Archive for the ‘Arts & Entertainment’ Category

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Summer Book List

July 13, 2013
Woodpecker in a tree in my current backyard in April 2009.

Woodpecker in a tree in my current backyard in April 2009.

For the first time in four years (because of my own volunteer-happy stupidity), I now have a bit of free time. Feels like it’s been forever! Before I take on my next venture (that will be about me), I am enjoying the summer like I used to as a kid. Reading!

I do not remember having summer reading lists like today’s students, but I always loved reading and spent much of my summer and year-round free time reading. Best spot was in a tree outside our tiny little Linton, Indiana, house. It had the perfect branch for me to sit on with my back against the trunk. I took my – retro flashback alert – wait for it! – transistor radio with me and ignored the world.

Love my modern day transistor radio, otherwise known as an iPod and I still love to read. A couple years ago I bought a Nook Color. At that time, the Kindle did not have touch screen and after having that functionality on my Smartphone for so long, I had to have it … enter the Nook Color.

Now it sounds like Nook will die a slow death thanks to Barnes and Noble. Interestingly I have not liked the eReader world as much as I thought I would or as much as I like the eMusic and ePicture world. I can’t share my eBook with a friend, unless they happen to have a Nook and the publisher happens to allow me to share it. That in itself annoys me big-time because a publisher cannot prevent me from sharing my physical copy.

Another loss with eReaders, and I believe this is important, is that others do not see the spine of books people are reading. Many times I see a book someone is reading and ask them about it, or note the title so I can look it up. Wonder how this lack of visibility impacts book sales.

eReaders sacrifice the ‘warmth’ of holding a book. Feeling the paper pages and hearing them turn creates an emotional interaction with a good book that the eReader cannot replicate in my opinion. I do love being able to look up a word right in the book from my eReader and I like the highlighting feature. Still with a dictionary and highlighter pen close by, I have the same options with my physical copy.

Given the news from B&N this week, I am glad I have not invested a lot in Nook books. On that note, anyone know how I can save them to a different platform?

Anyone reading anything good this summer? I have found that YA books are some of my favorites, e.g., The Book Thief, In Between Shades of Gray. Let me know what’s on your kids’ summer reading lists … or yours.

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Happy Independence Day!

June 19, 2011
Jacksonville, Florida 4th of July

Jacksonville loves fireworks!

Happy Independence Day!

With the prelude of cannons, like the bride and groom at their first wedding dance, we cheer the colorful embers dancing with the stars! Star-Spangled Banner, My Country ‘Tis of Thee mix with patriotic country ballads and Bruce Springsteen. Our bellies are full from burgers, hot dogs or fried chicken and Grandma’s potato salad, and our skin is sticky with dried sweat from a long day in the summer sun. Even though we’re just a little bit comatose from all that abundance, we stand to cheer and ahhhh at this deep-rooted tradition that is America.

This year of 2011, governments are damned if theydo, damned if they don’t. In tight budget times with high unemployment, there is a faction that will cry foul if cities go forward with their usual fireworks displays on the Fourth of July. And there are others, like me, who will decry the decision to cancel fireworks displays.

Modern America is not known for its philosophy of moderation. We are a nation of extremes, so we rarely consider the opportunity to find middle ground. In this instance, where our service men and women continue to help foreign countries fight to obtain and maintain independence, across America we owe it to them to honor and celebrate our 235 years of independence.

A lazy day of backyard cookouts with family and friends is the core of our July Fourth tradition, and as American as baseball, Mom and apple pie. A fireworks display at sunset is the enormous bow on the package of a life of freedom!

In Florida where I live it is so dry that we shouldn’t have fireworks for safety reasons. That makes me sad but I understand because safety comes first. But the budgetary excuses irritate me. Scale back, 10 percent, 15 percent or even 25 percent. Just do something that reminds your local residents to revel in the privilege of freedom we have in the USA.

Freedom is reason to celebrate!

(Photo Source: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5532992/4th_of_july_fireworks_in_jacksonville.html?cat=8)

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Only one

September 18, 2010

In today’s 24/7 information overloaded American society, it is hard to imagine having just one book or maybe two. Libraries (yes, remember them? where you can read books for free!), Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, not to mention the  few locally owned bookstores remaining around the country, hold infinite numbers of books and other publications. We can even skip the actual book part and simply download the content onto our Kindle, Nook or other reader.

Not that many years ago, in my grandparents’ lives or maybe your great-grandparents’ lives, books were scarce. I am reading one now, “The Book Thief” that I highly recommend, about a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. She somewhat accidentally became the “book thief” and discovered a love of books and reading. Yet, she has just four books at the point where I am in the story.

When the wealthy mayor’s wife offers one to the girl from her collection, the girl declines. She recognizes she has enough and she can read them again…for the 5th, 6th or 7th time. Imagine!

Many books published today are not worthy of multiple reads. Meant for quick and easy entertainment only, our minds would dull quickly if we had to re-read these.

But some, like “The Book Thief” and “The Secret Life of Bees” and a few select others in my experience, I should read many times. These authors use our language to paint stunning images and I know I cheat myself by not committing them to memory. If I read them again and again, these pictures become etched in my memory and the flow of the words enriches my vocabulary.

Perhaps like much in America, bounty hinders us rather than helps us. Easy access to too much food has made us fat. Disposable products have made us wasteful. And a galaxy-sized library full of titles has diminished our love of literary grandeur. A shame…

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Nerdling

May 16, 2009

I’m a bit of a nerd…not smart enough to be a geek-nerd; just sort of weird. Ask anyone who knows me. They’ll tell you. And they luv me anyway (I think!). I luv me, too!

As a kid my favorite thing to do in the summer was to play school. See, told you? A nerd!

Thankfully the neighborhood kids and my younger sister and brother went along with me. We often set up the classroom in Lisa Poe’s garage back in southern Indiana and I was always the teacher.

So it made sense that for as long as I could remember I planned to be a teacher when I grew up. Funny how dreams and plans change.

I never became a teacher, although even today I toy with the idea. If the state I live in didn’t keep laying them off left and right, I would do it! It really is what I should have done all those years ago.

Plus it pairs nicely with my other dream–writing! My career has always included writing but I mean the book-writing-and-selling type writer. That one I’m still working on.

So what’s your dream and what are you doing to pursue it? My absolutely, positively dream job(s) would be a writer on the Ellen show or a writer with Cirque du Soleil.

I don’t really see myself moving to Paris…but haven’t ruled out Europe so who knows. But L.A. doesn’t seem so outrageous!

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Defy gravity

October 14, 2008

I chased it around for two years. New York City. Miami. Orlando. Finally I found it in Atlanta. The gods aligned and I was able to buy tickets one week before they were available to the general public. And when I realized in my haste I forgot to check the Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) schedule before buying tickets for Friday night, the only night the team had a home game that weekend…I was able to sell my tickets on Craigslist and buy another pair for a little more money but closer to stage on eBay.

Tickets for what? Wicked the Broadway musical. The story intrigued me from the moment I read about the three-year running play. It’s the backstory of the childhood classic, The Wizard of Oz. It’s the life of the witches, before a Kansas tornado dropped [pun intended] Dorothy and Toto in Munchkinland.

The play is a must-see. From a technical writing standpoint, it is extremely well-done. The story is complete and brings together all the loose ends. Humorous and timeless dialogue keeps it moving along, and assures it will be relevant for a long time. (Oh, if only I could write one piece half as well!)

The good witch’s, Glinda, character is reminiscent of Legally Blonde’s Elle. Very funny, very blonde. “Toss, toss” takes you right back to Elle in the salon.

Elphie, the so-called bad witch, reminded me a bit of Elaine in TV’s Seinfeld, and another character I haven’t yet pinned down. It’s hard to believe you can come to embrace a green character…who is not Kermit. Her coming-out song of sorts is about defying gravity, something we all need to regularly remind ourselves to do.

Most movies, plays, etc. I only need to see once. Quite often I think once is too much. But Wicked is right up there with Cats. I would go again (and again) in a heartbeat given the opportunity.

And now, I’m off to chase another clever, original play.

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Thespian fun

October 4, 2008

Saw a great play last night at Florida State University, Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Written by Steve Martin…yes, that Steve Martin.

The ad read, “So Picasso and Einstein meet in a bar…”. You can probably imagine from that how it went. Art and science collide!

Funny, a little bit naughty (wouldn’t take kids under 17) and the FSU cast was superb! What a talented group of young thespians!

If you get a chance to see this play anywhere, I recommend it. If you’re near FSU, you have this weekend and next to check it out!

http://www.theatre.fsu.edu/

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Thanks, Garth Stein

September 21, 2008

Minutes ago I finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which when I started, I expected to be another “Marley and Me.” In that it is about a dog’s love for its people and its peoples’ love of the dog, the two books are alike. But there is a sad undertone throughout “Racing in the Rain,” that I never felt in “Marley.”

Here’s why: from the beginning we know that Enzo (the pooch!) is recalling his life story on the eve of his death. That fact struck like an arrow in my heart because only a month ago I had to put my dog to sleep. A first for me even though I’ve been around for a few decades.

I’ve had other dogs die, but never before did I have to decide. This time I had to look my poor, sick, trusting Nikki in the eyes and tell her good-bye. Others have walked that walk and know how brutally hard it is. It was the right decision because she was a senior dog with a serious illness, but no less gut-wrenching.

Enzo’s tale helped me believe that if Nikki could have talked, she would have told me it was okay. She would have said that she was ready to stop hurting and to not be sick. She might have told me she loved me, our family, and would miss us, but she needed to rest peacefully.

For any dog lovers, the book is worth reading. For those who just like to read, I recommend it, too. It’s a life story, with the ups and downs and peaks and valleys of real life, yet it ends with hope. Something I always appreciate in my pleasure reading.

Especially for me, I am thankful for a newfound peace of mind from the book. My sense of guilt in making the decision to end Nikki’s struggle eased and I believe like Enzo, she will return to life in human form and I’ll bump into her someday.