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Photo: Idyllwild Sunset via #instagram

October 28th, 2014 No comments

 Idyllwild Sunset via #instagram

Previously in my Instagram Photos…

 

Categories: California, outdoors, photo, Photos Tags:

Book: How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

October 27th, 2014 No comments

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

When I first saw “How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare” on the relatively new Blogging for Books web site, I knew I had to request a free copy from them for review. Both my wife and I are “theater people” with her pursuing a theater degree for a long time before ending up in education and myself graduating with a degree in theater. While I have never used that degree in any direct way, I have always credited my theater experience with whatever success I have achieved in my life. The confidence, poise, vocal control and commitment it taught me has been used in every aspect of my life and career at some time.

As you might imagine then, we introduced our son to theater at an early age and he has eagerly embraced it as he has moved through his own elementary and high school education, garnering role after role in a varied collection of shows. This led to him being cast as Lysander in his high school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I have never had the chance to perform Shakespeare, but we attend it regularly and watch it nearly whenever it appears on television and film. We would take our son to Shakespeare productions long before you could understand the stories, but we thought it greatly important that he hear the language, the poetry, the rhythm and rhyme early in his life so it was commonplace by the time he was ready to embrace it fully.

I wish there had been a book like How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare earlier in his childhood. My wife often bemoaned the fact that we didn’t read more Shakespeare aloud at home and teach sections to our son as he was growing. This book provides and excellent method and structure for helping children embrace and understand Shakespeare from a very early age. It starts small and simple with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows…” and eventually moves on to Hamlet, Macbeth and more difficult plays. I am a firm believer that there is a special force in the spoken word, whether prose, poetry or theater and Shakespeare combines all three in his works, along with great stories, hilarious comedy and deep, dark drama. I think that anyone who seeks to understand life needs an early introduction to Shakespeare, as he shows humankind at it highest, its lowest, its best and its worst. He use poetry to  hood up a mirror to society and show us, teach us, how we can become better people and how and why to avoid some of more dangerous aspects of life like hubris, greed, lust and hatred.

While How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is designed for children, I found myself learning and memorizing more Shakespeare than I have ever done before. It is refreshing and fun to use your mind in ways that often aren’t called for in today’s society. The ability to quote Shakespeare well — and understand — might not be called for in your next board meeting — but maybe it will help you communicate your own ideas in a clearer, better fashion. One piece of knowledge often effects other parts of your life, even unconsciously, and I think that learning a bit of Shakespeare could one of the greatest examples of that. 

I think that this is one of the few books that work well as a textbook (as boring as that sounds) both inside and outside the classroom, on the bus or in the living room, on the nightstand or in the school desk. It can be worked through like a traditional textbook or dipped into when time permits. There is no need to rush through the lessons and even giving a few minutes or an hour to your study will help you learn and grow in so many ways. I plan on revisiting the book on regular occasions, learning more lines, understanding it better, growing along with it, even though I am far beyond my childhood days. I only wish I had been exposed to a book like this earlier, so I might have gained even more benefit from it.

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Categories: Books, Theater Tags:

Book: Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution by Peter Ackroyd

October 27th, 2014 No comments

Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution

I was offered this book via the NetGalley book review site recently and snatched it up immediately. I go in greatly for almost any book on the history of the UK and its associated members. While i have been learning more about the Jacobean period in England, Rebellion provides a clear, detailed and in-depth recounting of all that happened from the accession of James I through the restoration of Charles II and a bit beyond.

Whenever I mention to friends that I am reading about UK history, they tend to question my choices. “Why are you so interested in that period, rather than US History?” Well, in fact, I am also enamored of US History — and all history — but I especially consider the history of Britain the history of the US, as well. Everything that happened in England prior to 1776 had a direct and important impact on everything that came later in the US. I think to ignore that fact would be quite silly. The US didn’t emerge, fully-formed, out of the ether in 1776. It was the long process of many years of British settling and control.

Ackroyd is an excellent write and throughout all his history books takes us deep inside the history so that we can feel, for a time, that we have inhabited these countries, towns and streets. He talks of the grand actions of kings, queens and other nobles, but also gives us a feeling of what it was like the the common man during tumultuous times.

I am always amazed at the the blundering that often occurs throughout political history. The English Civil War, as portrayed by Ackroyd, seems like unwilling, unprepared people carried along by the actions of the day until war as the only answer left to them. 

If you want to gain deeper understanding of this period of UK history — and a deeper understanding of history in general — I can highly recommend Rebellion. It can get bogged down in minutiae at times, but those times are few and easily pushed through. Most of the book is excellent, well written, informative and even, dare I say out, exciting to read. It is my believe that history is only boring when people don’t understand it and Ackroyd seems to reach first for understanding which makes the entire period come alive.

 Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution

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Categories: Books, History Tags:

Noted: Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town by Douglas Gayeton via The Kitchn

October 26th, 2014 No comments

Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town by Douglas Gayeton via The Kitchn

About five years ago, filmmaker Douglas Gayeton began recording foodway traditions in the town of Pistoia, Italy for a project he was doing with PBS. While most Pistorians had never heard of Slow Food, Gayeton observed that they were in fact exemplars of the movement’s basic principles. So he focused his camera on his friends and neighbors, discovering many stories along the way. I first saw Dougals Gayeton’s sepia-toned photographs exhibited at the Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco last year. Intending to only pop into the gallery in between tastings, I soon found myself held captive by the intoxicating blend of image and narrative, each photograph pulling me deeper into the life of a small Tuscan village. An hour later, I stumbled out of the gallery, blinked at the San Francisco fog and headed straight to the Cheese Pavilion, my body, heart and mind craving something simple and authentic to match that full-on immersion into Tuscan life.

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

Find more Noted/Shared Items here

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Noted: Food: Strawberry Soda Recipe via Beantown Baker

October 26th, 2014 No comments

Strawberry Soda Recipe via Beantown Baker

Strawberry Soda Recipe via Beantown Baker

You see, Hubby and I both drink a LOT of water. It’s basically the only thing that we have to drink in the house. Except for alcohol, obviously. I’m kind of picky about my water. It has to be cold. Really really cold. And I have to have a straw. This insulated tumbler is awesome at keeping my water cold. It also gave me an opportunity to post a tasty PINK beverage! We both enjoyed this fruity strawberry soda as a treat after dinner instead of dessert.

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

Find more Noted/Shared Items here

Categories: Drinks, Food, Recipe, Shared Items Tags:

TV Worth Watching: The Art of Gothic: Britain’s Midnight Hour from BBC4

October 23rd, 2014 No comments

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


The Art of Gothic: Britain’s Midnight Hour from BBC4

Another excellent series from the BBC. I love these “deep dives” into particular areas of history, literature and art. While I am basically familiar with most of the works mentioned in the series, it is seeing them laid out in a clear timeline and analyzed for the very specific aspects they brought to world culture and how they effected culture everywhere. Graham-Dixon delves into all aspects of Gothic including architecture, literature, the politics and culture of the era — which included the amazing changes being wrought by the Industrial Revolution in Britain. These types of documentaries are some of my most favorite viewing from the BBC (along with Doctor Who, of course) and I am constantly seeking out new series almost regardless of the topics then cover. I would certainly add this series to My Own Personal Master’s Degree notes and playlist.

The Art of Gothic: Britain's Midnight Hour from BBC4

Watch on YouTube

Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how a group of 19th-century architects and artists spurned the modern age and turned to Britain’s medieval past to create iconic works and buildings.

In the middle of the 18th century – in England – an entirely surprising thing happened. Out of the Age of Enlightenment and Reason a monster was born – a Gothic obsession with monsters, ghouls, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. From restrained aristocratic beginnings to pornographic excesses, the Gothic revival came to influence popular art, architecture and literature.

Previously on TV Worth Watching…

Noted: Recipe: Bourbon for Apples Cocktail via The Kitchn

October 20th, 2014 No comments

 Bourbon and apples. What a happy combination. This goes on my list of recipes to try very, very soon. In this world overly complicated cocktails, this simple combination seems just right.  Sure, it might have more ingredients that a typical cocktail, but nothing that requires too much work  and I can imagine this tasting very, very nice. — Douglas


Recipe: Bourbon for Apples Cocktail via The Kitchn

Recipe: Bourbon for Apples Cocktail via The Kitchn

Fall festivals are in full swing here in the Northeast. Weekends are full of apple picking, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hay rides — not to mention insanely gorgeous foliage. Inspired by the season and a childhood game I once adored comes this week’s 10-Minute Happy Hour.

Bobbing for apples used to be a fierce competition between me and my siblings. Long ago some genius (clearly not a germaphobe) filled a large galvanized bucket with water, dumped in some apples and told the kids to have at it — making for endless hours of fun with water and fruit.

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

Find more Noted/Shared Items here

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Noted: 15 Great Cookbooks for Fall via DesignSponge

October 20th, 2014 No comments

In my experience, you only get one or two great recipes out of every cookbook, so that means you need to look at a lot of different cookbooks to find great recipes for your kitchen.  This post was from DesignSponge certainly provides a great place to start for any recipe search.  I’ll be looking at my local library for each of these cookbooks,  to see what each one to offer, and only then, perhaps, adding a few of them to my own, personal cookbook collection. — Douglas


15 Great Cookbooks for Fall via DesignSponge

15 Great Cookbooks for Fall via DesignSponge has

Spending my time with someone who works in cookbook writing and testing has made me look at books in a whole new way. My own experience with books made me appreciate the hard work that goes into the organization, but to see first-hand how much testing and skill goes into each recipe makes me have a whole new level of respect for cookbook authors. We’ve been so fortunate to see some gorgeous books come across our desk at work lately, so I thought I’d share some of my personal favorites that I plan to be cooking from over the holiday break. 

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

Find more Noted/Shared Items here

Food: Beer Education Night at MacLeod Ale Brewing Co., Van Nuys, California

October 17th, 2014 No comments

Last night i headed out to our local MacLeod Ale Brewing Co to learn a little more about how beer is made and the ingredients that go into their wonderful brews. They’ll be offering more of these classes in the future, so foliow their Facebook page, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co, to be the first on the list for the next class.

BEER EDUCATION: Barley, Hops & Yeast 10/16/2014

Join MacLeod Ale Head Brewer, C. Andy Black, in an interesting and informative discussion about the basic ingredients of beer [barley, hops and yeast] and the particular varieties used in our traditional British ales. [Yes, there is also water in beer...but not likely to be covered this time around].

The seminar will be approx 45 minutes to 1 hour, and includes a tasting flight of 6 beers.

Andy enlightens us all on the ingredients that go to MacLeoad Ales

Click for larger images and click below for a slide show

Categories: Drinks, Education, Food, LA, Los Angeles, Photos Tags:

Photo: Halloween Prep via #instagram

October 17th, 2014 No comments

Photo: Halloween Prep via #instagram

Previously in my Instagram Photos…

 

Categories: Photos Tags:
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