- About Me
- Coffeechug Classroom
- Education Thoughts and Project Ideas
- Conference, MOOC, and Class Notes
- Gifted Education
- Project Based Learning
- Suggested Reading
- Board of Inspiration
- GETTING IT DONE!
- Race Schedule of 2011
- Race Schedule & Results 2012
- Race Schedule 2013
- Endurance Nation Training
- Race Photos
- 140.6 Triathlon Video Journey
- What Did We Learn This Week Series
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Are you dying for more of this world of Twilight? Well, on June 5th you can have another chance to explore this world created by Stephanie Meyer. Publisher Weekly posted today that she will be releasing a novella called, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Bree Tanner played a short role in Eclipse when introduced on page 569. If you remember, she died ten pages later. The movies have already used some of the information from the novella.
I also found this info online today as well.
Part of the money made off this novella will go to the American Red Cross. Even better for some of you will be the fact that novella will also be available for free online from June 7th to July 5th.
What are your thoughts about this? Post a comment and let me know how you feel. This is a funny post for me because I was just crafting a post about how much I am tired of vampires. Now, I feel intrigued again. So weird to have a mood swing about vampires in a matter of 5 minutes.
Here is a link to the Publisher Weekly article online.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Here is my latest author interview that I conducted with the super cool author Yvonne Prince. She is the author of The Vinyl Princess. I sent her some questions via email and she was nice enough to send back some great response. Check out the interview. It is a fun read. Please be sure to check out her novel as well.
I wanted to start off by telling you that I really enjoyed your book, Vinyl Princess, which I have stated to you via email, but wanted to share those thoughts again. I am loving the nostalgia it is bringing back by bringing me down many paths of music. I appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions. As I always tell the authors which I am lucky enough to interview, feel free to answer all or just the ones that you want to.
Growing up, when I was reading books I never really even considered authors to be human. I never gave a thought to actually talking to them or sending them letters. Now authors do interviews (like this), Skype conferences, blogs, email, etc. How does the utilization of all the latest technology and internet help you as a writer? Do you think it helps you or is it more of problem trying to fit it all in?
It’s really not a problem for me to fit them in and I really like the contact with my readers. I was like you when I was a kid, I thought writers were untouchable rock stars. I’m glad that the internet has changed all that. Still, I’d like to go back in time and exchange E-mails with John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemmingway and Truman Capote.
You mentioned in another interview that Frank Portman’s King Dork novel helped you come up with the idea for this book. What are some other books that you have read that others might enjoy?
I don’t read a lot of YA. I find so much of it is filled with unnecessary histrionics that I start reading and then I fling the books across the room. I do like Frank’s new book “Andromeda Klein” a lot. I just recently fell in love with “My Abandonment” and “Last Night at The Lobster” and “A Friend Of The Family”. I read a lot of Cormac McCarthy, Lorrie Moore, Dan Chaon, T.C. Boyle, Tobias Wolfe, A.M. Holmes, stuff like that. Good stories with good dialogue.
This novel leaves the reader with a lot to think about at the end in terms of being comfortable in our skin, remembering what it is like to grow up(or what is like growing up for the younger audience who is still in that phase of life). I remember closing the book and just reflecting on how I always turned to music growing up through middle school(New Jack Rap), high school(Grunge), college(Jam Bands), and even now as an adult(depends on what my mood is). What are some records that you turned to growing up?
My record listening career was launched with the Beatles,
Looking at your website you are busy in the music scene with Amoeba records, your blog, writing, etc. Is your novel that you are currently working deal with music or are you going down a new path?
I think there will always be a music backdrop in anything I write but the next book “All You Get Is Me” is a sort of modern day To Kill A Mockingbird with Mexican Migrant Farmworkers. I’m a food person and you can’t really get into food without eventually asking yourself where it comes from. I became a supporter of family farms and started exploring migrant farmworkers and Fair food. This is a topic I’m very passionate about but the story at the forefront is about Roar, a very reluctant farm girl, and her relationship with her dad, a human rights lawyer, and how it changes after they witness a terrible accident.
What surprised you most as you were writing this novel?
I was surprised at how much I loved writing about music and musicians and music lovers. I’d been away from the epicenter of music for a bit and this book forced me back in. It really was so fun to take a musical journey with those characters.
If one of my students were interested in beginning to enter the vinyl lp world, what would be some introductory suggestions and what should they look for when starting to collect?
They should go to my blog and get everything. Seriously.
I recently read a book titled, Six Word Memoirs, which has a website. If you had to write your memoir in six words, what would you write?
If you had to create a mix tape right now what songs would you put on it?
I just made this for a friend who asked for some music for Demi Lovato to listen to:
2. One Note Samba- Bebel Gilberto & Vinicious Cantuaria
3. The Only Living Boy in NY- Everything But The Girl
4. My Number- Tegan and Sara
5. I'm Shipping Up to Boston- The Dropkick Murphys
6. Look at Miss Ohio- Gillian Welch
7. Somewhere Down the Road- Feist
8. Little Wing- The Jimi Hendrix Experience
9. Prettiest Star- David Bowie
10. Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us- Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
11. Run Chicken Run- The Felice Brothers
12. Baby You're My Destiny- Taj Mahal and The Hula Blues Band
13. Alcohol- Gogol Bordello
14. It's alright to Fall- Cat Power
15. Brooklyn- Jesse Malin
16- Redemption Song- Joe Strummer
17. I feel Like a Fading Light- Kim Taylor
10- I Walk The Line- LIVE
19- To Ohio- Low Anthem
20- Do The Hokey Pokey- Tom Waits
21- Carmelita- Willie Deville
I realize that many of these questions don’t deal particularly with your novel, but I have to admit that in the book you reference Dave Matthews as not being good music when using it to describe a character. I am a huge DMB fan! Anyways, are there any other artists or music that you just cannot get in to?
VP does not like Dave Matthews. I think he’s fine, a bit boring, but a nice man. Same for Jack Johnson, nice person, good heart. He just doesn’t move me musically. I hate L’il Wayne, most hip hop and anything Miley Cyrus does. I’m not crazy about speed metal.
Here are some additional random questions that you could answer if you feel like it (though not really necessary, but students always want me to add when I interview authors). These come from a new set of questions that students have been crafting for an upcoming challenge on my blog. They thought it would be cool to hear answers from an author.
Answer the following questions with Single Word answers.
Your Cell Phone? quacks
Your Hair? Ridiculous
Your Mother? baffling
Your Father? Musician
Your Favorite Food? French
Your Dream Last Night? Forgotten
Your Favorite Drink? French Chardonnay
Your Dream/Goal? memorable
What Room Are You In? Bedroom
Your Hobby? Cycling
Your Fear? Failure
Where Do You Want To Be In Six Years?
Where Were You Last Night? Bookstore
Something That You Aren't? unkind
Wish List Item? boots
Where Did You Grow Up?
Last Thing You Did? spoke
What Are You Wearing? bathrobe
Your TV? off
Your Pets? goldfish
Your Life? interesting
Your Mood? peaceful
Missing Someone? sometimes
Something You Aren't Wearing? Headphones
Your Favorite Store? Atomic Garden
Your Favorite Color? Blue
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? today
Last Time You Cried? Yesterday
Your Best Friend? Alex
Recomended for ages 8-10
Website of the novels
In Scream Street, Luke and his parents discover a nightmarish world of the undead. Luke soon makes friends with vampire Resus Negative and mummy Cleo Farr, but he remains determined to take his terrified parents home. After liberating the powerful book Tales of Scream Street from his new landlord, Otto Sneer, Luke learns that the founding fathers of the community each left behind a powerful relic. Collecting together all six is his only hope of opening a doorway out of the street, so with the help of Resus and Cleo he sets out to find the first one, the vampire’s fang. But with Otto Sneer determined to thwart him at every turn, will Luke even get past the first hurdle alive?
Saturday, March 27, 2010
What will be your legacy of reading that you leave behind? I don't know about myself yet as I am still organizing. My children will have the opportunity to explore for much of their life as I have about everything you could imagine.
Friday, March 26, 2010
(The cover is awesome, don't you think?)
She is also a frequent commenter on this blog, helped with my vegetarian challenge, suggested Joe's Apartment by Frank Zappa, and offered many great emails and articles to help me get started with writing. What more can I say about her besides that I feel fortunate enough to have come across her and her books and to help us readers realize that there are authors out there who don't think they are better than their readers and take the time to interact with their audience.
I have finished reading Merger. I had to make time to read this book through my crazy school week schedule(and all the things not merging(play on words) well right), my kids, taking college classes, etc. However, reading this book was such a nice break from reality. Yes, you should read this book AFTER you read the first book. Why? Well, let me start with a quick synopis taken from AmazonAshlyn Woods seems like an average college student: going to classes, riding her bike, and spending time with her boyfriend, Kai. But Ashlyn is far from average . . .she is a Soterian, a person who has developed special powers to fight evil. When a large car manufacturing plant in Minnesota is shut down because of a merger,putting an entire town out of work, Ashlyn struggles to balance school, her training, and her sometimes fragile relationship with Kai while fighting against the corruption that is threatening thousands of innocent people.But when she and the other Soterians discover that a new factory in Mexico holds the key to a dangerous secret, Ashlyn is reminded that nothing is as important as the ever-present threat of Deimos, the ultimate source of evil, who knows much more about Ashlyn and her loved ones than she had ever feared.
I will come right out and tell you that I have left all bias(most of it anyways) out of this review(since she was so cool to put my name in the acknowledgements of this book along with some bloggers who are way cooler than me). Once again I will also state that this is a 5 book series and as I posted when I reviewed the first book, knowing this information is key to reading these novels. As I read this book I continued to look for clues into people who might turn to the side of Deimos or perhaps already be working for Deimos. I continue to look for small storylines that might lead to a larger overall plot line in the series. When I read the first half of the book I could not help but compare it in my mind to the Twilight series. Not because of vampires(none are in this book, thank goodness), but because the romance or the love between Ashlyn and Kai. It was really brought out and was the focus of much of the story. I think that this will appeal to many readers who like Twilight(the millions and millions of you). It was realistic and not phony. The characters are in college which they really cannot be much younger or the plot would not make sense. A high school student can't just up and leave for Mexico.
What I loved best about this book was the Mexico scenes. I am a fan of action and suspense. These parts of the book is what I really connected with. I wanted more, more, more. However, I have to wait for the third book. I kept waiting for Deimos....well, I will not state my thought here because I don't want to ruin anything, but bring the destruction Deimos!!!!!!!
In the band of Soterians there is a character for everyone depending on your own perspective. They each have their strengths and each have their weaknesses. Depending on who you are and what you have gone through I think that each reader will form a bond with one of the characters. Obviously Ashlyn is the main character so she stand out, but the others all play important roles.
As with any series of any books (or movies for that matter) that you read, the second book always seem to be a bridge connecting the major ideas and conflicts to the shift of ideas and conflicts in the third book. This book does just that. Nothing huge is really solved, but we as readers are left with that sense that everything is getting ready to come to a head. You can make this case for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Lightning Thief, Twilight, etc. The second book bridges the storyline(and typically if the series is more than three books the fourth book does the same to build things up for the climax)(actually it is an every other novel approach). This is not say that these books are bad because these "bridge" books are sometimes the best because you are left to wait to see what will happen and your mind creates all these scenarios and you cannot wait to find out what is going to happen next. So, Jacquelyn what is going to happen next and how long must we wait.
So get out there and read this book. Read the first one in the series before reading Merger. The romance/love will grab many of you(not my cup of coffee, but I loved the character development during this time as I was able to fully visualize this entire world and characters) and the conlficts at hand will grab the action people and no matter who you are you will be anxiously awaiting the third book to see what in the world is going to happen next. As we all know the world is not a happy perfect place.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Later in the afternoon, Mrs. Cleveland returned the journal after a few students had fun with it during lunch. They did a fabulous job. I will admit that the journal is starting to take on a personality that cannot be described. It has quite the unique smell with the combination of the Bath and Body Work smell mixed with the Chinese food lunch smeared on the pages during lunch today. Thank you Franki, Emily, Amanda and any other students who helped to add to the journal. You really added your own unique element to the journal and a funky smell. The fortune cookie statement said, "Tomorrow is a good day. Try something new." So go ahead and try something new like taking the journal and adding your own personal touch to it.
The other thing that I am finding out is that this is becoming release therapy. I have a problem when it comes to books. If I buy a book it cannot be creased, crinkled, etc. It must be in perfect condition. I have spent the last few years using the library as that was a huge obstacle to overcome because the books were not mine. If a book is in bad shape I cannot read it. It drives me insane. This journal is now far from being in pristine shape and I have come to accept it. Actually, it is forcing me to learn that this journal is perfect the way it is.
Who wants the journal next? Please email or come track me down.
Last bit of info. The journal is getting to the point where the entries are asking you to rip out pages and if you choose to do so that is fine, but please include what you did with the page back in the bag that the journal comes enclosed in so I can scan it in. Additionally, it is also asking people to do tasks with the journal. Be sure to take a picture or video so I can add that also. For example, "Find a way to wear the journal". Video yourself wearing the journal at the mall or something or take several pictures. I want everything captured so we can share the essence of this journal.
Here is the updated artwork in this slide show. Enjoy and don't be afraid to come take the journal for the weekend.
Here are some examples of the real Soul Train Line Dance. Practice some moves, watch how the lines on the sides are grooving. Watch these to get a feel for how ours will operate. I know some of you don't want to dance, but I simply ask why not? This will be something when you are older that you will glad you took part in. Trust me on this one.
Get your buddies in TA together and get yourselves ready to break it down people.
Lastly, here is link for the Cosby Show Season 2 Theme that I will be working on making by myself to post next week
We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
But the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.
Let's face it,
English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England.
We take English for granted.
But if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly,
Boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea, nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
Grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends,
But not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
And get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught,
Why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables,
What does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes, I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down; in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
Where did this strange language come from and why do we speak it?
'Cause we don't know another, I guess...
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Who wants it next?
While hanging out and playing a video game with my son the other day I had a question pop in my head, "What happens to the clothes when Clark Kent leaves his clothes in the phone booth when he transforms to Superman?"
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon(1970)
This is not my kind of music. However, I am treating each new album with a clear vision, as little of a bias as possible, and then trying to actually sit through the entire album and write what I feel.
As I was listening to the album I came across some info that I was not aware of about old J.M. This was her third album and her first gold album. As I listened to the opening title, Morning Morgantown, all I could feel was waking up in the Spring time to a fog over a lake while sipping decaf green tea and deciding which flowers to place in the vase for the day. I am not being at all sarcastic here as this is a great feeling to have while listening to music during Spring Break.
She covers Woodstock which was also performed by CSN(Crosby, Still, Nash) which many like her version much better. And of course the song Big, Yellow Taxi. This song makes me realize that I am getting old because I first heard of this song when the Counting Crows covered this song a couple years back. I am a huge CC fan. Obviously, I love the CC version better as this is the one that I am more familiar with. However, as other songs are being covered in the pop world today I find myself saying the same thing my parents told me over and over, "That is a cover. The original is so much better. OR Boy, they really ruined a great song." If you really sit and think about the lyrics to Big, Yellow Taxi you cannot help but feel the need to help the world.
Joni Mitchel does not tour after the release of this album. She spends time writing and painting and the music she crafts during this time will lead to her Blue album which was a huge success. Anyways, back to the album. She adds the piano to almost half of this album where she has proved mastery of another instrument besides her legendary acoustic guitar.
I have to mention that I love the album art. I am a big visual person and I always gauge a cd or vinyl by the artwork. I think it is such a cool image. I get the sense of a simple person on the outside who has a whole world of knowledge to share from the inside.
All in all, a good album. I am sure that this was a big hit around certain circles during this time. A few songs stood out to me, but some of them I would probably never listen to again. I digged Morning Morgantown, Big Yellow Taxi, and Woodstock. I am glad I gave this a listen. It opened my eyes to some more of her music and once again reminded me that great music exists all over the time spectrum and an electric guitar is not always necessary.
On a side note, this was a drastic change from my first stop with Frank Zappa. I am still processing his albums that I purchased.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Apostrophe was released by FZ in 1974. This was his 18th studio album release. How many did he release?(let me Google.....80 albums is the most common answer with 57 alive and 23 after his death. He had success with his single, "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" which runs right into Nanook Rubs It on the album. Once again the lyrics are as bizarre as Sheik Yerbouti. I understand why Amazon recomended this album after my interest in Sheik Yerbouti. I must admit that he is not my typical music, but ever since I heard Sheik Yerbouti I cannot stop listening and reading about his guy. His music is not something you can just pop in your car on your way to work. You have to almost study it, listen to it several times to absorb everything that is going on. There are several layers of music taking place. What I like about Zappa the most is when he just plays music. His lyrics are great at first when listening to see what he will talk about next(protecting a pet seal while singing about Nanook), but they can quickly lose the "shock" value. What I love most is his guitar. Take Apostrophe for example. He really just plays and tears up the guitar. I love it. Then he moves on to the next song and it is so different, but enjoyable(this would be referring to Uncle Remus).
This album was the one that moved him from cult like status to general mainstream. How can you not find yourself wanting to hear a song called, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"? Upon reading about this album many critics say this album along with Over-Nite Sensation are both examples of Zappa going back to Mother of Invention form(I have not listened to enough of the early stuff to comment on this). Once again Zappa hits upon society in his lyrics. The song Uncle Remus(which I had no idea was the name of a character in the Disney film, Song of the South). He questions the civil rights movement and makes it clear(through his bizarre lyrics) that there is still much work to do to bring equality up. What was even more controversial at the time was not his music, but his band as he had women, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Caucasians all together.
Well, after listening to this album four times straight and reading lyrics and researching online this is what I came up with. Take it or leave it, but I am not done with Frank. I have many more albums to discuss because he has now become my little side project on this Musical Journey project(hence the label 1.1 instead of 1.5). I hope you enjoyed and will see you later, alligator.
The 10 most addictive sounds!!:
A very unusual way to sell jeans or, well, do ANYTHING, but Wrangler’s flash site let’s you play with the model by throwing him off chairs and flinging him across the room (or make him break dance). It’s actually very fun – you do have to, er, unzip him but it’s nowhere near NSFW. Go wild!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
So earlier I posted about how great a weekend I was having(scroll down the blog). I should have known that I was jinxing myself for the worst. Sunday, the last day of Spring Break my children decided to make sure that my patience was tested. First, I had to purchase a new CD tower after my first one busted in half after I spent endless hours alphabetizing my CD collection in the organization of my office. As I was putting the CD tower together, my children found the love for Styrofoam. Needless to say that my office was in terrible shape after they were done having fun. Isn't it amazing how quickly their bodies hurt or they don't feel good when it is time to clean up?To add to the fun, today while I was trying to muster the motivation to finish up some college work I hear my wife calling my name. I go upstairs and lo and behold our wonderful daughter was playing with the water in our upstairs bathroom. Well, she left the water on and also left the washcloth in the sink causing a mini-flood in our house. We noticed a wet spot on our ceiling in our kitchen and then put two and two together. There was water everywhere(floor, carpet, ceiling, in the drawers in the bathroom, etc) Yes, our lovely daughter thought it was quite funny. Maybe this is all done to remind me that there is a reason for me to go to work. 10 days of quality family time is enough. Especially when three of those days was just me and the kids while Amanda was shopping in Chicago. Middle School here I come(although that excitement probably will not be there when I go back to working out at 5 am).
Alright, so I am working in reverse order here. The other day I posted Stop #1: Frank Zappa - Sheik Yerbouti album. Be sure to check it out as it is a great write up(not trying to be arrogant in any way, I promise). I have received some great comments and emails which is nice because that has been slacking recently. Anyways, I touched on this series a little bit in the post, but thought I would elaborate.
I recently read The Vinyl Princess. This is a YA novel about a girl who works in a record shop. I have written a review here. As I was reading the novel, I wrote down every album mentioned and in some cases an artist or song. I have a pretty massive list. I scanned the list for you here (I am also going after the entire mixtape on pages 246-47, but did not want to ruin the thunder....if only the author posted the final mixtape that was returned?)
So this series of post will be my voyage going through each of these albums and artists and then providing my comments and any other thoughts along the way. I will tell you that I am working on Stop 1.5 as I cannot get enough of some Frank Zappa. I will finish that up when I feel that I have the new purchases all figured out. I also received Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon from the library. Let the games begin and hopefully you will follow me down this journey of great music that is as wide arrange of music as you can ask.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Is it because after a few days of warm weather and sunshine here in Iowa I woke up this morning to snow? No, I hate snow more than you know.
Is it because that my cd tower split in half after I alphabetized all my cd's(we are talking hundreds my friend)? No, I had to go buy a new tower to keep the office looking good.
It is a good weekend because three milestones were met.
1. I have 50 followers now. Yahoo! That is awesome. I feel good about this because I know time is precious and I appreciate everyone(follower or not) who takes the time to check out my blog and the stuff I share.
2. I have reached the blue star club on ebay. Yes, that means I have 50 great approval ratings. 50 is the key number this weekend.
3. I will say it again because I am still in awe. Jacquelyn Wheeler mentioned my name in her book for acknowledgments. I feel like a superstar. She has made my day in which she has no idea.
So, this morning I went through my usual routine of checking about 20 different things on the web including my gmail account and low and behold I was caught off guard with a pleasant surprise. Wheeler emailed me to let me know that the the second book in the series is now available. I am jacked. I loved the first book in Soterian series (check out my review here). Here is the cover which has my mind thrown in 20 different directions. I did not imagine a cover like this which is completely different from book one. This has me super excited to see where this series is going to go. If you read my first review of the first book this was one of the positives to this series(not sure where it would lead). So, I have purchased a hard copy online and I have already purchased the Kindle version and began reading. Once I read the book I will post a review and give the book away in a contest of some sort. Stay tuned and read the first book if you have not done so yet.
P.S. Jacquelyn Wheeler is one of the coolest authors ever. Not only has she provided many words of encouragement to begin writing my own novel, but she also recommended a great album by Frank Zappa on my Musical Journey. She told me to listen to Joe's Apartment and that my friend is another great album.
P.S.S. I have never been this honored before in my life. She mentions my name as being helpful in the world of blogs. Seriously, this is so awesome. I feel special in a good way. I have a whole new appreciation for the author because she is so down to earth. Yes, my name is mentioned, but even if it wasn't how often do authors give credit to the masses who help to encourage readers to read. Wheeler you rock my socks!!!!!!!!!
Friday, March 19, 2010
The Year of the Bomb by Ronald Kidd
*acquired from public library*
Book suggested audience - 12 and up
First, I would like to say that this book has received some great praise since the release in June 2009. However, I don't know that many students and teachers are even aware of this book. I just came across it by accident and later found out it was a 2009 Cybils nominee
The setting is 1956 where everyone is on edge about the atomic bomb. This is a historical fiction novel. It ties in the emotions of the threat of a bomb, horror movies that really took off at this time due to the high fear levels, and the coming of age of a group of boys. How does one pull all three of these elements together? The author has done a great job doing so.
If you know your history, then you are aware that during this time there was the fear of Communists and trying to determine who was who. In addition, the threat of a bomb was real and students had to practice taking cover in school. This book does a great job weaving in some important people from this time period into the story. It will introduce readers to McCarthy, Richard Feynman, Don Siegel(director of Escape from Alcatraz and Dirty Harry, Carolyn Jones, and many more.
The story centers around a boy named Paul and his group of friends. They love horror movies and watch them every weekend at the theater. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is going to be filmed where they live and they cannot wait to watch and get in on the action. However, as they go the set they become involved in a plot to determine who is a Communist, who is FBI, who is who in a nutshell.
This is a quick read. It is not hard to follow and anyone who loves movies and history will eat this book up. I have posted the movie trailer for Invasion of the Body Snatchers down below. This is considered a classic. Now, I am off to read some books on my Kindle.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz
*acquired from public library, but have decided to purchase to add to my bookcase*
I loved this book. For a few simple reasons.
1.Music - I loved this novel as it had tons of musical references. It has rekindled my fire to explore music again. I have been trying to locate all the music mentioned in the book(I wrote down every reference while reading). I have begun my new blog series(Musical Journey) where I will document all the music that I listen to on this voyage.
I read this book prior to reading anything about it. I did not read a single blurb or excerpt. Last night I told my wife that this book was a High Fidelity for YA. Now that I have finished and began to read about the author and the book I have come across this reference on almost every single website and blog. So true. So true.
2. Growing up - the book was simple and realistic. Nothing was written to catch off guard, but at the same time one can relate to everything the main character is going through. Many times I thought back to my high school days listening to music and always finding comfort through my albums no matter the situation. The friendships were real, but nothing was too controversial or crazy. Just a simple coming of age story that everyone can relate to. You don't have to have some major catastrophe to be able to relate to the characters.
3. Love - love is the essence of this novel. Whether it be the love for life, music, parents, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, food, etc. This book touches on all aspects even the losing of love and moving on. Love is the core of life in all the different aspects of living.
This was an easy, fun, enjoyable read. Check out the blog for the author where she writes about music. Great site and one that should be marked in your favorites or Google Reader. Go ahead and read this book. Stay tuned for my next musical journey stop(Stop #1 has already occurred so scroll down).
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
One part to the cleaning of my office was the organizing of my cd collection. It is quite extensive. I remember in high school going to the small cd shops around my town with my buddy buying cd after cd. I remember buying ones at random hoping for the next great sound and the anticipation of what would be played from the speakers of our cars. I began to alphabetize my collection. I was successful until I tried to move my cd case(it was in bad shape) and it snapped in half. My hours down memory lane came crashing to the floor. My wife is out shopping in Chicago and she is looking for a new cd shelf unit for me. Anyways, when I was looking at my cd collection it reminded me as to how open I was to all types of music. I have a wide range of musical influences. As I have gotten older I have really fine tuned what I listen to.
I am also reading The Vinyl Princess which is about a girl who works at a vinyl record shop. I will post more later when I review, but I have been compiling a list of the album references while I read and I have decided to try to listen to every album mentioned in the book.
Why? It is time for me to get back to find that great music that I have been overlooking for such a long time. I have just begun this journey and already 1/1. I listened to the album Sheik Yerbouti by Frank Zappa. I am familiar with Frank, but have never listened to his music. WOW! What a album. I am not sure how describe this album. The lyrics have completely caught me off guard. This was a double vinyl LP release in 79 even though the tracks were compiled from 78 and 77. I was caught off guard by lyrics. They are so frank, honest, vulgar, and in your face. This album was first from his break with Warner Bros. I listened to this album and had to call my parents right away. I found out my dad was a huge fan. I brought up that I could not believe how vulgar the lyrics were which blew me away because most music from this time period were not that explicit. You could read into any lyric and find the meaning of what was being said, but Zappa just said it like it was. Today, this is not a big deal as everyone is over the edge and nobody blinks an eye anymore. I keep thinking while listening to this album, "Did he just say that?" I had to read about the album and discovered that the single, "Bobby Brown" was very popular, but banned in the US from airplay because of the lyrics(see, I told you mom!). I also discovered that one song was making fun of a Peter Frampton song and another song that was making fun of disco became another huge hit for him.
I have just put on hold the rest of the Frank Zappa musical collection. I must hear more despite how bizarre his music is. A word of caution that some of his lyrics are not always appropriate so beware, but this musical stop was well worth the visit. I have not been able to move on to my next stop which is great way to start. Thank you Yvonne Prinz for the mention of the album in your novel. I will write again when I move on to the next stop. Now, to only visualize my parents listening to these albums...........
P.S. I am in search of a record player so any good leads please let me know.
Twenty Dollar Bill by Elmore Hammes
purchased for my Kindle from Smashwords website
I bought this book after my mother accidentally suggested this novel to me. She sent me an email thinking I might like this book. I checked it out and thought it looked interesting and gave it a try. As soon as I started I could not put it down. I kept thinking to myself, "How did the author think of so many avenues for a twenty dollar bill to travel?" Let me back up and explain the premise.
The novel follows the life(not really a life, but you get my point)of a twenty dollar bill starting with a woman named Claire who gives away a twenty to a homeless man. From this point the dollar bill will go through forty two other people in the novel going full circle. This twenty dollar bill travels everywhere and through all walks of life.
What I loved about this book are several things. First, the amazing ability of making a dollar bill the main character. The author set the book up where each chapter is the person who is in possession of the money. It will provide a quick backdrop of how they got themselves to the situation to receive the money and then how they get to moving it along. Chapters are short and this is not a long read which is perfect. As you read these little snippets into the lives of all these people the book makes you think about how quickly we are to judge and assess others around you. There were several times where I remember thinking certain things as some of the characters and then I read the back story to the person and realize that maybe my judgments were in error.
As you can tell I loved this book. It was new and refreshing read. Is this young adult? No, but there is nothing that would keep me from not letting a young adult read. Nothing is inappropriate, but this would just be classified as good old fiction(remember when labels were that simple?).
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Alice Tan Ridley, mother of Academy Award-nominated Precious star Gabourey Sidibe, performs music — beautifully — in subway stations. Above, her rendition of "I Will Survive." Many more videos of her amazing street performances here, a pity the sound quality's so bad on all of them: The Subway Song Stylings Of Alice Tan Ridley! (stationstops.com), and a US Magazine story about the R&B singer here. (via Farai Chideya)
Related: Here's the raw audition tape that won Gabourey Sidibe her Precious role.
Monday, March 15, 2010
The full list of Laker literature:
1. Kobe Bryant: “Montana 1948″ by Larry Watson
2. Derek Fisher: “Soul on Ice” by Eldridge Cleaver
3. Pau Gasol: “2666″ by Roberto Bolano
4. Lamar Odom: “The Right Mistake” by Walter Mosley (one of Jackson’s favorite authors, says Buss)
5. Ron Artest: “Sacred Hoops” by Phil Jackson* (Buss noted that Jackson likes his new players to become more familiar with his philosophies as laid out in his book)
6. Andrew Bynum: “Six Easy Pieces” by Walter Mosley
7. Jordan Farmar: “Makes Me Wanna Holler” by Nahan McCall
8. Shannon Brown: “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama
9. Luke Walton: “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey
10. Josh Powell: “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois
11. Sasha Vujacic: “Reservation Blues” by Sherman Alexie
12. D.J. Mbenga: “Monster: the Autobiography of an LA Gang Member” by Sanyika Shakur (Author), Monster Kody Scott (Contributor)
13. Adam Morrison: “Che” – Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon – a Graphic Biography of Che Guevara
Friday, March 12, 2010
I have been on this rampage of reading books that deal with the mindset of successful people and how athletes should mentally prepare. I cannot really read anything else as it does not grab my interest. This book was also my first Kindle book purchase and it lived up to everything that I placed upon it. I loved this book. I recommend this book to any athlete or actually anyone who wants to be successful. Gary Mack offers great insight to the mental approach of achieving what you want.
This is a super easy read as each piece of advice or exercise is backed up by tons of little snippets and stories of athletes. I took five pages of notes while reading which I plan on typing up and using as a coach next year.
The book covers dealing with pressure, strengthening mental toughness, positive self talk and reinforcement, aiming for progress (not perfection), eliminating distractions, increasing the ability to focus, proper breathing techniques, the danger of over analyzing, and how to get in and stay in the illustrious “zone.”
Of the four or five books that I have read so far about this subject, I am giving this book the top spot. Check it out whether an adult, teen, or soon to be teen. Everyone can apply these ideas to sports and life.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Additionally, I still hate my dogs. They have continued to rip apart my door. I have now changed tactics and placed a metal grid gate across so if they scratch, then it is their own fault for the damage to their paws. Needless to say they are no longer scratching. Here is a picture of why my hatred continues...
Anything else......Nope. Well, Aiden had his conferences from preschool. It is now been validated that he is a better artist than I. This picture may even be me(a little ugly, slightly goofy looking, and slightly confused)
I will begin the daunting challenge of reading Stephen King's novel, The Stand. I have always wanted to read this and felt like this might be the time after seeing some students reading his material. I will keep updates on the reading progress of this 1000+ page novel.
Lastly, can you think of anything worse than writing papers for college? This whole paper concept might be the worst concept ever created. The torture AAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHH!
Until next time, this has been another edition of the Life at the Maurer's.