Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Almost November

If you have a story to tell and you have just needed a little push to put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard), maybe NaNoWriMo is just the ticket. November is National Novel Writing Month ("Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!") and there is a whole community of people who can keep you company and encourage you. Young writers have their own program.

I have never done NaNoWriMo myself, but I had a student in one of my young writers' groups who had done it twice! I may use the structure and momentum of it to get some things written, though -- use it how you will.

Extra links:

* The Christian Science Monitor's 5 Reasons You Should Participate in NaNoWriMo
* NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month)
* Write a script in April (Script Frenzy)
* Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo)
* Noveling Machine t-shirt

Friday, October 29, 2010


Come with me All Hallow's night/ We'll frighten everyone in sight/ Such pranks for once, are justified/ And fun and frolic amplified.
~19th century Halloween postcard

I am inordinately fond of costumes and a big fan of tea. It occurred to me recently that it would be fun to open a tea and pastry shop, with books somehow involved, and offer free tea to anyone to comes wearing a costume. At any time of year. I might have a strange clientele, but they'd be fun.

Halloween is not known as a tea-drinking holiday, but costumes, it's got. And poetry. Here's one from Emily D:

One Need Not Be a Chamber to Be Haunted
by Emily Dickinson

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one's own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror's least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O'erlooking a superior spectre
More near.


And a haunted poem from the author of Trout Fishing in America:

Boo Forever
by Richard Brautigan

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
I'm haunted by all
the space that I
will live without


* Poems Can Be Creepy (a selection of Halloween poems for the classroom) by Susan Hutton
Claw by Roger Xavier

* Some spooky, haunted, bony old posts of mine

Toby is our Poetry Friday host this week at The Writer's Armchair.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Pastel is possibly the purest form of painting – we work with pure pigment and little else!
~ Amanda McLean

Our spotlight today is on pastels. Many people might think that "pastels" only refers to pale colors, but in this case, "pastel" refers to the material used to make the art.

Flower Clouds, 1903
by Odilon Redon

Fire Light Reflections, 1890
by James Guthrie

Autumn Sunset
by Irene Carranza

Note in Pink and Brown, circa 1880
by James McNeill Whistler

Woman in Green, 1901
by Pablo Picasso

I think Odilon Redon had a special je ne sais quoi, so here's another by him, called The Fall of Icarus:

La Femme à la Médaille ou Mystére (The Woman with the Mysterious Medallion, also known as Woman with a Gold Medallion)
by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer

Hartford Tunnel
by Gigi Liverant

* An article about a French family of pastel makers. Very cool!
* The Pastel Journal Blog and Pastel Pointers with Richard McKinley
* The International Association of Pastel Societies
* The Pastel News blog
* Lessons and tutorials
* Old Pastel Masters
* I like these by Gregory Hansen
* A pastel street artist, plus one more, with a recipe for homemade pastels
* Silence by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer
* A selection of pastels by Victoria Taylor-Gore
* An interesting post about a wonderful red chalk drawing, possibly by Monet

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In 55 Words

Have you ever read a 55-word story? Maybe you've read the famous 6-word story by Hemingway:

"For sale: Baby clothes, never used."

55-word fiction writing was initiated by Steve Moss, publisher of a weekly newspaper in California, who held a 55-word short story contest in 1987. Two collections of submissions to his contests were published. The challenge is to create a story with a setting, characters, conflict, and resolution in 55 words or less.

* The 55-word section of Bird and Moon unfortunately isn't being updated, but there are lots of old ones to enjoy.

* Game designer Andrew Looney, who is fond of writing 55-word stories, created a time-travel card game (Chrononauts) which includes 55-word character sketches.

* A lesson plan by Mr. Coia, using 55-word stories

A 55-word experiment of mine:

A New Sport

She dreamed of making roller skates with soccer balls for wheels. Such bounce, such height!

The stars were glittering above on the night she finished them. She put them on slowly, carefully. Would they work the way she imagined?

By the end of the block, she realized that she was in for a bumpy night.


Got one to share?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comic Adventures in Music

It’s certainly either alarmingly original or originally alarming.
- Lemony Snicket on his "The Composer is Dead"

Let's venture into humor and classical music...

Gregory K.

A violin told knock-knock jokes.
A trumpet made a pun.
A French horn told some riddles that were really goofy fun.

The timpani and xylophone
Made lots of silly faces.
A tuba and a piccolo decided to switch places.

A double bass got lots of laughs
By standing upside down.
Every last viola had been dressed up like a clown.

The instruments played forte soft.
They played piano loud.
The woodwinds all threw whipped cream pies directly at the crowd.

I haven’t laughed this heartily
Since I can’t tell you when.
I sure can’t wait ‘til I can hear this Symfunny again.


This article by Richard Nilsen about how classical composers wove humor into their music is excellent. He explains: "It should be pointed out that there is plenty of verbal humor in music of all genres...Finding the joke purely in the notes is another beast."

And now, here's the Typewriter Symphony:

The Houston Symphony held a family-friendly concert called the "Tickle Me Symphony," which they describe as "a concert of music that shows how composers like to have a little fun. Mitchell [the conductor] will have you snickering with delight with Glinka's Overture to 'Ruslan and Ludmila' and Mozart's Ein musikalischer Spass (A Musical Joke). Other pieces to tickle your funny bone include excerpts from Offenbach's Can-Can from 'Orpheus in the Underworld,' Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours from 'La Gioconda,' Mendelssohn's 'A Midsummer Nights Dream,' Kabalevsky's Suite from 'The Comedians' and more." Sounds like it would make a nice video -- I wonder if it was recorded?

More fun stuff:
* Fantasy Concerto for Four Prepared Slot Machines
* Funny Stories: Classical Music for Children
* I Know A Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello
* Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead
* Mary Lee posted "Poetry + Music = Fun" about Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals (with verses by Jack Prelutsky and illustrations by Mary GrandPré of Harry Potter fame) just a couple of days ago.

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at A Wrung Sponge.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dove on the Wing

I made another poem out of prose. This one is from Geraldine McCaughrean's Not the End of the World. At this moment, the male dove has been freed from the dark inner recesses of the Ark, in the hopes that he will fly off and find land.

Dove on the Wing
from Geraldine McCaughrean's Not the End of the World

I circle,
waiting for my mate.

But she has eggs.
She won't leave the eggs.
Her duty is to the eggs.

Mine is to get free.

And so "We" is
split in half,
like a carcass
shared between foxes.

We are split,
my mate and I.

I do not know how many I am.
There is no number
smaller than two.

Ten doves,
eight doves,
six or four or

And yet
there must be a smaller number,

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

This week, the Tomah Veterans Administration Center in Wisconsin is hosting the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

The site says: "Now in its 29th year, the Festival showcases more than 120 Veterans selected from VA medical facilities across the Nation. With more than 3,000 Veterans vying for a spot in this exclusive event, only the finest performers and artists will display their talents at the annual week-long program."

I like that the festival is so wide-ranging. They say that the "competition includes 53 categories in the visual arts division this year that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 123 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing." That's a lot of categories! I'm glad they offer so many opportunities for self-expression. Each of the pieces below won for its category.

We're All Connected (jewelry)
by George Willis
VA (Veterans Administration) San Diego

Two-Piece Carved Asian Vessel (pottery)
by Teresa Deible
VA Bedford, Mass.

St. George and His Courageous Horse
by Bill Seymour
Southern Arizona VA

Green Faces/Purple Heart (Military Combat Experience: Best of Show)
by James Lykins
West Virginia VA

Red Beard Katscina (digital art)
by Filmer Kewanyama
Northern Arizona VA

Mission Complete (color photography)
Quentin Miles
Washington, D.C. VA

* The National Veterans Art Museum and an article about it. (Grab a tissue) Here's another article from 2007. You can even request a travelling exhibit.
* The Vet Art Project USA
* Veterans art program article
* The Combat Paper Project: From uniform to pulp/Battlefield to workshop/Warrior to artist
* The Odysseus Project
* The War Experience Project
* An upcoming veterans' art show in New Mexico
* Another Post article -- this one discusses how art therapists were cut from veteran and military hospitals.
* Historical war-art links

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Art by Bascove

Triborough Bridge II

Bayonne Bridge I


Friday, October 15, 2010


Raven Mandela 2 by Nathalie Parenteau

Sometimes I like a challenge. Today's experiment was a "reverso," inspired by Marilyn Singer's Mirror Mirror. Ms. Singer wrote a book of fairy tale-inspired poems that are meant to be read top to bottom, and bottom to top. (Read a very clever review of it here and you can see pages of it here.)

Reversos tell two different stories depending on which direction you begin, and my poem tells the same story both ways. So my daughter suggested calling it a "same-o."

Raven Revers-same-o

I grieved.
In my heart,
Night fell.
I feared
The ghostly spirits.
I ran
to my window,
laughed to see
only a raven.
Will I be happy?
cried the Raven.

Cried the Raven,
will I be happy.
Only a raven
laughed to see
to my window
I ran.
The ghostly spirits
I feared!
Night fell
in my heart.
I grieved

Back in April, The Miss Rumphius Effect had reversos as the Monday Poetry Stretch, and there were some impressive results! Want to try it?

Liz in Ink is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Brains Full of Pulleys, Levers, and Gears

"Anyone who knew Violet well could tell she was thinking hard, because her long hair was tied up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes. Violet had a real knack for inventing and building strange devices, so her brain was often filled with images of pulleys, levers, and gears, and she never wanted to be distracted by something as trivial as her hair."
— Lemony Snicket from The Bad Beginning

I mentioned steampunk briefly before, but today I am featuring an array of steampunk items (from movies, plays, shows, prints), plus links.

Although I like the car I drive very much, I don't generally care about cars. When I saw this car in The Golden Compass, however, I couldn't help oohing and ahhing.

The Alethiometer
from The Golden Compass

This steampunk take-off on DaVinci's Vitruvian Man was a poster for a Dr. Grymm Laboratories art exhibit

A poster for a steampunk Twelfth Night

Clockworks IV
by Morgaine von Slatt

Golden Compass VIII
by Morgaine von Slatt

~ Girl Genius (a steampunk comic)
~ A list of recommended films in the Steampunk genre
~ Another list of steampunk cinema
~ Steampunk: Reclaiming Tech for the Masses (Time magazine article on steampunk)
~ Steampunk Home Theatre room
~ Steampunk Week on the Book Smugglers blog (info about steampunk books)
~ Steampunk Mad Hatter shoes
~ How to Make Easy Costume Goggles
~ How to Make A Transmuted Victorian Engineer's Journal (this is beyond my capabilities!)
~ Image Gallery from another steampunk Twelfth Night
Updated to add:
~ Steampunk Superhero Cards

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We Have A Winner!

(drumroll please!)

The randomly-selected winner of a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card in my Autumn Giveaway is...


Congratulations! Send me your address in an email and I will get that out to you a.s.a.p.

Thank you to all the wonderful entrants -- I loved hearing from you!

One of the ways people could get bonus entries in my giveaway was to name three countries (other than my home country) that were featured somewhere on my blog.

What are places that people could have named? A (very) partial list includes:

Afghanistan, Africa, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Palestine, Persia (Iran), Mexico, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, and more.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Won't Do You No Harm

A little something in honor of John Lennon's birthday today.

Jama Rattigan's marvelous birthday tribute post
The Art of John Lennon
Another article about his art
Who on earth do you think you are -- a superstar? Well, right you are!
Phil Fung's Imagine John Peace Koi

Friday, October 8, 2010

Looking For Rainforest

Today's post was inspired by adventurer Ed Stafford's 28-month walk along the Amazon River. Ed was the first person to ever walk the entire length of the river, and he posted about it on a very informative blog. He is affiliated to this rainforest-saving project. As you can see from the below NASA images of Brazil from 2000-2006, the deforestation is happening swiftly:

So here's a little rainforest picture book poetry...

Looking for Jaguar: And Other Rain Forest Poems by Susan Katz, with pictures by Lee Christiansen (2005)

A verse from the title poem:

Where purple flowers float like butterflies,
We listen for the jaguar's grunting call.
The air's so hot and wet it's hard to breathe.
The darkness seems alive -- it watches us.


I actually did have a nightmare about a tarantula recently, so I can relate to this verse from "Nightmares Tonight":

A hairy bird-eating spider,
big as my fist,
with fangs poking from brown fur muffs,
stares at me with eight glittery eyes.
I'm going to have nightmares tonight.


~If you can get your hands on a copy of the book, you might also want to check out Looking for Jaguar: A Teacher’s Guide
~Muddy Puddle Musings' post about Looking for Jaguar

~ Something different: The First Bards of the Amazon by Luis Hernán Ramírez, translated by R. Kelly Washbourne
~ One way that a famous guitar-maker is sustainably harvesting wood from the rainforest.

Time is running out to enter my Autumn Giveaway! Midnight on the 9th is the deadline. Any comment you make on any post on my blog counts as an entry.

Carol is this week's Poetry Friday round-up host.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Sea-Change Into Something Rich and Strange

...and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

~ William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.

~ William Shakespeare, The Tempest

I was thinking recently that it was time for a new film version of The Tempest, and the next day I heard that there was one coming out. That's a nice surprise! In honor of the new movie (with Helen Mirren!), we have Tempestuous stuff today.

A promotional picture of The Tempest from London's Unicorn Theatre

The Tempest
from Shakespeare on Tour

Thomas Ades' opera version of The Tempest

A poster from the Tempest Ball held by the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis

Ferdinand Lured by Ariel
by John Everett Millais

A poster from Florida's New Theatre's Tempest
~ The trailer for the new movie
~ A glass bead exhibition with a Tempest theme. Check it out!
~ This Tempest artwork by Adam S. Doyle is fabulous.
~ A Tempest study guide from the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis
~ A Waterhouse painting of Miranda that I posted before
~ More Shakespeare posts (scroll down)
~ More poster posts (also scroll down)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Orchestra in Jeopardy

It's a shame about the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. They went on strike on Monday. Management had asked for a 33% salary cut, refusing to accept the musicians offer of a 22% cut.

The orchestra asks in their post "A Strike We Did Not Want": "The questions we ask: Where is the vision and commitment to a great future? Is the Board of Directors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra willing to accept on its watch the end of the DSO as a great orchestra?"

That would certainly be a loss. They sound terrific:

Here's a link for a cute video of a robot conducting the DSO. (Before you decide that conductors must not do much, I'm pretty sure that the real conductor did the hard work of getting them ready in rehearsals!)

The DSO's suggestions for What We Must Fix

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Team Sanity

Jon Stewart always makes me laugh. Plus, he's smart. Smart and funny are a great combination, but when you add "sane" to it, too? Wow!

It would be hard to work it into my schedule, but I would love to go to the Rally To Restore Sanity. It sounds very refreshing. You can get your "Team Sanity" shirts (or your "Team Fear" shirts) here. And there's a nice "I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler" shirt here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What A Find!

Isn't this gorgeous? This Roman cavalry helmet was found by a metal detector user in Cumbria, UK last May. It dates from the late 1st to mid-3rd century.

It's going on sale in three days. A museum from the area where it was found is attempting to raise money to buy it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Poetry City Marathon Anthology

Dave Morice has issued an invitation to be in the Poetry City Marathon Anthology. Dave says:
Iowa City has been designated a City of Literature by UNESCO. The University of Iowa Main Library has an exhibit of the literary life of the town. As part of the exhibit, I am writing The Poetry City Marathon, a 10,000-page poem. The poem is divided into 100 volumes of 100 pages each. The writing began on the 4th of July, and will end on Halloween.

I'm reserving Volume 98 for submissions. The only requests I have of people are to use Times New Roman and to email it in Word as a jpg file. Also, it would be preferable to use 14 point type. I want this marathon to really expand: "Poetry City has no limits." A person doesn't have to be from Iowa City. To each person who emails me poems for the marathon, I'll email them an electronic file of the volume their poem(s) appear in. That Volume is going to be called (at least for now) The Book of Everybody. So, the marathon is going to be 100 volumes plus as many more are needed.

Also it is important for everybody to know that the copyright stays with the authors. If previously published, I will acknowledge the place of publication.

The Poetry City Marathon is sponsored by Sackter House Media, a non-profit organization for people with disabilities. It is a part of the Extend the Dream Foundation.

Update from Tabatha: Here's the Iowa City Poetry Marathon site and here's my poem for the anthology.


Jennie at Biblio File is hosting this week's Poetry Friday round-up.

And don't forget -- you can still enter my autumn giveaway!