September 16, 2014

Journal page

YouTube is a wealth of art instructions, and Steve Harpster has some fun cartoon sketches you could do with kids. They are easy to follow ans quite delightful. Here is my dragon.

(Click on image to view larger)

Pen and watercolors in my large cheapo art journal. 

September 15, 2014

Recent Reads

125. Finding Nouf (Nayir Sharqi & Katya Hijazi #1)
You know what occurred to me the other day? It has been way too long since I read a book with camels in it.

What caught my attention about this book is the premise: In a blazing hot desert in Saudi Arabia, a search party is dispatched to find a missing young woman. 

I poured myself tall glasses of passion ice tea and settled in for what I hoped would be a great read. Alas, it was not. There is a mystery at the heart of the story, but as far as mysteries go, it was rather light. More interesting were some of the behind the scenes cultural insights shared, but it also felt rather cliched and written for a Western audience who might not have read other books that take a reader behind the veil. And while I appreciate the author's writing skill, it is not enough to read the next couple of books in this trilogy. Rating: 2 stars.

126. Boxers (Boxers & Saints #1)
Book blurb: China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers - commoners trained in kung fu - who fight to free China from "foreign devils."

This historical graphic novel is targeted at a teen audience, and is an excellent reminder of all the gaps of knowledge I have about China's long, long history. War is hell. For all sides. This colorful book explores the cultural differences, propaganda, misunderstandings and consequences of this chapter in China's history from one perspective. I will be reading the companion book Saints, which explores this same period in history from the other side. Rating: 3 stars.

127. Saints (Boxers & Saints #2)
Book blurb: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finds friendship--and a name, Vibiana--in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. 

This historical graphic novel is a companion novel to Boxers, and I would recommend reading that one first. Yes, Boxers does have spoilers for Saints, but in my opinion the story is stronger for reading it first. 

I quite like how these two books complement each other. Often we only hear one side of a story, but we all know full well that there is another version that is equally true and valid. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. 

Targeted for a young adult audience, this graphic novel explores an alternate point of view of the Boxer rebellion, but more importantly how the personal struggles of a young girl can be a part of a national and historic moment in time. Rating: 3 stars.

128. Beautiful Darkness
Book blurb: This unsettling and gorgeous anti-fairy tale is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny.

This fairy tale is disturbing on many levels. The art is light and quaint, and then you see what you are really looking at, and there isn't anything quaint about it. This dark tale explores a different type of prince and princess, and how things can escalate until the world around you is unrecognizable. This is not a graphic novel I'd recommend for kids. Rating: 3 stars.

September 13, 2014

Strathmore Online Workshops

Have you heard of the Strathmore classes? They have three free classes a year, and you can watch them at your leisure. If you are interested in art, or sketching, or keeping a journal, these classes are should be right up your alley.

You can check them out here.

September 11, 2014

Cinemascope: Whale Rider

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2002.

Plot line: A small Maori village faces a crisis when the heir to the leadership of the Ngati Konohi dies at birth and is survived only by his twin sister, Pai. Although disregarded by her grandfather and shunned by the village people, twelve-year-old Pai remains certain of her calling and trains herself in the ways and customs of her people. With remarkable grace, Pai finds the strength to challenge her family and embraces a thousand years of tradition in order to fulfill her destiny.

I saw this at my local indie theater when it first came out and loved it. I recently read the book the movie is based on, and while while there are some significant changes made for the movie, it still holds up many years later. I loved this story of a young girl fighting to find herself in a changing world, and the challenges the Maori people face holding on to their traditions in these modern times.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 09.10.14

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September 9, 2014

Coursera Journal page

One of the things I love about the net is the number of free classed offered online. There are many great sources, and I especially like Coursera. If you have never checked them out, do so and prepare to be amazed at their offerings. 

I am currently enrolled in 2 classes: The Fiction of Relationship, and Modern and Contemporary American Poetry. Have you ever taken an online class? 

Earlier this year I took a class on Andy Warhol, and this page was created while listening to the lectures.

Sharpie Flip Chart makers in my large cheapo art journal. As always, click on images to view larger.

September 8, 2014

Recent Reads

121. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
Book blurb: Climate change is no laughing matter — but maybe it should be. The topic is so critical that everyone, from students to policy-makers to voters, needs a quick and easy guide to the basics. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change entertains as it educates, delivering a unique and enjoyable presentation of mind-blowing facts and critical concepts.

How much more fun education would be if the material was presented in this way! I found this book to be an informative, educational, and enjoyable read. If you are unsure as to the difference between climate and weather, or are unsure what all the fuss is about global warming, or if you simply want to get that old noggin thinking about what might well be a real dystopian world, I would highly recommend you settle in with this one. Read it alone, or read it with your kids, or read it with your friends. Pour yourself a tall cold drink and just read it. Rating: 4 stars.

122. This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists
All I can figure as I look at the rave reviews this book gets is that I am not a parent so I just don't get it. This is a book of lists: How to Defend Yourself Against a Toddler Attack, Reasons to Avoid the Beach, The Five Perils of International Travel, etc. I did not even crack a smile. OK, I did giggle a couple of times at Use Your Best Kindergarten Spelling, but other than that? Nada. Rating: 1 star.

123. Uzumaki, Vol. 1 (Uzumaki #1)
Japanese horror manga indeed, and a story that could have come from the mind of Stephen King. A small town in coastal Japan seems quaint and quiet, but all is not as it seems. The Uzumaki, the spiral pattern haunts people and makes them lose their mind. And as you know that pattern is everywhere in nature, even in the human body. Strange and creepy with wonderful art, this graphic novel is the first of a trilogy and I've got the next two on my nightstand. Rating: 3 stars.

124. The Key: A Novel (Sancti Trilogy #2)
This is book #2 in the Sancti Trilogy, and while I enjoyed the first one, my reaction to this was meh. I am a fan of religious/conspiracy/apocalyptic thrillers - must be those 12 or so years in Catholic schools surrounded by nuns - but this was neither thrilling nor a page turner. It picks up literally where the first book ends, and will make no sense unless you have read book #1. By the way, the audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Simon Vance, and I credit him with the fact that I stuck it out to the bitter end. That is the danger/disadvantage of having a really great narrator for a mediocre book I guess. Not a book I would recommend, and I'll be skipping the final book in the trilogy. Rating: 2 stars.

September 6, 2014

One Little Word 2014: August

And just like that another month is over.

As you might recall, my word for this year is Cultivate. I am taking a more laid back approach to my word this year. Am picking a theme for each month, and then seeing where I end up.

My focus this month was to cultivate play

engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Here are the quotes that inspired me this month:
Albert Einstein: Play is the highest form of research.
George Bernard Shaw: We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

And who am I to argue with genius? 

August is my birthday month, and I am one of those people who love birthdays, and think myself dang lucky that I am alive to celebrate another one. So in celebration of my birthday, I decided to focus on play. Look at the definition again: engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. When was the last time you did that?

So this month I played. For fun. Without purpose. Without the end in mind. Some of that play involved time with others, some of it was alone. Some involved toys, some not. Some play was with children, some with adults.

What I learned is that I am more at ease, and friendlier, and smile more and am more open and flexible when I play. And I have resolved to have a play date scheduled more regularly. 

These are some of the ways I cultivated play this month. How do you do it?

September 4, 2014

Cinemascope: Billy Elliot

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2000.

Plot line:  Billy Elliot is the heartwarming story of a young boy from a working-class family who discovers a passion that will change his life forever. Eleven-year-old miner's son Billy Elliot is on his way to boxing lessons when he stumbles upon a ballet class. Billy secretly joins the class, knowing that his blue-collar family would never understand. Under the guidance of his teacher Mrs. Wilkinson (Academy Award-nominee Julie Walters), Billy's raw talent takes flight. But when his father discovers his son's ambition, Billy must fight for his dreams and his destiny. 

I saw this at my local indie theater when it first came out and loved it. Watched it again recently and was pleasantly surprised to find that it held up over time. This is a story of a dreamer in a world without dreams.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

September 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 09.03.14

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September 2, 2014

Journal pages

I love comics. Always have. The fact that they are called graphic novels sounds kinda high falutin, but they are comics. Love them. Recently read the Boxers & Saints books, and enjoyed learning about the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Each book recounts the story from a different perspective, something I always like. I liked the art, and decided to quickly sketch some of the illustrations in my journal.

Pen and colored pencils in my large cheapo art journal. As always, click on images to view larger.

September 1, 2014

Recent Reads

116. Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)
I've struggled with this book for the past two weeks, and cannot seem to bring myself to pick it up again, so about halfway through I am calling it quits. It has an interesting premise, and it could just be that I am in not the right mood to read it, but there you have it. As an aside, the names of people and places in this story seem like names you'd get if you let your cat walk across your keyboard - and I mean that in a good way. Rating: 1 star.

117. Fortunately, the Milk
On a recent camping trip, I decided to introduce my nephews (9 and 11) to audiobooks, and started with this one. While I have read aloud to them from an early age, this was a different and fun way for us to experience a story together. 

This short story (an hour) is a fantastical tale of the (mis)adventures a Dad has while going out to get some milk for his kids breakfast. The story was action filled, and Gaiman adds little nuggets to entertain adults as well. The boys loved it, and we had fun discussing the plot and our fave parts. Rating: 3 stars.

118. Guys Read: Will: A Story from Guys Read: Funny Business 
Another short story on audio that we listened to with my nephews recently. This story is about 30 minutes long and explores the notion of heroes. All the kids that Will knows have superpowers, but he seems to be just a normal boy. When a super villain attacks their school, can Will save the day?

In these days where most of the kid books have stories where problems are solved using magic, or super powers, or some other fantastical device, I loved the notion of a story where a kid uses his noggin. My nephews and I had an interesting discussion of what makes a hero. Rating: 3 stars.

119. Darth Vader and Son (Jeffrey Brown's Star Wars)
I am one of those people who confuse Star Wars and Star Trek, you can close your mouth now, so I am sure I missed all the insider jokes. Still, this children's comic (targeted at the 5+) is a quick and cute read. Each page is a vignette into the life that Luke might have had if he was raised by Darth Vader. Rating: 2 stars.

120. Vader's Little Princess (Jeffrey Brown's Star Wars)
I am one of those people who confuse Star Wars and Star Trek, you can close your mouth now, so I am sure I missed all the insider jokes. Still, this children's comic (targeted at the 5+) is a quick and cute read. Each page is a vignette that explores the relationship between Darth Vader and his daughter Leia, and it clear that he is more comfortable with his son. Rating: 2 stars.

August 30, 2014

The Daily Show - Race/Off

Jon Stewart is so on point, I might knit him a cape.

The shooting of an unarmed black teenager by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, strikes a racial nerve in the U.S., but Fox News manages to remain colorblind.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

August 28, 2014

Cinemascope: Life (Season 1 & 2)

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2007 - 2009.

Plot line: Exonerated after serving 12 years in prison for murders he didn't commit, policeman Charlie Crews is restored to duty as a detective. As an imprisoned policeman, Crews had a very difficult time and was regularly and severely beaten by fellow prisoners. Now out of prison and the beneficiary of a large financial settlement, Crews has a different, some would say odd, outlook on life. His new partner, Det. Dani Reese, doesn't quite get him and feels she has been saddled with a loser.

Why or why it is that shows you like get canceled? This is one that I watched a couple of years ago, but love it so much that I find myself dipping into shows again this summer. The dynamics between   and  are so fun to watch. Both these actors are faves of mine and I'll watch anything they are in. And yes, I am aware that Ms. Shahi got pregnant during Season 2, but is that any reason to cancel a show? Really? If you like smart detective/crime shows check this one out.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a TV show worth watching.

August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 08.27.14

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August 26, 2014

Journal page

Here are a couple of quick sketches of people from the Humans of New York blog that caught my attention for some reason. As always, click on images to view larger.

I am annoyed with my Pitt pens. I've had three die on me recently, and they were all new pens. They are not cheap either, so was not a happy sketcher. Decided to sketch with inexpensive pens that I had lying around, and you know what? They work just as well. I was not planning on adding watercolors, so the fact that the ink is not waterproof was simply not a concern.

Cheapo pens in my large cheapo art journal.

August 25, 2014

Recent Reads

112. Zebrafish
My nephew Jonah (age 9) brought this graphic novel over for a recent sleepover. Targeted at the middle grade reader, this is the story of Vita, who has a used guitar, knows how to play three chords, has a band name, and now needs to find some band mates to complete her dreams of starting a rock band. I liked the art and the premise, but the story is not compelling for an adult reader. I did also like the message that while "you can't always get what you want - but you might get what your friends need."  Rating: 2 stars.

113. Rules of Summer
I'll just come out and say it: I did not get this picture book for kids at all. There are single sentence rules, and each one is illustrated. Do the illustration show the reason why the rules exist? My nephews did not get it either, and we read it a couple of times to try to figure it out. The only reason this gets an extra star is for the art. It is gorgeous and luminous and I almost wish that there were no words at all so I could make up my own story. Which it turns out is exactly what I did anyway. Rating: 2 stars.

114. Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike (Pretty Deadly #1-5)
Although this graphic novel is visually stunning, the story is rather confusing. I love that there are so many women/girl characters, but who are they, and how are they all connected? See what I mean? Not enough back story, so all these characters seem to hang limply off the story arc. Rating: 2 stars.

115. The Goldfinch
I cannot summarize the plot better than Stephen King, so here is what he said: "Theo Decker’s mother is killed in a bombing that rocks the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Theo, unharmed, escapes with a valuable painting called The Goldfinch. He carries this symbol of grief and loss from early adolescence into an adulthood fraught with danger and beset by addiction. The long middle sequence, set in a housing development on the seedy, sand-blown outskirts of Las Vegas, is a standout. Tartt proves that the Dickensian novel — expansive and bursting with incident —is alive and well."

I have lived in this story for almost the entire month: on early morning and late evening walks, while doing dishes, in the car, and have been captivated. The audiobook is superbly narrated by David Pittu, and he gets 5 stars for his work on this one. The reviews on this Pultizer Prize winner are all over the map, and I think I understand why. So here are some tips without spoilers:

1. I would highly recommend you listen to the audiobook, and listen for about an hour at a time. It will take you 32 and a half hours, so this is not a one night stand, but a month long commitment.

2. Nowhere in all the reviews I read was it mentioned that this is a coming of age story. That is an important consideration. If you are not interested in teenage angst and obsessions, skip it.

3. Like life, this story unfolds slowly and one is not clear where you are headed, or if you'll even be interested in the outcome. And like life, there are moments that take your breath away, and moments that feel like rather tedious treadmill workouts. The payoff is not immediate, and you gotta hang in there to see the results.

4. The author is an amazing observer of scenes, and she layers details upon details in almost every scene. This skill results in the weird sense that I did not read a story, but that I was actually there, like these are my memories.

5. Donna Tartt has been compared to Dickens, but I think a more apt comparison might be to the Old Masters. There is the thing you see from afar, and then when you get a close up view, you see something completely different. Some parts are so detailed, while others are lightly touched upon and the reader is left to fill in the spaces. 

There were parts of reading this that I had a love/hate relationship with. All that boy stuff! Honestly, I could have done with less of that. Would I have felt differently if the central character had been a young girl? I don't know. Theo was not as interesting to me as the characters he was surrounded with: Boris, Hobie, the Barbours, Xandra, etc. and some of what happened seemed a little unbelievable to me. I also think that there are about 200 or so pages I would have edited out - they did little to add to the story in my opinion (I can provide the scissors and page numbers if you are interested).

I love how the author linked the painting and the boy. Both survive the unimaginable. When the painting is hidden, the true nature of the boy also gets buried, and when the painting is uncovered, the young man discovers his own light. The last chapter or two where the author summarizes the main points of the story: the relationship between life and art, people and objects, creator and viewer is some of the very best writing I have ever read. So yes, even though the editing could be tighter, and I often felt like hitting Theo over the head with a saucepan, I find myself thinking about the story, particular scenes, and googling images of The Goldfinch. Rating: 4 stars.

August 21, 2014

Boston Harborwalk

My parents are in town for a month long visit, and they have lucked out with our fantastic summer weather this year. Today we took a long walk along the wonderful Harborwalk, and I introduced them to the selfie concept.

Below are some additional pics from our day. 

My Dad loves boats, so this walk was especially fun for him.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I'm on a Fitbit kick, so I was delighted that my parents and I got in a 6.5 mile walk today. Pretty better dang good for my old folks [smile]. 

Love this one of my Dad at a local firehouse.

August 19, 2014

Journal page

I have not been sketching regularly, and it shows. My hand/eye co-ordination has gotten flabby. The great news is that to firm it up, all I have to do it pick up a pen and draw something.

(Click on image to view larger)

Pen and Sharpie flip marker in my large cheapo art journal.

August 18, 2014

Recent Reads

108. Euphoria
There is so much I loved about the premise of this story of three anthropologists working in Papua, New Guinea: Nell Stone, her husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson. The title comes from something Nell says: "It’s that moment about two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on the place. Everything clicks and it all feels within your grasp …at that moment the place feels entirely yours. It’s the briefest, purest euphoria.”

The character of Nell Stone is based on Margaret Mead, and explores the tension between her and her not as famous husband as they embed themselves in with native tribes. The couple runs into Bankson, and he both helps ease and compound the tension between them. I quite enjoyed the setting, the description of cultures, and the exploration of the line between anthropology and zoology. However, while the prose is quite lovely in parts, I did not find myself lost in the story and the drama of the characters and their lives. I did like the writing enough to explore the author's backlist, and will certainly be reading some books on Margaret Mead in the not too distant future. Rating: 3 stars.

109. In the Shadow of No Towers
I loved Spiegelman's Maus graphic novels, so thought I'd give this one a try.

Book blurb: In the Shadow of No Towers is a highly personalized, political, and confessional diary of his experience of September 11 and its aftermath. In 10 large-scale pages of original, hard hitting material (composed from September 11, 2001 to August 31, 2003), two essays, and 10 old comic strip reproductions from the early 20th century, Spiegelman expresses his feelings of dislocation, grief, anxiety, and outrage over the horror of the attacks---and the subsequent "hijacking" of the event by the Bush administration to serve what he believes is a misguided and immoral political agenda. 

This book is huge in size though slim in terms of number of pages, some of the art is wonderful, but overall it felt disjointed and lack a cohesive narrative. Rating: 2 stars.

110. Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
This is a fun, if somewhat choppy, non-fiction graphic novel and if you are interested in Shackleton or Antarctic exploration it is worth a read. I loved the black and white illustrations, but it was hard to tell some of the characters apart. Reading this while sipping an ice cold drink in the summertime is a perfect way to appreciate the fortitude of these explorers. By the way, was I the only one disappointed that Mrs. Chippy the cat gets no air time? Rating: 3 stars.

111. Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles #1)
This book was highly recommended by my 9 year old nephew Jonah, who has read and loved the series. 

Book blurb: When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. 

Written by the author of the Hunger Games, this earlier work targeted for the middle grade reader is a fun and fast paced story of adventure, friendship, loyalty, bravery and teamwork. Rating: 3 stars.

August 15, 2014

Birthday Haiku

New England Summer
One more lap around the sun
Like fine wine I age

August 14, 2014

Cinemascope: Phil Specter

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2013.

Plot line: The client-attorney relationship between legendary music producer Phil Spector and defense lawyer Linda Kenney Baden--who represented Spector during his first murder trial--is explored in this drama starring Oscar(R) winners Al Pacino and Helen Mirren.

I did not know much about Phil Spector - not about his successes as a music producer, or about his murder trials, but I found this a fascinating production by director David Mamet. Watching this is like watching a really good play, and the acting by Pacino and Mirren is superb.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 08.13.14

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August 12, 2014

Journal page

Playing with a DIY stencil and patterns while listening to a podcast.

(Click on image to view larger)

Sharpie flip chart markers (see if you have some in your stash - so juicy to play with) in my large cheapo art journal.

August 11, 2014

Recent Reads

104. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by the author, and while I quite enjoyed the first half, the second half did not seem as interesting a read.

Stories are powerful, and this book explores how stories become stories. This is an alternate version of what is often touted as the greatest story ever told. I love the idea of Jesus having an identical twin, and reading about well known stories told with a slightly different twist, which changes everything is quite fun. Pullman wonderfully challenges the reader on similar themes in His Dark Materials Trilogy, but this work felt a little weak to me. For a much more enjoyable ride I'd recommend His Dark Materials, or Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Rating: 2 stars.

105. I Am Pilgrim (Pilgrim #1)
I like big books and I cannot lie. This first book in the Pilgrim series is a little over 600 pages, and the hardcover version hurt my wrists while reading in bed, but I digress. 

This book could not quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Will it be a mystery, a detective story, a crime novel, a spy/espionage thriller, or a terrorist doomsday saga? So many choices, and so many pages to try them all out. I get that this is a debut novel, and the author clearly enjoyed writing it, but it could have used tighter editing, and needs to shed about 200 pages.

Pilgrim is the code name for this super-duper-top-secret guy who has been deep, deep uncover. So covert in fact that the organization he worked for has a code name, as do all the people he works with, and no-one has ever heard of them. After he makes a name for himself, 9/11 happens, and he quits his job and tries to have a normal life, but not before writing and publishing a book detailing all the clever ways to kill someone and get away with it. That book has fans - not all of whom are law abiding citizens. While helping in a murder investigation, he gets the call: America is in danger Batman. Add to this mix a disgruntled and traumatized Saudi and a biological terror threat that could very well end America as we know it. Pilgrim is our only hope. Can he save us?

I love spy-espionage-terrorism stories, but this ones tries to do too much. There are too many threads that do not add to the main story line, and too many flashbacks to far flung locations around the globe to help fill out some of the background story for the main characters. Still, for a debut novel this is an enjoyable summer read. Rating: 3 stars.

106. Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness
This slim little volume is a reprint in book form of the graduation address that the author gave at Syracuse University in 2013. You can also read it for free online, or listen to his 12 minute address on YouTube. His message? Try to be kinder. As graduation speeches go, it is not horrible, but it is also far from inspirational. I agree with the message, but am glad this is a book I decided to borrow from my library. Rating: 2 stars.

107. Genius
This is a graphic novel about Ted. Ted is a physicist who was labeled a genius as a kid (he skipped two grades), but he is not living up to his potential. He stumbles upon the fact that his father-in-law, Francis, knew Einstein, and that Einstein entrusted Francis with a secret idea, one that would blow our minds and change physics as we know it. Can Ted pry this secret out of his father-in-law?

It must be hard to labor under the assumption one is a genius. I wouldn't know, but it must be tough to have Einstein as the bar set for you. I liked the sketchy monochromatic art, but found myself not caring about Ted at all. I did however love the crotchety old father-in-law. Rating: 2 stars.

August 8, 2014

We should all be feminists: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a renowned Nigerian novelist was born in Nigeria in 1977. She was named one of the twenty most important fiction writers today under 40 years old by The New Yorker .

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

August 7, 2014

Journaling on the water

Pop up thunderstorms are never a problem on the boat. The trick is to be securely and safely tied up, then surround yourself with books and art supplies. Let it rain.

Cinemascope: The Last Enemy

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2008.

Plot line: Set in the very near future, this riveting thriller explores how technology and terror could transform civilization into a dystopian society of constant surveillance. Reclusive, brilliant mathematician Stephen Ezard returns home to England to attend his brother Michael's funeral, an aid worker killed by a landmine in Afghanistan. After years of working in near-isolation in China, Stephen struggles to reconcile his carefully controlled world with a brother he did not know, in a police-state London he does not recognize. Soon he finds himself falling in love with his brother's widow, Yasim; lured into becoming the public face of the government super-database, a program with the ability to watch and record the actions and movements of every individual; and caught up in an international conspiracy that forces him to question who, if anyone, he can trust. Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement) stars as Stephen, with Max Beesley (Hotel Babylon) as Michael, and Anamaria Marinca (Sex Traffic) as the beautiful and mysterious Yasim.

This British mini-series explores issues that are gripping and timely. What happens when the very notion of privacy is lost? Can you trust companies and governments? I am in the midst of watching it and am loving it. So much to think and talk about it. 

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is TV worth watching.

August 6, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 08.06.14

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August 5, 2014

Journal page

Some days I do not feel like writing lots of prose. On those days simple lists suffice as a way to capture a place, time or event.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Sharpie flip chart markers (see if you have some in your stash - so juicy to play with) in my large cheapo art journal.

August 4, 2014

Recent Reads

100. Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick (Sex Criminals #1-5)
This ain't your Mama's comics of old people!

Book blurb: Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here!

They rob banks for a literary reason though, so don't be judgy. I could not begin to describe this one. It has sex criminals and sex police. It is a Girl-Meets-Boy story like none you have ever read. Or even imagined! In case you did in fact imagine it, do PM me. I'll buy the drinks. A fun romp for mature readers. Rating: 3 stars.

101. The Vacationers
I've listened to a little more than 2 (out of about 6) hours of this book, and have decided to call it quits. People have raved about it as a summer/beach read, and while it is indeed light and fluffy and quite well written in parts, I found the characters one dimensional and I was bored with the story. It is simply too superficial a read for my tastes, though might be exactly what others look for in a beach read. Rating: 1 star.

102. Genesis
I listened to the audiobook, well narrated by Becky Wright, but think this one might actually work better in print/ebook form.

Book blurb: "Genesis" is a provocative novel of ideas that forces us to contemplate the very essence of what it means to be human. 

This novella is targeted for the Young Adult audience and it would have blown my head open if I had read it in my teens. A very different take on the dystopian genre, this one is a philosophical treatise of sorts. The entire story line takes place in about four hours, and that is about the amount of time you'll need to read it as well. Any more information would be a spoiler. Rating: 4 stars

103. The Descendants
This story explores themes of family, love, loss, land and legacy. Matt King has a lot going on: his 10 year old daughter is out of control, his 17 year old daughter is doing who knows what with who knows whom, his family is sitting on the largest piece of Hawaiian real estate not bulldozed into strip malls and luxury hotels and everyone wants a piece of that deal, and his wife was in a boating accident and has been in a coma for almost a month. Oh, and he learns that his wife has been having an affair. What is a guy to do?

Some parts of this story are exquisitely written, and while I liked the book, I never once dropped into the story. It all felt like it was happening at a distance. I saw the movie when it came out, and felt the same way - it was good but not memorable. While there were moments with the characters I really enjoyed, I do not feel like I lived with them, so none of them made much of an impression.

The author has a new book about to be released, and I like her writing enough to give it a try. Rating: 3 stars.