May 2, 2012
Take Cinco de Mayo to a more epicurean level this year (put down that watered-down margarita, stat!) with one of my favorite taco recipes out there: Halibut Tacos with Tequila-Lime Marinade. I've been a fan of this recipe ever since I picked up a copy of Becky Selengut's Good Fish cookbook a few years ago. And her spirited take on a Mexican classic makes this an ideal dish for one of my favorite days.
For all you booze-hounds out there, substitute the called-for red cabbage slaw with Roberto Santibanez Apple-Tequila Guacamole. Or if you want to keep it at a hydrating level, go with Santibanez' refreshing Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole. Either guac will hit this Fifth of May meal out of the park.
A tip: Take your Cinco de Mayo feast one step further and make your own tortillas. Don't freak out! All you need to do is track down a tortilla press, some Masa Harina (corn tortilla flour that should look like this) and some water and you are ready to go with this easy, breezy recipe. These toasty tortillas are a million times better than the pre-made variety--and are completely preservative free.
May 1, 2012 • Sci-Fi and Fantasy
“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
On Friday, May 4th I have an excuse to talk about planetary alignments, otherworldly tornadoes of Mars, and the marvel of black holes. Space Day, which falls on the first Friday of May, is an annual celebration of human space flight. Around the globe, students and educators gather to discuss space exploration, life cycles of stars, Hubble discoveries, and so much more.
I think of Ray Bradbury on Space Day. His book ideas, insane imagination, influence on moon crater names, and his unmatched career in science fantasy make him a fine literary figure to look up to on this holiday of sorts. After all, it is Bradbury who said, “It is good to renew one's wonder. Space travel has again made children of us all.”
In light of this year’s space celebration here are several more inspiring quotes from Mr. Bradbury that encourage creativity, wonder, and moon habitation!
* “We were put here as witnesses to the miracle of life. We see the stars, and we want them. We are beholden to give back to the universe... If we make landfall on another star system, we become immortal.” - Speech to National School Board Association, 1995
* “We're all fools... all the time. It's just we're a different kind each day. We think, I'm not a fool today. I've learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we're not perfect and live accordingly.” – The Illustrated Man
May 1, 2012 • Comics, Handbooks: Superheroes
Most people think of Cinco de Mayo as an adult holiday, but this year the powers that be at the comic book companies have made it a family day.
Every year for the past decade, summer has been kicked off in the comic book world by Free Comic Book Day. The event normally coincides with the release of the first major comic book movie of the summer season. This year that film is The Avengers which will open in theaters on Friday, May 4th. Free Comic Book Day is coordinated by Diamond Comics Distributors and involves all of the major and some of the independent comic book companies.
The best part about the event, is that it is a great day to spend as a family. Comic shops have a tendency to go all out for the day, many of them making it an event where artists and fans can come together and discuss their love for comics. Can you just go down to your local comic shop and pick up some free books, then split? Sure. There’s nothing stopping you from doing that.
But instead of just making it comic book hour, why not do what the title of the event recommends. Make a day of it. If you have kids, pack them up in the family car and take them down to your local shop. If not take your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, younger sibling or friends down to pick up some books. This event is the perfect time to bring people closer together by allowing them to share their passion for comics.
April 30, 2012 • Travel
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, Photo via Smart Desintations
Who needs the Grand Canyon? In honor of National Tourist Appreciation Day on May 6th and National Tourism Day on May 7th, here are some sightseeing destinations to satisfy your inner bookworm.
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (Concord, MA) The home of the author of Little Women is open for tours year round. The house also offers educational programming for school groups and Girl Scouts. Guides dressed in traditional 19th century garb share excerpts from the Alcotts’ journals and give students an opportunity to experience a lesson in a 19th century schoolroom.
Photo via Visit Philly
Edgar Allan Poe's House (Philadelphia, PA) A national historic landmark run by the National Parks Service, Poe rented this house in 1843 and is said to have lived there for less than a year. While Poe lived in several houses in Philadelphia over the years, this home is the only one that remains in The City of Brotherly Love. Admission is free and guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday year-round.
If your Tell Tale Heart can’t get enough, there are three other preserved Poe homes in the United States: one in The Bronx, one in Baltimore, and one in Richmond. Road trip, anyone?
April 26, 2012 • Quirk Poetry
So far, we’ve covered creation and intellectual sustenance. Now, it’s time for more practical concerns. Being a poet and college graduate in the 21st century, Brian McGackin has, understandably, written several poems about his abject poverty.
This week’s poem includes financial stress, hunger, and a coming-of-age story. All in a poem short enough to memorize and impress your friends... over pizza.
April 26, 2012 • Fiction
I suppose when you've written one absolutely perfect book, you don't have much more you need to say. This Sunday marks Harper Lee's 86th birthday, a gal who wrote a brilliant classic (To Kill a Mockingbird) and never wrote a second novel.
So in honor of her birthday, I've pooled together my five favorite books by women writers who, like Harper Lee, I wish wrote more.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, this Alabama lady stuck to her roots while writing this Southern Gothic novel. Much like the characters of Scout and Dill, Harper and childhood friend Truman Capote used to discover items left in the hollow of their favorite tree. Over 50 years later, this 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel remains a bestseller with over 30 million copies in print.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Originally published as a two volumes in a three volume set (the third volume was Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte), this novel was often condemned for the amoral passion portrayed in its pages.
In 1850, Charlotte Bronte posthumously edited and published her sister’s novel under the author’s real name. Prior to that, Wuthering Heights was published under the nom de plume “Ellis Bell.”