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Judith Kerr, author of ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea,’ dies – CNN

London (CNN) Author Judith Kerr, best known for the children’s book “The Tiger Who Came to Tea,” has died aged 95.
Kerr was born in Berlin in 1923 and moved to England aged 10 as the Nazi party came to power in Germany. She worked as a scriptwriter for the BBC in addition to writing and illustrating books. “Judith Kerr was a wonderful and inspiring person who was much loved by everyone at HarperCollins,” said Charlie Redmayne, CEO of publisher HarperCollins, in a statement posted on Facebook. “She was a brilliantly talented artist and storyteller who has left us an extraordinary body of work.” Read More An annotated page from “The Tiger Who Came to Tea” was sold at auction in 2014 in London. Kerr studied at the Central School of Art and married screenwriter Nigel Kneale in 1954. She later left her job at the BBC to raise two children, who inspired her first book, “The Tiger Who Came to Tea,” which was published in 1968. The book’s success meant it never went out of print, selling more than 5 million copies, the Press Association reported. Redmayne said Kerr loved life, people and parties. “Beautifully dressed and with a smile on her face she would light up the room and would always be one of the last to leave,” he said. “Time spent in her company was one of life’s great privileges and I am so grateful to have known her.” Kerr wrote and illustrated many other classic children’s books, including “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,” an autobiographical tale of her escape from Germany, and “Mog the Forgetful Cat,” which spawned a series of 15 titles. The series ended in 2002 with the publication of “Goodbye Mog,” but the cat returned in 2015 in “Mog’s Christmas Calamity,” which raised over £1 million ($1.26 million) for Save The Children. A new book called “The Curse of the School Rabbit” will be published in June this year. “It has been the greatest honour and privilege to know and publish Judith Kerr for over a decade, though of course her history with HarperCollins goes back over 50 years,” said Ann-Janine Murtagh of HarperCollins Children’s Books. “She came to visit our offices frequently — always bringing her books in person; often arriving on the number 9 bus and leaving us all full of laughter and in awe of her astonishing zest for life and absolute commitment to delivering the very best books for children.”

Our Arts Critics’ Picks for This Week

Author Talk: Pok Pok Noodles by Andy Ricker Portland- and Brooklyn-based chef (and Instagram cat whisperer) Andy Ricker—whose Thai restaurant Pok Pok was named the eighth most important American restaurant by Bon Appétit in 2013 and whose empire has since expanded to include drinking vinegars and charcoal logs—has earned a devoted fan following for his insightful voice. In his newest book, Pok Pok Noodles , he shares recipes for comforting, slurpable dishes like fried noodles, noodle soups, and khanom chin alongside beautiful photography from his travels. JULIANNE BELL PERFORMANCE
12 Minutes Max This show, which debuted in 1981, features 12 minutes (“surprisingly quick or unfortunately long”—Rich Smith) of brand-new work from Pacific Northwest performers in many genres, chosen this time by Sruti Desai and Sean Lally. It’s always an opportunity to find out what’s fresh in the theater and dance community. See short ‘n’ snappy pieces by Sarah Alaways, Liam Hardison + Brooke Morrison, Ben Goosman, Amy-Ellen Trefsger, Bruce Greeley, Monica Kerr, and Bri Wilson.
The Greatest ShowQueen More than two decades ago, former Seattle Times critic Tom Orr staged a one-man musical revue called Dirty Little Showtunes!, a gay coming-of-age story that then- Stranger critic Adrian Ryan called “one heck of a fun show.” Now, Orr returns with a three-time Bay Area Theatre Critic Circle Award-winning “multitude of new perverted twists on classic showtunes.” Songs include “I Feel A Thong Coming On!,” “A Crass Act!,” “The Devil Wears Nada!,” “Aging Bull!” and “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To His Forearm!” READINGS & TALKS
Sharma Shields, Simeon Mills, Megan Kruse Apollo cursed Cassandra with the ability to accurately foretell the future but have no one believe her. Spokane-based speculative fiction writer Sharma Shields, author of The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac (which was great), afflicts her protagonist in The Cassandra with the titular character’s curse. But instead of foreseeing the destruction of Troy, she foresees a much larger catastrophe. Shields sets her riff on this Greek myth at the Hanford Research Center in South Central Washington during the early days of World War II. While the young woman at the center of the story, Mildred, is happy to be living on her own in a new place, she’s not so happy to be dreaming about the destructive capacity of a secret weapon being developed right under her nose, and she’s less than thrilled about all the causal workplace harassment she’s been enduring from coworkers. Reviews of the book look generally positive. One Amazon reviewer called it “fascinating if not pleasant,” which is maybe my favorite description of novels in general. RICH SMITH
Surreal Storytelling with Strange Folx. Kate Berwanger’s Surreal Storytelling series will this time be devoted to enby and non-binary storytellers, including visual artist Amelia Lea, poet Lin, author Sari Krosinsky ( Courting Hunger, A Gods Life: a story in poems and god-chaser ), and reporter/poet Sonya Vatomsky (whose work can be seen in the New York Times, Smithsonian , and Rolling Stone ). VISUAL ART
Kook Teflon: Church of the Poison Mind Seattle is about to lose a team of kooky artistic leaders: Kook Teflon, a High Priestess who has produced over 100 live shows during her time in Seattle; and Jackie Hell, a drag queen so strange and wonderful she’s hard to describe, like if Dina Martina were haunted by a fun demon. The duo is moving to New Orleans at the end of June, but Kook will be creating a final installation at Virago Gallery. Kook’s last hurrah should be a spectacle. Expect a ceremony. CHASE BURNS Opening Sunday Chase Burns
Chase Burns started as a Tech-Savvy/At-Risk Youth for Savage Love in 2016 and is currently The Stranger’s Digital Editor. He typically writes about drag, film/TV, and gay shit. He would prefer it if you made Slog your homepage. Chase Burns
Chase Burns started as a Tech-Savvy/At-Risk Youth for Savage Love in 2016 and is currently The Stranger’s Digital Editor. He typically writes about drag, film/TV, and gay shit. He would prefer it if you made Slog your homepage. Christopher Frizzelle
Christopher Frizzelle is the editor of The Stranger in print. He has been on staff since 2003. He is also the inventor of the silent-reading party, which has been happening monthly since 2009. Christopher Frizzelle
Christopher Frizzelle is the editor of The Stranger in print. He has been on staff since 2003. He is also the inventor of the silent-reading party, which has been happening monthly since 2009. Rich Smith
Rich Smith writes about politics, books, and performance for The Stranger. You can hear his impersonations of Bernie Sanders and Jeff Sessions on Blabbermouth, and you can read his poems at Rich Smith
Rich Smith writes about politics, books, and performance for The Stranger. You can hear his impersonations of Bernie Sanders and Jeff Sessions on Blabbermouth, and you can read his poems at

Counterpoint: In Praise of the One-Watch Collection

Counterpoint: In Praise of the One-Watch Collection June 3, 2019 Watches By Joshua Condon Photo by Henry Phillips
Not long ago I realized I am surrounded by collectors. They are everywhere and nothing is off-limits: sneakers, cast-iron skillets, small-batch soju, comic books, vintage bikes, vintage Prada, cameras, wine, motorcycles, vinyl, Linotype fonts, classic arcade games. There is no way to duck these conversations, which are as interesting as a slideshow of someone else’s vacation, even though I’ve learned to spot them coming. Collectors, at least the ones itching to talk about themselves, all have the same tell, a delighted little nod of feigned modesty, which immediately precedes long monologues about their cars or watches or bourbons or once, bafflingly, Crocs.
“Well, you see” — and here comes the nod and a conspiratorial tone like they’re finally revealing the dark secret of just how interesting they are — “I’m a bit of a collector.” Ah, yes, well. You don’t say. Tell me more.
To be fair, collecting can be a fine pursuit. Noble, even. The best collections arrange history into still life, the specific details and composition revealing odd little tidbits about ourselves as a species. The proper selection of objects arranged just so can tell a story — how Cubism evolved to express the anxiety of a rapidly modernizing world, for example, or how much ’70s car designers loved cocaine.
But collecting mostly seems exhausting. I know a man who keeps his tweed collection across state lines, piles of the stuff in a rented storage container in New Jersey, which he never sees because he’s too busy buying more tweed. A photographer friend once insisted I get myself “some real glass” — by which he meant vintage and blindingly expensive — if I planned to keep posting to Instagram; only a collector could figure out how to make a free app require several thousand dollars and the regular use of a darkroom.
Not long ago collecting was the purview of the leisure class and nerds. So where do they come from, these teeming hordes with all their stuff?
I say social media is driving the surge — platforms that let users feed themselves content of their choosing. As Hannibal Lecter explained to Clarice, we begin by coveting what we see every day. Now consider the average watch enthusiast and the boundless array of Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, forums and enthusiast sites available in his pocket at every moment — the staggering volume of horological pornography consumed in a given day, each example caressing the prefrontal cortex, stimulating arousal. The mind boggles. Then it yearns. Then it starts making demands.
There’s a better, not to say easier, way. First, find one thing you like more than everything else; something that fits you perfectly. If we’re talking watches, pick something you can wear every day, that works with a suit or jeans. Something that can take a licking and makes you happy every time you look at it. Take your time, don’t rush, do research. Buy it in person even if you have to travel. Spend money on it, even a lot of money if necessary, because the last part is the toughest and it might sting: unfollow all the Instagram accounts, bail on the forums, stop reading the magazines and don’t buy another damn example, for years or possibly ever.
Let your brain settle on the new thing. Contemplate it until the newness wears off, then just wear it. I keep on my wrist a weighty steel chunk of Swiss engineering, understated and unkillable and stamped with a logo that passes for alternate currency in every country on earth. It took me a long time to scratch up enough to buy it and just as long to get used to wearing something worth the cost of a decent motorcycle. Now I almost never think about it, but when I do it makes me happy; in that way, and because it will last forever, it’s an excellent value. As soon as I buy another watch, that value diminishes.
I’m not immune to the yearning. A new Patek Phillippe Aquanaut Chrono or a perfect old Cartier Tortue still occasionally pops into my feed, giving my brain an unwelcome tickle and riling up the imagination. Does that watch better represent who I am as a person? Or maybe a “weekend watch” really is a necessity like the magazines tell me. Certainly, in any case, a gentleman is not expected to wear the same watch in summer heat and winter chill?
But this is a capitulation to marketers insisting wristwatches are somehow more relevant the less necessary they become — despite having become, basically, jewelry: functionally unnecessary but good for an accepted form of adult dress-up. (Now I’m a pilot! Now I’m a diver! Now I’m James Bond!) In endlessly obsessing over the various movements, manufactures, fonts and complications, or deliberating which timepiece goes just so with your blazer, you’re ignoring the only pure function a wristwatch still provides: it’s a memento mori , a reminder that the time, not the watch, is what matters. Because that time can be spent only once, no matter how many watches you collect. A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Nine of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “In Praise of the One-Watch Collection” Subscribe today .
How to buy into the Crown for less. Read the Story Latest Videos Top Stories June 3, 2019

Okay Facebook. Whatever.

Writer, insomniac, seashell enthusiast, future crazy cat lady. Tuesday, June 4, 2019 Okay Facebook. Whatever. I am a woman, a writer, pretty conservative and live (and with the exception of all of two years of my life have always lived) in my native Southern California. I love books, cats, horses, the ocean, cooking, and classic films. And this is what Facebook recommended to me: Yeah. Right. Not weird at all. Of all of the accounts on Facebook, they chose this. Nice algorithm you got there. Not . And just in case it isn’t obvious, no, I’m not interested in following this account. Thanks anyway, Zuck. Ya schmuck. I hope the People’s Daily didn’t pay for this placement, because talk about throwing your money down the toilet…

30 LGBTQIA+ Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books You Should Read This Pride Month

By Kristian Wilson 3 hours ago
With Pride Month upon us, I think it’s high time we took a look at the wonderful world of LGBTQIA+ genre fiction. I’ve picked out 30 LGBTQIA+ SFF books you should read this month, and you’re going to love them all. Whether you like YA fantasy or classic sci-fi, there’s something on this list you’re bound to enjoy.
When people complain about the politicization of SFF , I just have to laugh. Science fiction and fantasy have always tackled issues related to identity, social justice, and environmentalist causes, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. By featuring protagonists and other characters in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum , these books buck cisnormative and heteronormative cultural traditions — an act that is inherently political.
In addition to highlighting some of the best in recent, LGBTQIA+ SFF stories , this list also features a few classics of speculative fiction. Whether you’re new to sci-fi and fantasy or trying to broaden your horizons, any of the books on this list will make a fantastic addition to your Pride Month TBR.
Check out the 30 queer works of sci-fi and fantasy I’ve picked out for you below: ‘Her Silhouette Drawn in Water’ by Vylar Kaftan
Bee doesn’t remember her life before prison, but her cellmate, Chela, assures her that that is where she belongs. She’s a mass-murderer and a telepath, after all. But Bee begins to question everything when another telepath begins to communicate with her, telling her that everything she thinks she knows is wrong.
Click here to buy. ‘Ninefox Gambit’ by Yoon Ha Lee
Disgraced for using unconventional battle tactics in an ongoing war, Captain Kel Cheris has been given the near-impossible task of liberating the Fortress of Scattered Needles from an occupying, heretical force. The only person on her side is the ghost of an undefeated military commander named Jedao, who once destroyed his own army in a madman’s gambit.
Click here to buy. ‘We Set the Dark on Fire’ by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Like all students at the Medio School for Girls, Daniela will graduate with a husband, a young man whose affections she will share with another wife. Detection could spell disaster for Daniela, whose parents have falsified her identity in order to secure her future, which makes the threat of forbidden love all the more dangerous.
Click here to buy. ‘The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet’ by Becky Chambers
The crew of the Wayfarer have taken a lucrative job, carving out wormholes to drastically reduce travel time between planets. The pay is relative to the amount of danger that the crew find themselves in, but for Rosemary Harper, the newest person aboard the Wayfarer , the mission becomes a lesson in learning to trust — and to love.
Click here to buy. ‘The Brilliant Death’ by Amy Rose Capetta
The daughter of a powerful mafia family, Teodora has a longkept secret: She is a strega, a magician capable of transforming people into objects. When someone in the capital attacks her family and others, leaving the mafia in turmoil, Teo must transform herself into a boy and travel with fellow strega Cielo to investigate the conspiracy.
Click here to buy. ‘A Study in Honor’ by Claire O’Dell
In this Sherlock Holmes retelling, Janet Watson, a homeless army doctor discharged from the New Civil War is taken in by Sara Holmes, a queer, black woman like Janet, who does her own work to fight the resurgence of the Confederacy. When New Civil War veterans begin to die, and their deaths appear to be connected to a conspiracy at the highest levels of the state and private industries, Watson and Holmes must join forces to solve the mystery and put a stop to the deaths.
Click here to buy. ‘Every Heart a Doorway’ by Seanan McGuire
Nancy spent years in the Halls of the Dead, where she danced with the Lord of the Dead and learned to serve in his court. But now she has been sent back, to parents who cannot understand her, in a world that no longer feels like home. Carted off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, Nancy discovers that she is not the only child to have found a passage into another world in Every Heart a Doorway .
Click here to buy. ‘Provenance’ by Ann Leckie
Set in the same world as her Imperial Radch Trilogy, Ann Leckie’s Provenance centers on Ingray, the adopted child Netano, and her aspirant heir. Determined to usurp her brother’s position as their mother’s favorite, Ingray arranges a prison break for the infamous thief known as Pahlad Budrakim, who may be able to steal back their planet’s lost riches.
Click here to buy. ‘Kushiel’s Dart’ by Jacqueline Carey
Sold into slavery as a child and later trained as a courtesan and a spy, Phèdre has a unique blessing — or perhaps a curse — that causes her to feel pain and pleasure as the same sensation. When she discovers a plot against her homeland, however, Phèdre must put all her guile and wit to the test if she wishes to save the people and things she loves.
Click here to buy. ‘A Matter of Oaths’ by Helen S. Wright
In contention for a promotion aboard the Bhattya , Rafe comes to the attention of his superior, Commander Rallya, who discovers that the young man has had his memories erased, for no discernible reason, and that he is the target of pursuers from across the galaxy.
Click here to buy. ‘The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy’ by Mackenzi Lee
In this work of historical fiction bordering on fantasy, aspiring doctor Felicity Montague must leave England to try her luck in Germany when no medical school at home will admit her. Disguised as a lady’s maid to a strange woman willing to pay for her passage to the continent, Felicity soon finds herself involved in a series of dangerous missions.
Click here to buy. ‘The Luminous Dead’ by Caitlin Starling
In desperate need of funds, Gyre Price took her caver job without being fully cognizant of all it would involve. Placed under the supervision of a cruel leader called Em, she finds herself addled and on her own in the depths of the frightening caves. As her paranoia mounts, Gyre can’t help but wonder if she is really alone in the darkness.
Click here to buy. ‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ by Samantha Shannon
Long ago, the ancestors of the current Berethnet rulers sealed the Nameless One, the leader of a horde of fire-breathing dragons, in the Abyss. But the Nameless One will soon return, and it will take a rare alliance of opposing philosophies — held by the Queen Berethnet, a mage from the Priory, and an aspiring dragonrider — to keep the land safe from chaos and terror.
Click here to buy. ‘The Outside’ by Ada Hoffmann
Set in a world in which humans have been given magical cybertechnologies by the Gods and their cyborg Angels, Ada Hoffmann’s The Outside follows Yasira, the lead physicist on a failed space station design, as she leads the Gods to her old mentor, a woman who stands accused of trying to usher in dangerous forces to destroy spacetime.
Click here to buy. ‘Borderline’ by Mishell Baker
Disabled following a failed suicide attempt, filmmaker Millie gets a new opportunity for success when she is invited to work on the Arcadia Project. Her mission involves tracking down a rogue fey nobleman, whose disappearance could mark the end of an eon of peace.
Click here to buy. ‘Dreadnought’ by April Daniels
Danny’s life changes, practically overnight, when the death of the world’s greatest superhero leaves her in possession of his powers — and the feminine body she has always wanted. Being a superhero might bring more challenges than blessings, however, as Danny must now deal with her father’s desire to return her to her former, masculine appearance, as well as her best friend’s newfound attraction to her.
Click here to buy. ‘Not Your Backup’ by C.B. Lee
In a world full of superheroes, Emma is incredibly… untalented. She doesn’t have superhuman strength or speed, and she can’t see through walls or jump over buildings. But what Emma does have are leadership skills, and that’s exactly what the Resistance needs if it plans to take on the Heroes League of Heroes.
Click here to buy. ‘Space Opera’ by Catherynne M. Valente
Compelled to compete in the Metagalactic Grand Prix, an interplanetary talent show, Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes must dust themselves off and prepare for the concert of their one-hit-wonder careers. It’s glam rock in space in Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera .
Click here to buy. ‘The Deep’ by Rivers Solomon
Based on a song by Clipping, Rivers Solomon’s The Deep imagines a society of mermaids, born from the enslaved women who leapt from the decks of transport ships in the Atlantic. Living a utopic, aquatic life, the mermaids relegate the remembrance of their cultural history to a single citizen, Yetu, who must endure the isolation that being the sole member of her society to remember the trauma of its creation.
Click here to buy. ‘River of Teeth’ by Sarah Gailey
Set in an alternate history in which the U.S. introduced wild hippos into the bayous of Louisiana, River of Teeth follows Winslow Houndstooth as he leads a team of mercenary hippo hunters into the swamps to stem the tide of maneating beasts.
Click here to buy. ‘Witchmark’ by C.L. Polk
Living in hiding from his magical family, Miles works as a doctor in a veterans’ hospital, treating the men who, like him, were forever changed by war. But when one of his patients is murdered, Miles must risk discovery in order to solve the mystery and avenge the man whose life was once in his hands.
Click here to buy. ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ by Ursula K. Le Guin
Sent as an ambassador to the planet Gethen, Genly Ai finds himself confused by the native population, who can change their gender at will and have no concept of the gender roles that their new emissary is used to abiding.
Click here to buy. ‘Ash’ by Malinda Lo
In this Cinderella retelling, a young orphan named Ash finds herself rescued from abject misery by Sidhean, a dark fairy, who has claimed her for his future wife. But as Ash develops feelings for Kaisa, a powerful huntress, she discovers that life among the fairies is no less messy than it is in the real world.
Click here to buy. ‘Karen Memory’ by Elizabeth Bear
A steampunk western set in late-19th century Seattle, Karen Memory centers on its eponymous heroine, who works in an expensive brothel, as she and the other girls at Madame Damnable’s attempt to solve a mystery involving a series of dead and injured sex workers — one of whom has turned up at their doorstep.
Click here to buy. ‘Ascension’ by Jacqueline Koyanagi
When the Tangled Axon , a ship with a chronically ill captain, comes to her sister looking for help negotiating with an interdimensional megacorporation for a cure, engineer Alana stows away on board, hoping the crew will accept and pay her. But Alana’s in for a penny, in for a pound when the Tangled Axon crew are framed for a despicable crime they did not commit.
Click here to buy. ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ by Natasha Ngan
Ten years after her mother was taken away by the royal guard, Lei becomes one of a handful of “lucky” girls who train to become the king’s consorts. As she and the others are refined for the court, Lei begins to fall in forbidden love, and soon finds herself caught up in a conspiracy that could change her country forever.
Click here to buy. ‘The Stars Are Legion’ by Kameron Hurley
Zan doesn’t remember what happened before she woke up amongst these people who call themselves her family. They say she can save them from Legion — a conglomeration of world-ships at war with one another — by piloting Mokshi, a world-ship capable of existing apart from the rest. In a war that has been raging for years, however, few things are as simple as Zan’s family makes them out to be.
Click here to buy. ‘The Gilda Stories’ by Jewelle Gomez
After escaping enslavement in the 1850s, Gilda falls in with a self-made family of vampires. In an episodic format, The Gilda Stories follows her over the next 200 years, as she defends humans and adds vampires to her family.
Click here to buy. ‘The Prey of Gods’ by Nicky Drayden
As South Africa attempts to advance a utopic vision of the near future, complete with personal robot assistants and renewable energy, the country must also deal with a number of looming threats, including an angry demigoddess and a dangerous, new street drug. The fate of the country is up to a ragtag group of children and outsiders in Nicky Drayden’s The Prey of Gods .
Click here to buy. ‘Silver in the Wood’ by Emily Tesh (June 18)
A retelling of the Green Man story, Emily Tesh’s Silver in the Wood centers on Tobias, the guardian of the Greenhollow Wood, and his unlikely friendship — and deeper relationship — with the forests’ owner, a man named Henry Silver.

Jazz band part of busy music week

The Slice features a bit of blues this week beginning Thursday, May 30 with Winnipeg-area musician Patrick Alexandre LeClerc and Vince Andrushko. The Slice also features Calgary-based blues/funk and soul trio the Matthew Jay band, Saturday, June 1. There is a $10 cover. The Lethbridge Community Jazz Band winds up its season at College Drive Community Church, Saturday, June 1 with A World Of Adventure featuring the Silver and Gold bands plus Joe Porter’s W.H.I.P. It Percussion Ensemble. Tickets are $15 from Casa and The concert begins at 7 p.m. Kelly Klimchuk hosts Honkers Pub’s Friday night open mic this week. Get ready to rock ’50s-style at Casino Lethbridge as Peter and the Wolves return There are several indie rock shows happening this week. Local twangy indie rock band The Utilities return to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, May 31, with local singer-songwriter Bailey Kate. Admission is by donation. And Regina-based Bears in Hazenmore return to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 1 with local folk/country singer-songwriter Tyson Ray Borsboom and Vancouver Island pop multi-instrumentalist Prince Shima. Prince Shima, a.k.a. Bradley Kurushima, has played with Ghosts, Skylord, Lovers and Slumberland. Admission is by donation. The Slice rocks out the end of May with Calgary rock and roll crew The Gentlmen’s Club and local rock band 21st Avenue. That show begins at 9 p.m., Friday, May 31. Rock in June with an all-ages skate punk show at the Moose Hall, June 1, with Red Deer’s Trashed Ambulance, the Moröns and local skate punk band sessions. Tickets are $10 for the show, which begins at 8 p.m. A sure sign of summer is the approach of the South Country Fair and the first sign of that is the South Country Fair songwriting contest finals, which is June 2 at the Slice. The finalists are Ali Stuart playing “Like it That Way”; Chris Ryan Drew (Only Human): Chris Gheran (Old Time Feeling); George Arsene (She Sings to Her Horses); James D. Swinney (Hummingbird); Jon Martin (When Colours Fade); Joshua Beebe (Clayton Stanley); Megan Brown (Do I Work for the Devil (or Live in Hell)); Taylor Lang (Over Many Horizons); Tyson Ray Borsboom (Tell Me), who are all vying for a chance to play their song on the South stage at this year’s fair, July 19-21. It features an exceptional lineup including Blue Moon Marquee, Captain Tractor, Peter and the Wolves, Rancho Deluxe, Petunia and the W Vipers, last year’s songwriting contest winner Tara Warburton and many more. Nelson, B.C.-based songwriter Cam Penner and Jon Wood play the Twin Butte Store, Sunday, June 2 as well, before visiting the Owl Acoustic lounge on a busy Tuesday night, June 4. Keith Woodrow’s Slice of Blues jam returns to the Slice on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Leeroy Stagger and the Rebeltone Sound featuring MonkeyJunk’s Steve Marriner play a special show for the Geomatic Attic at the art gallery Mortar and Brick at 8 p.m. Stagger has just released a new album“Me and the Mountain.” The Galt Museum and Lethbridge Historical Society combine their knowledge and resources to explore Lethbridge neighbourhoods in their new exhibit “Places and Traces.” The exhibit includes suites of old photographs of what the city used to look like plus items including street signs, toys and clothing. There is also a video component featuring familiar faces like Mark Campbell talking about their neighbourhoods. “It’s about how neighbours change and how the people living in them change them,” summarized Belinda Crowson, putting on her Lethbridge Historical Society hat. Crowson, who has written several books about Lethbridge history, even learned a lot while helping put together this exhibit. “The people living in the neighbourhoods changed the neighbourhoods,” Crowson observed, noting community organizations worked to plant trees and even rename neighbourhoods and streets. “Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t,” she said. “In the ’60s, students living in Hardieville being renamed,” she said. “And people living in Parkdale were able to prevent the construction of a grain elevator,” she said. “I hope people will see the exhibit and think about the people change their communities,” Crowson said. Galt Museum curator Aimee Benoit found the stories of people in the community inspiring. “We have a lot of video talking with people about their communities. And I went out to speak personally to people as well, she said adding she was fascinated by how people viewed their communities and used them. “In the ’50s, groups of kids built underground caves with multiple rooms in them beneath vacant lots. And another girls who liked roller skating judged her neighbourhood by how smooth the roads were and how easily she could skate them,” Benoit said. “I love listening to people’s stories and experiences in their neighbourhoods,” Benoit continued. “This exhibit tells the stories of these neighbourhoods’ past. So I hope people will explore Lethbridge and think about our own contributions to their neighbourhoods,” she said. “Places and Traces” runs at the Galt Museum May 25-Sept. 8 during regular museum hours.
Extra, extra, read all about it, Lethbridge Musical Theatre has joined forces with Chinook High School to bring award-winning musical “Newsies” to the Yates Theatre, Nov. 1-9. “This project is a hybrid project with Lethbridge Musical Theatre and the choral and musical theatre program at Chinook High School,” said director Dave Mikuliak, who is excited to be directing the first main stage Lethbridge Musical Theatre production is several years. The massive cast of 60 will include a combination of students and community members. so there are separate auditions for the public are June 5 from 7-9 p.m. at the Country Kitchen, but you need to sign up for a slot through Lethbridge Musical Theatre’s new website, https://lethbridgemusical Auditions for students are June 4 at Chinook High School. Chinook students will have their own auditions, as “Newsies” will be part of their curriculum, which focuses on acting, singing and dancing. “We did ‘Les Mis,’ which is more singing and dancing and ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ which is more book-based, so I’m excited to continue that with ‘Newsies’,” Mikuliak enthused. The 2012 Broadway show is inspired by the 1899 New York newsboys’ strike, which also inspired a 1992 movie. “Though the musical and the movie are quite different,” said Mikuliak, who is excited to combine the energy and budget of LMT and Chinook High School. “So the newsies will be youth, though it’s written so they can be girls, too, as that part of the show is written for higher-register voices. And the adult characters can be adults,” he continued, adding there are some familiar names like newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer. “Lethbridge Musical Theatre hasn’t done a mainstage production at the Yates Theatre for about four years, so it is very cool to be able to help bring that back now they‘re in a financial position to do something like this,” said Mikuliak, who has been involved in many LMT productions over the years including “Guys and Dolls” and “Oliver.” The last LMT mainstage production was “Guys and Dolls” in 2014, though they have put on a couple of smaller shows to raise funds including “Nunsense” and “Nunsense 2.” “It’s funny, but a lot of the cast probably weren’t even born when I directed my last LMT show. So it’s pretty special to be back,” he chuckled, adding he was excited to research the background for the show. “It’s about children’s rights and worker’s rights and union rights,” he said, adding there are some parallels to “Oliver,” which was based on Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist.” “They both took place during the Industrial Revolution and both involved children in the workforce, who, for lack of a better term, were abused.” He is looking forward to having a good cross-section of the Lethbridge theatre community involved in the production. He hopes to have the production cast in June. There will be an intense eight-week rehearsal period beginning after the Labour Day weekend. “it’s a very high-energy show and it’s a Disney show, so it’s very family friendly,” he said. While “Newsies” features many roles for youth, they are also looking for students aged current Grade 8 (so next year they would be Grade 9 students) and older. If organizers need to cast a role or two with students aged younger than that, they will do a separate audition call following this first round of auditions. Patrick Alexandre LeClerc plays with a lot of people including Little Miss Higgins and the F Holes, but he is excited to bring his blues rock trio back to Lethbridge to play the Slice, Thursday, May 30. Upright bassist/vocalist LeClerc will be joined by his band the Nor’ Westers guitarist Dwayne Dueck and drummer Jeff Laird. Vince Vandrushko is also on the bill. They released their last CD, “In the Blood,” in 2018, which they recorded in Nanaimo at the Risque Disque Record studio. “I really wanted to feature the dynamics we have when we play live on the CD,” he said. “We’ll be playing those songs and road testing some new songs,” said LeClerc, who is currently putting the finishing touches on a new concept album about Metis’ and First Nations’ role in the Red River Resistance in Manitoba. “I have relatives who were on all sides of the issue, so doing the research has been interesting,” LeClerc said, adding he has learned a lot about the rebellion during his day job as a riverboat historical tour guide in Winnipeg, on which he works with the Perpetrators‘ Jay Nowicki. He recruited a lot of indigenous and local musicians to play on the concept album including members of JD and the Sunshine Band, a group of homeless musicians who recorded a well-received CD “Soaking Up the Rays” in 2016. “We have 18 to 30 musicians playing on it including a 10-person choir. It’s been a lot of fun.” He said he has shifted slightly away from the roots of the F Holes into more rock and roll. “I go through stages. I’m playing more rock and roll. There was a lot more blues on the last record. But I love John Prine-style roots music,” he said. “The concept album is going to be more different, because there are horns on a couple of songs.” He is still playing a lot with little Miss Higgins.
It has been a few years since Brandon born, Nelson, B.C.-based musician Cam Penner has been to Lethbridge and released new music. He returns to southern Alberta June 2 at Twin Butte Store and Tuesday, June 4 for a special show at the Slice with his partner in music, Jon Wood. He is supporting his new CD, “At War With Reason,” which is a big departure from his folk roots. “This CD is really different,” said Penner, who spent 19 years living in Calgary, then moved to the Kootenays, just outside of Nelson, about eight years ago. “I built a studio just outside of Nelson and work at the homeless shelter,” he said, adding that has been occupying most of his time in between multiple tours overseas. “I was touring non-stop for five or six years and decided to a take a year off to spend time with my family and settled into my studio and started recording whatever I felt like,” he said, adding he started experimenting with different sounds and textures, which lead to the different sound. An upcoming tour of the United Kingdom inspired him to release his experiments on the new CD. “I listen to a lot of different music like hip hop, indie rock and alternative rock and I started to really enjoy being back in the studio and just making beats,” he said, noting he didn’t miss it during his time off, but regained his love for music while recording the CD. He drew a lot of inspiration from the people at the homeless shelter. “People there have a lot of very inspiring stories,” he said. He noted the new CD is resonating with a variety of people. “I have a variety of people at my shows including people in their 60s and younger people,” he said. “It sounds good. it’s wonderful and intriguing. It seems to make people feel something,” he said of the CD. “I just wanted to make whatever music I wanted to make. It feels relevant and it has a pulse… It’s definitely a different sound than the folk and roots music I started out playing.” “I definitely felt more confident and not as worried about what people would think about it,” he continued. He will be playing with frequent collaborator Jon Wood. “He’s super talented. He can play anything. So he’s my go-to guy,” Penner said. “I’m really excited about it. We both have synthesizers and pedals and samplers,” he added. “So come out on a Tuesday at the Owl. I love Alberta and we don’t play there enough.” “You will be wowed and you will be moved,” Penner promised.
Reviews Mike Edel, D.O.A. at the Slice You never know what shows people will show up for, especially on a Tuesday. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the Slice standing room only, Tuesday, May 21 , for what I thought would be mostly D.O.A. fans, however most of them were there to see Seattle ’s Mike Edel and his trio. I missed opening act Tyson Ray Borsboom, but caught most of Edel’s solid set of appealing, delay-laden indie rock. The affable Edel told stories and played songs from his new CD “Thresholds,” singing in an appealing tenor voice along the lines of Dan Mangan, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Donovan Woods and a touch of Ed Sheeran. Edel beamed on stage, dancing with his guitar, knocking of layers of delay-soaked ambience along the lines of Brian Eno era U2. One of many highlights was “Go With You,” which he dedicated to his dad Larry, who I think may have been in the audience for the Alberta-born Edel, who moved to B.C. and recently Seattle. Most of the audience left after Edel’s set, leaving a couple dozen local punks waiting for Vancouver-based punk legends D.O.A., which left frontman Joe Keithley a little taken aback by the strange lineup for the night. Nonetheless, D.O.A. crashed into a wild set of high-voltage “hits,” or most popular songs from a band who you’d never hear on contemporary radio. They played some of their most popular numbers including “The Enemy,” but without the old lyrics as on their new CD of reissued demos “1978.” They played “World War 3,” “Class War,” and I was really pleased to hear one of my favourites, “2+2.” They barely touched on their most recent studio album “Fight Back,“ only playing “You Need an A— Kicking Right Now,” from it and “Just Got back From The U.S.A.,” which they also recorded several years ago. They also didn’t play one of my absolute favourites, “Disco Sucks.” Keithley was an absolute demon on his battered Gibson SG, knocking out Who-like riffs like there was no tomorrow. He did high kicks at bassist Mike Hodsall, who returned the favour in between bashing out thunderous riffs on bass, trading Pete Townshend-style windmills with Keithley and leaping high in the air as drummer Paddy Duddy bashed away at the skins. In a more fair world, you would hear D.O.A. on the air with their big catchy hooks and riffs and even guitar solos, which Keithley played behind his head and with his teeth. But instead they remain, and have been for the past 40 years, our own little secret, shared only by thousands of punks all over the world. Just not here. They wound up a short, but sweet set with their incendiary cover of “War (What is It Good For?).” Of course, they were called back for an encore of Irish punk classic “Alternative Ulster” and “F——d Up Donny.” Homeless in Hawaii at the Slice The Slice had a big night of punk and power pop, Saturday, May 18. I only caught one band, who ended up being Calgary’s Homeless in Hawaii, and was really impressed if only because I loved that the frontman Tanner Cyr had a speckled silver Gretsch guitar just like mine. They played a really tight set of mid-’90s-style power pop along the lines of the Lemonheads and Gin Blossoms and a touch of Jimmy Eat World, but also added a funky groove and plenty of hot guitar solos, through a set of mostly original music that had my toes tapping. Cyr put his Gretsch to good use on a solid cover of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Adequate at the Owl Adequate made things a little funky at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Saturday, May 18, as usual. They’ve been adding more original material like “Get the Funk Out of My House,” which guitarist Josh Thorlakson sings. It fits perfectly in with their usual high-energy set of R and B, soul, disco and funk, like Rick James’ “Give It to Me.” Scott Mezei, playing bass for the part of the set I saw, added more vocoder throughout their set, which had a good-sized audience on their feet, dancing up a sweat. As usual, Keenan Pezderic sang most of the lead vocals from behind his drum kit. Coming Up: Owl Acoustic Lounge — Standup Comedy open mic Beaches — open mic The Slice — Patrick Alexandre LeClerc with Vince Andrusko Owl Acoustic Lounge — Owl Poetry open mic Good Times — Amateur night Owl Acoustic Lounge — The Utilities with Bailey Kate The Slice — The Gentlmen’s Club with 21st Avenue Casino Lethbridge — Peter and the Wolves Honker’s Pub — open mic with Kelly Klimchuk June 1 Casino Lethbridge — Peter and the Wolves Moose Hall — All-ages skate punk show The Moröns, Sessions, Trashed Ambulance College Drive Community Church — A World of Adventure, Lethbridge Community Band $15 7 p.m. Slice — Matthew Jay band Owl Acoustic Lounge — Bears in Hazenmore, Prince Shima, Tyson Ray Borsboom June 2 Twin Butte store — Cam Penner The Slice — South Country Fair Songwriting Contest finals, 7 p.m. June 3 Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic June 4 Owl Acoustic Lounge — Cam Penner Mortar and Brick — Geomatic Attic presents Leeroy Stagger and the Rebeltone Sound with Steve Marriner Slice — Slice of Blues jam with Keith Woodrow Smokehouse — Bubba and Randy’s unfiltered comedy open mic June 5

What is Elf on the Shelf? A secret history of Santa’s scout

Parents What is Elf on the Shelf? A secret history of Santa’s scout Love or hate him, the Elf on the Shelf has changed the Christmas season. So why was the book originally turned down by every publisher? Get the latest from TODAY Sign up for our newsletter Dec. 18, 2015, 8:30 PM UTC / Updated Nov. 30, 2018, 6:42 PM UTC / Source: TODAY Contributor By Allison Slater Tate Happy birthday, Elf on the Shelf! In the past 13 years, the modern incarnation of Santa’s lovable little scout has enchanted a generation of children, spawned a multimedia phenomenon, sparked an academic backlash and changed the Christmas landscape for millions of parents. It almost never happened. When Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell, first tried to sell ” The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition ,” every single editor and publisher turned them down. “They just did not know what to do with it. Nobody had done anything like this before,” says Bell. Their inspiration was their family’s personal tradition, passed down from Carol’s childhood along with a ‘50s-era vintage elf named Fisbee. “I was a new mom myself, and I was like, ‘Hey, Mom, I need an elf that talks to Santa too! There was nothing like that available,” says Bell. “My mom was able to write from her point of view and I was able to write from a child’s point of view.” Aebersold, Bell, and Aebersold’s other daughter, Christa Pitts, self-published the book and sold it by personally explaining the tradition to buyers and families, one by one. “It was a bit of guerrilla marketing at first,” laughs Bell. “Each night while you’re sleeping/to Santa I’ll fly,” the “Elf on the Shelf” book says. “I’ll tell him if you have been good or bad. The news of the day makes him happy or sad… I’ll be back at your home before you awake, and then you must find the new spot I will take.” AP In retrospect, the personal touch might have been what turned their quirky family tradition into an American cultural phenomenon, Bell said. “I feel very confident that the book and the elf would not be what it is today and as successful as it is if it had started in the traditional publishing world. We were very fortunate to have something to share with the world, and I feel that if we had not had that chance to go door to door and explain it to people, the specialness of the tradition would have been lost.” Never miss a helpful parenting story — sign up for the TODAY Parents newsletter today! The story itself, she notes, is very simple: “Each night while you’re sleeping/to Santa I’ll fly,” the book says. “I’ll tell him if you have been good or bad. The news of the day makes him happy or sad… I’ll be back at your home before you awake, and then you must find the new spot I will take.” Quietly, the book and the scout elf gained a following in American households. Then, after Jennifer Garner was seen holding the book in paparazzi photos in 2007, the Elf on the Shelf took flight. “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” has sold over 11 million copies. The elf debuted his own half-hour animated special, “An Elf’s Story,” in 2011, joined the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2012, and now has an extensive elf wardrobe , a female counterpart, and a pet reindeer. The elf has a birthday edition and a new book also written by Bell: ” Elf Pets: A Reindeer Tradition .” The Elf on the Shelf has 911K+ fans on Facebook, 760K+ Twitter followers, 176K Instagram followers, and yes — there is an app for that elf as well . While the elf gained fans, he also made some enemies. For every parent who delights in creating fun elf scenarios to delight their children (and, perhaps, their followers on social media), there’s another parent who curses the workload of moving that [email protected]*&! elf every night. Some refuse to play along. The Elf gets an eye exam…from Barbie! Christie Pham “I have not bought into the Elf on the Shelf. As much as I have seen the ‘fun’ with the elf, I’ve seen an equal number of complaints. Why, as mothers, do we go out of our way to do more in our daily lives? The elf is a self-imposed daily task, in which many moms are already stretched thin,” says mother April N. Grant . Says parenting blogger Tara Wood , “My husband and I have had actual, for real arguments about who is on elf duty that night and who has shouldered most of the burden during the dreaded elf season. I have cursed the elf’s name (Thomas Henry) and rolled out of my warm bed at 3:00 a.m. to find a new spot for him because I can’t bear to see the disappointment on our kid’s faces when he’s still sitting in the same spot as yesterday. I’ve used some ridiculous explanations for why he stayed put which is extra difficult when you haven’t even had a cup of coffee yet.” Other parents feel the love. “I used to be a hard-core elf-hater until one night right before Christmas when I overheard my son’s lengthy conversation, more a monologue you could say, with our Elf on the Shelf. It was so sweet and earnest it melted my cold, elf-hating heart. He spoke for about 20 minutes to our elf, and in all that time all he asked for was one present. After that I could do nothing but love that little guy. Well both of them, actually,” says Stacey Gill. “My most favorite elf adventures are the ones that I come up with 100 percent on my own. Pinterest has millions of ideas to duplicate but what is the fun in that? Each night’s adventure should reflect your child’s current likes, reflect the activities you did that day, or somehow relate to your kid,” says mother of two Christie Pham. The Elf changes baby doll diapers! Lexie Van Winkle Bell, who is now co-CEO of the elf’s parent company, Creatively Classic Activities and Books, with her sister, says that the actual concept is simple, and the pressure to make elaborate displays is self-imposed. Bell has a 17-year-old son and a 12-year old daughter. “Our own elf just flies back and forth to the North Pole and hides in different spots,” she says. “Every once in a while, he might answer a letter my children write him or spell out ‘HELLO’ in M&Ms… People forget that the pressure they put on themselves is self-induced.” Author and blogger Jen Mann of People I Want To Punch In The Throat is now infamous for urging parents to take it down a notch. Her post, “Overachieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies” went viral in 2011. Wrote Mann: ”He’s called The Elf on the Shelf, not the Elf who Skydives, Takes Bubble Baths and Shaves the Dog! Leave him on the shelf so the rest of us slackers don’t look so bad. I think I’m just going to lay my Elf on his shelf, tape wires and hoses to him and tell my kids he’s in a coma and hopefully he’ll recover before Christmas.That should give me some flexibility.” Indeed, some moms and dads have gotten creative when figuring out a way to lessen the work of elf duties this year. Elves on Facebook are showing up with broken legs and stomach flus, unable to move until they “get better.” RELATED: Parenting win: Why this mom broke her Elf on the Shelf’s leg Some critics see a deeper meaning behind the Elf’s eyes. A 2014 paper published by two Canadian academics argued that the Elf conditions children to accept a police surveillance state. (Santa’s little snitch!) Dr. Laura Pinto of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Selena Nemorin of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives proposed that by telling children that their behavior is being monitored and reported to Santa by a third party, parents could be normalizing the idea of surveillance to their children. Pinto, who has an elf named Jeremy Bentham, also questions the idea of using the elf to motivate children to behave. “I am a life-long educator,” Pinto says. “The most compelling body of evidence is that to get kids to be intrinsically motivated to be well behaved, you have to build relationships and routines, instill values, and allow children to see how their behavior affects others. It’s not an overnight thing.” Dr. Pinto concedes that the elf can be a great thing for families with some tweaks to the story. “The fact is, I think the elf is super cute and very interesting as a retro aesthetic,” she says. “My criticism is about the official rules of the toy. Parents need to be able to do what they need to do, and I don’t want to criticize that. My work is to get people to think about what they’re doing and make an informed decision,” she says. “Parents are creative, so instead of the elf just being up to silly hijinks, they could let the elf be an entree to any conversation they want their children to be talking and thinking about.” Christie Pham used this tactic with her then-4-year-old daughter. “Our elf Sprinkle is getting his eyes examined. Our daughter has been wearing glasses since 6 months of age and she flipped out when she saw Sprinkle trying on his glasses. This morning the elf left the eye doctor Barbies for her to play with, and she has been trying on glasses and patching the little Barbie’s eyes all day long!” Lexie Van Winkle’s young daughters have a new baby brother in the house, so their elf demonstrates ways to help with the baby: Parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a family doctor and mother of four, agrees. “It is absolutely possible to enrich your family’s traditions and experience and fun using the Elf on the Shelf without treating the story as a bible,” she says. “It is entirely up to the philosophy of each family how much they want to use this as more of an ethical guardian. It can be done in fun, or it can be taken far enough that it will take the joy out of the Elf on the Shelf for kids or scare them.” “But parents are experts on their own kids,” Dr. Gilboa notes, “and they’ll know how to use this to add joy instead of take it away.” This article was originally published on Dec. 18, 2015 on

The Museum-apartment of Pushkin was captivated by his portraits

In St. Petersburg is preparing to open the exhibition “the many faces of Pushkin”, dedicated to the 220th birthday of the poet, reports channel “MIR 24”.
In the exhibition all-Russian Pushkin Museum – more than a hundred of different artists. Everyone has seen a classic in its own way. A poet in high school, Boldin in exile, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with books and a walk. In the Museum collection – paintings by Serov, Benois, Kustodiev, Petrov-Vodkin. One of the works was given to the Museum by the artist Nikolai Dronnikov from Paris. On a vertical canvas – poet before the memorable duel. Visitors can also see rare drafts and sketches.
“We show for the exhibition of works by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. Sketches for the canvas that the artist in anger cut, because it is not understood by contemporaries. One critic called the figure of Pushkin in this portrait of degenerate,” – said leading specialist of the all-Russian Museum of A. S. Pushkin Tamara Mishin.
Among the works there are portraits of Pushkin. In addition, the exhibition will present models of monuments and sculptures dedicated to the poet. The exhibition will open on the birthday of the writer, June 6. Related Posts

On Living the Good Life – Self-Development, Lifestyle, Books, and Beyond

5 Must-Read Books on Self-Development, Wisdom, and Leadership
“All of the successful people I know and work with around the world are all good readers. Curiosity drives them to read – they’ve got to know! They just read, read, read, read, read! Become a good reader!” – Jim Rohn
“From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.” – Benjamin Franklin
I fervently believe in the notion that in order to be successful you must become an avid reader, insatiably curious about how the world works. Whether fiction or non-fiction, reading provides you with wisdom to approach problems differently. For example, a 300-page biography that takes you a few weeks to read could save you significant time if you learn to avoid the mistakes others have made (I try to read at least one biography per month). There is value and insight to be gained through this process by investing a little time and effort. The practical real-life, on-the-job lessons that can be practiced and learned, the thinking that may spark new ideas, and the skills you will acquire will be invaluable in your career and beyond.
Colleagues often ask me if I’ve read any self-improvement, strategy, or leadership books that have impacted me in a positive way. The answer is yes, and my philosophy is simple: if a book changes or influences my way of thinking, it’s an essential. Admittedly, I have perused many books and identified hidden gems along the way. In my experience, “millennials” either find self-development books laughable, or are voraciously trying to devour every one they can get their hands on (I am guilty of the latter). Nevertheless, guidance is often requested so I try to do my best to steer hungry contemporaries in the right direction. Therefore, utilizing LinkedIn, I hope to reach a larger audience of renaissance-ers. Here’s hoping you find this post useful in some fashion.
If you are a veteran or just starting out, and are looking for career, social, or personal guidance, my recommendation is to start with a solid foundation. This can be accomplished with a small time investment that will reap large dividends. The list below will start your journey, eventually directing you to more books until you are completely down the rabbit hole – and remember, you are in charge of your own improvement!
I will leave you with this timeless quote on self-development:
“Let him who would move the world first move himself.” – Socrates
Good luck, stay curious, and keep on reading!
1. The Magic of Thinking Big (302 pages)
BY DAVID J. SCHWARTZ – Set your goals high and think positively in order to achieve them. Never underestimate your own abilities or overestimate others. Always bring enthusiasm and optimism to everything you do. Never forget to invest in yourself and look at every setback or failure as an opportunity for personal growth. The greatest takeaway from this book that helped me was Schwartz’s mantra on fear: in order to cure fear, take massive, deliberate action, and invariably be confident in your decision.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People (291 pages)
BY DALE CARNEGIE – This is the first book I read in my quest for positive self-development. Published in 1937, this classic, timeless book on how to become an influential, persuasive, and likable leader is still very relevant today. Warren Buffett credits his rise to success as a direct result of reading the book and using the advice, training, and practical applications. Great book to start with on your journey to becoming a successful and effective leader.
3. Marcus Aurelius: Meditations (A New Translation) (256 pages)
TRANSLATED BY GREGORY HAYS –The best book on stoicism I have ever read. The ultimate guide for discipline, personal responsibility, morality, self-motivation, ethics, strength, and humility. I suggest reading the book with a notebook or stack of index cards, so you can jot down all of the important maxims that Aurelius lives by. Think about it: in 170 AD, the most powerful man in the world sat down and wrote lessons and mantras to himself for becoming a better person. What I find most remarkable is the fact that the book has stood the ultimate test of time, and you have a plethora of wisdom at your fingertips. You should read this book now.
4. Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War (295 pages)
TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY LARRY HEDRICK – “Still the best book on leadership” according to the father of management theory, Peter Drucker. This book follows Cyrus the Great’s multi-year military campaign in an easy-to-follow journalistic fashion. The book provides relatable examples on how to become a well-loved, benevolent leader through building friendship, loyalty, trust, and admiration. A common theme that kept me pondering throughout the book: when Cyrus is successful, all of those around him are successful, and always share in the glory. This is the best biography written of Cyrus the Great, also known as “the father of human rights.”
5. The 4-Hour Workweek (376 pages)
BY TIM FERRISS – This book will change your life by changing your way of thinking and your perspective on “how things should be,” in regard to what the consensus considers a normal workweek.
Ben Franklin: An American Life (586 pages)
I couldn’t help but include one of my all-time favorite biographies of Benjamin Franklin on the list. So much can be learned from this book; the history of the birth of the United States of America and Franklin’s integral role is fascinating, but the reader also gets many lessons in how Franklin practices self-development, and constantly tried to improve himself on a daily basis. For example, Franklin created a system to measure his weaknesses. He wrote down all of his weaknesses and tracked his behavior against them. At the end of each week, he would reflect on his progress and would change the order of the behaviors he still needed to work on to become a better and wiser person.
Outliers: The Story of Success (336 pages)
BY MALCOLM GLADWELL – 10,000 hours. Yes, 10,000 hours is the amount of time and deliberate practice one needs to put in to be world-class in an area of expertise. Start clocking hours!
If this post was helpful and you’re interested in more information on self-improvement, I’d love for you to give this a share or follow me. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!
Questions, comments, etc? Feel free to e-mail me at or private message me on LinkedIn , Twitter @BrendanMartinC1 , and Youtube @BrendanMartinCoyne.
Thanks for reading, and keep up the great work.

Afropean: Notes from Black Europe extract – ‘it really was another world’ | Books | The Guardian

In his new book, Sheffield-born writer Johny Pitts shows a side of Europe and its people that often goes unseen. A s the Eurostar pulled into the cavernous entrance of the Gare du Nord at dusk, I sat back for a moment and watched the same commuters I’d seen elegantly sipping their sauvignon blancs and café noirs just a moment ago lose their grace, awkwardly pushing, struggling with baggage and queueing up to dash out on to the platform. They had families to catch up with, friends to see, business to attend to and parties to schmooze at – the things I was about to opt out of for a few months.
Having no obligations should have been a pleasant feeling, I suppose, and yet, sitting there alone on the Eurostar, rain droplets on the windows disfiguring the platform beyond them, and west African cleaners as shadow-like as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man taking the place of those well-heeled commuters I’d just seen alight, I experienced the kind of trepidation people often have before setting out on a long journey. It suddenly struck me that what lay before me was an empty, disquieting expanse of loneliness and uncertainty. That I’d just entered a geographic landmass in which I would be a foreigner in every capacity. Was there really a cohesive idea of a black Europe I might find some sort of solidarity with? Everything suddenly struck me as an abstraction: who was “black”? What was “Europe”?
With a sense of foreboding pulling me back into my seat, I sat for a few minutes until I must have been the last passenger on the train, surrounded by the remnants left behind by my former travelling companions – empty crisp packets, mini bottles of wine rolling on their side and tables stained with coffee rings – and learned the lesson of slowing down in order to tap into a new big-city frequency. Various tempos reveal different realities, and very often Europe’s black workforce inhabits the liminal terrain I’d just experienced, as cleaners, taxi drivers, porters, security guards, ticket sellers and nightclub bouncers; they are there and not there. I knew of this world already, of course; I’d been part of it in the past but had never before thought of it as an invisible world through which white Europe blithely passes without ever really seeing.
I watched the two Senegalese men joke with one another in creolised French, making the most of the banality of tidying and preparing the carriage for what would likely be another set of mostly white commuters. This job was hardly enviable, and struck me as symbolic of a power dynamic between Africans and Europeans that hadn’t changed for centuries; whatever European countries like to suggest, black people were still cleaning white people’s toilets, changing their bedsheets, guarding their buildings and sweeping their floors. They were also being accused of “stealing” these jobs (which nobody wanted) while simultaneously managing, somehow, to live as lazy freeloaders. They could be both these things in the imagination, on news bulletins, in the right-leaning press, as long as nobody ever really acknowledged their existence in daily interactions, as long as their lives and humanity and work were all rendered invisible in the flesh.
La Bite, Paris. Photograph: Johny Pitts
As soon as I stepped down on to the platform, Paris presented itself as a city occupied by African communities in a way even I had never noticed on previous trips. I suppose, if I had been searching Europe for its pensioners, or its Chinese communities, the continent would appear full of those demographics, too. I knew that, apart from London, Paris had the largest black presence in Europe, but it struck me as overwhelmingly black, from station staff to the commuters passing through and on the Métro, as I voyaged beneath the north African quarter of Barbès-Rochechouart and the west African market hub of Château Rouge on Line 4, to my digs on Rue Caulaincourt. This was also a city that had its very own tours designed to celebrate this long, rich history, and I’d booked to be on one of them the day after I arrived, curious to see some commerce centred around black tourism.
After a terrible night full of anonymous snores and stinks (my first ever night in a hostel), I overslept and woke up groggy, worried I was going to be too late for the tour. In my email correspondence with the tour leader, Ricki Stevenson, however, Quote: : “We never leave anyone behind, so don’t worry if you’re running on French-people time.” When I finally arrived, 10 minutes late, at our meeting point, Brioche Dorée, a somewhat banal French cafe chain, I felt an eager curiosity about what I’d find. How many people would be taking the black Paris tour? Would they be black or white? What had brought them to it?
In the corner of the room sat a black man and woman, middle-aged and neatly dressed, obviously waiting for somebody. They were distinct from the many black French customers at the cafe and I knew they were African American from a mile away.
They were Jimmy and Niecy Brown, and Jimmy pronounced their names as though they were a business. He was miffed that Ricki, our guide, hadn’t yet shown up, and wary and defensive of me until he found out that my dad had been born and raised in Brooklyn. When I saw his frostiness thaw a little at the mention of this, I laid on my second-hand African Americanness thickly, not putting on an accent exactly but softening my “T”s a little and saying things like “So whadda you guys doing so far from ‘home’?”, implying that America was a psychic home we shared. I talked of the cook-outs we have at the Pitts family reunions every year in South Carolina. I was sort of mimicking the way I’d noticed my dad act when he was around other African Americans in the UK. Watching him, I’d always feel as though he was a member of a secret club that my mum and I didn’t have access to. My dad never tried to be overtly English, and still has his Brooklyn accent after four decades living in Sheffield, but something about his character would change when he met a fellow African American. He was mildly subdued, slightly secretive even, when he presented himself in interactions with Brits, black or white, but would suddenly come alive when speaking to a “brother”. That was one of the words he’d use, and he’d laugh and clown in a way that made me, with my Yorkshire accent, feel envious and flat.
Barbes Rochechouart, Paris. Photograph: Johny Pitts
Jimmy was boasting that he’d already seen half the world but had made this particular trip because he’d always promised Niecy he’d whisk her off to see Paris, a city that occupies a special place in the imagination of many African Americans. Just then two women walked – or, more accurately, sauntered – over. Though these women were both American, unlike Jimmy and Niecy they could have passed for French, one wearing a red woollen beret with a woollen jacket, the other in a crocheted hat and a yellow mac. One of these elegant women turned out to be our guide.
Right from the start, I could see that Jimmy was going to give Ricki a hard time. She introduced herself warmly: “Hi, I’m Ricki Stevenson, and I’m gonna go ahead and guess that you all are my group.” But Jimmy just scowled and said: “We were starting to think you might not show up.” The woman she was with, also African American, was called Clemence, worked at a publishing company in New York and was a trainee tea master. Both women were middle-class academics, and their knowledge seemed to clash with Jimmy’s, who would go on to dismiss almost all their observations with his own brand of experiential wisdom. He was keen to let us all know he had lived and that his education at the school of life was where the real knowledge was at.
We had to say why we were taking the tour, and I stumbled over my words, incoherently spurting out that I was thinking of writing a book about black Europe, which I regretted immediately, but at the mention of this the table came alive, saying how it was a great idea. Clemence asked if she could see a manuscript once it had been written (it was the first time I’d had the notion that my scruffy notebooks might one day form something called a “manuscript”). Jimmy said: “I’ve got some stories for your book”, and Ricki mentioned texts for research, such as Three Years in Europe by William Wells Brown (1852).
After our introductions, Ricki handed us all a sheet of paper with a list of names of black historical figures, then asked us to put a tick next to all the people we thought might have either lived in Paris or had a strong connection with the city. If I had played the game in earnest, I’d have ticked off maybe a third of the names, but I suspected it was a trick question and that everyone on the list should be ticked. I didn’t say so, because I didn’t want to spoil Ricki’s big reveal – that would be a job for Jimmy.
Coulaincourt, Paris. Photograph: Johny Pitts
“You pro’ly just gon’ tell us they all been here,” he said.
“And you’d be correct,” replied Ricki, unfazed by the smart alec of the group, and went on to tell us about Alexandre Dumas, who carved out a legendary space in the canon of French literature with world-famous novels such as The Three Musketeers (1844) and The Count of Monte Cristo (1844–5). Dumas’s West African grandmother, Marie-Cessette, had been an enslaved woman working on a plantation in Haiti in the late 1700s and was ultimately emancipated because of her physical beauty – bought for a “golden price” by Marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman. It’s unclear how complicit Marie-Cessette was in the love affair that would ensue with her “master”. On the one hand, when his finances started to wane, the marquis sold the four children he had with Marie-Cessette back into slavery, indicating that the power dynamic between white master and black slaves hadn’t shifted terribly. On the other hand, he did sell the children to a “mulatto” colonialist, perhaps in the hope of fairer treatment, and eventually bought back his only son, later sending him to Paris to attend a prestigious military school. This young boy was Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, who would go on to become a general in the French army and the highest-ranking black soldier in Europe’s history, and himself had a son who would become one of the most famous French novelists of all time, Alexandre Dumas. Alexandre Dumas’s son, also Alexandre, would go on to achieve a lauded place in French society as a playwright and novelist. Jean-Fernand Brierre, the Haitian poet and politician who contributed much to the Negritude movement, was a descendant of Marie-Cessette’s sister Rosette. This is the type of grand Afropean lineage you don’t often hear about.
As the tour group headed out along the Champs-Élysées, Ricki made not just contemporary blackness visible but lifted the veil of Europe to reveal black histories all over the city. Paris’s most famous avenue was no longer a place of high-end boutiques and suggestions of white European greatness but evocative of the 369th infantry regiment , also known as the Harlem Hellfighters (due to being comprised mostly of men of African American and Puerto Rican descent – who made up the cultural language of Harlem in the early 20th century). Stationed in France during the first world war, they fought bravely in the trenches, setting a record for the longest deployment of any unit, playing an instrumental role in several key battles and winning the French Croix de Guerre medal for bravery. Despite this acknowledgement, when the war was won, US government officials refused to allow them to join the 1919 Champs-Élysées victory march, a racist PR manoeuvre the Allies would later replicate at the end of the second world war with regard to black soldiers from the French colonies. The Hellfighters managed to leave a lasting legacy not just through their bravery but also through their music; under the direction of band leader James Reese Europe, they essentially introduced France to jazz and doo wop, an indelible mark no member of the government could erase.
‘This idea African Americans have about racism not existing in France is ridiculous because it does, in abundance’
When we arrived at the Arc de Triomphe, Ricki told us how the monument had been turned into a symbol of freedom and a place of pilgrimage by African American artists and intellectuals who had visited the city, from Frederick Douglass to Booker T Washington and Countee Cullen, ever since, said Ricki, “William Wells Brown climbed its stairs in 1849 and described how ‘you could look out on a city where you are finally free, even from bounty hunters and fugitive slave laws’”. This imagining of Paris still holds weight for many, and I saw it in the eyes of Jimmy when we were on the bus driving towards [the American novelist] Richard Wright’s former home in the suburb of Neuilly. He was looking wistfully out of the window at the coffee-coloured townhouses and the stylish Parisians filling the streets and found it hard to believe that anybody actually lived in such a place. The whole city was, for Jimmy, a film set, with even its homeless people appearing to him as something oddly picturesque – this wasn’t Skid Row in Los Angeles, it was Les Mis poverty, Roma women in headscarves begging beneath dramatic Napoleonic fountains and scattering pigeons. He turned to Ricki and asked if she liked it in Paris. Because everything he’d said so far had seemed loaded, Ricki was unsure where he was going with the question and asked him what he meant.
“Do. You. Like. It. Here?” he repeated pointedly, and Ricki told him that yes, of course she did, and wanted to know why he asked, and suddenly his facial expression became earnest.
“Because I do, too. I could live here, you know. I walk around the streets and it feels as though people don’t see me. In a good way, I mean. It’s like I ain’t black here, I’m just a human being.”
Rome. Johny Pitts’s research for Afropean took him all over Europe. Photograph: Johny Pitts
“Well, that’s because you’re an American, Jimmy,” said Ricki. “The Afro-French have a very different experience here than you or me. This idea African Americans have about racism not existing in France is ridiculous because it does, in abundance. Even if you look at some of the comparatively successful African Americans who came and lived in France – Baldwin, Wright, Baker and many others – you’ll notice that they all died alone, and often penniless.” Jimmy, though, was too busy admiring the view out of the bus window – he’d barely listened to a thing Ricki had said all day and, more and more, I found it hard to concentrate on the information Ricki was giving me because Jimmy had started to sort of take me under his wing. I would be taking two tours for the price of one: Ricki Stevenson’s tour of black Paris, and Jimmy Brown’s tour of his own life, a life that at least partly explained the romance of Europe held by black Americans.
Much like my dad and many of the people Ricki mentioned who managed to make a home in Europe, as a young man Jimmy had escaped a violently racist America for a Europe that perhaps exoticised African Americans but at least wasn’t lynching them. He left as a 17-year-old with the US navy’s submarine division in the 1960s, hating white people, he said. That’s when he found what he called his “promised land”. And the name of this utopia?
“Scotland. We were stationed in Holy Loch and what I loved about that place was that nobody was prejudged on race but instead on faith – it wasn’t about whether you were black or white, it was about being Protestant or Catholic. That’s when I realised it wasn’t white people who were my enemies, but American whites.”
We headed north towards Neuilly, an upmarket district and formerly the home and hangout spot of a number of black intellectuals from the 30s to the 60s, including James Baldwin and his sometime friend, mentor and, later, rival, Richard Wright. Just before entering the district, Ricki stopped us on a bridge overlooking a bypass. “See that stream of cars down there? That piece of road circles right around central Paris and is known as Le Périphérique . Everything outside the periphery is considered a suburb. We are about to enter one of the nice suburbs of Paris, but the French word for “suburb” usually has connotations of something much less quaint than in English – as you can see, there is a different world outside that romantic depiction of Paris on postcards.”
Ricki pointed towards a series of spooky white tower blocks standing ominously in the distance, illuminated by a low sun and shimmering in the hazy pollution like an otherworldly apparition. It really was another world. Ricki told us that some say the word for “suburb”, banlieue , comes from the words bannissement (“banishment”) and lieu (“place”). Banlieue: “place of banishment”. In the early 19th century, Paris was a city rampant with crime and disease so, funded largely by colonial riches from Africa, Napoleon III decided to clear the slums, commissioning city planner Georges-Eugène Haussmann to create a new Paris with better sewage systems and wider streets that could be patrolled and controlled, to replace the shady, revolution-friendly labyrinth the city had become. Aside from the newer streets being easier to police, the poor and unwanted were also driven further out of the centre of Paris because of the higher rents these new, luxurious townhouses commanded. It was the era that gave birth to the Paris the world knows and loves but, today, beyond the periphery, the “banished ones” still reside, now often immigrants from west and north Africa, as well as Roma travelling communities who are cut off from the centre of the city geographically and imaginatively. Napoleon and Haussmann may have pushed the poor out, but it was another legendary architect, Le Corbusier, who, in contrast to the extravagant Haussmann (and, in many ways, attempting to serve as an antithesis), created a template for the concrete tower blocks that are home to such social unrest today.
With a design principle called Unité d’habitation, Le Corbusier gave birth to a new architectural idea that would spread across France and the rest of the world like wildfire in the postwar years and, in essence, spawn the birth of what we now know as the projects, or council estates. Both Haussmann and Le Corbusier were ahead of their time and appear to have had good intentions, but between them they created a landscape perfect for breeding angst in poor communities. Through his luxurious housing ideals, Haussmann first pushed the poor out of the heart of the city, and then, with depressing austerity and modernist experimentation, Le Corbusier pushed them up into the sky, into faceless concrete cages sandwiched on top of one another, later left to fall into decay by the state.
Bern, Switzerland. Photograph: Johny Pitts
The area of the city Richard Wright and James Baldwin inhabited in the 40s and 50s was Haussmann’s Paris , and Neuilly, now among the most expensive districts in the city, was even then unobtainable for most of the Afro-French community. Walking down the main boulevard, through artisanal market stalls selling mouthwatering tapenades, cheeses and saucissons, kicking through autumn leaves that matched the warm, neutral hues of the buildings, then looking up at beautiful iron balconies jutting out from windows with wooden French shutters, it was easy to see what inspired this unashamedly gushing love letter. Wright, author of the polemical American classic Native Son (1940), wrote about his adoptive home in the 40s:
“Yes, the effect of Paris is deep! Paris does something to one and what it does is good – I love this, my adopted city. Naturally in such an atmosphere there is no race tension or conflict. Men are not prejudged here on the basis of their skin or nationality, and I have never heard a Frenchman tell anybody to ‘go back where you came from’. I have encountered among the French no social snobbery: men are accepted as individuals, the more individualistic a man is the more acceptable he is… The French are a civilised people and to live among them is a joy. ‘ Sois raisonnable’ – that is, ‘be reasonable’ – is their motto.”
Only a few days later I would find myself wandering around a banlieue where Wright’s words, the type that still so often inform African American ideas about Paris, tragically contradicted the modern-day reality for many of its black population. As informative as the tour of black Paris was – and I got the feeling Ricki was tailoring it to this particular group – the focus on stories of expats and the general feeling of African American exceptionalism began to frustrate me a little.
‘Welcome to Little Africa!’ said Ricki, as we alighted from another bus and finally immersed ourselves in some Afro-French culture rather than an expat American one. “Little Africa” was Ricki’s name for the neighbouring areas of Château Rouge and Barbès-Rochechouart, and we were greeted by a crowded and discombobulating street full of Senegalese, Cameroonian, Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan market stalls. The Haussmann buildings that cocooned it all were losing their battle to stay Parisian cliches, their facades and interiors reverse-colonised by African aesthetics. Senegalese women bartered for a better price at fruit stalls and old men gossiped on mismatched chairs planted on street corners as Arabic men entered a makeshift mosque. My African American friends were in a state of shock. “This is insane,” said Jimmy, about seven or eight times, and then: “It’s like we on 125th,” referring to the street in New York that runs through Harlem.
What struck me most was how out of place they all looked as African Americans, how frigid and conservative they suddenly appeared. Jimmy kept telling Niecy to watch her bag and Clemence was on edge, as though worried about touching anything and getting dirty. There was a nervous haughtiness about the way they held themselves. I, on the other hand, felt completely relaxed: Château Rouge wasn’t so different to Firth Park, where I grew up, or the part of Peckham I lived in in London. The stores in Château Rouge were fiercely independent, with beautiful DIY signage, fonts painted by hand, very slightly off-kilter, like old Coca-Cola logos on Haitian beach shacks. They sold oddments: outdated electronics, Ghanaian fabrics, mixtapes from Côte d’Ivoire, specific ingredients for African recipes and palates, and intricate haircuts. Château Rouge was brimming with treasure and junk – the backwash of second-hand one-offs from Africa and Europe, antiqued by journeys between the two.
Ricki told us we’d reached our last spot on the tour: her favourite Senegalese restaurant.
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Ricki had been a soldier. The tour had been a challenging one: Clemence turned her nose up at everything, Niecy didn’t seem to understand anything and Jimmy and I spent most of our time back from the group, him talking, me trying to make sure I memorised everything he was saying to write down later. I felt a bit sorry for her at the end of it all; even this big “Ta-dah!” at the end of a long day had turned sour. The food, I thought, was excellent, and as we ate we were serenaded by a man playing his kora (a harp-like west African instrument), but after a few spoonfuls Jimmy said: “I wanna get out of here,” and Clemence whispered to Niecy: “I bet the hygiene is poor.”
After the meal, we said our goodbyes and exchanged email addresses, promising to stay in touch, and there was suddenly an odd sense of camaraderie, or perhaps acknowledgement, the type you give someone when you know you’ve just experienced something with them that, for better or worse, you’ll remember for a long time. I was glad to have met Jimmy and Niecy Brown, Clemence with her beret, and elegant, knowledgeable Ricki, but I left the tour with no doubt in my mind that, despite my best impressions, and the blood in my veins, I would have to look beyond African America for answers about my situation as a black man in Europe and orient myself more confidently along an Afropean axis.
• Afropean: Notes from Black Europe is published by Allen Lane (£20). To order a copy go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99
Topics Books The Observer Race Europe Travel writing Society books Paris France extracts