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Friday, October 29, 2010

Neil Gaiman reads The Graveyard Book free online


"It's kind of like The Jungle Book, only instead of a jungle it's a graveyard. It's about this 2-year-old whose family is killed, and who is adopted and brought up by dead people and taught all the things that dead people know." ~ Neil Gaiman ~

It doesn’t get any better than this for Halloween and even after; author Neil Gaiman reads all eight chapters of his Newbery Medal and Hugo Award-winning bestseller, The Graveyard Book, online and free of charge.

Going hand-in-hand with a new literary tradition started by Gaiman, “All Hallows Read,” this online telling intends to put spooky, spine tingling books in the hands and minds of children for Halloween.

Each chapter of the Graveyard Book is almost like a novel unto itself and is presented in video format.

Chapters vary in length from approximately 25 minutes to just over an hour.

Suggested reading levels for The Graveyard Book are ages 9-12, but more often than not, Gaiman’s superb storytelling and rich language as well as imagery crosses boundaries well into the adult world.

In a different video that is below and not part of Gaiman’s book tour readings, he shares his inspiration for The Graveyard Book.

You can connect to Gaiman’s free video readings of The Graveyard Book at Mr. Bobo’s Remarkable Mouse Circus, the author’s official website for young readers.

After you hear the entire book, you may want to view some of the informative question and answer sessions that took place during his book tour.

Enjoy!

Did a time traveler visit Hollywood in 1928?


“I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.” ~ Charlie Chaplin ~

Okay folks, this post is for all you SciFi fans, movie buffs and conspiracy theorists.

On Wednesday, October 20, 2010, Irish filmmaker, George Clarke, uploaded a piece of film footage that shows a behind-the-scenes look at the premier of Charlie Chaplain’s THE CIRCUS from 1928, which took place at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California.

The vintage piece of footage, captures what appears to be, an older woman who is walking along the sidewalk in front of Grauman’s and chatting on a cell phone.

“Impossible,” you say.

Take a look for yourself and you decide.

Clarke replays the footage several times and isolates the subject in question and he says, “I have studied this film for over a year now - showing it to over 100 people and at a film festival, yet no-one can give any explanation as to what she is doing.”

At this point, the original video, with Clarke’s own commentary from his YouTube channel, has had over 350,000 views, is being constantly downloaded and is poised to go viral.

A fascinating controversy is brewing and chat boards everywhere are chattering and asking, “Could this actually be a time traveler?”

The entire video runs eight minutes, 27 seconds and is worth watching all the way through.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Have you ever purchased a book because of its cover?


“’Forgive me, sir,’ he said. ‘I had you all wrong. You can never tell a book by its cover.’” ~ Murder in the Glass Room by Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller (1946) ~

In May 2008, Random House Publishing commissioned Zogby International to create a survey, The Reading and Book Buying Habits of Americans.

Zogby questioned 8,218 adults not only about their reading habits, but everything from the reasons for purchasing a book, to the respondent’s political affiliation.

What was very telling about the report was the percentage of people who actually made their literary purchase based on a book’s cover.

When asked, “Do you ever judge a book by its cover?” Fifty-two percent of the respondents confirmed they did, and that “younger respondents were more likely to base their selection on a book’s cover.”

(IMHO, maybe this reflects a certain wisdom and discernment that only comes with age.)

However, what is even more telling is that when asked, “When you go into a bookstore for a specific book, do you make additional unplanned book purchases?”

Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said, “Yes.”

Regardless the reason behind what appears as superficial purchasing, publishers, book designers and graphic artists have their work cut out for them in coordinating a strong first-response-visual that tempts a shopper to choose one book over another.

The video below, from orbitbooks YouTube channel, shows just how much creative work and choices goes into assembling a book cover.

The one minute, 53-second video is a distillation of six hours of Photoshopping –that involve cutting, pasting, erasing and adjusting so that Gail Carriger’s latest novel, BLAMELESS, makes the New York Times Bestseller list.

Of course, I think that Carriger’s fine storytelling and fan following from her previous romance/fantasy/steampunk PARASOL PROTECTORATE series had as much to do with the book’s success.

Have you ever impulse purchased a book because of its cover?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another bargain: Free downloadable sheet music

Earlier today, I posted another bargain on my second website. If you have a child who is interested in classical music or is wanting to learn classical music for piano, voice, chamber groups or orchestra, here is profile and a link for free sheet music downloads from composer, Charles McCreery. His compositions are tonal, tuneful and accessible for children of all age groups and abilities. Enjoy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Free book downloads: Don't you just love a bargain?


"a man, tall and thin, and ghastly pale... I crept behind It, and gave It my knife; but the knife went through It, empty as the air."
- Bram Stoker, Chapter 7, Dracula

I love a good bargain, and when it’s totally free, I love it even more!

I’m not sure how long this will be available, but here goes…

Amazon Digital Services is providing totally free downloads of some of the finest spook-filled literature classics, guaranteed to get you in the mood to celebrate Halloween: Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein and Grimm’s Fairy Stories by Jacob Grimm.

These are complete book downloads of the original editions, presented in the English language, and carry a digital list price of $0.00. Plus, they are also delivered free by wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.

The free downloads are compatible with the following: KindleKindle; DXKindle (2nd Generation); Kindle (1st Generation); Kindle for PCKindle; for MacKindle’; for iPadKindle; for iPhoneKindle; for AndroidKindle and for BlackBerry.

Don’t you just love that kind of bargain?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ debuts on the big screen in December


“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.” ~ “Prospero” ~ Shakespeare’s The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158 ~

Every few years the entertainment industry takes up the charge of reinventing the works of William Shakespeare, either for television or for the big screen, and it’s that time again, as Touchstone Pictures/Miramax Films pick up the gauntlet with the mystical thriller, THE TEMPEST.

A few things have undergone a major transformation in this interpretation of THE TEMPEST - the addition of computer generated special effects to provide a 21st century viewing experience, and sorcerer Prospero has changed gender into sorceress Prospera. Set to handle this daunting transformation is Oscar® winner Helen Mirren who is no stranger to performing Shakespeare’s works on film.

2010 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST and it’s slated for limited release in the United States at select theaters beginning Friday, December 10, 2010.

The film has already been screened at the Venice, New York and Mill Valley Film Festivals and is scheduled to launch in Argentina in February, 2011.

THE TEMPEST has been rated as PG-13 for “some nudity, suggestive content and scary images.”

Are you a purist in terms of The Bard’s work and enjoy seeing it only on stage in its original form, or would you consider seeing director Julie Taymor’s version on film?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn fun: Pick-your-own-pumpkins a definitive guide


“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He's gotta pick this one. He's got to. I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”– Linus – from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

If the weather is cooperating where you live, and if you’re looking for an entertaining and fun-filled afternoon, why not make an outing for the whole family and pick-your own pumpkin for Halloween?

To plan your trip, there’s a wonderful and comprehensive website, Pumpkin Patches and More, where you'll find a pumpkin patch near you, take a peek at what it’s like to traverse a corn maze (in daylight or at night) and locations for safe trick-or-treating, hayrides and more.

Be sure to scroll further down on all of the linked pages that have been provided and you’ll see listings for not only pumpkin picking in the United States, but pick-your-own-farms for many other fruits and vegetables in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

You’ll also find a super recipe for making pumpkin pie from scratch, information on pumpkin festivals and weigh-offs, and even a “how-to” for making a carved pumpkin last longer.

In the video below, P. Allen Smith, gardening maven, visits a pick-your-own site, and takes us on a quick historical tour about Halloween’s most popular vegetable-like fruit, the pumpkin.

If you’ve already purchased this year’s pumpkin but are still looking for another fun outing, check out my earlier post, It’s Apple Pickin’ Time: The Definitive Guide to pick your own apples nationwide – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.



For more fun seasonal offerings, be sure to visit my other website: Paula Slade: National Children's Entertainment

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Extreme controversy: Donald Duck versus Glenn Beck


“Only in his wildest dreams could an actual suicide bomber do as much damage to this country.” ~ Keith Olbermann ~ (Referring to political commentator Glenn Beck.)

If you’re sitting in a packed movie theater and someone yells, “Fire,” when there is no fire, that’s not exercising free speech; it’s considered dangerous and in this case, a criminal act.

Political commentators like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh clapperclaw their brand of “fire” over the airwaves on a daily basis, mesmerizing the masses and polarizing both political left and political right.

This is free speech and it is what our country is all about.

However, the video below, which surfaced October 2, appears to do a great job at discerning commentator fire, from that which is reality.

Said video, “Right Wing Radio Duck," created by Jonathan McIntosh, is a brilliant and technologically astounding remix of classic Donald Duck cartoons (circa 1930’s to 1960’s) with the fear-mongering verbal gymnastics of Glenn Beck.

As a social commentary, it hits the mark spot on. (No wonder the video has begun to go viral, chalking up over a half million hits in three days.)

IMHO, the message speaks for itself. It definitely makes me want to take that free bus ride to Washington, D.C. on October 30 and witness first-hand Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.”

If anyone’s going, could you save me a seat?



Glenn Beck photo by David Shankbone; CC 3.0

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Seeking truth in journalism


“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~ Epictetus ~

Early this morning, I was visiting various news sites that I had missed during the week and came upon an article on the front page of the Huffington Post - Watch: The Funniest Employee Training Videos.

I needed a good laugh, so I surfed in and began viewing all nine of the videos, everything from industrial training at Wendy’s (on how to serve hot or cold drinks, accompanied by rapping music) to the “Casual Male’s Super Associate Video,” which is dedicated to informing sales personnel in the proper methodology for creating customer satisfaction while increasing the bottom line.

After going through all nine videos, the funniest one (IMHO) was a Chrysler Training video; however, it did not get the most hits and was not considered a contender for the top five on the page’s poll box.

I showed it to my husband at breakfast and we both laughed hysterically as it was touted (under the clip) as having too much technical jargon to effectively understand, and I have to assume people just passed over it, or watched it for less than 15 seconds because the picture was a bit fuzzy, and then moved on thinking it was probably too dry to bother watching.

I had no intention of doing a post on this, but after seeing my husband’s reaction and his comments that the video reminded him of Professor Irwin Corey delivering what sounded like real technical jargon (such as “Turbo Encabulator” and “dingle arm”) I thought I would share it with you and garner your opinion, hopefully seeking out someone with advanced technical knowledge on the subject.

When I returned to the Huffington site, the video had disappeared. Poof! Just like magic, it was gone, so I did a search on the site and nada. This piqued my interest and I began sleuthing and discovered that this video had been posted several times on YouTube and received a number of hits, upwards of 400,000.

Then I decided to meticulously review each Youtube entry for comments, and folks were voicing in as if they understood what was being said… Except for one person, who referred to the video as (expletive deleted) a joke.

Ah-ha, the smoking gun had been found, and I returned to the Huffington site to search their comments section, and lo and behold, one person, at 10:36 AM, simply known by the handle, “greenearthman” caught the spoof and weighed in saying, “Somebody got trolled on the "Chrysler" video.” O-o-ops, too late, the article had hit the Twitterverse, social network sites and moi.

As it turns out, the Chrysler video was indeed a parody and was made to show at a convention, but only as an insider joke, however, it had made its way onto the Internet.

Moral to this story: Whenever you hear, someone on film say, “You will be directed to perform a series of tests that will effectively raise the billable hours for the service department, but will perform no other useful function,” you’ve got to check your source.