Thursday, March 20, 2014

Children need ideas as well as food.

The world is a busy place full of busy people. I am no exception. Yet, I must take time out to let you know that my second installment in The Wormhole Adventures is out. The Wormhole Adventures is a children's chapter book series. It is intended to weave factual information into an adventure in order to educate and entertain. I've been told by parents who truly understand how young kids learn that they dislike children's books that talk down to their kids. I raised my children as if they were capable of learning anything. I never once treated them as if they couldn't understand. I refused to baby talk to them when they were babies. I read them stories that were considered too advanced. Kids have an innate learning ability. It is hard wired into their brains. I don't know too many older people who can learn an entire language in two years. Our educational system fails our children by teaching them as if they weren't smart. The Montessori schools are excellent, however. They understand how kids learn and teach visually and above their age level. My son went to Montessori at the age of three. He was there for three years. He came out with the knowledge to count to a thousand, read simple books, recognize classic masterpieces, play chess, set a table, and so much more. Today he is 16 and scored 100% on his math level II SATs, has been offered full scholarships, won state level chess awards and was offered to skip two grades at the age of 12. He is very happy and loves to learn. I always shared in his excitement  of learning. He loves video games too. So, he is very well rounded. I firmly believe that children just need to be exposed to information in order to learn it. If you're teaching them how to count to 10 over and over again, that's what they'll learn. If you just read simple picture books to them, then they will be at that level. Just because you don't think they understand doesn't mean they don't. Just watch very young children and you will see that they are experts at observation and mimicry. They learn by watching and tend to do very well at repeating processes they see.
   My books will offer higher level information in an elementary school format. There are some parents that believe some of the information is too complicated for younger children. However, I've never met a kid who says this. They will usually store any information they don't understand for later. Eventually, through further reading or exposure to similar knowledge they will put the pieces together. I've seen this over and over again.
     Naturally, there are kids who have trouble learning. Even they should be exposed to information in any way they can absorb it. Even if they are slow at learning due to behavioral issues, that shouldn't stop you from reading to them or buying educational videos. All children need to learn about the world they live in. Some kids may learn better by going on activities or doing experiments. Information is the greatest gift you can give your child. So, if you want to raise smart kids, who love to learn, give them the knowledge they need and desire. You won't regret it, I promise.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cluttered Walls and random minds.

     I was looking at my son's room the other day. I guess I was in a retrospective mood. I realized that every inch of wall space was utilized. His walls were completely covered with posters, clocks, a mirror and his own artwork. My grown daughter had her own cluttered walls when she lived at home. I realized that the walls seemed to correlate to the types of people they are. They are thinkers. They like to read. They like to discuss matters of importance rather than gossip. I confess, alas, that I am the same way. My children are still their own, unique selves. We don't always agree on the same things. However, we do enjoy a deep, mind bending subject. I wonder, if only to myself, if a cluttered wall somehow correlates to a strong, intelligent personality? I've noticed that the mark of a great mind is usually paved by clutter. Clutter is vastly different than a trashy space. What I mean by clutter is the type of space filled with enigmas, art and books. Art can be anything from a movie poster to a Van Gogh reproduction. This is a space which accommodates visually pleasing and diverse eye candy. An area to write, read, listen to music or watch a great documentary. A mind that craves knowledge usually can't hold it all in. It spills out among its living space.
     I marvel at the home with vacant walls. I am aghast at the home with nary a book. I cannot fathom a home that lacks music. Conversely, those same inhabitants would probably be taken aback by my choice of surroundings. I wonder if those with bare walls tend to be followers rather than one who beats his own drum? I do know of a home like this. The inhabitants do tend to follow what is popular. They do not like books and tend to follow the status quo. They are quite "normal" by society's terms. At the same time, these types of people do not leave behind great art or words of wisdom. They cannot quote an obscure movie and list mind blowing books. They fall on extreme sides from being too gullible or too pessimistic. I also believe that they live more stressful lives. It isn't easy being normal. Society will tell you a completely different story. I do believe society lies. From my point of view, the more stressed out people are those trying to be normal.  
     On the other hand, those unique individuals who do not care who they please or don't please tend to be more laid back. They just live their passions. They understand that life is nothing but a medley of diverging paths. They do not stroke against the tide of diversity. No, they flow right along and marvel at each experience to the fullest. They delight in a great new read or work of art. They relish music in a way that only they can understand. To this end, I celebrate the chaos of the cluttered home. I laud the potpourri of wonders corralled into the four walls we call home.

Below: Author Rudyard Kipling's home
Rudyard Kipling, author.

Below: William Buckley, author and commentator:
William Buckley, author and commentator.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Delightful Ghost Story by Jerome K. Jerome (who is now a ghost himself)


Told After Supper
By Jerome K. Jerome
Published in 1891

Teddy Biffles' Story (Johnson and Emily; or, the Faithful Ghost)
Teddy Biffles told the first story, I will let him repeat it here in his own words.

(Do not ask me how it is that I recollect his own exact words-- whether I took them down in shorthand at the time, or whether he had the story written out, and handed me the MS. afterwards for publication in this book, because I should not tell you if you did. It is a trade secret.)

Biffles called his story - JOHNSON AND EMILY
OR
THE FAITHFUL GHOST
(Teddy Biffles' Story)

I was little more than a lad when I first met with Johnson. I was home for the Christmas holidays, and, it being Christmas Eve, I had been allowed to sit up very late. On opening the door of my little bedroom, to go in, I found myself face to face with Johnson, who was coming out. It passed through me, and uttering a long low wail of misery, disappeared out of the staircase window.

I was startled for the moment--I was only a schoolboy at the time, and had never seen a ghost before,--and felt a little nervous about going to bed. But, on reflection, I remembered that it was only sinful people that spirits could do any harm to, and so tucked myself up, and went to sleep.

In the morning I told the Pater what I had seen.

"Oh yes, that was old Johnson," he answered. "Don't you be frightened of that; he lives here." And then he told me the poor thing's history.

It seemed that Johnson, when it was alive, had loved, in early life, the daughter of a former lessee of our house, a very beautiful girl, whose Christian name had been Emily. Father did not know her other name.

Johnson was too poor to marry the girl, so he kissed her good-bye, told her he would soon be back, and went off to Australia to make his fortune.

But Australia was not then what it became later on. Travellers through the bush were few and far between in those early days; and, even when one was caught, the portable property found upon the body was often of hardly sufficiently negotiable value to pay the simple funeral expenses rendered necessary. So that it took Johnson nearly twenty years to make his fortune.

The self-imposed task was accomplished at last, however, and then, having successfully eluded the police, and got clear out of the Colony, he returned to England, full of hope and joy, to claim his bride.

He reached the house to find it silent and deserted. All that the neighbours could tell him was that, soon after his own departure, the family had, on one foggy night, unostentatiously disappeared, and that nobody had ever seen or heard anything of them since, although the landlord and most of the local tradesmen had made searching inquiries.

Poor Johnson, frenzied with grief, sought his lost love all over the world. But he never found her, and, after years of fruitless effort, he returned to end his lonely life in the very house where, in the happy bygone days, he and his beloved Emily had passed so many blissful hours.

He had lived there quite alone, wandering about the empty rooms, weeping and calling to his Emily to come back to him; and when the poor old fellow died, his ghost still kept the business on.

It was there, the Pater said, when he took the house, and the agent had knocked ten pounds a year off the rent in consequence.

After that, I was continually meeting Johnson about the place at all times of the night, and so, indeed, were we all. We used to walk round it and stand aside to let it pass, at first; but, when we grew at home with it, and there seemed no necessity for so much ceremony, we used to walk straight through it. You could not say it was ever much in the way.

It was a gentle, harmless, old ghost, too, and we all felt very sorry for it, and pitied it. The women folk, indeed, made quite a pet of it, for a while. Its faithfulness touched them so.

But as time went on, it grew to be a bit a bore. You see it was full of sadness. There was nothing cheerful or genial about it. You felt sorry for it, but it irritated you. It would sit on the stairs and cry for hours at a stretch; and, whenever we woke up in the night, one was sure to hear it pottering about the passages and in and out of the different rooms, moaning and sighing, so that we could not get to sleep again very easily. And when we had a party on, it would come and sit outside the drawing-room door, and sob all the time. It did not do anybody any harm exactly, but it cast a gloom over the whole affair.

"Oh, I'm getting sick of this old fool," said the Pater, one evening (the Dad can be very blunt, when he is put out, as you know), after Johnson had been more of a nuisance than usual, and had spoiled a good game of whist, by sitting up the chimney and groaning, till nobody knew what were trumps or what suit had been led, even. "We shall have to get rid of him, somehow or other. I wish I knew how to do it."

"Well," said the Mater, "depend upon it, you'll never see the last of him until he's found Emily's grave. That's what he is after. You find Emily's grave, and put him on to that, and he'll stop there. That's the only thing to do. You mark my words."

The idea seemed reasonable, but the difficulty in the way was that we none of us knew where Emily's grave was any more than the ghost of Johnson himself did. The Governor suggested palming off some other Emily's grave upon the poor thing, but, as luck would have it, there did not seem to have been an Emily of any sort buried anywhere for miles round. I never came across a neighbourhood so utterly destitute of dead Emilies.

I thought for a bit, and then I hazarded a suggestion myself.

"Couldn't we fake up something for the old chap?" I queried. "He seems a simple-minded old sort. He might take it in. Anyhow, we could but try."

"By Jove, so we will," exclaimed my father; and the very next morning we had the workmen in, and fixed up a little mound at the bottom of the orchard with a tombstone over it, bearing the following inscription:-

SACRED
TO THE MEMORY OF
EMILY
HER LAST WORDS WERE -
"TELL JOHNSON I LOVE HIM"

"That ought to fetch him," mused the Dad as he surveyed the work when finished. "I am sure I hope it does."

It did!

We lured him down there that very night; and--well, there, it was one of the most pathetic things I have ever seen, the way Johnson sprang upon that tombstone and wept. Dad and old Squibbins, the gardener, cried like children when they saw it.

Johnson has never troubled us any more in the house since then. It spends every night now, sobbing on the grave, and seems quite happy.

"There still?" Oh yes. I'll take you fellows down and show you it, next time you come to our place: 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. are its general hours, 10 to 2 on Saturdays.

Friday, August 10, 2012

From beyond

I've been busy finishing the edits on my latest book, vacationing and working. I've been catching up on the original Doctor Who shows from my youth. (I have all 26 seasons and specials) while I wait for series 7. The Sci Fi/Horror Convention in Louisville, KY was a lot of fun. I met the fifth Doctor and many other celebrities. I am a fan of sci fi, silly humor and most things geeky. I also love the Classics...art, literature, music... I hope to have my European vacation before too long. I watched Craig Ferguson's week in Scotland, which was interesting. He traveled by Tardis from the States, since he is a Doctor Who fan. I bet he wished he could actually have done that.
  So, I'm checking in with the cyber world as I toil away on my (top secret) projects and finish my current ones. Now I must return to the dimension of time and space where reality is a bit askew.
I

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Living Day by Day

Why is it that tortured souls sometimes make great authors? Anything that is intensely felt, transfers itself eloquently to the written word. The feelings, some good, some bad, can be so intense that the individual must purge the emotions via pen and paper (or database). The result can be cathartic to the writer and fascinating to the reader. Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Ernest Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde all use their writing as a way to release their inner soul. They felt and lived deeply. If an author doesn't have a cause, passion or deep thought, most likely the author will not sell very many books. In order to convey emotion, one must feel it. I don't think Stephen King felt the horror that he portrays necessarily, but he does have a passion. He's written editorials and given his opinions on a myriad of social inequities in society. He can connect to his stories because he connects to the world in some way.
  I may not be tortured at this point in my life, but I have felt that way in earlier times. It is difficult to live a life without experiencing all the emotions humans are gifted with. They all, including the bad ones, have a purpose. We may look back and find moments of regret. There may be times that we really didn't like who we were. Those time serve an important part of our existence. It gives us direction. It shows us who we want to be and who we are. How sad life would be without any direction in it. Imagine living a life without hopes, dreams and goals. At the same time, we must follow our instincts and the signs all around us. They give us direction and purpose. We must follow through with our passions. If we don't, what is the point? Having a loving family is wonderful, but we need to love ourselves first or we have nothing to give. So, live large, listen to that inner voice which is always whispering to you and love your moments. Because, right now is all you'll ever have. Life is one long string of todays - make them lovely, or, at the very least make them satisfying.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Writer's Life


Oscar Wilde statue in Dublin 
Major writing, editing and other projects have been keeping me from updating my blog. Keeping this updated is necessary, however, if I expect anyone to remember that I exist (outside of family). The life of a writer doesn't have to be all work. I have been doing tons of reading. Reading helps me become a better writer and it relaxes me. Recently, I've been reading books about Oscar Wilde, written by his son Vyvyan Holland. I've also been reading Oscar Wilde's life in letters, edited by his grandson, Merlin Holland. They are wonderful and insightful. It gives the reader a unique perspective on Wilde's life, ideas and passions. He was a very intelligent and talented man who was definitely ahead of his time. Its sad that his sexual orientation is all that people tend to mention when referring to Wilde. His grandson, who was recently present at the re-dedication of Oscar Wilde's tomb, said that his private life should be just that, private and a small part of who he was. The tomb was surrounded by plexiglass in order to protect it from too many kisses. In today's world, his private life wouldn't have made much of a difference. Yet, in the strict Victorian world, it was his downfall. It was a sad end to a brilliant mind. I highly recommend these books. Some are out of print and can be found on ebay from time to time. Walking to the beat of a different drum requires bravery, determination and intelligence. Oscar Wilde had all three and then some. Also available is the film "Wilde" starring Stephen Frye.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Alive Inside Clip of Henry.m4v

This is what music can do for the human soul. The same goes for reading great works. The human psyche has a wonderful connection to the creative arts. It can't be explained completely in scientific terms. However, scientists do know that the connection exists. Music Therapy is a career where music is used to help the mentally or physically challenged. I find that music, art and reading opens up something inside me. When exposed to great works, I find my own creativity sparked. Anyone who has a passion understands the symbiotic relationship between the passion and the soul. Here's to music and all the creative arts! May the world live its passion and give up its destruction. Love, not hate is what makes the world go 'round!