chosen factions.
Ok, wristband designer, seriously? Did you not realise some people might like to take theirs off without cutting the thing? I pulled mine on normal tight, and my normal playing with things on my wrist tightened it even more. I was inside the cinema when I realised that it wouldn't come off. When I got out, I realised there were spikes keeping the fabric once it had been pushed up. I had to cut my wristband off. Designer gets negative consumer feedback.
|the sad fate of my wristband|
We then got seated by faction. Erudite were somewhere in the middle, which suited me fine. We got to see a livescreen of what was happening outside, ie everyone's interviews on the red carpet. I got a bit angry when they asked Shailene and Kate who designed their clothes but not Theo, and then remembered "we live in a sexist world that values women by what they wear" and tried to get not too annoyed before hopefully enjoying the film. Then a short presentation of the people involved. Then the film began.
The film was really good. It adapted the world really well, made Roth's Chicago come to life, and
Of course, there were some changes. Things got cut, i.e. the whole eye stabbing thing, which is the only thing bar the major characters, world and plot that I remembered, and some things got added. I'm sure there were more changes, but I've not read this series in ages.
Trigger warning for attempted rape. It's short, and in Tris's fear landscape thing, and I'm glad it's in there because people will talk about it and sexual assault is a thing that we as a society need to talk about and deal with, and it's nice that she gets praised for defending herself. But trigger warning is there.
They made Four an asshole in this. I know he wasn't the nicest guy at the start of the book, but by the time they were kissing, I honestly didn't see why Tris liked him in the film. He does get nicer after that though.
I love the way they did everything, especially the testing, the fear landscapes... everything about Dauntless really! The acting was really good, especially Jeanine, Christina and Eric. I left with a strong craving to reread Divergent (first review here
). And Insurgent (first review here
). And actually read Allegiant. Film wise though, I am definitely ready for Insurgent.
Anyway, after the film, I tried finding people. Mostly failed (see prior list of people who were there but I never saw). Outside we saw this guy in a suit who had loads of people crowding him and fawning over him and he was only a few feet away and we might have got his autograph or something but by the time my friend and I had tried to work out who he was he was gone
Anyway, it was a great day. Thank you hugely to Entertainment One and Harper Collins for the amazing opportunity, and I hope that if you see Divergent, you do too!
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By: Children's Books, dogs, and related matters,
The boundaries shift and change as children grow with the winds of time.
Children's stories, fables and mythology open doors to both the real world and to the world of fantasy and imagination.
Fairy tales have been retold and endured through many cultures. Aesop's fables have been part of children's literature for over 2000 years.
This blog is dedicated to the power of story and the worlds of wonder and imagination that are the world of children's literature. And to therapy dogs, that help reluctant children banish fear of reading
The illustration from Miyazaki's Howl's Movin g Castle
Litworld opens the doors of possibilities in life to disadvantaged youth through books, reading, mentors, and guidance.
LitWorld celebrated World Read Aloud Day on March 5.
Lit World is bringong litereracy, books, and empowerment to underprivileged children in Ghana,India, Haiti, Kenya, Kosovo, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru the Phillipines, Rwanda, Uganda, and the USA.
More than 793 million people are illiterate worldwide. Two thirds of these are women.
LitWorld places a special focus on young women and girls ages 10-14
"LitWorld’s strength-based model of social emotional learning fills a critical gap in education... LitClub and LitCamp curriculum cultivates core strengths that inherently exist within each child. The LitWorld 7 Strengths – Belonging, Curiosity, Kindness, Friendship, Confidence, Courage, and Hope – are ideas that are key to building resilience."
Barking Planet salutes LITWORLD and their founder and leader Pam Allyn for their wonderful work.
Gabriel's Angels...helping heal abused children in Arizona.
Pam Gaber and her therapy dog, Gabriel, began working together in 2000 in the Crisis Nursery, a shelter for abused children in Phoenix, Arizona. Gabriel had an immediate positive impact on frightened, withdrawn children. This was the beginning of Gabriel's Angels. During his 10 years of service as a Delta Society registered therapy dog, Gabriel visited over 5,000 abused, neglected, and at-risk children.
The organization has continued to grow since that time. Gabriel's Angels now serves 13,00 children a year through over 115 agencies through over 150 volunteer Pet Therapy teams. Teams visit each participating agency on a consistent schedule to build trust, empathy and respect in the children.
Here's a Link to a video that will take you into the world of abused children and the wonderful work accomplished by Gariel's Angels' therapy dog teams.
This dog is a genius...
His name is Mr. Peabody and he is winning at the box office.
Mr. Peabody, the most accomplished dog in the world, inventor extradinary, and his adopted son, Sherman, use their time machine for extraordinary adventures...
Dreanworks has a big hit, based on a dog as a parent to a miscievous boy and their travels on the winds of time...past, present and future.
Here's a link to trailer(s) Dreamworks: IMDB
Meanwhile, Frozen has earned over 396 millon dollars; and The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, has earned over 424,000,000 dollars.
Reworking the Hunger Games with a book and a movie sequel...
Here are excerpts from reviewers of the movie and the book...
Divergent was first published in 2011 and written by the then 22 year old Veronica Roth. The book made the best-seller lists the first week it was published in 2011 and has sold over 11 million copies. Like Hunger Games, it became a trilogy. Here is an excerpt from an insightful review by Susan Dominus, in the New YorkTimes
"...though Roth’s “Divergent” is rich in plot and imaginative details, it suffers by comparison with Collins’s opus. The shortcoming would not be so noticeable were there less blatant overlap between the two. Both 'Divergent' and 'The Hunger Games' feature appealing, but not conventionally pretty, young women with toughness to spare. Both start out with public sorting rituals that determine the characters’ futures. And both put the narrators in contrived, bloody battles that are in fact competitions witnessed by an audience. Even the language sounds familiar..."
Here are excerpts from incisive movie reviews by Manhola Dargis in the NY Times and Ty Burr in the Boston Globe...
…"Veronica Roth, who wrote the book “Divergent” and its two hot-selling follow-ups, tends to avoid mentioning “The Hunger Games,” but the similarities between these young-adult juggernauts are conspicuous in the extreme. “The Hunger Games” is a dystopian tale set in a postwar North America divided into 13 districts; “Divergent” is a dystopian tale set in postwar Chicago divided into
five factions. Each series pivots on a gutsy teenage heroine who fights to the death like a classic male hero..."
Here is the Link to read all of Ms Dargis review.
And here is Ty Burr's impassioned review;
“Divergent” is almost good enough to make you forget what a cynical exercise it is on every possible level. The original 2011 young adult novel by Veronica Roth — reasonably engrossing, thoroughly disposable — reads exactly like what it is: an ambitious young author’s attempt to re-write “The Hunger Games” without bringing the lawyers down on her head. The folks at production company Summit Entertainment are happy to turn the book into a movie because it allows them to crank up the franchise machinery that has worked so well for “Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” and the “Harry Potter” films, only without the bother of creating something fresh." Here is the Link to read all of Ty Burr's review:Globe
Here is the link to the action filled trailer for Divergent
Divergent sold $56 million in tickets for its first weekend...the YA market speaks!
Movies inspire mock weapons for 8-12 year old girls
Here is an excerpt from a fascinating article inthe New York Times article by Hilary Stout and ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
"Heroines for young girls are rapidly changing, and the toy industry — long adept at
capitalizing on gender stereotypes — is scrambling to catch up.
Toy makers have begun marketing a more aggressive line of playthings and weaponry for girls — inspired by a succession of female warrior heroes like Katniss, the Black Widow of “The Avengers,” Merida of “Brave” and now, Tris of the book and new movie “Divergent” — even as the industry still clings to every shade of pink...
The premier of the movie “Divergent” this weekend is only adding to the marketing frenzy
around weapon-wielding girls. A Tris Barbie doll, complete with her signature three-raven tattoo, is already for sale on Amazon...
All of this is enough to make parents’ — particularly mothers’ — heads spin, even as they reach for their wallets. While the segregation of girls’ and boys’ toys in aisles divided between pink and camouflage remains an irritant, some also now wonder whether their daughters should adopt the same war games that they tolerate rather uneasily among their sons...
Five Hundred New Fairy Tales and a "harsher dose of reality"...
The headline and the article that appeared in the Guardian proclaimed that 500 new fairy tales had been discovered in Germany... a collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth that had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years.
This was in March 2012. However, I was unaware of the discovery that these tales existed until I recently read the following in Maria Tatar's children's lierature blog, Breezes from Wonderland
"Returning to blogging after I finish translating The EnchantedQuill, an anthology of nineteenth-century fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver Schonwerth. Once you read these stories, you will abandon any ideas about the literary transmission of fairy tales–these are tales in the raw, not cooked to suit the tastes of the literate..."
Reading this led me to read Ms Tatar's New Yorker article entitled, Cinderfellas: The Long-Lost Fairy Tales,
.Here are excerpts from this informative and compelling article::
"Bavarian fairy tales going viral? Last week, theGuardian reported that five hundred unknown fairy tales, languishing for over a century in the municipal archive of Regensburg, Germany, have come to light. The news sent a flutter through the world of fairy-tale enthusiasts, their interest further piqued by the detail that the tales—which had been compiled in the mid-nineteenth century by an antiquarian named Franz Xaver von Schönwerth—had been kept under lock and key. How astonishing then to discover that many of those “five hundred new tales” are already in print and on the shelves at Widener Library at Harvard (where I teach literature, folklore and mythology) and at Yale, Stanford, and Berkeley.
Schönwerth—a man whom the Grimm brothers praised for his “fine ear” and accuracy as a collector—published three volumes of folk customs and legends in the mid-nineteenth century, but the books soon began gathering dust on library shelves...
Schönwerth’s tales have a compositional fierceness and energy rarely seen in stories gathered by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault,..Schönwerth gives us a harsher dose of reality than most collections..."
Here is the link to read more of this fascinating and informative article: Tatar
The illustrations, from the top down, are by Warwick Goble, Arthur Rackham, and George Cruikshank.
I don't want to mislead our blog readers about non-violence in a violent world. But perhaps in our Planet Of The Dogs series they will see something of the possibilities for non-violence in the the "real" world, as the dogs, with their unconditional courage, loyalty, and cleverness overcome invaders, swords, and warriors on horses...and bring peace to the land.
Newgrange- where time stands still
Newgrange rests on a hill in Ireland.
It was in place 3000 years before Christ, a thousand years before Stonehenge, and 500 years before the pyramids.
In Ireland, it is known as a Thin Place...
Author Bonnie McKernan writes of Thin Places on her blog..."where time stands still, beauty enthralls, the bigger picture is glimpsed...
Do you remember that stretch of road or river or mountainside you immediately felt a connection to? A place where the draw was so visceral it elicited a feeling of peace and excitement concurrently? It might have resulted from sensory delights like the sun on your face, fresh air in your lungs, a spectacular vie w—or from a scene that stirred your imagination or recharged your faith. However this attraction defined itself, you were thoroughly transfixed, wanting to stay longer and feel more.
Early Celtic Christians once called such experiences thin places, where the veil between the natural world and spiritual realm seems especially transparent—where time stands still, beauty enthralls, the bigger picture is glimpsed… where one feels closer to an omnipresent God..."
In a future blog, I will write more of Thin Places and the myths, folklore and fairies of Ireland.
Here is a link to see a brief National Geographic video on Newgrange.
The importance of children's books in opening the mind to the door of life and the world of imagination is beyond measure. The importance of a dog in the life of a child is also beyond measure. It was from thoughts like these that the Planet Of The Dogs Series evolved - Read Sample Chapters at: Planet Of The Dogs
Fairy tale legends often have a timeless quality...
Boy, Snow, Bird...Snow White for Adults
Helen Oyeyemi has transformed Snow White into a critically acclaimed book for adults that deals with timeless questions, identity and mystery. Here is an excerpt from a top flight reviewer, YVONNE ZIPP, fiction critic for the CS Monitor
"Helen Oyeyemi upends the whole Snow White story, tossing out apple, dwarves, glass coffin – and replacing them with an unsettling book that casts a spell of its own...
As with her fairy tale counterpart, Boy Novak (a young woman) is fond of her own reflection.“Nobody ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy,” says Boy, who would gaze into them, kissing her reflection or setting two mirrors opposite one another to create an endless series of reflections.
Her daughter and stepdaughter have the opposite problem: Sometimes their reflection doesn’t show up at all.
All three women learn the ways that mirrors can lie during the course of the story, most of which is set in the 1950s in a fictional Massachusetts town called Flax Hill. The novel hinges on several plot revelations, which I am not going to spoil. This is one book where I would recommend you not read anything in advance, even the back cover: Just go buy it."
Illustration for the Grimm's Snow White by Walter Crane.
"Someday you will be old enough to read fairy tales again."- C.S. Lewis
Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs...You can write us at email@example.com and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series.
Read sample chapters of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series by clicking here:Sample Chapters
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's, the Book Depository and...
Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
"As a parent and a teacher, therefore, I argue for the continuance of books in an age marked by visual technology. There remains nothing like the feel of a book in the hand, nothing like the security offered by a book in the bed ( an experience recorded in the West from at least the twelth century)...If there is a future to children's literature, it must lie in the artifacts of writing and the place of reading in the home. To understandthe history of children's literature is to understand the history of all forms of literary experience."-
Seth Lerer writing in "Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter".
National Puppy Day was March 23..."a day to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives. It’s also a day to help save orphaned puppies across the globe and educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills, as well as further the mission for a nation of puppy-free pet stores. While National Puppy Day supports responsible breeders, it does encourage prospective families to consider adoption as a first choice"...To read more, visit the site of Colleen Paige, who founded National Puppy Day nine years ago.
Circling the Waggins
Have you ever wondered what sort of chaos ensues in a home full of rescue pets? Author C.A. Wulff lets readers experience the surprises, the laughter, and the wonder of it all in her book “Circling the Waggins; How 5 Misfit Pets Saved Me from Bewilderness”, a personal account of just such a household.Wulff’s pack of dogs, cats and mice all have unique personalities, some of them intriguing, nearly all of them challenging – even for a veteran of rescue! Circling the Waggins examines the bonds we create with pets, no matter how big or small, and how our pets affect and enrich our lives.
Wulff’s honest story recounts the ups and downs of letting furry family members into our hearts. Circling the Waggins is available in print and for kindle.
"Imagine having a mother who worries that you read too much. The question is, what is it that's supposed to happen to people who read too much? How can you tell when someone's crossed the line." ”
Helen Oyemeni, Boy, Snow, Bird
Podcasting at the Children's Literary Salon
The New York Public Library annouces their next Children's Literary Salon to be held on Saturday, April 19th at 2:00 p.m.: The Topic is Podcasting Children’s Books: Ins and Outs, Ups and Downs
These fascinating discussions are lively, informative and free...This event will take place in the Stephen A. Schwarzman building (the main branch of New York Public Library) in the South Court Auditorium.
Here's another excellent article for dog lovers at Way Cool Dogs...
Six Reasons Why You Should Adopt A Dog From A Pound
You should adopt from a dog pound — whether it is a nearby dog shelter or your local pound — as it is one of the best ways to acquire a new and loyal companion. Unfortunately, many people opt to purchase their dog from breeders or pet stores, which often get their dogs from puppy mills and other unlicensed breeders.
Many dogs in a dog pound remain homeless and are often put down due to overcrowding. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, consider the following reasons for adopting a mixed breed from a dog shelter or dog pound:
Mixed breeds are healthier dogs
Mixed breeds are, in general, far healthier and longer lived than purebred dogs. Many purebred dogs are prone to diseases caused by genetic vulnerabilities which have been aggravated through centuries of inbreeding. A mixed breed is far less... Read about all six reasons at this link: WCD
The illustration is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty from Castle In The Mist
The classic story of Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger is told in 10 episodes and read by Bernard Cribbins. The reading is delightful, very British, and accompanied by music and sound efects. Lesson plans and discussion ideas for educators, home schoolers, and librarians accompany the audio readings.
Bringing the World of Reading to Kids
Two hard working women believers in the canine conection organized and continue to guide Nor'wester Readers. Wendi Huttner, a mom and a breeder/ trainer of Labradors, and Deborah Glessner, dog lover and retired librarian. A grass roots, hands on organization, Nor'wester is a vital part of their Pennasylvania community in bringing the world of reading to kids.
Here are some of the Nor'wester Canine Book Buddies, volunteer therapy reading dog teams participating in the Northampton Township Library program. "Several Nor'wester Readers teams volunteered at the Expressions Day Camp, a camp for boys and girls (age 4-18) with high functioning autism, Asperger's Syndrome, non-verbal learning disabilities, and other types of social challenges.
The Book Depository
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“There is no psychology in a fairy tale. The characters have little interior life; their motives are clear and obvious.” Phillip Pullman in his Introduction to Fairy Tales from the Brother's Grimmm
What should you do, what can you do, if you see an injured dog or one in distress?
For answers, examples, true stories and more, visit Sunbear Squad...Let the experience of compassionate dog lovers guide you...free Wallet Cards & Pocket Posters, Informative and practical guidance...Visit SunBear Squad
"A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level>"
This post is so great-the palettes and screen shots are amazing.
I’ve long been interested in the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century. The child of the British admiral John Lindsay and an enslaved African woman (possibly named Maria Belle), she was sent to Kenwood House, the home of her great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield as a young child. The earl was already raising his great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray who was the same age as Dido and so the two girls grew up together with Dido evidently becoming Elizabeth’s personal companion. While in his rulings as Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Mansfield indicated his distaste for the institution of slavery, in his own household there is evidence that Dido was treated in demeaning ways, clearly not viewed as equal to Elizabeth and others in the family. You can learn more about her here and here.
Now there is a movie about Dido, Belle, due to be released here soon. Variety has given a favorable review, noting that while it will appeal to Austen fans it doesn’t shy away from addressing the harsher topic of slavery. The Guardian also weighed in, And below is the trailer. I’m eager to see it and learn for myself as to how successful it is.
It’s a peculiar and depressing phenomenon that women—far more than men—who have moved past youthful attraction and procreating age tend to become invisible. So a film featuring a 58-year-old female divorcee is something of an anomaly (you can watch the trailer here).
Trend-bucking protagonist Gloria (who lends the film its name) refuses to be typecast. Her now-grown children have left home and are having children of their own. Her ex-husband has moved on. She would like to move on too.
Attempting to defy loneliness, disconnection, and old age, Gloria ventures out to singles parties. This is where we meet her in the subtitled Chilean film’s opening scenes, swallowing a drink and plucking up the courage to enter the dancing and dating fray.
But her prospective beaus bring a lifetime of baggage and bad habits, and Gloria finds her flings brief and unfulfilling. Adult courting is, it seems, just as awkward and excruciating as when you’re in your teens.
Then Gloria meets Rodolfo, a former naval officer now fun-park owner seven years her senior and with whom she can actually imagine a future. Yet the relationship’s not without its quirks and challenges, and it’s these difficulties and how they infer to the rest of Gloria’s life that provide the film with its main narrative drive.
Without giving too much away, we gain insight into Gloria through these events and incidents and how she handles herself throughout them. She is a fascinatingly complex, strong woman we come to admire and respect.
Gloria is an understated lead and the film itself is quietly, thoughtfully unveiled. Which makes it sound, on paper, as though it’s slow and boring and lacks the makings of a hit, but it’s the antithesis: subtle, surprising, compelling.
Gloria is someone who could be our mother. She’s someone I’m conscious I might grow up to be (and yes, that realisation was rather like having to face my own mortality).
Because here’s what most impressed me about this film and for which I can’t take credit for thinking up because it’s in the director’s notes (although it made complete sense when I read it and decided I must have known it subconsciously):
The film, which is told from Gloria’s point of view, contains not a single frame in which her body isn’t present. Every scene ekes out information about how she’s feeling about life and how and where she fits in with the rest of the world.
Here’s the zinger: Gloria plays a supporting role in the lives of those around her, yet Gloria has managed to turn a supporting role into a leading one.
‘Gloria is the study of character that we all know in real life, but we have never seen in a movie before,’ producer Pablo Larrain says, ‘and that’s a major achievement.’
The story is mature, nuanced. Gloria is an unobtrusive character, more observer than at the centre of the action. Her vision is failing and her over-sized, almost Coke-bottle-thick glasses dominate her face. She scrambles with putting them on, adjusting them, and occasionally taking them off throughout the film—they’re an aid as much as a hamper.
Perhaps most surprising and haunting is that Gloria’s is a story that’s everyday, yet we’ve never noticed or considered it before. Gloria offers us a new lens through which to look—I’m now looking around me with a new perspective and clarity.
Chilean actor Paulina Garcia, normally a theatre actor and now, like Gloria, playing her first leading feature film role, inhabits Gloria magnificently. Her actions are strong yet mild, grief-stricken yet stoic. She’s determined to find a place for herself—and to find love—in a world that overlooks her for both.
Garcia was awarded the Best Actress award at the 2013 Berlinale film festival; the film won Best Film at the same event. The jury reportedly commended the film ‘for its refreshing and contagious plea that life is a celebration to which we are all invited, regardless of age or condition, and that its complexities only add to the challenge to live it in full’.
I agree with that sentiment. Gloria surprised me—I’ll admit I paused momentarily when I was offered its review. I wondered: What insight could I possibly gain from the film or offer on its verdict? Would I even be able to maintain interest for its entirety?
The answer is a simple yes. The film’s not slow, it’s thoughtful. Gloria is not definitively sad, she’s ultimately extremely optimistic and resilient. The story’s not ordinary, it’s utterly important and relatable. Next time I hear a love song come on the radio in my car, I’ll be smiling and singing along and thinking of Gloria and women like her (which may include me).
Which begs the question: If there are few (or I’ve missed) films featuring ordinary women not traditionally put in leading roles, I’ve missed books that do similarly. If I were to try to expand my reading oeuvre accordingly, which book(s) would you recommend I start with?
Thanks to Rialto Distribution for the Gloria review opportunity. Gloria is now open at selected cinemas nationally.
By Alice Northover
A recent Publishers Weekly story highlighted some of the innovative work that many university presses are undertaking: video marketing. Slick mini-films uploaded to YouTube may be common for the latest YA sensation at the trade presses, but cameras tend not to be seen among the spires of higher education. But Oxford University Press is one of many academic publishers using videos to present scholars’ ideas in a dynamic way – and further serve the press mission of excellence in research, scholarship, and education.
Over 40 marketers from across the academic publishing division — including publicity, end-user marketing, product marketing, and journals marketing — participate in some form of video production as part of their job. While the majority of their time and resources are still spent on traditional marketing activities, and the amount each person works on varies (from one a year to a dozen), video is seen as crucial to communicating the often complex ideas inside academia. Marketers may hire an outside production team and plan an elaborate day of filming with multiple interviews, or simply sit a lexicographer down in a meeting room for a couple hours to discuss their work. Sometimes freelancer editors are brought in to polish employee-filmed videos, or staff edit and polish videos in-house. Our New York office has a basic studio for DIY work. And, of course, the occasional author may produce their own video which we can edit and finalize, or simply host on our YouTube channel.
TYPES OF VIDEOS
The most basic form of video we produce – and in fact the majority of videos we produce – is the author interview. Whether visiting our New York office and spending 20 minutes in the studio, or in the Long Room of Trinity College Dublin Library, authors present the ideas conveyed in their latest work. And we’re not averse to an interactive interview, especially when it means a visit to a brewery. We spoke to Garrett Oliver, editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer, at the Brooklyn Brewery, where he gave us a tour of the facilities and explained the science behind beer.
While reference works have clearly moved from print to online, our understanding of them often hasn’t. Product videos deliver clear explanations of our online reference products, what purpose they serve, and how academics can use them. Instructional videos provide a crucial guide to many of our products and services. What better way to illustrate search tricks and tips on Oxford Handbooks Online than to show it in action?
Journals offer us with a unique way of addressing current research and trends in the field — both in print and on camera. The European Heart Journal’s EHJ Today pairs editors with leaders in the field of cardiology to discuss their work and the impact it will have – whether or not it appears in the journal. These discussion videos can also bring people around a common theme. For example, Arne Kalleberg, editor of Social Forces, interviewed sociologists from around the world on inequality (the theme of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in 2013).
Both journals and our higher education textbooks generate another a unique opportunity: creating supplemental material to demonstrate ideas within the text. Chemistry³: Introducing inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, Second Edition by Andrew Burrows, John Holman, Andrew Parsons, Gwen Pilling, and Gareth Price is accompanied by over 90 videos illuminating key concepts. Scientific journal articles are often accompanied by animated models, and in some cases a live demonstration:
Click here to view the embedded video.
YouTube provides us with a chance to share conferences and webinars with people who couldn’t attend the original, whether it’s Psychtalks, an OED Symposium, or the Teaching of Public Law.
Video also presents a unique way to share our Press history, whether its lexicographers explaining the process of words entering the OED, or silent films from 1925. Watch out for some interviews with our Press Archivist, Martin Maw, on the Press and the First World War later this year.
Click here to view the embedded video.
There are even videos that members of the public don’t see. When introducing new journals or textbooks, we sometimes create videos for our sales staff to better explain them. Authors or editors reveal what’s unique and can provide more information in two minutes than a packet of papers that takes 15 minutes to read.
But perhaps our favorite videos are ones that we didn’t produce. In 2012, Oxford University Press partnered with the Guardian for the Very Short Film competition. Students from across the United Kingdom competed to explain a concept in less than 60 seconds. The winner, Sally Le Page, showed how it is impossible to understand biology without evolution by natural selection in “A Very Short Film on Evolution.”
Click here to view the embedded video.
PURPOSE OF VIDEOS
But what’s the point of all these videos? Has anyone ever sat down to watch a video and decided to buy a book immediately afterwards? Well it’s misleading to consider these videos in isolation. We never spend hours creating a video only to have it sit on YouTube for no one to see.
First off, we put a tremendous amount to time and effort into writing titles, descriptions, and tags to ensure they show up in search results – giving people basic information and a direction at the beginning of their research journey. (YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world.)
Second, we use these videos across our social media, from this blog to Facebook, Tumblr to Google Plus, and everything in between. They can provide some much needed refreshment in a sea of text and engage or re-engage readers. Social Bakers found that videos uploaded directly to Facebook see 40% higher engagement than YouTube links shared to Facebook.
But social media isn’t the only place you’ll see videos pop up. You can find them in e-newsletters, on product pages on our website, even on vendor websites, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Our publicity team also uses video to pitch radio and television producers, demonstrating how enlightening our authors — and their ideas – are. And authors use these videos for future speaking engagements and media appearances.
But most importantly, these videos disseminate Oxford scholarship around the globe, and even help the occasional student pass their final exam.
Alice Northover is a Social Media Manager at Oxford University Press. She works with many of the marketing staff producing videos, whether issuing branding guidelines, advising where to make a cut, or just uploading videos to YouTube.
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With the Oscars round the corner, we’re delving into Film: A Very Short Introduction. Here’s an extract from Chapter 3 of Michael Wood’s book. In this extract he looks at the industry and the role of the moviegoer.
Film began as a very small business, a dramatic invention but a tiny piece of the world of entertainment. It was an act among others in a variety show. Very soon, though, there were shows composed only of films, and there were special places for their showing. A cinema called the Nickleodeon opened in Pittsburgh in 1905, and by 1907 there were 4,000 such places in the United States. Something resembling an industry developed in France, Italy, England, and Germany too, and audiences grew and grew across the world. Studios were born. Pathé and Gaumont in France; UFA in Germany; Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount in the USA. Hollywood itself, a small Californian town surrounded by orange groves, became a movie settlement because of its steady weather (and because California was thought to be far enough away from the lawsuits that rained down on experimenters and investors in New York). Something like the contours of later patterns of film-making began to form. Stars began to glitter. And above all, money began to gleam.
A whole support system blossomed: publicity machinery, fan magazines, prizes, record-kepping. Box-office results became the equivalent of sporting scores, or world championship boxing.
Avatar (2009) is the largest grossing picture ever made, unless we adjust for inflation, in which case the title goes to Gone with the Wind (1939), and Avatar moves to fourteenth place. The American Academy of Moton Pictures awarded its first Oscars in 1929, and has awarded them every year since. Programmes developed from sets of short films to single feature films plus supporting entries; and from there to the two film diet that was standard fare for so long. By 1929, 90 million cinema tickets were sold each week in America, with figures proportionally similar elsewhere. There were ups and downs during the Depression and the Second World War, but the figure had reached one hundred million by 1946. By 1955, however, the number was down to 46 million, not a whole lot more than the 40 million or so of 1922. Movie-houses, of which a little more later, rose and fell, naturally enough, to the same rhythm: there were 20,000 in America in 1947 and 11,000 in 1959.
Programmes often changed midweek, and shows were continuous, so you could come in at the middle of a film and stay till you got the middle again. Hence the now almost unintelligible phrase “This is where we came in”. There is a remarkable piece by the humorist Robert Benchley about a game he liked to play. Arriving, say, twenty minutes into a film, he would give himself five minutes to reconstruct the plot so far. Then he would interpret everything that followed in the light of his reconstruction. He would stay on to see how close he was – or pretend to see. He claimed many movies were improved by his method.
Theories of the Seventh Art arose, as well as plenty of attacks of the mindlessness of moviegoers. It was in reaction to one such attack that Walter Benjamin devloped an important piece of the argument of his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” (various versions between 1935 and 1939). The French novelist George Duhamel had included an onslaught on cinema in his witty and gloomy book on America, Scénes de la vie future (1930). The relevant chapter is titled ‘cinematographic interlude or the entertainment of the free citizen’, and within the text, the cinema is called, in the same mode of a grand irony, a sanctury, a temple, an abyss of forgetfulness, and the cave of the monster. Duhamel says that film ‘requires no kind of effort’ and ‘presupposes no capacity for consecutive thought’, ‘aucune suite dans les idées.’ Benjamin agrees that film audiences are distracted but claims that there are forms of distraction that may function as localized, medium-specific attention. ‘Even the distracted person’ he says, thinking of the moviegoer, ‘can form habits. ‘The audience’ he adds, ‘is an examiner, but a distracted one’.
Michael Wood is Charles Barnwell Start Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University and the author of Film: A Very Short Introduction. You can see Michael talking about film.
The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday! Subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via emailor RSS.
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Thanks to everyone who helped kick off the Austenland DVD/Blu-Ray release! And for all the happy notes expressing love for the movie.
I went to three Sundance screenings last year, and afterward people would come up to me to gush about the movie. The women all seemed pretty certain that they were going to love it, and unsurprised when that turned out to be the case. But the men were astounded. I had at least 20 conversations like this.
MAN: I loved that movie.
Me: Thank you!
MAN: No, you don't understand. I loved that movie. Like I laughed through the entire thing.
ME: That's awesome, thanks so much!
MAN: No, you DON'T UNDERSTAND. I LOVED THAT MOVIE. I don't laugh like that ever. And it was supposed to be a chick movie. And I laughed so hard I was crying. Like it was actually honestly one of the funniest movies I've ever seen in my entire life!
And he stares at me, eyes wide, willing me to understand that this is a shocking outcome that I really really need to understand.
And still months later I kept meeting people who saw Austenland at Sundance, and what they want to tell me is. 1. they loved it, and 2. their husband loved it so so much and can't stop talking about how unbelievably funny it was.
I think part of the shock comes from the costumes. Some of these men were not fans of the period dramas they'd been dragged to in the past and they're expecting that again, and when it turns out they laugh and thoroughly enjoy the movie, their minds are so blown they can't quite recover.
Jerusha and I from the beginning thought the movie would work on two levels: as a love letter to Austen fans like ourselves and a love letter to those who think Austen fans are funny.
And thanks to all who are buying the movie or checking it out from the library and not pirating it. I found this exchange on tumblr recently, and I really appreciate the person who runs this tumblr site for their thoughtful, kind response.
"Do you have a link to watch Austenland online??" Asked by Anonymous
Austenland Movie Fans tumblr: "You guys realize that watching movies online is stealing right? Believe me I understand the desire to watch things now, I live in America and love a lot of British shows. But rather than going and finding them online illegally I wait. Why because I want more shows like those. I want to say, yes I like this can we please get more. Don’t steal from what you love guys in the end you really end up robbing yourself."
Anonymous: "You realize how elitist and rude it is to tell people not to watch things online? Some people can't afford to go see a movie in theatres, some people will never have access to this movie at all."
Austenland Movie Fans tumblr: "I completely understand not everyone can afford to go see movies in the theater. But they can wait to rent the movie or borrow it from the library. It is not just rich actors you are stealing from, what about the make up artists, caterers, camera guys, and accountants. Stealing is stealing no matter how you try and justify it."
When I was in high school/college I knew people who worked parttime jobs just to earn money to buy music CDs. Now I hear of high school/college-age people who have never purchased an album (or even a single) in their lives. Why buy it when you can download it (illegally) for free? I wonder if those people have noticed how many groups produced one or two albums and nothing after. Because they didn't make enough money making music. Because people stole the music.
I find the argument interesting: "some people can't afford to see a movie." Some people. This person? I've had people argue with me that they pirate ebooks all they want because "what about poor children who can't afford to buy books and don't have access to a library?" Sure, if you're a poor child with no access to a library (but somehow access to a computer, internet, ereader, digital music player) then you get a free pass.
But for the rest of us, please don't be a user. Please support the arts. We do not have the right to have everything we want when we want it for free. We can be a part of art creation by supporting the stuff we like with our purchase money or library patronage. All the cool kids are doing it.
Tomorrow Austenland releases on DVD & Blu-Ray! And it's already available for digital download from iTunes and Amazon. To celebrate, on Friday authors and bloggers and book fiends across the country held Jane's Night In parties. Here are a few photos from my party and others, and check my twitter feed for posts.
My friend put framed
#Austenland photos out. She found one with me in the background!
Ally Carter and Jennifery Lynn Barnes served high tea for their party. Check out the spread!
Tea service ready! My friend did this. I swear I don't decorate with my own books.
Becca Fitzpatrick's party was comfy cozy pajama style. These ladies are ready to watch the flick.
We had a special guest at our party. (not me)
Decor musts: Jane Austen, JJ Feild, and taxidermy birds.
Keeping our pinkies up.
Thats-normal.com is ready for their movie party.
libba bray 2nd time watching
#AUSTENLAND & I laughed just as much as the 1st time. DVD comes out 2/11, people. Tallyho!
Ally Carter Can honestly say that
@AustenlandMovie is even better the 2nd time! Laughing so hard
Several bloggers held a google hangout with Stephenie Meyer about the movie. Tiff from Thats-normal.com took a selfie with her.
Britten Amber Harmon Stephenie Meyer says one of her favorite memories filming
#Austenland was the play until 4 or 5am laughing their guys out.
Director Jerusha Hess with Erica Elmer at their fancy dress-up party!
And they had gentlemen callers
At Margaret Stohl's and Melissa de la Cruz's party in LA.
#austenland bingo with Sweethearts! I think I'm winning!
(check out the Austenland pinterest page to download these cute Austenland bingo cards plus other party ideas)
Mundie Moms LOVE this movie! You guys have to pick it up on Tuesday! It's HILARIOUS!
Becca Fitzpatrick party wrapping up. Had so much fun. Everyone agreed -
#Austenland is best viewed in a group. The more laughter, the merrier.
Margaret Stohl So fun! Hate to wrap up
#janesnightin #austenlandmovie - so proud of you @haleshannon - DVD out on Monday!!!
Ally Carter Once again, I ADORED
@AustenlandMovie! So proud of @haleshannon & the team who made it!
Jennifer Lynn BarnesJust got a call from my brother. He is watching
@AustenlandMovie. Sis-in-law loved it so much she went home after girls' night & bought it!
Thank you so much to everyone who hosted and attended the parties and everyone who is helping get the word out about the video release. Check my twitter feed for chanced to win a DVD this week, and enjoy the movie. Tallyho!
Austenland releases on DVD/Blu-Ray/VOD on February 11!
To help get the word out, several people active in social media, including myself, have been asked to host a pre-viewing party of the video on Friday, February 7 and live tweet the event. Follow me on twitter or check back here next Monday for a post about the event.
Here are some YA authors who are hosting their own Jane's Night In parties all over the US:
Jerusha Hess - Austenland director, tweeting from the official movie account
Margaret Stohl - author of Icons and co-author of Beautiful Creatures
Melissa de la Cruz - author of Witches of East End, Frozen, Blue Bloods
Becca Fitzpatrick - author of the Hush, Hush saga
Ally Carter - author of the Gallager Girls and Heist Society series
Jennifer Lynn Barnes - author of The Naturals and Raised by Wolves
Libba Bray - author of The Diviners, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Going Bovine
Barry Goldblatt - my illustrious agent
Check out these fabulous bloggers, readers, and movie watchers who will be hosting and tweeting:
A Day in Motherhood
Page to Premiere
Reel Life With Jane
Friday evening, check twitter for #JanesNightIn or #Austenland and join us for some laughs, photos, and vicarious festivity!
And a special plea: please don't pirate this movie. If you can't afford to buy or rent it, please request it from your library, thereby supporting the filmmakers and your local library. Hollywood measures success by $ made, and if movies like this don't make money, it makes it harder for other movies like this or other movies by women to get made.
Sony Pictures Classics announced Austenland DVD and Blu-Ray release in the USA on February 11, 2014. I know many of you are disappointed and were hoping it would come out in time for Christmas. But hey, pre-orders make great presents too! (sort of? Not quite as cool as a DVD in hand but almost?) The good news why it isn't coming out earlier is because it's still in some theaters. Thank you for coming out to see our flick.
You can pre-order the video now and plan on the best Valentine's Day ever. I know I will.
In the meantime, those of you who have seen it, would you mind giving a one sentence blurb of what you thought about it in the comments? I'll use some of your blurbs in a post about the DVD release in February.
By: Little Willow
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So, people are complex. You just never know how they will respond. When I published Austenland in 2007, I was caught totally off guard by the first "you should be ashamed of this smut" email I received. I honestly didn't consider Austenland a trashy book. But many did. Here's my favorite of the angry emails:
I just read Austenland and was so disappointed. I loved your other books and had come to trust you to keep things clean. I bought Austenland on Amazon for my teenaged daughter for Christmas because she is a huge Pride & Prejudice fan. I'm glad I decided to read it first, because it would have totally traumatized her. I buried it [in] my kitchen trash can under a pile of wilted celery, where it should feel right at home.
I don't want to mock the writer of that email. Everyone has the right to their own reaction (though I do wonder sometimes what motivates the need to email the author your negative reaction). Still, I didn't see this coming.
The most surprising response I received for Austenland (and really any of my books) was:
"The way she mocks Austen fans is just insulting."
Not just one such response but many. I never anticipated that fellow Austen fans would think that I was insulting them. After all, I am one. It's one thing to love Austen's novels (which I do) but at the point I became obsessed with the DVDs of Pride & Prejudice, I thought, this is getting funny. Isn't it okay to laugh at this? At my weird obsession? And how I have the tendency to fall in love with fictional characters? Can we still be amused by a thing and love it at the same time?
Once the movie came out, that reaction only magnified. Many people thought we were mocking Jane Austen readers in an ugly and mean-spirited way. I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me.
Of course not everyone responded that way, and it was lovely and reassuring that many people (Austen fans and non-readers) let us know how much they loved what we did. I read one simply gorgeous review of the movie from a major online magazine, and was so relieved that at least someone got it! After the writer and I corresponded a bit. She wrote:
"I'm so grateful for writers who are doing work that's full of love and warmth and isn't cynical. I get enough of that."
Yay! Not everyone misunderstood! I forwarded the note on to the director, Jerusha Hess, and she responded, "Yes! It was full of love."
If we made it in love, full of warmth and fondness and well-intentioned humor, how did it come across to many as just the opposite?
I don't know, but I've observed some things about the Hesses' movies. Some people who saw Napoleon Dynamite thought that the movie was mocking a rural west culture, and yet I've never met anyone from Utah or Idaho that felt mocked by the movie. I read reviews of Nacho Libre (reviews written by white US guys) who thought the movie was mocking Mexicans, and yet the movie did great in Mexico and was largely received with love and laughter. I have no doubt that there was a loving and celebratory spirit in the Hesses making of these movies.
In those cases, it was outsiders who feared the mockery, while those supposedly being mocked got the humor and laughed with the movie. Yet with Austenland, many of the insiders--the Janeites--felt unkindly mocked. I don't know why this happened.
Christopher Guest movies also come to mind. I don't know if certain musicians felt mocked by Spinal Tap. I heard that some dog showers did by Best In Show, which surprised me, because as an outsider it seemed clear to me that the movie wasn't trying to make fun of all dog owners and dog shows, nor to definitively define what such people must all be like. I grew up doing community theater, and everyone I know in theater absolutely loves Waiting for Guffman. We didn't feel mocked by it. We felt lovingly tributed and enjoyed the inside jokes only we would get, laughing at the absurdities we saw in ourselves and in our theater world as well as laughing at the parts the movie exaggerated for humor. I came away from it not thinking, "Yeah, community theater is lame," but "That was hysterical! I love theater!"
And I guess that's how I assumed my fellow Jane Austen lovers would react too. If anyone might misunderstand and think we were mocking Janeites, it would be the outsiders, certainly not the insiders, certainly not those who loved Austen--her humor, her snark, her insight.
I do know we were walking that fine and wonderful line: to be the thing and make light of the thing at the same time. That's the only way to do a loving comedy. And there is a chance it can be misunderstood. I just didn't think it would, not by my own peeps.
Some people couldn't go there with us, and that's okay. Art is personal. But the accusations of mean-spiritedness or malicious intent are totally, completely wrong. Every actor, every producer and writer and all involved had a fondness for the characters and the story and wanted to make something that made us laugh, made us swoon, made us smile, in the very best spirit possible.
I don't know why it failed some people, but it is a potent reminder that nothing is more perilous than comedy.
Suicide Girls. Blackheart Burlesque troupe.
There is something really hot about a chick with black lipstick and tattoos. I’m fake punk; I know this. I wear dark lipstick, makeup, and tight t-shirts with snarky sayings. However, I also clean up well and look very nice in a white dress. Oh, and I only have one tattoo. I couldn’t be a Suicide Girl, but oh, how I would like to be!
I attended Suicide Girls’ Blackheart Burlesque at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. Initially, I bought tickets because I love burlesque. Only secondarily did I look into the Suicide Girls, although as I understand it, the majority of my male friends knew about them already.
Suicide Girls is a website, created by two Portsmouth, Oregon, folk who wanted to see “hot punk rock girls naked.” To be a member of the website, you must pay, and it’s become an international phenomenon, now based in Los Angeles. There are books by the Suicide Girls, as well as movies and a tour.
Priddy Suicide. Pardon my drooling.
The Blackheart Burlesque show is a little different than the tour, because not all Suicide Girls can dance—and the BB girls … they could freakin’ dance. The lead cast of the show was only four ladies. I could have gone for more, but the four did not disappoint—Priddy Suicide, in particular. Talk about a hot chick. Yipes. Each of the four women was different: different colored hair, different tattoos, different body shapes. What did they have in common? Severe confidence and an edge.
The Blackheart Burlesque was very much about nerd love. Since I’m a nerd, I appreciated all the cultural references. This wasn’t a stupid strip tease. This was everything from The Big Lebowski to Planet of the Apes to Star Wars. True, Star Wars in g-strings with duct tape over nipples—but Star Wars!
I was about six rows back, but the front couple rows got covered in everything from fake blood to whiskey. And how could I forget the birthday cake? At one point, the MC covered her breasts in birthday cake and let the audience lick frosting from her fingers. Priddy Suicide even poured whiskey into her own mouth and then spit liquor into the awaiting, open mouths of her fans.
Half the troupe was British (hot). But of course, Priddy, the whiskey-chugging, foul-mouthed, ample-breasted redhead, was American. Thank you.
The Suicide Girls are not about dotting letters with little hearts. They aren’t about being sweet or shy. Although burlesque is the art of tease, this was teasing with a fist to the head. Whenever you open a show with Bjork’s “Army of Me,” what can you expect? Nothing less than one kick ass performance from four kick ass women who chew men up and spit ‘em out like bad sushi.
The Suicide Girls do Star Trek.
Brad vs. Brad.
My father has always considered me shallow. (Like he can talk; he used to judge college girls’ outfits from my apartment window in Athens, Ohio.) Daddy’s right, though; I am shallow. Look at my husband. However, I would like to point out to my father and to all of you … I’m not the only one.
This came to my attention most recently thanks to a box office flop.
The Fifth Estate is the fictional-based-on-fact account of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s rise and fall as conspiracy theorist and (arguably) American terrorist. According to the Huffington Post, this film, released October 31st, is “the biggest wide-release flop of 2013.” The director blames Assange and his underlying omnipresence in the media.
I blame a blond wig, brown contacts, and a funky accent.
The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch—my current Hollywood crush. (I like to keep one around; gives a girl something to look forward to in movie theaters.) Cumberbatch—or “Benny,” as I call him—is best known for the BBC’s Sherlock and his role as Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness. He’s also best known for black hair, icy blue eyes, and a voice that Britain’s Times likens to “a jaguar hiding in a cello.”
Now. Take these things away from Benny, and what do you have? A lanky, odd-looking, British nerd who can act.
How is this even possibly the same dude?
This was The Fifth Estate’s mistake. To play Julian Assange, Benny had to look like the guy—and he did! In spades! But as Cumberbitches (Benny fans), we don’t want to see him looking like Julian Assange. We want to see him looking HOT. Ergo film floppage.
Now, let’s discuss Little Favour.
Little Favour is a short film, released today on iTunes, starring dear Benny. In the film, Cumberbatch has:
- Shaggy, black hair.
- Bright blue eyeballs.
- A DEEP … BRITISH … VOICE!
So far, word of the short firm has spread like a computer virus on all forms of social media. According to Empire Online, it is the highest selling short in iTunes history, even before its release!
Every Cumberbitch the world over probably has a copy already, and he/she has watched the short film a dozen times. (Well, er, I have, at least.) Anyway, Little Favour made me realize how shallow I/we really are! I mean, we say we love this guy, but we won’t go see him in a blond wig, will we?
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to admit to prodigious superficiality. Additional examples:
- Brad Pitt: Saw him immediately in Seven; skipped Twelve Monkeys.
- Val Kilmer: worshipped him in Tombstone; had no interest once he got fat.
- Ryan Reynolds: will watch even bad, bad movies just because he’s in them.
I don’t want you to think I feel bad about this. I don’t. I’m very proud that my husband has earned the nickname “Hottie McHotterson” amidst my girlfriends. I acknowledge my Benedict board on Pinterest almost solely includes pictures of him with black hair (he’s actually a ginger). I am shallow, and well … I’m okay with it. But I’m not alone.
Why, Val? WHY???!
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By: Children's Books, dogs, and related matters,
The forest has played a major role in children's literature from the earliest time.
The forest was mysterious, a place of unknowns and often darkness and fear.
From legends to fairy tales, the forest was a place of wonder and often a place of danger...from Winnie the Poo to Little Red Riding Hood
The forests are central to the Planet Of The Dogs and Castle In The Mist.
For readers, the forests, like the books whose stories embrace them, open the doors to the imagination.
This blog is dedicated to children's literature that opens the doors to the imagination. And to the amazing role of dogs in enhancing our lives. -
SLEEPING BEAUTIES VS. GONZO GIRLS By Maria Tatar
In this fascinating article that moves through children's literature and cultural myths ranging from Gretel and Red Riding Hood to Katniss Everdeen and Lady Gaga, Maria Tatar explores the evolution of the female archetype today. Here are excerpts.
"We’ve come a long way from what Simone de Beauvoir once found in Anglo-European entertainments: 'In song and story the young man is seen departing adventurously in search of a woman; he slays the dragons and giants; she is locked in a tower, a palace, a garden, a cave, she is chained to a rock, a captive, sound asleep: she waits.' Have we kissed Sleeping
Beauty goodbye at last, as feminists advised us to do not so long ago...
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series have given us
female tricksters, women who are quick-witted, fleet-footed, and resolutely brave... they are not just cleverly resourceful and determined to survive. They’re also committed to social causes and political change...
The female trickster has a long and distinguished lineage...Many of our female tricksters—often new inflections of the ones we know from legends and fairy tales—have complemented their
arsenals of verbal weapons with guns and steel.Little Red Riding Hood has been revisited again and again in recent years. The girl in red, often positioned as a seductive innocent who courts the predator as much as she fears him, is no longer a willing victim. When Buffy, from the popular nineties TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” dresses up as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween...
These days, the trickiest of them all may be Lady Gaga... Lady Gaga draws us out of our
comfort zones, crosses boundaries, gets snared in her own devices. Shamelessly exploitative and exploratory, she reminds us that every culture requires a space for the disruptive energy of antisocial characters. She may have the creativity of a trickster, but she is also Sleeping Beauty and menacing monster, all rolled into one."
Maria Tatar chairs the program for folklore and mythology at Harvard University. She is the editor of the excellent Enchanted Hunters, the Power of Stories in Childhood.
The Illustration Of Red Riding Hood in bed with the wolf is by Dore...
In recent times, many versions of the fairy tales of old have been made for film and TV. Producers of these retold versions of Little Red Riding Hood have been inspired by the early versions of the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault with the ominous forest, the dangerous wolf, and the innocent young maiden. These retellings have often been heavily influenced by the quest for commercial success, and the reults have been decidely mixed. Often banal or cliched, they are examples of how commerce as well cultural change affects the retelling of fairy tales.
Here is a link to the trailer of the 2011 Movie film, Red Riding Hood
And here is an excerpt and a link to Roger Ebert's laugh out loud review.
"Of the classics of world literature crying out to be filmed as a sexual fantasy for teenage
girls, surely "Red Riding Hood" is far down on the list. Here's a movie that cross-pollinates the "Twilight" formula with a werewolf and adds a girl who always wears a red hooded cape...
What this inspiration fails to account for is that while a young woman might toy with the notion of a vampire boyfriend, she might not want to mate with a wolf. Although she might think it was, like, cool to live in the woods in Oregon, she might not want to live in the Black Forest hundreds of years ago because, like, can you text from there?
"Red Riding Hood" has the added inconvenience of being dreadfully serious about a plot so preposterous, it demands to be filmed by Monty Python..."
Like Mr Ebert, most critics gave the film a negative review. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the audience rating was 39%.
A sensual intepretation of Little Red Ridin Hood from 1997 is found in this short film by David Kaplan adopted from Conte De LA Mere Grande...music by Debussy...the wolf moves like a seductive spirit of the forest...soft black and white images and a clever Red Riding Hood...
Here is the Link: Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
Roald Dahl wrote his own version of Little Red Riding Hood in the form of a
humorous,tongue in cheek poem. This is how it begins...
"As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, "May I come in?"
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
"He's going to eat me up!" she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, "That's not enough!
I haven't yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!"
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
"I've got to have a second helping!"...
The image above is from a fun film made of Dahl's Red Riding Hood poem using stop-motion puppets. The imaginative creators, Hannah Legere and Andrew Wilson, certainly caught the spirit of the Dahl poem. Link here to this delightful film version of Roald Dahl's poem...
The dog lover in the photograph is Roald Dahl.
Artists and Illustrators...
14 different artist's versions of Red Riding Hood are posted on the Art of Children's Books blog site..here is an excerpt from their introduction...
"Folk tales and fairy tales are at the top of the list when it comes to vintage children's books. The Brothers Grimm* folk tale, Little Red Riding Hood, has been a beloved and enduring story. Originally titled Little Red Cap, the story has a strong lesson. Since it's publication, Little Red Riding Hood has been illustrated by many artists over the years. Here is just a sampling of the different artistic interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood."
Book cover by Andrea Wisnewski...*The original version was published by Charles Perault.
The Forest and Imagination...
The influence of the forest on the imagination will always be with us, especially in legend, folk tales and children's stories.
Innumerable film and TV versions, including many annimated cartoons, of Little Red Riding Hood will continue to be made. And wonderful writers like Roald Dahl in the past, and Philip Pullman in the present, will continue to find the forests of fairy tales a timeless setting for timeless stories.
The illustration is by Arthur Rackham...if you look closely, on the path beneath the huge tree, you will see red Riding Hood and the wolf.
Reading for Pleasure...opening the imagination, opening the mind...
Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, according to a UK study of the reading behavior of appoximately 6000 young people. Here are excerpts from a report that reaffirms the value early reading and bedtime stories.
"Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE).
The IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of10 and 16 than those who rarely read...
...Children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way."
The research was conducted by Dr Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown; To read the article, visit Pleasure Reading
The Doors that Rose opens...
myself a facilitator…if my dog could drive, she would not need me. Rose seems
to enjoy seeing people multiple times and developing a relationship with the
people… She is
a working dog by nature and she just loves these jobs. I
am constantly amazed at the doors that Rose opens…she goes to places I could
never get without her…reaches beyond my reach, touches a person deeper than my
touch. The restless or agitated patient who is calmed by Rose’s
touch...the child in the classroom who won’t settle down and get to work but
when Rose sits by them, they quiet right down and the hyperactivity seems to
dissipate. The child getting excited about reading to Rose every week;
they wouldn’t do that for me, but they do it for Rose. Lying with a dying
patient who will smile, close their eyes and stroke her with a peacefulness
that is so precious…I know I could not enter that person’s space without
Rose…it really is all about occupying part of someone else’s space for just a
short time be it in a school, home or hospital...”
teacher, Susan Purser, and her Australian Cattle Dog, Rose, have been very
active as a therapy dog team for several years in Sarasota, Florida.
Paws Giving Independence
Paws Giving Independence is a recpient of a 2013 Planet Dog Foundation Grant.
Planet Dog has this year donated $71,500 in new grants to 16 non-profit dog organizations..."The PDF grants will help fund assistance dog, therapy dog and search and rescue programs across the country and support a wide variety of non-profit programs that are helping children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities; injured service members; natural disaster survivors and many more people in need..."
"Paws Giving Independence is an all-volunteer organization that saves dogs from area shelters, trains them to be service/companion dogs, and places the dogs, free of charge, with those in need.
Their Saving a Life to Change a Life project identifies suitable dogs in shelters and trains them to meet the specific needs of people with disabilities. They train dogs to open doors, pick up dropped objects, turn lights on and off, and other ways to assist in independence. In addition, they train dogs to alert for epileptic and diabetic seizures, and psychological assistance for military veterans with PTSD. PDF funds support veterinary care, special prosthetics and balance equipment and training."
Paws Giving Independence was founded in 2008 by 3 Bradley University students who recognized the marvelous healing capabilities of dogs.
for Dog Lovers and decent people...
Here's a Goodreads review that strikes home and makes sense for dog lovers and decent people...Passionate dog rescuer, animal rights advocate and author.C.A. Wulff wrote How to Change The World in 30 Seconds...
"At first i started reading this book as an animal rescuer myself. But as i started to go
through all of the information in the book i realized that this book is a GREAT informative guide for people who have just dipped their toes into the realm of rescue. It is laid out in a way that focuses on an audience that may, or may not have already heard of some of the ideas. This way a novice rescuer can understand it, but the veteran rescuer isnt just wading through either. I saw several options that were detailed out even for someone in rescue many years. So really what im saying is.. it doesnt matter if you are new or old to it, this can give you great ideas, starting points and explanations for why so many rescuers are able to save lives on click at a time."
Here is a link to the full review by Sylence of How to Change the World in 30 Seconds, in Goodreads...
Much has been written of the importance of childhood experiences with books...books that meant a lot to an individual as a child and where the memory of the book remains important in their adult life. Here, thanks to Monica Edinger's Educating Alice blog, are excerpts from a rather fascinating converstion by two of the most prominent, respected, and imaginative writers of children's and YA literature...
"Gaiman talked about reading the Mary Poppins books when he was six or seven and how they helped form whatever worldview he had as a kid. 'The idea that the world is incredibly unlikely and strange secret things are always happening, that adults don't really explain to you, or in fact, that adults may be oblivious to'...
''His (Gaiman's) wonder was infectious as he recalled discovering the library when he was very
young and having that incredible feeling of power; discovering the card catalogue in which you could actually look up subjects like witches or robots or ghosts; or you could just take down books and read the interesting ones. Both authors talked about discovering American comic books and marveled at the speed in the stories, the size of them, with Gaiman adding, "Everything was alien, everything was equally as strange and unlikely, so skyscrapers, and pizza and fire hydrants were just as alien to my world as people in capes flying around..."
Monica Edinger, a fourth grade teacher, and a passionate advocate of the wonders and benefits of children's literature, has a very lively and informative blog: Educating Alice . Her new book, Africa Is My Home, is receiving excellent reviews.
Here are excerpts from her blog ;
The Unjournal of Children's Literature
The “un” movement is an intriguing one. Until recently I had only heard about it in terms of unconferences, participant-driven events such as this one. But now there is another sort of un-thing, an unjournal. Created by children’s literature graduate students at San Diego State University, the inaugural issue of The Unjournal of Children’s Literature is up and ready for viewing, reading, and responding. Gorgeous to look at, clearly designed in terms of navigation, fascinating in terms of content, this is one elegant web publication.
And from an article on kids, books and reading: "Reading to me is many things and so I think we teachers need to provide many different experiences with reading and books. My fourth grade students read all sorts of material on their own, for themselves, for all sorts of reasons..."
What do Therapy Dogs Do All Day?
Here are videos from Peple Animals Love (PAL), based in Washington DC, that document the wonderful work that their volunteers and their dogs perform. Click this link: PAL
Fairy Tales as the Last Echoes of Pagan Myths...
Seth Lerner, in writing about the orgins and history of fairy tales and folklore, points out that Wilhelm Grimm, at the time the Grimm brothers books were being published in 1812 and 1815, wrote that fairy tales were the "'last echoes of pagan myths'. He
(Grimm) went on:"A world of magic is opened up before us, one which still exists among us in secret forests, in underground caves, and in the deepest sea, and it is still visible to children.(Fairy tales) belong to our national poetic heritage..."
Lerner sees even more significance in Fairy tales. He goes on to point out that "what we find inside these secret forests, caves, and seas is not just a poetic heritage, but a personal one as well. For fairy tales are full of families, full of parents who bequeth a sense of self to children, full of ancestors and heirs whose lives play out, in little, the life of a nation from childhood to maturity..."
Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego. The quotes and ideas above are from his informative and insightful book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter
NYPL's Children's Literary Salon is pleased to announce our event on Saturday, October 12th at 2:00 p.m.
The ABC of It: Curator Leonard S. Marcus in Conversation
Join Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature, Interim Director Jenny Brown as she interviews historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus about his current NYPL exhibit and the importance of children’s literature as a whole.
This event will be held in the South Court Auditorium in the main branch of New York Public Library.
Harry Potter's Textbook...
"J.K. Rowling will write her first movie script for Warner Bros., writing Fantastic Beasts and Where to
Find Them–a film based on Harry Potter’s textbook from his school for wizards.
The film is part of a planned series featuring the author of the magical book, Newt Scamander. Rowling published a book by the same name in 2001. She had this comment on her Facebook page:
"Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world..." Here is the link: JKRowling
Dogs in the Forest...
The forest plays a very important role in the Planet Of The Dogs Series. Here is an excerpt from Castle In The Mist...
continued to lead the soldiers deeper into the woods. Soon, it began to snow, slowly at first, and
then, the wind increased and the snow was everywhere. It became very difficult to see very far. The leader of the soldiers told his men that
they were to follow him. They were
returning to the castle.
walking through the snow when one of the men, who was an experienced forest
guide, said to the leader, “With respect sir, but I don’t think we are going in
the right direction.” The leader was about to answer him when howling
started. It seemed to come from all
directions. Then the leader spoke, “You
will follow me, I am certain that this is the way.” They continued on through the swirling snow,
unable to see, and surrounded by howling dogs..."
Here is an excert from a review:"Do you
think it is possible for dogs to stop war? Author Robert J. McCarty has created
a charming fantasy-allegory that can be read and understood on at least two
different levels…a story about dogs who come from another planet to help people
on earth. But under the surface are the
important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and how to overcome evil with
good…Castle In The Mist will keep you turning the pages to find out what
Wayne Walker reviewing Castle in the Mist
for Stories for Children Magazine, the Home School Book Review and the Home
School Buzz wrote:
CANADIAN SERVICE DOG FOUNDATION
The Canadian Service Dog Foundation trains and provides service dogs for a wide variety of human needs and services. They provide a wide range of vital services,,,ten major humanitarian objectives are listed on their website. Here are the first two:
- "To improve quality of life for Canadians through the use of service dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals. Provide opportunities, resources, and support through the use of trained service dogs for Canadians living with psychiatric disabilities so as to allow for greater functional independence, sufficient to make healthy choices and lead active lifestyles."
- To support past or present military personnel, emergency service workers, and related professionals dealing with operational stress injuries through the use of specially trained service dogs.
- Here is a link to learn more about their wide reaching canine services for people: CSDF Services
Read sample chapters of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series by
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes Noble, Amazon, Powell's...
Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- you can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read Dog Books to Dogs....Ask any therapy reading dog: "Do you like it when the kids read dog books to you?"
And Now -- for the First Time -- E Books of the Planet Of The Dogs Series are coming on KDP Select...
Planet Of The Dogs will be available October 1...Castle In The Mist will be available on October 15 and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, on November 15...in time for the Holiday Gift Season...
Any one of these books would make for a
delightful—and one would assume cherished—gift for any child. All three would be an amazing reading
Arden, educator, dog expert, and author of Small Dogs Big Hearts wrote:
"We are excited to announce that Barking Planet Productions is publishing a new book by C.A.Wulff.
"Finding Fido" will be available for purchase at amazon.com on September 30. "Finding Fido" is a handbook every pet owner will want to have in their library.
Between 3 and 4 million pets are put to death in shelters across the U.S. every year. Some of
them are owner surrenders, some are impounds, but the vast majority of them are missing or stolen pets.
C.A. Wulff and A.A.Weddle, the administrators of the service Lost & Found Ohio Pets, have compiled a guide to address this sad reality. ‘Finding Fido’ offers tips for preventing the loss of a pet; advice for what to do with a stray pet you’ve found; and a step-by-step plan in case the unthinkable happens, and you lose a pet.
This is an instructive and important tool every family with a dog or cat should have on hand… just in case.
A Dog Health Update: here are excerpts from an article on Giardiasis – Parasitic Diarrhea in Dogs, Cats and Humans...The microscopic parasites known as Giardiasis are the most common intestinal parasites to be found in humans, dogs and cats. A protozoan parasite infection, it is the cause of a very serious diarrheal illness in the intestinal areas, known to be highly contagious but not lethal. However, it is a parasite that can be transferred across species — from person-to-person or animal-to-person... The most popular locations for this parasite are on surfaces or within soil and food.However, drinking water and recreational water that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals are the most common methods of transmission. This includes untreated or improperly treated water from lakes, streams, or wells...
Here's the link to read this comprehensive, informative article: Way Cool Dogs
New England Conferences-Book Shows in October for
Independent Bookstores and Libraries
As members of the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE), we will be exhibiting Circling the Waggins and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale at the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA),October 6-8, in Providence, RI and the New England Library Association(NELA), on October 20-27, in Portland, Maine.
Green Eggs and E-Books? Thank You, Sam-I-Am By Julie Bosman
Here are excerpts from Julie Bosman's article...
"Dr. Seuss books, those whimsical, mischievous, irresistibly rhymey stories that have been passed down in print to generations of readers, are finally catching up with digital publishing...
The Dr. Seuss canon will be released in e-book format for the first time, beginning later this month, his publisher said on Wednesday, an announcement that could nudge more parents and educators to download picture books for children...picture books have lagged far behind(adult fiction) . Several publishers said e-books represent only 2 to 5 percent of their total picture book sales, a number that has scarcely moved in the last several years.
But the release of the Dr. Seuss books, still hugely popular after decades in print, could move that number higher. The e-books will be available on color tablets, including the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook HD. The first titles to be released, on Sept. 24, include “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!” and “The Lorax” (featuring an environmentally conscious character who might be happy about the announcement)."
''The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
Click here for information and videos of COROMANDEL , byTrevor Bachman's... Here is an excerpt from their site...A" vibrant musical odyssey for children and adults, Coromandel is a journey through the mind of poet Edward Lear"...playing in New York City in early October..." a fusion of rock, jazz, bluegrass, tango, musical theatre, and classical sounds makes for a diverse, delicious, and sonically satisfying evening. Told with a whimsical simplicity that appeals to children of all ages..."
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.''
"We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."
—Albert Schweitzer, "The Philosophy of Civilization" -
I found this quote on