If its trick or treat…

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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

Power to the people…

thepower

I know I’ve been complaining about not having enough time to get it all done so it might surprise you to learn I have gone and joined a book club, because why not?  Even if I get nothing else done – and a LOT is not getting done at the moment – joining a book group which meets once every few months isn’t the time commitment it might seem, especially since I read a few chapters of a book every night anyway.

Our club is interested in exploring utopian/dystopian perspectives and chose The Power by Naomi Alderman as our first read. Set five thousand years in the future, The Power explores an alternative reality in which women become the dominant sex as the result of a latent genetic trait which suddenly becomes active.  Most of the book is presented as a manuscript which follows 7 character story arcs over the 10-year period from when the ‘power’ first emerged until the revolution occurred, ending in a matriarchal society. The rest of the story involves an exchange of letters between the manuscript’s male writer (Neil Adam Armon) and his female colleague (Naomi) in which they discuss the manuscript and their latent feelings for each other (because no matter who is in charge the love – and hate – shared between the sexes is timeless.

Ms. Alderman’s novel centers around the question of power: who has it, how do you get it, what does it do to you when you’ve got it? And when you wield the power, how long will it be before the power wields you?  She also writes that two of the illustrations in the book are the key to the entire story.  I haven’t researched those but hope to have done so in time for our discussion in two weeks.

How about you?  Have you read The Power?  What did you think?  Whose story line did you like the most? And the least?  I’d love to know your thoughts…

*Power to the People – John Lennon

Easy as 1, 2, 3….

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23 Pieces = 960 Looks 

You know it’s bad when your mom wants to know if you are ever going to post again… I’ve been dealing with some significant life changes over the past month with have left me with zero free time and zapped all of my creative energy.  Still, its almost Labor Day and I always feel nostalgic for back-to-school shopping around this time of year.  I am also sick of wearing all of my summer things, so I decided to spend what little free time I’ve been able to muster surfing the web to create an adult version of a back-to-school wardrobe for the fall.

I’ve written before abut traveling light and making less do more (here)  so the 1 coat, 2 bags, 3 shoes, 4 bottoms, 5 tops strategy pictured above would provide me with enough outfit variety for well over 2 years.  Given lots of free time and a bottomless pocketbook here’s what I’d buy to make my back-to-school fantasy a reality:

Red Crepe Blazer
Rebecca Minkoff Darren Leather Backpack Alexandra de Curtis Red Bowling Bag
Red Stiletto Bootie  |  Kendall & Kylie Calla Slouch Boot Acne Studios  Jensen Boot
Caroline Rose Silk Crepe Trouser Three Dots Leopard Midi 1901 Button Front Plaid SkirtZara Flared Pant
Kensie V-Back Bell Sleeve TopMoncler Ciclista Sweater Alice & Olivia Meredith Slit-Sleeve Tie Neck TopAcne Studies Oversized Sweater  ATM Anthony Thomas Melillio Schoolboy Crewneck T
Norma Kamali Square Cat Eye Sunnies Elizabeth & James Frey Sunnies
Tom Ford Ultrashine Cherry Lipgloss Kate Spade Cactus Flower Scarf Pleated Necklace  |  Lauren Ralph Lauren Ana Silk Square Scarf Nest Cocoa Woods Rollerball     | Pearl Ball Earrings  |
Black/White Chandelier Earrings Ettika Disc Earrings

How about you?  Are you tired of summer clothing?  What kinds of fashion are you looking forward too this fall?  Drop me a line…I’d love to know…

*ABC – The Jackson 5

 

 

7-27 Ephemera

 

 

sky
One Sky #61-72*

Life is demanding a lot of me right now, and my creative time, not to mention actual creativity, has been impacted dramatically.  I have managed to find a bit of time each night to fall down the rabbit hole of the web and managed to lose escape reality getting lost in the following…

As for the weekend, I’m heading south to help a child move this weekend and if I’m lucky will get to spend a few hours swimming in the gulf.  How about you?  Here’s hoping you have a great weekend enjoying whatever it is you like to do during your down time…

*Images from ‘One Sky’ – A collaborative project with almost 90 artists and one instruction: look up.  Led by Wendy MacNaughton and Julia Rothman, co-founders of Women Who Draw

 

Look like movie stars…

twobooks
Gentlemen vs. Ladies

When I last wrote about my summer reading I had reached 4000 minutes with 6 weeks to go.  As of today, I have reached 5600 minutes with 17 days left to solidify my status as a Reading Rockstar.

Most of the 1600 additional minutes were spent reading Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s. The Sirens of Titan, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, Melanie Benjamin’s The Girls in the Picture, and John Connolly’s He.   This is probably the 20th time I’ve read Sirens: I routinely read most of Vonnegut’s catalog on an annual basis.  My only complaint with Little Fires Everywhere, which I thoroughly enjoyed, was that I wasn’t enjoying the story under an umbrella at the beach.

That leaves Girls and He, both of which deal with success, friendship, and love in the early days of Hollywood. The Girls in the Picture weaves the story of a lifelong friendship between ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Mary Pickford and screenwriter and film producer Frances Marion, both of whom were fascinating women way ahead of their time.  He slowly builds up to the moment when an arbitrary pairing on a movie set leads to the legendary comedic pairing and deep private friendship between Stan Laurel and Oliver ‘Babe’ Hardy.

I would never have guessed that two books with such similar subject matter could impact me so differently.  I was bored to tears by Girls and did not bother to even finish the book, while I stayed up way too long each night reading He.  The one thing I did enjoy about both books was how each author included Hollywood stars in bit roles throughout their stories  Unfortunately, because of this and a few paragraphs in He I may never be able to watch Curly and Mo in a Three Stooges short again.  An odd side note – both books have Charlie Chaplin playing an integral role to the plot in each.

Maybe I disliked Girls because it felt like a variation on a story  I’ve read hundreds of times before.  And maybe I liked He  because it was written in a voice that felt uniquely fresh and nuanced, and because so few books revolve around professional respect and platonic love between two individuals, and men at that. Or it could have been that Mary and Frances, who were so interesting in real life, came across as oddly one-dimensional while Stan and Babe were rendered in such detail I felt as if I had known each personally.  I the meantime, I’m going to try and catch some old Laurel & Hardy films to see if the magic I felt while reading He comes through on the silver screen.

How about you? Have you ready either of these books?  If so, what did you think of them? What are you reading now? I’d love to know…

*The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time – Mickey Gilley

 

I’m putting all my eggs in one basket…

giftbasket
All the fixins’

Who doesn’t like to receive a beautifully wrapped gift?  I am a firm believer that the presentation is just as important as what it’s hiding inside and admit to having a bit of a paper and ribbon habit to support my wrapping efforts.

I also really like making unique gift baskets, a skill I first picked up years ago working at a shop on Gower Street near Paramount Studios run by a group of Scientologists who made gift baskets for the movie and tv shows filming in LA.

My favorite baskets to make aren’t really baskets at all but rather custom sculptural pieces made from felt which replicate things like a Fleischmann’s yeast bag (for a pombe’ researcher), an old fashioned baby bootie (full of goodies for a newborn), a replica of a home (for the new owners), and a look-alike book cover jacket (for a world-renowned author). These sculptures challenge my crafting and engineering abilities since each one has to look like the real thing while being structurally sound to hold all the goodies contained within.

My most recent basket was slightly little-less time-consuming since I used a Target collapsible storage bin as the foundation, but no less rewarding.  A new colleague and his spouse were visiting town to sign the lease on their abode and I wanted to welcome them to our community so I  included some local magazines, a ‘things to do’ guide, some light reading, waters, wine, fruits, and a selection of sweet and salty treats, plus a souvenir or two (in this case some great painted glasses from CatStudios).

finished2
The finished product

It takes some practice to master the art of a well-crafted basket but if you like to give uniquely thoughtful gifts give it a try! Your basket recipients will be very glad you did…

*I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket – Ella Fiztgerald & Louis Armstrong

You’re just window shopping…

tableau
A vintage tableau

I love to meander through vintage stores, flea markets, and antique malls to see what I can find (some past explorations can be found here and here).  I can spend hours exploring the treasures for sale and quite often find graphic and clothing inspiration in old furniture, vintage postcards, kitchen gadgets and the like.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by a shop that looks interesting only to swear I’ll check it out ‘next time’, which rarely comes.  However, a few weeks ago while passing through historic Mullica Hill, an town I’ve driven through a gazillion times without ever once stopping (except for pizza), I finally decided to check it out… Continue reading “You’re just window shopping…”