Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Butt Out Of A Classic

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Some might be calling it a censorship of "image," nevertheless, the publishers of Margaret Wise Brown's 60-year-old children's classic Goodnight Moon have created a firestorm by making the little book smoke free.

The son of illustrator Clement Hurd, Thacher Hurd has been recently pressured by HarperCollins to let the publisher digitally alter the picture of his father in a newly revised edition of the book, removing a cigarette from his hand.

The doctored photo has come under fire from a group of children's booksellers and one has even mounted a campaign to have the original picture restored.

HarperCollins Children's Books Editor Kate Jackson said it was nothing more than a "quick fix" to what was viewed as a "potentially a harmful message to very young kids."

Hurd said the doctored photo of his dad with nothing but air between his extended fingers looks "slightly absurd to me," adding Brown and his father "would be thoroughly amused by this."

Amazing how far we've come from the days of Father Knows Best, et al, where "dad" solved all the problems of the world from the comfort of his armchair during a 30-minute episode with his slippers on, and his trusty smoking pipe well at hand. : )

Goodnight Moon celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2007.

Good Wednesday, all. Peace.

Monday, November 28, 2005

New Release


Although I've disagreed with many of his lyrics, I can also use this opportunity to point out that I have been known in the past to disagree with many of the greatest poetry masters of our time as well -- so therefore, like er...whatever. But all that aside, I'd just like to say I'm truly happy to hear that this multi-talented artist, who in my opinion clearly managed to dispel the myth that only *one* race or ethnicity can perfect a given art form, has sought help for his prescription drug dependency, and is now ready to reach out to others through his latest video titled When I'm Gone

And needless to say, my very best wishes go out to Mr. Marshall Mathers (his real name), his words, i.e., his rhymes, and his music. You have done something that many in the entertainment profession have not yet had either the heart or the guts to admit -- or to do. Therefore, much continued good health and success to you, sir.

Make it a good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, November 25, 2005

T'is The Season

Mark Geragos and company

Convicted murderer and San Quentin death row inmate, Scott Peterson, is attempting to halt publication of a book written by a lawyer who was kicked off his murder case for violating a judge's gag order.

A Superior Court judge declined to grant a request for emergency relief during a hearing Wednesday, likely pushing the case before an appellate court next week according to Peterson's attorney, Mark Geragos.

The book's author, Matthew Dalton, was employed with Geragos & Geragos during the early stages of the Peterson case. He was removed after violating a judge's order not to speak with the media. In an August 2003 conversation with reporters, Dalton floated a "human sacrifice" theory in the killing of Peterson's pregnant wife, Laci. The book, titled Presumed Guilty, is scheduled for publication Dec. 13 by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Ironically (or -- maybe not), the book's subtitle is: "What the jury never knew about Laci Peterson's murder and why Scott Peterson should not be on death row."

And for once (horror of horrors) I'd have to say that I agree with *both* Mark Geragos and his "famous" client. Enough already. No more books, reminders, dredging up, or putting this convicted wife and child murderer's name first and foremost -- as well as constantly in the public's eye. ENOUGH.

May the names of Laci and Conner Peterson be the primary names we remember from this horrible American tragedy, and may they continue to rest in safety and eternal peace.

On a lighter note, today marks the official Black Friday opening of the Christmas shopping season. Here in New York, shoppers from as far away as Washington, D.C. stood on line outside of Macy's Herald Square department store to be among the first to enter the world's largest department store's entrances when they opened at 6 AM sharp. However, things got a bit out of hand at a Wal-Mart store down in Orlando, Florida this morning where a man who allegedly cut in line to get a discounted laptop computer was wrestled to the ground, according to a video shown by an ABC affiliate, WFTV-TV. The store's manager referred questions to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., where officials were said to have "no immediate comment."

Yep, t'is the season, all. Have a great shopping weekend, and may you find everything on your list -- at the best bargain prices. Peace.

Friday, November 18, 2005

So Long For A While

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Week here in the U.S., and I'll see you back here soon after.

And remember: Give thanks for all things, either big or small. In the grand "scheme" of life, trust ALL counts.

Peace, love, happiness, and eat hearty, all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner Out

Okay, who's up for doing things a little different this year? Come on now, you know what I mean. The welcomed change of pace from having to force down Aunt Lola's chestnut and rhubarb dressing with a smile. Or, better yet, having to sit next to Cousin Barbara at the family table, whereas the two of you haven't spoken to each other since Christmas of 1987 -- and -- the two of you would really prefer to keep it that way. Well, if you live in or around the New York City metropolitan area, perhaps I can help.

You can definitely do it a bit differently this year by making a reservation at one of several restaurants throughout the city that are serving dinner in distinctive styles— traditional, vegan, modern Italian, and more. Here's where to book your table...out

Turkey-to-go, perhaps?

Certainly, for those who would prefer the same delectable feast, however, in the privacy of their own home, no other meal is as rewarding to eat—and time-consuming to make—as the annual turkey dinner. So here again, city caterers will prepare you a grand feast, and even deliver it to your door. Here's where to book your holiday

No doubt, in a day and age where things are far more available and/or accessible than they used to be, the traditional "holiday feast" can indeed be a pleasurable one for ALL. No muss, no fuss, no arguments or glaring looks from across the table, no bicarb taking at the end of the meal, etc., etc., and so on.

So here's to good eats for all for the holidays. Here's also to having a choice in the matter.

Make it a good Wednesday. Peace.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Turning Point

Kathleen Turner

A famous New Yorker for many years, as well as one of my favorite screen actresses, Kathleen Turner has now made it official that she's saying goodbye to the US, and moving to Italy to escape what she terms as Hollywood's "obsession" with youth.

In an exclusive interview published in the Sunday New York Daily News, Turner said Europe looks at an actor's entire career rather than "simply how you look today." She said she still plans to work on the New York stage occasionally, but her Hollywood career is all but over.

The star of the 1981 hit film, Body Heat (among many others), recalled how she pretended to be an alcoholic to try and hide her horrific bout with rheumatoid arthritis from the U.S. film industry.

"I was afraid I wouldn't get work," she said. "My hands were very crippled for a while, so I kept dropping glasses and things because I couldn't grip them. Some of the medications make you blow up and puffy, so the rumor was that I had a drinking problem. The point is, it was safer for me to let people think I was drinking than to tell them that I had this. They always hire drunks, all the time. But they wouldn't hire someone with a disease...they didn't understand."

And to my own knowledge, Turner's words are sad -- but nonetheless true. Especially when I remember hearing almost these very same words from former child star, Annette Funicello, during an interview some years ago when it was revealed that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis.

In any case, I'm wishing you the very best of health, happiness, and all the other *positive* aspects you wish for yourself in your new home in Italy, Kathleen. May you continue to prosper, thrive, and most of all...may you always continue to simply be Kathleen Turner.

Good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Purple On Broadway

Alice Walker's diverse and unforgettable characters come vividly to life on stage, blending dance with blues, gospel, jazz, swing, rural roots and African music at the Broadway Theater here in New York these days in an Oprah Winfrey backed stage adaptation of The Color Purple

And as I've heard, the show's most gargantuan task to date belongs to costume designer, Paul Tazewell, who has created nearly 250 outfits for the cast. "There is such great joy in doing a piece like this, where there is such variety in body types and so many different time periods," Tazewell said recently. "The show covers 1909-1945. And because of how the production is designed, the costumes have to give some of the information that supertitles might give in a film, such as when the day changes, or when we're in a new time period."

All of which, as a lover of both Alice Walker's best-selling novel and the movie version of the same name, has me literally on pins and needles to see it this weekend, after my hub was able to snag two rather nice orchestra seat tickets. (Thank you much, babe!)

In preview performances from November 1 until its official opening on December 1, this is certainly one stage performance NOT to miss.

Enjoy the weekend, all. Wherever you might be, and whatever you might be doing. Peace.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A New Light

Anne Rice

After 25 novels in 25 years, author Anne Rice hasn't published a book since 2003's Blood Chronicle, the tenth volume of her best-selling vampire series. Many may have heard she came close to death last year, when she had surgery for an intestinal blockage, and also back in 1998, when she went into a sudden diabetic coma; that same year she returned to the Roman Catholic Church, which she'd left at 18. Many of Rice's fans also knew that Stan Rice, her husband of 41 years, died of a brain tumor in 2002.

"For the last six months," Rice said in a recent interview, "people have been sending e-mails saying, 'What are you doing next?' And I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing next'."

In any event, we'll all know soon now that Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, has come out with her latest offering titled Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. "I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord."

Rice knows Out of Egypt and its projected sequels—three, she thinks—could alienate her following; as she writes in the afterword, "I was ready to do violence to my career." But she sees a continuity with her old books, whose compulsive, conscience-stricken evildoers reflect her long spiritual unease. "I mean, I was in despair." In that afterword she calls Christ "the ultimate supernatural hero ... the ultimate immortal of them all."

Sounding like a complete writing "makeover" for Rice at this stage of the game, still it's something many are interested in seeing for themselves—whether it be for the best—or otherwise. So needless to say, I, too, am anxious to break open Rice's most daring book yet, and soon.

On a different note, it's certainly great to hear that she's feeling a lot better health-wise these days. All the very best, Anne.

Make it a good Thursday. Peace

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So That's How It's Done

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby

Finally, the secret to success along the arduous road of becoming a best-selling debut novelist is out, thanks to the former top vice-presidential aide. In a word...indictment.

A steamy novel by Lewis "Scooter" Libby has become a hot item now that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff is, in fact, presently under indictment. An inscribed copy of The Apprentice: A Novel, which Libby wrote in 1996 when he was a relative unknown outside Washington, was on sale on online bookseller on Monday for $2,400. Unsigned hardcover copies were going for $700.

Now out of print, the novel tells the story of an innkeeper apprentice in a bizarre coming-of-age story set in Japan in 1903. It is also said to be generously peppered with some rather edgy sexual material and strong language to boot.

"Wow, who would have thought that clean living, family values man Scooter Libby was capable of writing such filth," was one reviewer's not-so-humble opinion on Amazon. Another Amazon reviewer noted its "lavish dollops of voyeurism, bestiality, pedophilia and corpse robbery."

And of course, the only thing yours truly will say to all this is: "Thanks, Scooter." For indirectly (this time) spilling another tidbit of "secret" information, thereby setting us straight on exactly how to get our well-written, well-crafted labors of love to literally fly off the shelves -- at record prices.

Scooter Libby, you old rascal, you!

Make it a good Wednesday, all. Peace. : )

Monday, November 07, 2005

Revisiting Truman

Talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman gave a very convincing performance for me when I temporarily slipped away from my own writerly duties on Saturday to catch this movie. The film itself focuses primarily on author Truman Capote's research and writing of In Cold Blood, the book that skyrocketed him to that obscure kind of A-list notoriety status which pretty much makes a celebrity famous for simply... being famous. This movie's outstanding supporting cast includes Catherine Keener as a young writer named Nelle Harper Lee and Chris Cooper as sheriff Alvin Dewey.

In 1959, Capote is stunned into silence by a newspaper article detailing the brutal murder of the entire Clutter family in rural Kansas. Two men, and strangers to the family, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, are arrested for this savage crime which only netted the criminals a few dollars for their efforts. Capote decides he must write about the case and convinces his close friend Harper Lee, who will soon have her bestselling book, To Kill A Mockingbird published -- to be his "researcher and bodyguard." They immediately travel from the literary salons of New York to the dustier, more out of the way farmlands of the Midwest.

Capote sincerely sympathizes with the convicted killers, and just as he does, they begin to stand out like freakishly sore thumbs in the wholesome town of Holcomb, Kansas. He also identifies strongly with Perry, who is soft, sensitive and creative like himself and is dominated by the more "calculating" Richard. But the book that will cement Capote's reputation, it turns out, is more important than his blooming relationship with a poor, weak young man in a death-row cell.

Clearly, if for no other reason, if you're an all-time lover of Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird like I am, it would make it well worth your while to see this movie. So check your local listings for exact times and showings of Capote...and go check it out.

Good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Just Write

And needless to say, that's what I'll be doing lots of this weekend -- as my next novel length offering organizes itself (we hope!) into "outline" form, characters are finally given names, and hopefully, it all manages to come together eventually in story form.

In any event...we'll see, won't we? Or, to put it a bit more realistically, we'll at least try. : )

I'll be kept company once again with the likes of one of my favorite CDs, Michael McDonald's Motown. This is one that I'm never too far away from, whether at home or in the car, and for me, is one of McDonald's best works to date. So if you're a lover of that great era of musical yesteryear, by all means pick this one up (the DVD audio)and give it a listen.

Let's make it a great weekend, all. Peace.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Michelin: The New Kid On The Block

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The long-time "Holy Bible" of the best places to eat in Europe, Michelin will launch its first-ever MICHELIN® Guide in North America, the Michelin Guide New York City 2006, hitting stores here tomorrow, November 4th. The announcement was recently made by Edouard Michelin, CEO of The Michelin Group.

The Michelin Guide, whose prestigious rating system is internationally recognized as the height of culinary success, is already published in 12 editions covering 20 European countries. For its much-anticipated debut in North America, the MICHELIN Guide is said to be providing a comprehensive selection and rating, in all categories of comfort and prices, of some 500 New York City restaurants and 50 hotels, in a reader-friendly layout adapted to the American market and unique New York City culinary and hotel landscape.

So move over, Zagat's (even though I think by and large, Tim and Nina Zagat, its co-founders, still put out the best American restaurant guide around). Looks like there's a new guide in town.

Good luck, Michelin.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sweet Success

Former Capitol Hill lawyer, Warren Brown

Guaranteed to plaster ten pounds on you by the "power of suggestion" whenever you tune in to watch his new show called, Sugar Rush on the Food Network Channel, four years ago, pastry chef Warren Brown walked away from a job as a federal litigator -- to bake cakes. It all started on New Year's 1999 when Brown, an able cook, resolved to become an expert baker as well. After work, he began to whip up cakes. He found that baking provided release from the workaday stress.

Soon, Brown fell into the habit of throwing dessert parties -- "Friends were jumping on the bed," they were so happy, he recalls. Their joy combined with his job dissatisfaction led Brown to take a leave of absence in 2000. He wanted to see if he could support himself as a baker. He subleased a small commercial kitchen and found customers mostly by word of mouth. This went well enough that he moved into a 600-square-foot storefront that he christened Cake Love. He funded the business with credit cards and then a $125,000 loan backed by the Small Business Administration. When Brown officially left his day job, Emily McCarthy, Brown's friend since college, says she wasn't shocked but did think it was brave.

Today, Cake Love sells around 40 cakes per day at about $55 each. The sweet-smelling bakery's walls are painted a warm yellow, and a huge picture window allows a view of the kitchen from the sidewalk, drawing in customers. The surrounding U Street corridor neighborhood is being rapidly gentrified, and the business seems to embody the vitality and style of the young new homeowners who are moving in. McCarthy believes Brown's background further helps the business because in D.C. it seems that almost everyone is a lawyer. "They can live vicariously through Warren when they go to the bakery," she explains.

And, my only hope is that the good people at Food Network will extend Brown's original 13-week Sugar Rush showcase so that it will be around -- for a lot longer. In each installment, Brown meets and trades secrets with award-winning pastry chefs, to discover the tips and tricks behind incredible desserts. From designer cookies to decadent truffles, four-foot tall cakes to flaming tableside treats, Sugar Rush showcases the most sinful, the most artistic, and the most theatrical desserts on the planet, complete with tips and recipes from Warren himself.

This one is definitely worth watching for all you sweet-treat lovers, so check your local TV listings for the exact times to tune in.

No doubt, it's a GREAT feeling to walk away from a lucrative career as Warren Brown did, in order to do something you truly love.

Much continued success, Warren.

Make it a good Tuesday, all. Peace.