Press Release Distribution Services – WebWire

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Nike and Samuel Ross Present the AF1 A-COLD-WALL*
4:39:07 AM ET

Samuel Ross, the founder of A-COLD-WALL*, views the Nike Air Force 1 as a benchmark shoe for London, saying the silhouette is among a tight selection that defines the early 2000s aesthetic.

Anheuser-Busch and Convoy Sign Multi-Year Partnership to Drive Efficiencies in Supply Chain, Advance Trucking Industry
4:34:51 AM ET

Anheuser-Busch, a leading U.S. brewer, and Convoy, the leading technology-enabled trucking service, announced an agreement to advance Anheuser-Busch’s shipping operations and improve the livelihood of American truck drivers.

SWISS to launch the second Flying Film Festival
4:30:41 AM ET

SWISS will be featuring the Flying Film Festival in its inflight entertainment programme on all long-haul services from the beginning of November until the end of this year.

Suzuki & Motul Celebrate 30th Anniversary At Motegi
4:26:46 AM ET

Suzuki and Motul celebrated 30 years of collaboration at their home MotoGP at Motegi in Japan over the weekend, where Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins posted their best results of the season.

See David Walliams and Sheridan Smith like never before in horridly fun first-look images for Sky Original Production Ratburger
4:21:50 AM ET

As David Walliams’ wickedly funny bestselling children’s novel Ratburger comes to Sky One and NOW TV this Christmas, the characters from the tale are served up in a selection of fun first-look images from the show.

Toyota Rally RAV4 Wins at Prescott Rally
4:13:03 AM ET

The Toyota Rally RAV4 continued its dominating 2017 season performance this weekend with an overall win at the Prescott Rally in Prescott, Arizona. Driver Ryan Millen and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino took the Rally RAV4 to victory in the NASA Rally Sport National Championship for the third straight year.

Future Temperature and Soil Moisture May Alter Location of Agricultural Regions
3:59:12 AM ET

Future high temperature extremes and soil moisture conditions may cause some regions to become more suitable for rainfed, or non-irrigated, agriculture, while causing other areas to lose suitable farmland, according to a new U.S.

Fakuma 2017: WACKER Presents Non-Post Cure Liquid Silicone Rubber for Baby-Care, Food-Contact and Medical Applications
3:53:57 AM ET

At this year’s Fakuma international tradeshow for plastics processing, the Munich-based chemical group WACKER will be showcasing its new liquid silicone rubber line ELASTOSIL® LR 5040.

China: Xi Can’t Do It Alone
3:30:24 AM ET

“To forge iron, one first needs to get strong” – Chinese President Xi Jinping’s homespun maxim, casually uttered during his first public appearance when he ascended to power in 2012, looks in retrospect as having been the very core of his programme.

Swisscom Adds BroadSoft UCC Capabilities to Smart Business Connect Solution
3:21:20 AM ET

BroadSoft, Inc. (NASDAQ: BSFT) a global market share leader in cloud business software for unified communication as a service (UCaaS), and provider of collaboration and contact center as a service (CCaaS), enables the Swisscom Smart Business Connect solution for the future.

Meet the people who use lucid dreaming to solve their problems ~ The Overtake [alpha]

Jessica Bateman 16th October 2017

It’s a Sunday evening and I’m sitting in the basement of a central London art gallery. Colourful illustrations and neon signs hang on the walls. Upstairs, a cafe sells green smoothies and herbal-infused water. Next to me, a man in his late 20s is recalling a recent experience.

“I was falling through this dark nothingness, and there was music playing, and it just felt and sounded amazing,” he explains. “But then, I saw this huge shadow coming towards me. It was terrifying, so I decided to wake up.”

I’m at a monthly lucid dreaming meet-up. Lucid dreaming, put simply, is the act of being conscious while in a dream. If you’ve ever suddenly become aware that you’re having a dream then, congratulations, you’ve managed to “get lucid”. And once in the state, you’re free to fly, explore, and go on adventures of your own mind’s making.

While a lot of us might experience lucidity by accident at some point, particularly in childhood, the people I’m with tonight are intent on cultivating it as a serious practice. They learn techniques to help them get lucid for longer and more often, create dream plans’ of what they want to do, and discuss and analyse their experiences in detail.

Wave dream
“There was a huge, ferocious wave coming towards me – water is a recurring nightmare for me. I shouted at the wave that I loved it and accepted it, and it solidified into a huge wall in front of me.” (Illustration: Catherine Amos)

While the most obvious reason to pursue lucid dreaming is that it sounds like a lot of fun – who wouldn’t want to go on adventures every night in your own personal VR simulator? – most people here believe it also serves far more powerful purposes. Around the room, claims are made that it can help with everything from trauma recovery to improved sports performance.

The meet-ups are run by Charlie Morley, a 34-year-old former hip-hop MC and the unofficial face of the UK’s burgeoning “dream scene”. As well as writing a book on the subject, alongside running regular events and workshops, he’s also the youngest-ever Westerner to receive permission to teach lucid dreaming within Tibetan Buddhism. He explains that lucidity is regarded as a serious spiritual practice within the religion, usually referred to as “dream yoga”.

“A lot of spiritual events, such as meditation retreats, tend to mostly attract middle-aged women,” he tells me. “But the crowd at dream-related events is usually much younger, and more evenly gender-balanced.”

Neon Sky Dream
“I love the feeling of flying in a lucid dream. If you try to run in a dream, you feel heavy, sluggish and slow, but if you’re lucid, you can just fly! The other night I was a flying vampire, jumping across the rooftops of a huge, neon-coloured city.” (Illustration: Catherine Amos)

Charlie lucid dreamed as a child but started exploring it more after becoming interested in Buddhism as a teenager. “When I was about 15 my lucid dreams just involved sex and skateboarding,” he laughs. “Then I heard people talking about it as this spiritual practice and I was like ‘Nah, it’s just for messing around.’”

However, he claims his interest developed after he managed to use lucidity to treat his own post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “I overdosed on ketamine and acid when I was about 17, and for months I was having weekly nightmares where the trauma would come back,” he recalls. “I’d read that if you could get lucid and embrace the nightmare, it would stop.

“So I gave it a try. The next time I had a nightmare, I turned and shouted in my dream ‘I get it, you’re my mind!’ and the whole setting shifted into a paradise scene. The nightmares never came back. After that, I just started geeking out on the practice because I realised how powerful it was.” Incidentally, research is currently being conducted into how lucid dreaming could be used to treat PTSD as part of therapy.

Back at the meet-up, the 20-or-so attendees have wide-ranging views on what they feel the benefits of lucid dreaming are. Some are interested in it due to parallels they see with VR and AI, or just want to explore it for pleasure. Others link it to Freudian ideas about dreams being key to the unconscious mind. “We walk around on a base level day-to-day, thinking we’ve got it all figured out, but there are so many things going on under the surface,” one woman explains. “Lucid dreaming is a way to break through that barrier, delve through the emotional baggage, and find out what’s happening underneath.”

Some are interested in exploring spirituality more generally and say they also experiment with meditation or even ayahuasca (a Peruvian enlightenment drink) ceremonies – both practices that have gained popularity with Westerners over the past few years. Others believe that if you practice an activity – such as a sport, or public speaking – in a lucid dream, you will improve on it while awake, too.

Sister Shouting Dream
“My shadow appears as an evil version of my sister. In real life she’s lovely – I’m really close to her – but in the dream, she’s just being horrible and spiteful to me. I haven’t managed to embrace her as I just don’t want to go near her.” (Illustration: Catherine Amos)

“I used to lucid dream when I was a kid,” says Yana, 23, as we go around the circle sharing dream anecdotes. “As I got older, and life got more stressful, I lost the ability to do it.” She explains that, in her early 20s, she found herself stuck in a rut. “I hated my job, my relationship wasn’t working, I was no longer painting or doing anything creative.” One night, she experienced a powerful lucid dream in which she encountered her “shadow” – a terrifying figure that she believes represented the repressed parts of herself. “It was the real me, the me that was being buried. I had to turn and face it.”

After this, she says her life transformed: “I left my job, left my relationship. I started painting again. I’ve changed everything about my life, and I’m actually happy.”

The idea of this shadow figure comes up repeatedly in group discussion. Charlie explains that it represents hidden or repressed parts of our unconscious, and can take many forms. Apparently, you’ll recognise it simply by how scary it is. He urges people to – literally – embrace their shadow when they meet it in a lucid dream and give it a hug. Yet a man who spoke earlier in the evening says he was too scared to go near his shadow, or even stay in the dream. “Try again next time,” Charlie urges. Another girl says that her shadow figure usually appears as water. “It’s a bit tricky to hug the sea though,” she muses.

We also discuss “dream plans” – one woman, Nicole, says hers involve approaching the characters she meets to ask what their message is for her. “Characters in dreams represent different parts of ourselves,” explains Charlie. “It’s better to call out to the whole dream to ask what it has for you, rather than the individual elements.”

Nicole, 35, says she discovered lucid dreaming after being told about it by a friend. “I immediately had one that night, and have been having them weekly ever since.” She adds that, more recently, she’s been abandoning her dream plan and letting herself just explore. “The other week I ended up writing reggae music – different dream characters were coming along, picking up instruments and jamming with me,” she says. “I write music in real life, but not reggae, which is strange.”

Follow Me Dream
“I was in a marketplace, and I caught one woman’s eye. I walked up to her and said ‘What lesson do you have for me?’ and she said ‘Follow me’. I followed her through the marketplace to a clearing, and we sat down. Then she turned to me and said: ‘You’re not ready to hear it.’” (Illustration: Catherine Amos)

All this talk is making feel jealous that I don’t experience lucid dreams myself. And so the golden question: how can I do it? “Everyone has the ability, but I’ve met people who’ve given up before they’ve stabilised it,” says Charlie. For some, just learning what a lucid dream is is enough to trigger one. Others need a bit of training. Charlie says the most important thing is to start writing down your dreams as soon as you wake up. “Set the intention before you fall asleep that you’re going to remember your dream,” he says.

After a while, he explains, you’ll start to notice patterns, or “dream signs”.

“For example, if you regularly see a giant cat, you can learn to recognise that it means you’re in a dream whenever you see it, and use it as a trigger to get lucid,” he continues.

There are then various reality checks you can carry out, to establish that you’re definitely in a dream. For example, the dreaming brain cannot recall lots of detail, so many lucid dreamers tend to look at their palms to check if they’re dreaming or in the waking state – if it’s the former, you won’t be able to see them properly.

Even if some of the claims about its powers might draw a raised eyebrow from some, there’s no denying the appeal of an activity that could turn those lost hours of sleep into something fun and exciting. “We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so why wouldn’t you want to use that time for actually doing something?” suggests Charlie. And who can argue with that?

Original illustrations by Catherine Amos. See more of her work on Instagram.

Jessica Bateman 16th October 2017

Great Lakes Theater’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is whimsical delight (review)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Uproarious laughter filled the Hanna Theatre at Saturday’s production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” More than 400 years after its debut, the Bard’s comedy of mistaken identity and midsummer mayhem still brings the laughter – and bite – as Great Lakes Theater Company’s whimsical, and very funny production, proves.

It’s an understatement to call “Midsummer …” a classic. The four-layer story of young lovers Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius; the wedding of Duke Theseus and Amazon Queen Hippolyta; interfering Fairy King Oberon and Queen Titania; and a raunchy acting troupe of “rude mechanicals” is one of the most produced of all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Thus, it’s tempting for directors to try to shake things up too much in the cause of trying something different. Director Joseph Hanreddy keeps Great Lakes’ new production straightforward and simple. The Athenians’ dress is modern – think European bourgeoisie on a country weekend – the players within the play are dressed as working class bros, and the fairies like Alexander McQueen goths – but he does little tinkering beyond that. The set is simple, too, a whimsical dreamy backdrop of pastel blue and lavender archways, oversized flowers and lanterns, and a huge learning book tower that creates a mood of romantic fantasy but doesn’t change, allowing the actors to tell the tale.

The clean, lean production keeps the spotlight where it should be, on Shakespeare’s witty wordplay and fantastical plot of mixed-up lovers and interfering fairies and the bawdy play within a play. Their finale production of “Pyramus and Thisbe” is the production’s funniest moments.

Great Lakes’ cast is more than up for the challenge of bringing the oft-produced show to sparking life, especially Keri Renee Fuller as the yearning Helena and David Anthony Smith as the rude and crude Bottom, especially when he is turned into an ass and becomes the object of Queen Titiana’s ( a smooth Jillian Kates in a gorgeous forest-y lace dress) love.    

M.A. Taylor as Puck, looking a lot like goth-rock god Peter Murphy, is also a standout – naughty, wise and sneaky. There’s not a wrong note in the casting, in fact, with the ensemble persuasively bringing this oft-confusing story to life. The fairies’ wild woodland dance bacchanals are also striking, set to droning industrial dance tunes. In fact, the only off note in the entire production is a few instances of cheesy recorded songs blared in over the PA, including a terrible blues rock tune when the mechanicals theater troupe is introduced and some generic jazz during other scenes.

But that’s a minor quibble in such a magical production that brings Shakespeare’s comedic dream to vibrant, often hilarious life.

 

REVIEW

A Midsummer’s Night Dream

What: A Great Lakes Theater production of William Shakespeare’s comedy of errors about of mixed-up lovers and midsummer mayhem.

When: Through Sunday, Nov. 5

Where: Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland.

Tickets: $15-$80; students sit in any seat at any performance for $13. Visit greatlakestheater.org or call 216-241-6000.

Approximate running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

APJ Abdul Kalam birth anniversary : Book brings together dreams of young India

APJ Abdul Kalam, India, Young dreams, postcards, Kiran Bedi Taking a step towards APJ Abdul Kalam’s vision for an India throbbing with young dreams, a new illustrative book on his 86th birth anniversary brings together the dreams of people, handwritten on postcards.(Image: Reuters)

Taking a step towards APJ Abdul Kalam’s vision for an India throbbing with young dreams, a new illustrative book on his 86th birth anniversary brings together the dreams of people, handwritten on postcards.  A stunning assemblage of over 200 handcrafted postcards, ‘DREAMNATION: Uniting a Country with Handwritten Dreams’ co- authored by Saji Mathew and Jubie John, takes one on a profound journey to the dreams, hopes and aspirations of a nation, inspired by the words of the former Indian President.  “Dr Kalam made every Indian, especially the youth, start to believe that their dream can indeed come true, thus adding another facet to his life – the architect of young dreamers of India,” Kiran Bedi, lieutenant governor of Puducherry, writes in the Foreword for the book.

The book has been neatly divided into four sections — Spark, Resilience, Decision, and Take-off, each based on a dream-quote of the ‘Missile Man’ of India.  The ‘dreams’ featured in the book were chosen from a the tens of thousands of postcards that people wrote from different parts of the country, in different languages, and sent to a common address — Dear Kalam sir, LetterFarms, post bag 1683, Kochi 682015.  The dreams range from personal ones to larger dreams of young India.  Some of them include — stopping child labour, women empowerment, saying no to dowry, economic empowerment, clean country and planet, cultural integration, religious harmony and their dreams for their country for the future.

“The ingenious tool – old school yellow postcards – used to capture the dreams, have become a new found tool for the youth to handcraft their dreams and goals for the future. DREAMNATION aims to unite a country of immense diversity through (handwritten) dreams, enabling to create a new-gen dreamers, goal-chasers and achievers,” Mathew said  “With the support of public and private institutions, we hope to take this compelling book to every young dreamer in India for them to be partakers in the dream nation called India,” John added.  The book was unveiled online on Twitter today by Mithali Raj, captain of the Indian women’s cricket team.

“Dreamnation:uniting a country with handwritten dreams. A special book releases for a fitting tribute to Dr. Kalam. Dream it. Achieve it.
“#dreamnationbook -let nothing stop you from dreaming big and flying high. Remembering #apjabdulkalam on his special day,” Raj tweeted.  The book is being published by initiative by non-profit organisation LetterFarms and Bloomsbury.

Fifties American dream home for sale in Manchester

From the outside it looks like a typical semi-detached house  – but inside it is anything but ordinary.

Owners of the property, on sale in Manchester, have let their kitsch side run riot with a tribute to 1950’s Americana.

While the home won’t be to everyone’s taste, the unique decor transports buyers to a bygone era when Marilyn Monroe graced the silver screen, Truman occupied the White House and Chevrolet’s ruled the roads.

Kitsch: Owners of the property, on sale in Manchester, have let their kitsch side run riot with a tribute to 1950's Americana. Complete with its own bamboo tiki bar, a statue of a pink Flamingo and a bold zebra print rug - it is definitely not a run-of-the-mill Mancunian red brick

Kitsch: Owners of the property, on sale in Manchester, have let their kitsch side run riot with a tribute to 1950's Americana. Complete with its own bamboo tiki bar, a statue of a pink Flamingo and a bold zebra print rug - it is definitely not a run-of-the-mill Mancunian red brick

Kitsch: Owners of the property, on sale in Manchester, have let their kitsch side run riot with a tribute to 1950’s Americana. Complete with its own bamboo tiki bar, a statue of a pink Flamingo and a bold zebra print rug – it is definitely not a run-of-the-mill Mancunian red brick

Tinsletown: With Fifties-style fridges, an aqua-blue dining table and bold block colours throughout - anyone who harks back to the golden era of Hollywood cinema when Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe lit up the silver screens may have found their ideal home

Tinsletown: With Fifties-style fridges, an aqua-blue dining table and bold block colours throughout - anyone who harks back to the golden era of Hollywood cinema when Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe lit up the silver screens may have found their ideal home

Tinsletown: With Fifties-style fridges, an aqua-blue dining table and bold block colours throughout – anyone who harks back to the golden era of Hollywood cinema when Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe lit up the silver screens may have found their ideal home

Complete with its own bamboo tiki bar, a statue of a pink Flamingo and a bold zebra print rug – it is definitely not a run-of-the-mill Mancunian red brick.

Hawaiian floral wallpaper brightens up the living space while American-diner style chequered patterns line the floor.

With a 1950’s look fridges, an aqua-blue dining table and bold block colours – anyone who harks back to the golden age of Hollywood cinema might have found their dream home.

Sunshine and cocktails: Classic French windows allow light to stream in while a second bar area with bamboo shoots and palm tree decorations offer residents more than enough options for an after-work Tom Collins or two

Sunshine and cocktails: Classic French windows allow light to stream in while a second bar area with bamboo shoots and palm tree decorations offer residents more than enough options for an after-work Tom Collins or two

Sunshine and cocktails: Classic French windows allow light to stream in while a second bar area with bamboo shoots and palm tree decorations offer residents more than enough options for an after-work Tom Collins or two

Timewarp: Hawaiian floral curtains brightens up the living space while American-diner style chequered patterns line the floor

Timewarp: Hawaiian floral curtains brightens up the living space while American-diner style chequered patterns line the floor

Timewarp: Hawaiian floral curtains brightens up the living space while American-diner style chequered patterns line the floor

Classic French windows allows light to stream in while a second bar area offers residents enough options for an after-work Tom Collins or two.

With three bedrooms on offer upstairs, a bright pink master bedroom is the pick of the bunch with floral curtains, oversized lamps and a wicker bed-frame.

The kitsch theme continues outdoors with a back garden with a decked seating area and pond. 

Outdoor relaxation: The kitsch theme continues outdoors with a back garden with a decked seating area and pond

Outdoor relaxation: The kitsch theme continues outdoors with a back garden with a decked seating area and pond

Outdoor relaxation: The kitsch theme continues outdoors with a back garden with a decked seating area and pond

Pink Ladies: With three bedrooms on offer upstairs, a bright pink master bedroom is the pick of the bunch with floral curtains, oversized lamps and a wicker bed frame

Pink Ladies: With three bedrooms on offer upstairs, a bright pink master bedroom is the pick of the bunch with floral curtains, oversized lamps and a wicker bed frame

Pink Ladies: With three bedrooms on offer upstairs, a bright pink master bedroom is the pick of the bunch with floral curtains, oversized lamps and a wicker bed frame

High-profile: According to the estate agents Purple Bricks said the property had already made a splash being featured in newspapers and magazines

High-profile: According to the estate agents Purple Bricks said the property had already made a splash being featured in newspapers and magazines

High-profile: According to the estate agents Purple Bricks said the property had already made a splash being featured in newspapers and magazines

The advert says: ‘The property itself has plenty of character and charm, the vendor has blended the modern with the features of the fifties but this does not take away from such beautiful features as the original stained glass encapsulated in the double glazing.’

While according to the estate agents Purple Bricks said the property had already made a splash being featured in newspapers and magazines.

The agent adds: ‘The styling has been held in high regard and has been featured in several national newspapers and magazines as well as the book Style Your Modern Vintage Home.’

If James Dean is your cup of tea and Grace Kelly floats your boat, the tribute to 1950s America could be yours for a cool £415,000. 

The advert says: 'The property itself has plenty of character and charm, the vendor has blended the modern with the features of the fifties but this does not take away from such beautiful features as the original stained glass encapsulated in the double glazing.'

The advert says: 'The property itself has plenty of character and charm, the vendor has blended the modern with the features of the fifties but this does not take away from such beautiful features as the original stained glass encapsulated in the double glazing.'

The advert says: ‘The property itself has plenty of character and charm, the vendor has blended the modern with the features of the fifties but this does not take away from such beautiful features as the original stained glass encapsulated in the double glazing.’

The agent say: 'The styling has been held in high regard and has been featured in several national newspapers and magazines as well as the book Style Your Modern Vintage Home.'

The agent say: 'The styling has been held in high regard and has been featured in several national newspapers and magazines as well as the book Style Your Modern Vintage Home.'

The agent say: ‘The styling has been held in high regard and has been featured in several national newspapers and magazines as well as the book Style Your Modern Vintage Home.’

Unexpected surprise: From the outside it looks like an typical semi-detached house - but inside it is anything but ordinary. If James Dean is your cup of tea and Grace Kelly floats your boat, the tribute to 1950s America could be yours for a cool £415,000

Unexpected surprise: From the outside it looks like an typical semi-detached house - but inside it is anything but ordinary. If James Dean is your cup of tea and Grace Kelly floats your boat, the tribute to 1950s America could be yours for a cool £415,000

Unexpected surprise: From the outside it looks like an typical semi-detached house – but inside it is anything but ordinary. If James Dean is your cup of tea and Grace Kelly floats your boat, the tribute to 1950s America could be yours for a cool £415,000

 

100 Women: The girl who was loved by books

Girl reading on the floorImage copyright
Getty Images

Frances Hardinge is a British children’s writer. Her debut book, Fly By Night, is a School Library Journal best book, while her novel The Lie Tree won the 2015 Costa Book Award, the first children’s book to do so since Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass. As part of this year’s 100 Women Challenge season, she has written a new story.

Once there was a girl who was loved by books, because she was clever, patient and full of dreams.

Unfortunately, she had no idea how they felt. She had originally been taught to read by her grandfather, who was neither clever nor patient. He banged his stick against the table whenever she got something wrong, which startled her into making more mistakes. Even after he gave up on her, reading flustered her, as though she could still hear her grandfather’s stick bang-bang-banging.

I am no good at reading, she told herself, as she saw her cousin flicking through his schoolbook. And then, I don’t like reading.

Sometimes the girl dreamt of the books on her grandfather’s shelves. They bounced after her, and she fled, as if they were dogs snapping at her heels.

Image copyright
Getty Images

They hate me, she thought. They know I’m stupid.

“Come back!” called the dream-books. “We love you! Read us!” But she couldn’t understand them.

What is 100 Women?

BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year. In 2017, we’re challenging them to tackle four of the biggest problems facing women today – the glass ceiling, female illiteracy, harassment in public spaces and sexism in sport.

With your help, they’ll be coming up with real-life solutions and we want you to get involved with your ideas. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and use #100Women


As the girl grew older, she became more convinced that she was stupid. Her grandfather’s books could not bear it.

“Let me talk to her!” said a poetry book. “I have words that dance in the mind like moonlight on water!”

The next day, the poetry book fell off its shelf, landing at the girl’s feet. On its cover was a beautiful white tower tinged pink by sunset.

Filled with curiosity, the girl opened the book, and saw only a few words on each page. Surely this could not be too hard? But there were unfamiliar words, and it was hard to tell where sentences began and ended. She got confused, then upset. She put the beautiful book back on its shelf, and fled in tears.

“I made her cry,” said the poetry book sadly, and wept a single inky tear.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Next day, the girl’s cousin jeered at her whenever she misremembered a bit of news.

“See? You’re wrong!” He pointed to a newspaper article, knowing that the cramped mass of long, printed words would confuse her. “You don’t know anything, do you?”

She felt ashamed at first, but later angry.

Do I want to live like this forever, she thought, with people laughing at me, and telling me what to think?

No. I don’t.

Image copyright
Getty Images

That evening she returned to her grandfather’s bookshelves, and pulled out a little book with a storm-tossed boat on the cover. She opened it shyly, suspecting it might be for younger children.

It was a tale of shipwreck and danger. As the stranded heroes struggled through thick jungle, the girl struggled through the word-jungle. But this time she was caught up in the story. She forgot her grandfather’s glare and her cousin’s jeers. When she finished her mind was filled with pictures, for her imagination was vast and powerful.

That night she dreamt again of her grandfather’s books, but this time she could understand them.

“She read me!” the storybook chirruped proudly.

Image copyright
Getty Images

The other books applauded the girl by pattering their pages, then jostled round her.

“Read me next!” they all called.

“Don’t fluster her, children!” said a big, battered book in a gruff, kindly voice. “She isn’t ready for you all yet.”

“I’m sorry I’m stupid,” whispered the girl.

“Nonsense!” said the old book sharply. “You’re clever. Better still, you’re stubborn. It’ll take practice, but some day you’ll drink our words like water. And we’ll tell you secrets that we never told your grandfather or cousin.”

From that time, the girl knew that books were waiting to tell her secrets. In the meanwhile she kept them safe and well-dusted. She was clever, patient and full of dreams, and such people are usually kind.

Dream inspires Sherri Maret’s ‘The Cloud Artist’

The idea for Sherri Maret’s new children’s book came in a dream, and she drew upon her Native American heritage to make it a reality.

The Newville author and former Shippensburg Area School District librarian recently had her third children’s book, “The Cloud Artist,” published by The RoadRunner Press, an Oklahoma-based publishing house known for publishing Native American authors.

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Writing women into The Wind in the Willows revitalises the canon | Books

I grew up in a very small town in Iowa in the 60s, where the library was a single, graceful room with a golden oak circulation desk, which overlooked everything but a lone bookcase packed with the complete American Heritage backlist. Books were divided into children’s, mysteries, science fiction, romance, biography, science, nonfiction (we didn’t have rarefied arcana like history or current events). “New Acquisitions” were whatever had been dropped off recently: old Agatha Christies, accidentally ordered Book of the Month Club selections, agricultural yearbooks from the 1950s.

I read them all. Once I finished the children’s section, I started at the upper left-hand corner of the first bookcase (mysteries), and proceeded methodically. This made for some highly age-inappropriate choices, as when I waded through the Decameron aged 10. I read everything the same way, uncritically and going with the flow whenever I couldn’t understand.

Books were good or bad according to whether I could imagine myself into them. Was there anyone in this story I could grow up to be? Was there anyone I would want to be? The answer was often (so often) no. I became a genius at reinventing the books I read. If there were no women, I’d just insert one – maybe a plucky but hitherto unknown sister, or an abductee from Earth (Iowa specifically) – and then re-plot as needed. Sometimes I swapped characters’ genders: Merry in The Lord of the Rings could easily be a girl, as could Frodo. For others, I made up exciting backstories, or even went completely off-script: Anna Karenina shoots that mean man dead and flees to Arabia! Tess starts a mill!

I liked the challenge of adult books, but I read kids’ books as well. There, too, the girls were often boring: dull and drippy, either princesses or trapped in the real world, which meant that sooner or later even the small amounts of fun they were having would end as they turned into wives, mothers or adulteresses, per my adult reading.

Then came The Wind in the Willows. It was a perfect book for me. Kenneth Grahame’s vocabulary and diction seemed thrillingly grownup and his world, rural Edwardian England, as alien as Narnia. There were few women – but then, there were almost no men, either. They were all animals: staunch Mole, sociable Water Rat, severe Badger, the ever-troublesome Toad, Otter, and all those vile stoats and weasels. I could shoehorn myself into all of their roles. (I doubt now that a human female in Edwardian England would have been permitted the sorts of adventures I was envisioning.)

As an adult, I began to think more critically about where a women would fit into these beloved novels. If I could chase the White Rabbit and dine with Trimalchio, what would my adventures be? They wouldn’t come from the women already in the canon – who would want to be Hester Prynne or Miss Havisham? Who would want even to hang around with them?

I wondered whether the writers that I loved who thoroughly excluded women, such as Grahame and HP Lovecraft, were doing so deliberately or out of ignorance? I started an experiment to find out: choosing a work by each, I introduced female characters to see what that told me about their earlier absence.

My experiment with Lovecraft’s novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath became a book, The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe. But taking on The Wind in the Willows was very different. With his talking animals, Grahame had captured a very specific milieu: single, property-owning men of the Edwardian countryside. To these men, most women were invisible glue that held things together: wives, mothers, daughters, mistresses, chars and chambermaids. Male characters couldn’t just be replaced with females and remain true to the world being depicted. A lady Mole would need a companion for respectability, a source of money, means to get around. Like so many women of the Edwardian era, she would have to have her own way in to this world; thus Beryl, the Mole authoress, and her Rabbit companion, came to be in my rewrite, The River Bank.

I am not the only author doing this. Many writers are engaging creatively with canonical works that have problematic stances about race, class, ethnicity, age, colonialism. Mat Johnson confronts Poe’s racial politics (Pym), Victor LaValle takes on Lovecraft (The Horror at Red Hook becomes The Ballad of Black Tom), as do Cassandra Klaw, Caitlin S Kiernan and others.

Writers shouldn’t hesitate to rewrite classics. We can reverse engineer any work, its author, and the world from which their work grew, to painstakingly build a story that opens up the ignored, forgotten or blocked-off passageways in the original. It’s a mark of our affection for a work that we labour so hard to understand and, perhaps, to redeem it.

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Comic Book Sequel Has A Release Date

Recently it was announced that there would be a sequel to the fan-favorite Halloween/Christmas film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The new material will be released to mark the movie’s 25th anniversary and, naturally, the world went into a frenzy over what the new content could include. Many guessed it would be a second film, or even a prequel to the original, but it was announced that a new comic book based on the movie would be released in 2018.

The founder of publisher Tokyopop, Stu Levy, announced at New York Comic Con that the comic book is set to launch in May next year. The story will be based around Jack Skellington’s ghost dog, Zero, and will narrate his adventure across Christmas Town.

[Credit: Buena Vista International]
[Credit: Buena Vista International]

Levy, who posed under the name D.J. Milky recently during a Disney Manga panel at NYCC stated the premise would be:

…Zero gets lost, as dogs do, and along the way he gets into a lot of trouble, as dogs do.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the comic series will be called Zero’s Journey, and will be published on serially before being combined into a graphic novel.

[Credit: Tokiyopop]
[Credit: Tokiyopop]

Levy described the comic book, explaining:

We’re gonna have 20 issues total, and then just like with a comic, we’re also going to have a trade paperback. We’re gonna have four total trade paperbacks… The first trade paperback will come out next Halloween…

The original film was released in 1993. Created for just $18 million, it grossed around $75 million at the global box office, which was relatively low for a Disney-backed film at the time. But since then, the film has become synonymous with both holidays in the film. Jack Skellington has grown into a cult like figure and his relationship with Sally is loved by millions.

'The Nightmare Before Christmas' [Credit: Buena Vista International]
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ [Credit: Buena Vista International]

One of the standout aspects of the original film was the soundtrack, which, of course, cannot be replicated in comic book format. There will be lyrics written throughout the comics, however, and it is hoped that Burton may adapt these into a new soundtrack for fans to enjoy. When Levy was asked about this, he replied:

No music because it’s a book, but my dream is that maybe he’d go, ‘Wow, these are so awesome, I’m gonna write music for this.’ Probably won’t happen, but you never know.

We sure hope it does happen! Who is excited for the new adventures from the world of The Nightmare Before Christmas?

'The Nightmare Before Christmas' [Credit: Buena Vista International]
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ [Credit: Buena Vista International]

(Source: THR, Daily Dot, Box Office Mojo)