Video of the Week #98: Deconstructing Standup

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Video of the Week #98: Deconstructing Standup

Guest Post: Book Giveaway – In the Red Canoe

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Guest Post: Book Giveaway – In the Red Canoe

Thank you to Kathy Temean of Writing and Illustrating for this guest post about Leslie A. Davidson’s new release.

Writing and Illustrating

Congratulations to author Leslie A Davidson on her new book IN THE RED CANOE. She has agreed to participate in our book giveaways. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Ducks and frogs, swallows and dragonflies, beaver lodges and lily pads―a multitude of wonders enchant the child narrator in this tender, beautifully illustrated picture book. A tribute to those fragile, wild places that still exist, In the Red Canoe celebrates the bond between grandparent and grandchild and invites nature lovers of all ages along for the ride.

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Wordless Wednesday: Flower of the Day

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Wordless Wednesday: Flower of the Day

Doing double duty with Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge today. I don’t know what this bush is called.IMG_0100

TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE | WEEK 20 OF 2017

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TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE | WEEK 20 OF 2017

My offering for this week’s Tuesdays of Texture Challenge:

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Photo © by ARHuelsenbeck.

Review: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

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Review: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

When I read How to Write Funny last year, I was disappointed to find that many of the writers who are considered geniuses of comedy aren’t very funny to me.

So I perused all the books on my shelves and thought about who I consider funny. I like cerebral humor. I like wry, twisted observation.

I came up with two authors: Anne Lamott (see my review of Bird by Bird), and Sarah Vowell.

Sarah_Vowell by Tammy Lo

Photo by Tammy Lo

If you’re not familiar with Vowell, she was a popular contributor to This American Life on NPR, and the author of many commentaries on American history and culture, and the voice of Violet in the animated movie The Incredibles. I saw her speak in person at a writers conference many years ago.

Assassination Vacation is a cerebral and wry account of a marathon pilgrimage Vowell took to various sites connected with the murders of presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, accompanied on various legs by a friend, her sister Amy, and/or her (then three-year-old) nephew Owen.

How could that possibly be funny?

Vowell makes it so. Let’s eavesdrop on a conversation in the book:

Bennet asked, “You know that Kevin Bacon game?”

“The one where he can be connected to every other movie star?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. Assassinations are your Kevin Bacon. No matter what we’re talking about, you will always bring the conversation back to a president getting shot.”

He was right…Once I knew my dead presidents and I had become insufferable, I started to censor myself. There were a lot of get-togethers with friends where I didn’t hear half of what was being said because I was sitting there, silently chiding myself, Don’t bring up McKinley. Don’t bring up McKinley.

Assassination VacationOh. I almost recognize myself in that exchange.

Vowell collects interesting but random facts and shares them with us. For example, “Mary Surratt’s D.C. boardinghouse, where John Wilkes Booth gathered his co-conspirators to plot Lincoln’s death, is now a Chinese restaurant called Wok & Roll.”

Here is how Vowell describes the tour guide who leads her through the Oneida Community, a former cult commune in New York, and briefly the home of Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of James Garfield:

…Joe Valesky, a retired Oneida native who taught high school American history for thirty-six years, gives me a guided tour.  Someday, I hope to be just like him. There are people who look forward to spending their sunset years in the sunshine; it is my own retirement dream to await my death indoors, dragging strangers up dusty staircases while coughing up one of the must thrilling phrases in the English language: “It was on this spot…” My fantasy is to one day become a docent.

Did I mention I love nerds, being one myself?

Vowell is annoyed when while trying to find the place where a particular event happened, there is no marker:

I am pro-plaque. New York is lousy with them, and I love how spotting a plaque can jazz up even the most mundane errand. Once I stepped out of a deli on Third Avenue and turned the corner to learn I had just purchased gum near the site of Peter Stuyvesant’s pear tree. For a split second I had fallen through a trapdoor that dumped me out in New Amsterdam, where in 1647 the peg-legged Dutch governor planted a tree he brought over from Holland; until a fatal wagon accident, it bore fruit for more than two hundred years. To me, every plaque, no matter what words are inscribed on it, says the same magic informative thing: Something happened! The gum cost a dollar, but the story was free.

Sarah_Vowell by Loren-zo

Photo by Loren-zo

And her writing is so picturesque: “…the McKinley National Monument in Canton is a domed edifice on top of a hill. It’s a gray granite nipple on a fresh green breast of grass.” Tell me you didn’t smile when you read that.

Sarah Vowell loves history, and she has the knack of making it interesting to those who might rather stick needles in their eyes than read about past tragedies. You may not think a book about presidential murders could be entertaining or actually funny, but Assassination Vacation is.

What about you? Do you like history? Have you read anything by Sarah Vowell or heard her speak? Share your opinions and insights in the comments below.

Monday Morning Wisdom #102

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Monday Morning Wisdom #102

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~Scott Adams.MMW

Photo of Scott Adams by Tricia (cropped).

Art Reflections

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Art Reflections

My offerings for the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge.

My daughter Katie honored me today (Mother’s Day) by accompanying me to the Phoenix Art Museum. (More photos from our visit will appear in a future post.) I captured our reflections in two of the sculptures.

In front of Upside Down, Inside Out by Anish Kapoor:

Nine Slat Mirror by Thomas Glassford:

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From the Creator’s Heart #98

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From the Creator’s Heart #98

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young (Isaiah 40:11 NLT).

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #54

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #54

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the links to see the full lists.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

In last week’s snippet, Dave suggested he and Beth kill the unicorn, to make it easier to saw off the desired horn. We pick up with the next sentence:wewriwa2

“How? You don’t have a gun, do you?” asked Beth.

“No, but last week I bought this.” Dave crawled over to his duffle bag and took out a sheath. After hesitating for dramatic effect, he slid a hunting knife from the case and admired its edge.

“You’re going to stab it to death? Do you realize how much force it will take against an animal that size, one with magical powers, no less? You’re not strong enough.”

“No, I can do it–this knife is as sharp as a scalpel.”

Putting her face in her hands, Beth muttered, “You’re insane.”

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 25? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Helping Children Learn to Write

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Helping Children Learn to Write

Doing Life Together

girl-writing-2Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic used to be called the 3 Rs—the three basic skills necessary for success in life. Your children’s teachers will thank you if you encourage your kids to write. Here are eleven ideas to help you:

  1. Child as young as two years old: Give her a pencil and paper and encourage her to “write”—even if it looks like scribbling. (Watch her to be sure she writes on the paper and doesn’t accidentally poke her eye.)
  2. Three years old: Go through a wordless picture book (preferably one you’ve “read” him before—a good one is Peter Spier’s Noah’s Ark) and ask him what’s happening in each picture.
  3. Four years old: Have her practice writing the alphabet and her name. (Call your local school and find out what handwriting model they use. I grew up with the Palmer method; my children were taught D’Nealian. You can find D’Nealian alphabets…

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