Back into bed started reading my books…

9 Gifts that will keep on giving

Do you have a gift you receive every year? Some item which if not received taints the occasion just a bit? For me, that gift is a book, or even better, books. Each Christmas my momma gifts me with a selection from my ‘2b or not 2b read’ list (past gift selections can be found here and here). My mom was a little under the weather over the holidays and so her 2018 gift was delayed, but no less appreciated when I finally opened my box of books this weekend. Thanks Mom.

*Off the Hook – The Rolling Stones

Happy new year darling…

Ma patronne – Louis Welden Hawkins ca. 1903

I love the time between Christmas and New Year’s since I can hang out with the family and live life at a slower than normal pace… 

One of my greatest gifts is the time to go to the movies or snuggle up on the couch to bingewatch whatever catches my fancy.  This week, I’ve seen The Favorite (highly recommended), The Death of Stalin (darkly funny), the win-at-all-costs sports doping documentary IcarusThe Marvelous Mrs. Meisel (season 2), The Wire (season 3), Maniac, lots of sports (Go Eagles! Go Notre Dame! Go Sixers!), and the newest seasons of The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition and Great British Baking Show. I am still planning on seeing The Mule, Mary Queen of Scots, and The Green Book before I head back to work later this week….

Speaking of the Great British Baking Show, here’s a fascinating article about the artist who creates the dessert drawings… 

I am not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions but last year I did decide to track how many books I read during 2018.  I am part of a Book Club at work (with our current pick – Tara Westover’s Educated – up for discussion in January) and took part in a summer reading challenge, achieving ‘Reading Rockstar’ status.  Turns out I’ve read over 130 books this past year…

My favorite reads of 2018 (in no particular order) include: James Frey’s Katerina, Christina Dalcher’s Vox, Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, Josh Malerman’s Unbury Carol, Jonathan Miles Anatomy of a Miracle: the True* Story of a Paralyzed Veteran, a Mississippi Convenience Store, a Vatican Investigation, and the Spectacular Perils of Grace, John Connelly’s He, and Dara Horn’s Eternal Life

I may not believe in resolutions but I am a big planner. I’ve got some personal art projects I am working on, a few art installations to oversee (including the January ArtLab and April ‘Autism Arts’ shows), and continued travel (Miami, Denver, Mobile, and Philly for sure with more day trips and weekend getaways to follow).  

How about you? Do you make resolutions? What kinds of dreams do you have for the new year? Here’s hoping you achieve success in whatever you set out to do next year. All the best for 2019!

*Happy New Year Darling – Lonnie Johnson

Have yourself a merry little Christmas…

He see’s you when you’re sleeping

I had a number of gift guides posts planned for December but the technology gods decided differently. Two weeks ago, I opened my laptop to find the red battery of death, necessitating a visit to the computer doctor followed by a diagnosis of failed mother board.  When my Pro was released earlier this week with a clean bill of health it felt like I had just received a present.

To be truthful, this past year has been a rough one and I haven’t been ‘in the spirit’ this holiday season. I know I am supposed to want to go out and buy, buy, buy but in truth the only thing I want for Christmas is for 2018 to be over and for everyone I love to be healthy and happy next year.  

I hope the same for each of you who already follow this blog or have stumbled upon it. The best gift you could ever give – or receive – is the gift of time spent with those you care most about. Here’s wishing you and yours a lovely [insert whatever it is you celebrate this time of year here] in the company of steadfast friends and loving family.  All the best for 2019!

*Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – The Pretenders

Do you believe in magic…

Horn Sweet Home Unicorn Wall Décor  |   Pegacorn Large Art Print  |   Unicorn Snow Globe Night Light  |  Handmade Kids Party Gold Unicorn Headband  |   Galaxy Unicorn Pegasus Handpainted Converse  |  Banned Mane Attraction Unicorn Crossbody Bag  |  Unicorn USB Flash Drive  | 3D Printed Unicorn Sweatshirt |   I Love Unicorns Yarn Crafting Kit  |  Sassy Flashy Exquisite 18K Gold Plated Hand Painted Unicorn Ring   |  Just Add Magic Mug and Spoon Set   |  Loosen The Reins Flats   |   Majestic Night Puzzle  |   Unicorn Soap   |  Esoterical British Unicorn Mug   |  Crochet Rainbow Unicorn Hat        

Unicorns have been part of our world psyche since time began.  We must be experiencing a resurgence in their popularity because wherever I look these days I see horned products on sale for young and old alike. 

Over the next two weeks I’ll be posting gift ideas for aspiring cooks, fashion junkies, music lovers, adventure seekers, voracious readers and of course, unicorn lovers.  If you need a gift for someone who is a fan of – or obsessed with – this mystical creature the 18 ideas pictured above would make for a magical present to give – or receive…

*Do You Believe in Magic – The Loving Spoonful

My true love gave to me…

12 Days of Countdown Calendars

I don’t know how I missed this holiday development but Advent Calendars have certainly come a long way in the last few years. While I’d never say no to the old school $1.99 cheap chocolate version found at any grocery store these grownup versions of the Christmas Countdown calendar take it to a whole ‘nuther level.  Here are 12 unique calendars guaranteed to keep you on someone’s nice list all season long…

 (1) Ciate London Mini Mani Month Nail Set  
(2)
Give Them Beer Advent Calendar  
 (3)
Neuhaus Winter Wonderland Chocolate Advent Calendar
(4)
Lindt Bear Advent Calendar
(5)
Jo Malone London Advent Calendar
(6)
Felted Forest Advent Calendar
(7)
Godiva Advent Calendar
(8)
Clips Advent Calendar
(9)
Aldi Wine Advent Calendar
(10)
Lush 12 Days of Christmas
(11)
The Body Shop Enchanted Ultimate Advent Calendar
(12)
Molton Brown Advent Calendar

*The 12 Days of Christmas – Bob & Doug McKenzie

10-29 Ephemera

frankiecovers2
200 Years of Frankenstein and counting

It’s almost Halloween, a holiday I love but in reality rarely execute well. Case in point – my Halloween mantle dream.  I could have made my idea work if only I hadn’t traveled every weekend in October.  Instead of my vision what is actually on my mantle is a color-changing lantern which an unknown neighbor gave us as part of a ‘You’ve Been Boo’d’ surprise.  Still, even if I don’t decorate I always give out full-size candy bars to trick-or-treaters who ring the doorbell.  Here are a few full-size treats from around the web for you to enjoy too…

…Hope you get to pull a prank or two on Mischief Night followed by a frightfully fun Halloween!

If its trick or treat…

2018mantle
Old school mantle

I love the time between Halloween and Valentine’s Day, especially when it comes to decorating around the house.  Unfortunately, with a ‘normal’ size home and a family full of artists there isn’t a lot of room left for decorations, which are primarily relegated to our front door and living room mantle.

This year I am going for old school look.  The plan is to buy the vases, paper mache’ and real pumpkins,  and make the lighted tree branches and felt ‘Halloween Candy Bag’ banner.  With any luck, I can get my mantle tricked out by next weekend – which really will be a treat!

*Trick our Treat – Otis Redding

Before they’re forever banned…

diaperbaby
One of the Funniest AND Most Banned Contender’s

Have you been celebrating Banned Books Week?  I’ve never understood how censorship could be viewed as a positive thing.  If we prohibit the ideas which offend how can we ever have a discourse which leads to common ground?

Are you curious what the most-banned books are?  Since 1990, these books have consistently made it into the top 25 according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom:

  1. Daddy’s Roommate – Michael Willhoite (published 1991)
  2. And Tango Makes Three Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson (published 2005)
  3. The Chocolate War – Robert Cormier (published 1974)
  4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz (published 1981-1991)
  5. His Dark Materials  – Philip Pullman (published 1995-2000)
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou (published 1969)
  7. Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman (published 1989)
  8. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck (published 1937)
  9. Captain Underpants  – Dav Pilkney (published 1997-2015)
  10. Alice – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (published 1985-2012)
  11. Sex Madonna (published 1992)
  12. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (published 1884)
  13. Earth’s Children  – Jean M. Auel (published 1980-2011)
  14. King & King – Linda De Haas & Stern Njiland (published 2002)
  15. The Witches – Ronald Dahl (published 1983)
  16. Gossip Girl  – Cecily von Ziegesar (published 2002-2011)
  17. Forever… – Judy Blume (published 1975)
  18. The New Joy of Gay Sex Charles Silverstein, Edmund White & Felice Picano (published 1993)
  19. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger (published 1951)
  20. Final Exit – Derek Humphrey (published 1991)
  21. Arming America – Michael A. Bellesiles (published 2000)
  22. The Goats – Brock Cole (published 1987)
  23. Annie on My Mind – nancy garden (published 1982)
  24. What My Mother Doesn’t Know – Sonya Sones (published 2001)
  25. Halloween ABC Eve Merriam (published 1987)

Some of the reasons for banning these books include racial stereotypes, violence, nudity, assisted suicide, drugs, religious or political viewpoints, sexism, misogyny, and disobedience – all topics as relevant now as when these books were first published.  I am proud of the banned books I’ve read and will continue to seek out anything deemed offensive simply so I can judge for myself. Just saying…

*Blowing in the Wind – Joan Baez & Bob Dylan

 

 

How great thou art…

tonybrownchair
“Icons aren’t manufactured on an assembly line. They are carved out of time.” Rick Caballo©

I will occasionally review books when the subject speaks to me in some way (past reviews here and here).  Typically, these books are heavy on pictures and light on words since I am ‘old school’, refusing to own a Kindle or iPad and not a fan of reading books on my laptop.  This stance severely limits my review opportunities so when I was given the chance to weigh in on Tony Brown’s “Elvis, Strait to Jesus: An Iconic Producer’s Journey with Legends of Rock n Roll, Country and Gospel Music”  I immediately said yes.

I had three very personal reasons for wanting to review Mr. Brown’s book; 1) I love all types of music, especially rock and roll and anything Elvis; 2) I’ve been involved in the Nashville music scene for many years; and 3) Tony Brown played a rather sizable role in my life in the 90’s. Truth be told, I was also hoping to see a face or two I knew within the book’s pages.

In ‘Elvis, Strait to Jesus’ Tony talks about his musical upbringing and features 40 people who have impacted his life. He describes his life journey as serendipitous, and the way he has laid out his story shows how one thing led to another but everything, always, revolved around his love for music.  I really enjoyed learning about Brown’s playing days as a youth in his family’s The Brown Family Singers, and then as a young man tickling the ivories with J.D. Sumner and his Stamps Quartet,  Elvis’s TCB Band, Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band, and Rodney Crowell’s The Cherry Bombs.  Tony eventually moved on from playing to producing, and enjoyed tremendous success in the 80’s and 90’s with artists like George Strait, Reba McEntyre, and Jimmy Buffet, all of whom take a seat in the book’s ‘chair’ to reminisce about their relationship with Tony.

As they say in the South, Tony’s momma ‘done raised him right’.  Here is a man who has seen it all and then some but any salacious tales he knows don’t appear in this book. Instead, what comes through in the stunning black and white photos and the words of his friends is his genuine love for each of them and the music they made, along with wonder at the path his life has taken.  Tony Brown’s journey is a testament to honing your skills, doing what you love, and always always always following the twists and turns of your own life soundtrack.

*How Great Thou Art – Elvis and his TCB Band