Category Archives: Books

Muse on the move

A few of the nifty buttons in the collections that grows each time I hit a museum gift shop

A few nifty buttons from the collection that grows each time I hit a museum gift shop

After years of daily blogging in “Stage Mom” mode, I’ve decided it’s time to pack up and move to a new writing home — a bigger house, if you will, filled with all things theater but also something more.

Think musings on film, dance, music, visual arts and assorted creative adventures in museum and library lands. Plus more guest posts, photos and news of other projects.

Just a few days ago, I made the move to ArtMusings.com.

Like physically packing up possessions and carting them off to a new home, moving from one bit of cyberspace to another rarely goes as planned.

My tech team consists of hubby James, who was game last year when I suggested that a website would make a lovely birthday gift, and a cat who naps through most of her duties.

Armed with only “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress,” James went to work. It’s a learn by doing enterprise, and so far he’s not only built my new cyberhome, but also flipped the switch on a new blog.

Like the last boxes to get unpacked after a move, new social media components have yet to be put in their proper place. But consider this your invitation to a housewarming party in progess.

You’ll find blogs and/or photos posted each day at www.artmusings.com.

Maybe once the cat gets more involved, we’ll master the finer points of adding buttons for liking Art Musings on Facebook and following Art Musings on Twitter. Seems I’m better at buying buttons than installing them.

Thanks for visiting my new home. I’ll save a seat on the cybercouch for you.

— Lynn

Lynn in library land

Entrance to the Scottsdale Public Library Civic Center branch

Entrance to the Scottsdale Public Library Civic Center branch

I’m vowing to hit my local library more regularly after spending a few hours there with my son yesterday afternoon. We’d gone to share a table for some study and computer time, which is a whole lot lovelier when enjoyed next to giant windows overlooking spacious desert landscapes.

Library gift shop filled with books, magazines, gift items and much more

Library gift shop filled with books, magazines, gift items and much more

“Just let me grab some books I have on hold,” I told him. “Then,” I said, “I’ll settle in to work.” I figured it’d take five minutes tops to find copies of Oliver Sacks’ “Hallucinations” and Andrew Solomen’s “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.” But Christopher knew better.

Small sampling of DVDs spotted during my last trip to the library

Small sampling of DVDs spotted during my last trip to the library

Turning me loose in a library is like giving kids a free pass in lollipop land. I’m still wowed by everything from collections of new titles to displays of diverse CDs and movies. After finding my books, and snagging a copy of the film “Nora’s Will,” I headed back to our table with every intention of sitting tight. For a while, I succeeded.

Exhibit of Scott Baxter photography that runs through Sunday at Scottsdale Civic Center Library

Exhibit of Scott Baxter photography that runs through Sunday at Scottsdale Civic Center Library

But then, I felt the call of an art exhibit located right behind us. I vowed to just pop in briefly, still believing after all these years of being mesmerized by walls filled with paintings and other works, that I could ever spend only a minute or two surrounded by such things. Christopher was onto me, but felt pulled in another direction.

Nowadays libraries are filled with books, art and a whole lot more

Nowadays libraries are filled with books, art and a whole lot more

Once I returned, he took off towards the nifty library cafe where five bucks buys not one drink but two. I got reacquainted with my laptop, inserting photos into posts pending publication. But I had one more space to explore — a gift shop run by friends of the library, where I marveled at finding everything from sheet music to library logo gear.

Kids can find items for as little as 25 cents at this library gift shop

Kids can find items for as little as 25 cents at this library gift shop

Before we left, I snagged all sorts of flyers sharing news of upcoming library fare — including a series of four foreign films being screened at a different Scottsdale Public Library location. Seems I’ve got the perfect excuse for branching out — enjoying even more adventures in library land.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for details about the “Ultimate Play Date” coming to Civic Center Mall (site of my local library) in April

Coming up: Once upon a passport, Beyond baking powder

Literacy meets generosity

Book Shelf HEADER

Books by Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury and Tina Fey have a little something in common this year as World Book Night USA works to bring the joy of reading to people who don’t normally read.

Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Artur’s Court,” Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Fey’s “Bossypants” are among 30 titles that’ll be distributed by 25,000 volunteers on April 23.

April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day, in honor of several significant writers born or lost that day. Think Shakespeare, Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

World Book Night was established to increase adult readership, and is currently celebrated in the UK, Ireland, Germany and the U.S.

Organizers are inviting applications from those age 16 & up who’d like to participate as volunteer book givers. Last year nearly 80,ooo volunteers gave out over 2.5 million books.

Novelists Ann Patchett and James Patterson are serving as this year’s honorary chairpersons.

Volunteers selected as book givers receive 20 copies of a single title, and agree to distribute them on World Book Night to people who have few opportunities to read. Friends, family and book groups don’t count.

Click here to see the full list of titles, which includes “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “Moneyball,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Favorite American Poems.”

Book giver applications are due Wednesday, Jan. 23.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for additional suggestions of ways to celebrate UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day

Coming up: Once upon a quartet

Dance meets crayon

Jamal Rashann Callender (Harold) in "Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure" (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Jamal Rashann Callender (Harold) in “Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure” performed by Hubbard Street 2 (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

We remember the year 1955 for many things. Rosa Park refused to sit at the back of the bus. Elvis Presley first performed on the Ed Sullivan show. Disneyland opened in Southern California. The first microwave oven was sold. Tennessee Williams won a Pulitzer Prize for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

And a curious 4-year-old came to life in author Crockett Johnson’s “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” which kids are reading nearly 60 years later in Kindle, paperback and hardcover editions. There’s even an hour-long interactive adaptation, which comes to the University of Arizona in Tucson at 4pm on Sunday, Jan. 27.

Hubbard Street 2 performs "Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure" (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Hubbard Street 2 performs “Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure” (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure,” choreographed by Terence Marling and Robyn Mineko Williams, is being performed by Hubbard Street 2 — part of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which perfoms Jan. 25 & 26 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The contemporary dance work is directed by Taryn Kashock Russell and features music by Andrew Bird.

A “Performance Study Guide” for families and educators details each of the work’s 15 scenes, and offers suggestions for watching, listening, guessing and imagining throughout the performance. Bios for eight dancers (including favorite animals, pies, colors, sports and such) are featured as well.

Jamal Rashann Callender (Harold) in "Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure" performed by Hubbard Street 2 (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Jamal Rashann Callender (Harold) in “Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure” performed by Hubbard Street 2 (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

The guide offers tips for before, during and after the performance — plus ways to “think like a choreographer.” There’s a page filled with dance-related vocabulary and another explaining various jobs within a dance company (artistic director, stage manager, wardrobe supervisor and more). Even pages for children who enjoy coloring or word find puzzles.

I learned of Hubbard’s “Harold” time in Arizona through the January 2013 issue of “Arizona Dance e-Star,” a publication of the Arizona Dance Coalition — which features a comprehensive calendar of dance events, master classes, workshops, auditions and more. Click here to explore it for yourself, then grab your purple crayon so you can print that baby and circle all your favorite offerings.

— Lynn

Note: Hubbard Street’s Scottsdale performances features 2012 “Winter Series” works, including “Untouched” (2010) by Canadian choreographer Aszure Burton and “Casi-Casa” (2009) by Swedish choreographer Mats Ek.  Also  “Blanco” (2010) and “PACOPEPEPLUTO” (2011) — a pair of works by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.

Coming up: Sister tales

From brain to bookshelf

Detail of "Imagination Gives Us Wings" by Larry Kirkland, commissioned through the Scottsdale Public Art Program

Detail of “Imagination Gives Us Wings” by Larry Kirkland (from the Scottsdale Fine Art Collection) — a lovely reminder of the power of the pen

Wish you had the opportunity to pitch your best book idea to a panel of experts? Head to “Pitchpalooza!” at Burton Barr Central Library at 5pm on Saturday, Feb. 9 and you just might get the chance.

Several folks will be randomly selected to give their best one-minute pitch before judges who’ll “critique everything from idea and style to your idea’s marketplace viability” — then select one winner to “receive an introduction to an agent in their genre.”

The “Pitchpalooza!” follows a full-day “Indie Author Publishing Conference” for registered participants that’s being presented by Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix Public Library.

The conference features seven joint sessions and two blocks of breakout sessions covering a nifty breadth and depth of topics related to print and digital publishing, including the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing.

I was delighted to learn, while reviewing presenter bios, that several have ties to the local arts community. Think MADE art boutique, Improv AZ, Ignite Phoenix and Roosevelt Row. Also Local First Arizona.

During a quick review of presenter bios, I spied agents, several award-winning authors, an attorney, a social media professional, several marketing experts, booksellers, an editor, business professionals and more.

Click here for the fine print on specific sessions and presenters — plus the scoop on early registration savings.

— Lynn

Coming up: Art your vegetables, Once upon a mural

Angst on demand

Rebel Wilson and Chris Colfer in "Struck by Lightning" distributed by Tribeca Film. Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film.

Rebel Wilson and Chris Colfer in “Struck by Lightning” distributed by Tribeca Film. Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film.

After Lizabeth suggested we hit a movie last night, we discovered the early evening shows had already started but didn’t have the oomph to tackle a late night offering. Instead, we started trolling through “on demand” offerings — and quickly agreed that “Struck by Lightning” was a fine choice for mother/daughter television time.

It’s the tale of Carson Phillips, a smart but saucy high school student whose take on life embodies an odd mix of cynicism and optimism. “Struck by Lighting” premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. It’s been available on demand through Tribeca Film since Dec. 19, and heads to select theaters next month.

Chris Colfer, known to many for playing Kurt Hummel on the Fox television series “Glee,” wrote the screenplay for “Struck by Lightning.” It’s directed by Brian Dannelly, co-writer (with Michael Urban) and director of the 2004 film “Saved!,” the tale of a teen who becomes pregnant while attending a Christian high school.

“Struck by Lightning” opens with shots of a “Clover City Limit” sign, a funeral rocking the nerd vibe and a little boy peeking through a staircase railing as his parents duel at high decibles. Phillips narrates the film, introducing viewers ealy on to the mom who can’t decide whether he’s her biggest mistake or her only hope. Sheryl Phillips is played by Allison Janney.

Struck-by-Lightning-movie-pOne moment she’s lamenting her decision not to get an abortion. The other she’s sabotaging his plans to move away and attend college. In between, she lies despondent on the sofa or makes animated demands of the neighborhood pharmacist. Phillips wanted to be Betty Crocker, laments her son, but ended up like Betty Ford.

The other women in Phillips’ life include a grandma (Polly Bergen) starting to lose her grip on reality and fellow writers club member Malerie Baggs (Rebel Wilson). Phillips heads the band of misfits, who’ve yet to meet a deadline for the school paper he decides one day to replace with a literary magazine. Malerie has a bad case of writer’s block, but she’s earnest and never stops seeking genuine inspiration.

Though words aren’t included on the cast and crew list, they’ve got a starring role in “Struck by Lightning.” Phillips does student editor duty in front of a mural featuring a large umbrella and dozens of letters falling from the sky — and Colfer’s landscape is littered with references to literary works. Phillips dreams of editing The New Yorker and similar adventures with language.

“Struck by Lightening” features fast-paced dialogue both funny and smart, plus zingers aimed at underfunded schools and overmedicated children. It’s also rife with midlife musings. “I was you,” Phillips’ mom tells a young, pregnant woman, “and now I’m this.” Seems one got pregnant to try and save a marriage, the other to force her fellow to the altar.

Phillips’ only encounter with his father, Neal Phillips (Dermot Mulroney), comes during a dinner held so fiance April (Christina Hendricks) can get to know him. Just two of the three escape with any degree of insight. The other merely explains that a person can say “I’m sorry” only so many times.

Five words from Shakespeare quoted early in the film reveal one of Colfer’s key themes — the importance of dreams. When, wonders Phillips, do we stop believing in our dreams, and in ourselves? And is a life without goals or dreams really worth living? Teens who groan when parents say such things may find they’re more inspiring wrought from Colfer’s pen.

Struck-by-Lightning-Book-CoColfer’s film is companion to “Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal,” released in November. His first novel, “The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell,” was released in July. It’s recommended for ages 8 and up, unlike the film you’ll want to save for mature tweens and up.

“Struck by Lightning” includes sexual content and colorful language that reflects the real-world experiences of plenty of high school students. Consider the third syllable in “valedictorian” and you’ll get a good feel for what to expect. Still, the mature content feels organic and authentic rather than gratuitous or contrived.

Our kids are all in college now, but the more existential among them would have benefited from seeing Colfer’s film while enduring high school classes that felt irrelevant and peers that seemed to value stupidity over smarts.

Both teens and parents can learn a little something from Colfer’s pearls — don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, listening trumps talking, we’re never too old for stories.

“Struck by Lightning” strikes the perfect balance of hope and despair across the generations.” It’s a playful, poignant piece confirming Colfer’s place in the pantheon of the precocious.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to enjoy Michael Schulman’s “The Many Hats of Chris Colfer,” published Dec. 21 in The New York Times and here to read “Chris Coffer: By the Book” published in The New York Times “Sunday Book Review” on Dec. 13. A preview screening of “Struck by Lighting” by Tribeca Film comes to FilmBar in Phoenix and Mary D. Fisher Theatre in Sedona on Jan. 6 (followed by a live simulcast Q & A with Chris Colfer) and Harkins Theatres Shea 14 on Jan. 11. Click here for details.

Coming up: Art from the heart, Musings on MLK

Do you Junkanoo?

MIM exhibit featuring The Bahamas' Junkanoo Festival. Photo courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum.

MIM exhibit featuring The Bahamas’ Junkanoo Festival. Photo courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum.

The closest most of us have been to The Bahamas’ famed Junkanoo Festival is time spent with films featuring snippets of the musical street parade. A little ditty called “After the Sunset” — with a cast including Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson and Don Cheadle — gave filmgoers a taste of Junkanoo in 2004, as did “Jaws: The Revenge” in 1987.

I’m told some fine folks in The Bahamas helped create an off-season version for filming purposes when a James Bond film called “Thunderball” came to town, since movie types weren’t there during the actual festival — which typically takes place between Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1). And that the Musical Instrument Museum is bringing a taste of Junkanoo to Phoenix next weekend.

Featured MIM story time book. Photo courtesy of Matthew Gollub.

Featured MIM story time book. Photo courtesy of Matthew Gollub.

The MIM’s got all sorts of things planned for families on Saturday, Jan. 5 — and all are free with paid museum admission. Kids can use recycled materials to make drums and masks ala Junkanoo during a 10am-3pm costume & instrument craft session. From 10am-4pm that day, the MIM is doing jazz and masquerade-theme mini-tours.

Docents will be leading tours with a jazz and Junkanoo theme — featuring instruments from the Smithsonian Institution and other collections. Tours will highlight instruments from American jazz history. There’s even time set aside for kids to parade around the museum with the ASU Dixie Devils, and story times dedicated to reading Matthew Gollub’s “The Jazz Fly.”

“It’s a great way to do activities as a family together and learn about something different,” notes Carly Shaw, MIM education manager. Though the origins of Junkanoo, and today’s Boxing Day holiday (still celebrated in Canada, England, Wales and Ireland) aren’t completely clear, they’re perfectly good excuses for those of you still eager to do a holiday happy dance.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for more information on MIM’s Jan. 5 Family Day

Coming up: All that jazz, Art your vegetables

Down time with book time

A few of the books we gave a new home to during the holidays

A few of the books we gave a new home to during the holidays

Holiday shopping is easy for folks in the Trimble family, who’ve rarely met a book they didn’t like. After all our gifts were exchanged across three generations, these are some of the titles we came home with…

The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies by David Thomson

Cut to the Corpse (A Decoupage Mystery) by Lucy Lawrence

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney

A little something from our Brooklyn baby

A little something from our Brooklyn baby

Holocaust Poetry compiled and introduced by Hilda Schiff

Larry in Wonderland by Stephan Pastis

How Music Works by David Byrne

Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear, Dr. Seuss and Art Spiegelman

Red Velvet Revenge (Cupcake Bakery Mystery) by Jenn McKinlay

Peter and the Starcatcher: The Annotated Script of the Broadway Play by Rick Elice

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

The Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix by James D. Watson

More fun finds from the wide world of books

More fun finds from the wide world of books

Truth be told, there’s rarely any down time at our house. But a girl can dream — and books are patient companions.

— Lynn

Note: If you’re reading something especially interesting or unique, please share the title below to let fellow readers know

Coming up: Drive-by art, Got spark?

Shop art!

Christmas ornaments spotted during my last visit to Tempe Center for the Arts

Christmas ornaments spotted during my last visit to Tempe Center for the Arts

Folks still on the prowl for Christmas gifts have a friend in museums and performing arts venues featuring nifty gift shops — plus galleries and other art spaces selling works by local artists. Enjoy this sampling of museum gift shops in the Valley as you’re searching for fun places to shop in coming days…

♥ The Store at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm.

♥ The Store at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Hours: Tues-Wed 12-5pm, Thurs 12-9pm, Fri-Sat 12-9pm, Sun 12-5pm.

Heard Museum Shops. Downtown Phoenix Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm. North Scottsdale Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

♥ The Museum Store at Phoenix Art Museum. Hours: Wed 10am-9pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm, First Fridays 6-10pm.

♥ Museum Store at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Hours: Mon-Wed 9am-5pm, Thurs-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-5pm.

♥ TCArt Shop at Tempe Center for the Arts. Hours: Thurs-Sat. 1-4pm.

♥ The Store (Artists Cooperative Gallery) at Mesa Arts Center. Hours: Tues-Wed 10am-5pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-7:30pm, Sun 12-5pm.

♥ Museum Store at ASU Art Museum at Nelson Fine Art Center in Tempe. Hours: Tues 11am-8pm, Wed-Sat 11am-5pm.

Children’s Museum of Phoenix Gift Shop. Hours: Tues-Sun 9am-4pm.

Look for additional gift options at your local performing arts centers, museums, galleries, libraries, and Local First Arizona businesses with an arts and culture focus.

Several museums offer online shopping, gift certificates, discounts to members and gift wrapping. Please check holiday season hours before heading out to shop, and remember that museum memberships (plus theater, music and dance tickets) make great gifts too.

— Lynn

Note: If you have a favorite place in Arizona to find gifts for art lovers, please comment below to let Stage Mom Musings readers know

Coming up: The fine art of remembering

A lovely time in library land

South Mountain Community Library on the SMCC campus in Phoenix

South Mountain Community Library on the SMCC campus in Phoenix

Time spent with book-laden libraries always feels a bit like landing in a candy store. It’s hard to know what to devour first. Better still is time spent with librarians creatively collaborating on the craft of librianship. That’s like heading straight to the candy factory.

One of several seating areas at the South Mountain Community Library

One of several seating areas at the South Mountain Community Library

When all sorts of library professionals gathered in November at South Mountain Community Library for this year’s annual conference of the Arizona Library Asssociation, I tagged along for the opening keynote and several sessions on diverse library-related topics. Between sessions, I explored both library and SMCC campus — finding plenty of artwork along the way.

Entrance to the teen area at South Mountain Community Library

Entrance to the teen area at South Mountain Community Library

During one session, I spied miniature book covers labled by librarians with their favorite book titles. One morning I strolled through a room where librarians were busy decorating buttons and such, and another morning I bid on crocheted winter wear and bundles of children’s books.

South Mountain Community Library shelving that houses classic books, theater costumes. works of art and more

SMCL shelving that houses classic books, theater costumes, works of art and more

Libraries are one of society’s most valuable but underappreciated resources. Today’s libraries increase Internet access, foster job seeking skills, connect fellow parents, harness community knowledge, promote literacy, support student achievement, reflect community values and do a great deal more.

One of many nifty work or study spaces at South Mountain Community Library

One of many nifty work or study spaces at South Mountain Community Library

The librarians I met struck me as passionate professionals who’ve mastered doing more with less as community needs grown and government budgets shrink. Their works captures the past, enhances the present and visioneers the future. We should invest more in libraries, which also help to unify diverse individuals and communities.

Sleek, modern design elements at South Mountain Community Library

Sleek, modern design elements at South Mountain Community Library

Librarians aren’t sitting around waiting for others to solve their challenges. They’re partnering with schools, historical societies, community service agencies and others to assure citizens have access to important information and supports. As e-books rise in popularity, for example, libraries seek creative ways to lower their costs while increasing the availability of titles.

One of several outdoor seating areas at South Mountain Community Library

One of several outdoor seating areas at South Mountain Community Library

Sessions topics I found most intriguing include the following — social media, serving youth in juvenile detention, assisting under-prepared students, research strategies for graduate students, community partnerships, library design/architecture, school librarians and patrons with mental illness.

Coffee vendor at the South Mountain Community Library

Coffee vendor at the South Mountain Community Library

I especially enjoyed a pre-conference session called “Idea Circus: 25 Great Library Projects to Inspire” — a three-hour gathering featuring different librarians sharing unique ideas and programs, from engaging youth through filmmaking to recording oral histories, they’ve successfully implemented. Sharing is good, and librarians seem better at it than most.

One of several seating options for small groups at South Mountain Community Library

One of several seating options for small groups at South Mountain Community Library

If it’s been a while since you hit the library, pop in to catch up on library offerings. Thank your local librarians for their service to the community, and consider sharing your talents in volunteer mode. For those who cherish learning, language and democracy, library land is a lovely place to linger.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the Arizona Library Association and here to learn more South Mountain Community Library.

Coming up: Helping young dancers appreciate ballet training, SMCC art adventures