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April 14 Writer Birthdays


April 14 Writer Birthdays

  • 1629 - Christiaan Huygens, Dutch astronomer and physicist who discovered the rings of Saturn, invented the pendulum clock, and wrote about mechanics and optics.

  • 1879 - James Branch Cabell, American author of satirical fantasy and literary fiction.

  • 1886 - Ernst R Curtius, German literary scholar.

  • 1889 - Arnold Joseph Toynbee, British historian best known for his 12-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations.

  • 1901 - Martin Kessel, German novelist.

  • 1935 - Erich von Däniken, Swiss author known for theories about extraterrestrials, described in controversial books such as his most famous one, Chariots of the Gods. (Perhaps he was the inspiration for Dr. Daniel Jackson?)

  • 1946 - Mirielle Guiliano, bestselling French/American diet book author, best known for French Women Don't Get Fat.

  • 1954 - Bruce Sterling, science-fiction author; early cyberpunk pioneer.

  • 1960 - Tina Rosenberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist.

  • 1961 - Daniel Clowes, American cartoonist and screenwriter.

  • 1971 - Mars Callahan, American screenwriter and poker player.

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    April 13 Writer Birthdays

    April 13 Writer Birthdays


    • 1743 - Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the American Declaration of Independence, Notes on the State of Virginia, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom; as third President of the United States, he nearly doubled the size of the country with the Louisiana Purchase. He was also a lawyer, farmer, inventor, linguist, mathematician, and scientist, and is considered one of the most brilliant people ever to hold the office of U.S. President; his legacy is clouded by the contradictions between his written advocacy of individual liberty and his reliance on slave labor on his own plantation.

    • 1828 - Josephine Elizabeth Butler, British writer and activist who was especially concerned with the welfare of prostitutes; she led a campaign for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts both in Britain and internationally.

    • 1891 - Nella Larsen, American novelist and short-story writer of the Harlem Renaissance, who was also a librarian and a nurse.

    • 1902 - Marguerite Henry, multiple Newbery Medal-winning American children's book author, best known for her novel Misty of Chincoteague.

    • 1906 - Samuel Beckett, Nobel Prize-winning Irish playwright and writer; the Nobel committee praised his writing, which "in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation."

    • 1909 - Eudora Welty, influential Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of novels and nonfiction about the American South.

    • 1916 - Edna Lewis, African-American chef and author best known for her books on traditional American Southern cuisine.

    • 1922 - John Braine, novelist associated with the Angry Young Men movement, a loosely defined group of English writers who emerged on the literary scene in the 1950s.

    • 1938 - Olawale Gladstone Emmanuel Rotimi (best known as Ola Rotimi), a leading Nigerian playwright and theatre directors.

    • 1939 - Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet, writer, and translator whose "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth ... exalt everyday miracles and the living past."

    • 1940 - J.M.G. Le Clézio, Nobel Prize-winning French-Mauritian-Breton novelist and professor.

    • 1947 - Rae Armantrout, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet who was one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets, known for her lyrical voice and her commitment to the interior and the domestic; her short-lined poems dismantle conventions of memory, pop culture, science, and mothering, and are often streaked with wit. She notes: “You can hold the various elements of my poems in your mind at one time, but those elements may be hissing and spitting at one another.”

    • 1949 - Christopher Hitchens, British author, essayist, journalist, columnist, orator, and critic who concentrated on politics, literature and religion.

    • 1963 - Garry Kimovich Kasparov (born Garik Kimovich Weinstein), Azerbaijan-born writer and political activist who is a Russian chess grandmaster and a former World Chess Champion, and whom many consider to be the greatest chess player of all time.

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    April 12 Writer Birthdays

    April 12 Writer Birthdays


    • 1573 - Jacques Bonfrère, Belgian professor, Jesuit priest, Biblical scholar, and leading commentator on the Old Testament.

    • 1823 - Alexander Nikolayevich Ostrovsky, Russian realistic playwright said to have "almost single-handedly created a Russian national repertoire." His dramas are among the most widely read and performed plays in Russia.

    • 1904 - Francis Claud Cockburn, Chinese-born Anglo-Scots journalist who was a 2nd cousin to novelists Alec Waugh and Evelyn Waugh.

    • 1905 - Inger Hagerup, Norwegian author, playwright, and poet; she is considered one of the greatest Norwegian poets of the 20th century.

    • 1907 - Hardie Gramatky, painter, author, and illustrator of children's books; Andrew Wyeth called him one of America's 20 greatest watercolorists.

    • 1916 - Beverly Cleary, popular American author of books for children and young adults, best known for Ramona the Pest and the other Ramona books.

    • 1921 - Carol Emshwiller, Nebula Award-winning and World Fantasy Award-winning American author of science-fiction novels, fantasy, westerns, magic realism, and short stories.

    • 1930 - Bryan Edgar Magee, British philosopher, broadcaster, politician, author, and poet; he is best known as a popularizer of philosophy.

    • 1939 - Alan Ayckbourn, English playwright, author, and director.

    • 1945 - Serge Schmemann, French-born writer, journalist, and editor.

    • 1947 - Tom Clancy, American author of intricate espionage and military thrillers; creator of the character Jack Ryan.

    • 1949 - Scott Turow, bestselling American author of legal fiction and nonfiction.

    • 1952 - Gary Soto, American poet and young-adult fiction author.

    • 1954 - Jon Krakauer, American author and mountaineer, known for his action-packed nonfiction books.

    • 1957 - Tama Janowitz, American novelist and satirist.

    • 1986 - Elise Parsley, American piano teacher and author/illustrator of children's picture books.

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      April 10 Writer Birthdays

      April 10 Writer Birthdays


      • 1778 - William Hazlitt, English writer, drama, literary critic, painter, social commentator, and philosopher.

      • 1835 - Henry Villard, German-born American journalist, financier, and railroad president.

      • 1847 - Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-born American newspaper publisher.

      • 1867 - George William Russell, Irish poet, theosophist, artist, and political activist.

      • 1890 - Mary Buff, American children's book author who, with wrote with her illustrator husband Conrad; the two were 4-time runners-up for the Caldecott or Newbery medals.

      • 1903 - Clare Turlay Newberry, American children's book author of four Caldecott Honor books.

      • 1910 - Margaret Clapp, Pulitzer Prize-winning American scholar, author, and biorgrapher.

      • 1934 - David Halberstam, American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose nonfiction featured politics and sports.

      • 1934 - Richard Peck, Newbery Medal-winning American young-adult novelist.

      • 1939 - Claudio Magris, Italian scholar, translator, and writer who was popular in much of Europe.

      • 1940 - Clark Blaise, Canadian/American author, professor, essayist, and short-story writer; he is married to novelist Bharati Mukherjee.

      • 1941 - Paul Theroux, American travel writer and novelist.

      • 1947 - David Adler, American author of children's and young-adult books, most notably the Cam Jansen series.

      • 1954 - Anne Lamott, American novelist and nonfiction writer.

      • 1957 - John Michael Ford, American science-fiction and fantasy writer and poet.

      • 1962 - Dani Shapiro, novelist, memoirist, and magazine writer.

      • 1963 - Peter Morgan, British playwright and screenwriter.


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        April 9 Writer Birthdays

        April 9 Writer Birthdays

        • 1821 - Charles Baudelaire, French poet, essayist, and art critic; translator of Edgar Allan Poe; his name inspired Lemony Snicket's choice of family name for the Baudelaire children in the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books.

        • 1865 - Adela Florence Nicolson, English poet who wrote under the pseudonym Laurence Hope.

        • 1875 - Jacques Futrelle, American journalist and mystery writer who died in the sinking of the Titanic.

        • 1908 - Joseph Krumgold, American author of screenplays and children's books; first person to win two Newbery Medals.

        • 1912 - Lev Kopelev, Soviet author and dissident.

        • 1923 - Leonard Levy, Pulitzer Prize-winning American history professor.

        • 1929 - Paule Marshall, American poet and novelist; colleague of Langston Hughes.

        • 1933 - Fern Michaels, bestselling author of romance and thriller novels.

        • 1936 - Valerie Solanas, feminist writer best known for trying to assassinate artist Andy Warhol.

        • 1952 - Robert Clark, Edgar Award-winning American novelist and nonfiction author.

        • 1954 - Ken Kalfus, American author and journalist.

        • 1955 - Kate Heyhoe, American food writer and cookbook author.

        • 1964 - Margaret P. Haddix, bestselling American author of children's and YA fiction.

        • 1967 - Sam Harris, author, philosopher, and neuroscientist.


        Baudelaire - PoemsMarshall - Brown Girl, BrownstonesHaddix - Among the Hidden

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        April 7 Writer Birthdays

        April 7 Writer Birthdays

        • 1770 - William Wordsworth, English poet considered one of the founders of the Romantic movement.

        • 1803 - Flora Tristan, socialist writer, activist, and one of the founders of modern feminism; grandmother to painter Paul Gauguin.

        • 1889 - Gabriela Mistral, pseudonym of Chilean poet and feminist Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature; also an educator and a diplomat.

        • 1897 - Walter Winchell, journalist, broadcaster and columnist.

        • 1928 - James White, Northern Irish science-fiction author.

        • 1931 - Donald Barthelme, American journalist and author of postmodernist short fiction and children's literature; National Book Award winner.

        • 1938 - Iris Johansen, American author of crime fiction and romance novels.

        • 1939 - Francis Ford Coppola, Oscar-winning screenwriter, director, and producer.

        • 1939 - David Frost, British journalist, TV personality, and author, best known to U.S. audiences for a series of interviews with former President Richard Nixon.


        Johansen - Fire StormWordsworth - Poems of William WordsworthMistral - Selected PoemsThe Godfather, by Francis Ford Coppola

        petrini1 [userpic]

        April 5 Writer Birthdays

        April 5 Writer Birthdays


        • 1588 - Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher, physicist, and historian who laid the foundations of western political philosophy.

        • 1837 - Algernon Charles Swinburne, English lyric poet, playwright, novelist, and contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

        • 1856 - Booker T. Washington, author, educator, orator, Tuskegee Institute founder, activist, and African-American leader who was born into slavery.

        • 1904 - Richard Eberhart, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning American poet.

        • 1917 - Robert Bloch, American writer of horror and science fiction; best known as the author of Psycho, the basis of the Hitchcock film.

        • 1920 - Arthur Hailey, bestselling British/Canadian novelist.

        • 1923 - Ernest Mandel, revolutionary Marxist theorist and writer.

        • 1929 - Hugo Claus, Belgian novelist, poet, and playwright; also a painter and theatrical director.

        • 1937 - Joseph Lelyveld, American journalist, NY Times Executive Editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who often set his books in South Africa.

        • 1956 - Anthony Horowitz, English novelist and screenwriter, known for children's novels and his work for British television.

        • 1957 - Anu Garg, Indian-American author whose works explore the intricacies of the English language; founder of Wordsmith.org.

        • 1971 - Charles Cumming, Scottish author of spy fiction.

        • 1975 - Caitlin Moran, British broadcaster, television critic, journalist, columnist, and author.


          Horowitz - The Blurred ManHailey - AirportWashington - Up From SlaveryCumming - Trinity Six

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          April 4 Writer Birthdays

          April 4 Writer Birthdays


          • 1818 - Thomas Mayne Reid, Irish/American adventure novelist; a major influence on Arthur Conan Doyle.

          • 1886 - Frank Luther Mott, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and journalist.

          • 1896 - Robert Emmet Sherwood, American writer who won Pulitzer prizes in both drama and biography.

          • 1908 - Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, American author whose upbringing in a house of 12 children inspired her memoir, Cheaper by the Dozen; daughter of Lillian Moller Gilbreth and Frank Bunker Gilbreth (pioneers in the field of time and motion study, now called organizational behavior).

          • 1914 - Marguerite Duras, Saigon-born French author, screenwriter, and film director whose childhood in Asia gives her fiction setting; French resistance fighter during World War 2.

          • 1928 - Maya Angelou, American author, poet, playwright, and civil-rights activist, best known for her series of autobiographies.

          • 1932 - Johanna Reiss, Dutch-born Caldecott Medal-winning American writer.

          • 1942 - Kitty Kelley, journalist and author of bestselling unauthorized biographies of the famous & powerful.

          • 1942 - Elizabeth Levy, prolific author of children's books.

          • 1948 - Dan Simmons, science-fiction and fantasy novelist who has won the Hugo, Locus, and World Fantasy awards.

          • 1956 - David E. Kelley, Emmy Award-winning screenwriter and TV producer known for such shows as L.A. Law, Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, and more.


            Reiss - The Upstairs RoomAngelou - I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsGilbreth - Cheaper by the DozenKelley - Nancy Reagan, the Unauthorized Biography

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            Storm of Swords Discussion Questions


            • Author George R.R. Martin is known for writing complex characters who are neither all good nor all bad, and who develop as the story progresses. Did any of your opinions on the characters change through the course of this book?

            • In A Clash of Kings, Catelyn's chapters end with a cliffhanger on the fate of Jaime Lannister. We don't see until this book what she decided to do. Did you think that she would free him?  Did she make the best choice?

            • Jaime Lannister becomes a point-of- view character in this book for the first time. Does that change the way you think about him? Why do you think GRRM chose to introduce his POV now, and not earlier?

            • Sansa is often criticized for being passive or shallow; other readers defend her, saying she's just doing what she must to survive. Do you see her as a strong character or a weak one? Why?

            • In this book, we have two pairs of characters who are traveling together, one of them ostensibly the prisoner of the other. Jaime & Brienne start out with an adversarial relationship. So do Arya & the Hound. But in both cases their goals are actually the same. Compare the two relationships. How do they change through the course of the book? How do the captives and captors begin to feel sympathy for each other?

            • Do you think Jon ever seriously considers joining the wildlings for real?

            • GRRM's worldbuilding is detailed enough to include lyrics to quite a few songs. A song in this book that showcases an ongoing motif is "The Bear & The Maiden Fair." How many pairs of "bear" and "maiden" do we see? Brienne's in a pit with an actual bear. Arya and the Hound? Sam and Gilly? What about Dany, who has trusted Jorah Mormont, whose house sigil is a bear and who is described as being big and broad, with lots of dark hair on his body? One of GRRM's first television jobs was writing for the series Beauty & the Beast. Do you think he's playing with some of the same themes here?

            • Speaking of songs, when Symon Silvertongue writes a song that exposes Tyrion's relationship with Shae and tries to blackmail him with it, Tyrion has him killed. How is this different from an earlier episode when Joffrey maimed a bard who sang a satirical song about the Lannisters? Why are we willing to give Tyrion a pass, while we condemn Joffrey's act?

            • Why do you think Stannis is wrapped up in Melisandre and her Red God?  He doesn't seem the type to get lured in.

            • What do you think of Mance Rayder? Is he a hero or a villain (or a little of both)? What is his biggest crime, in the eyes of his former black brothers: leading the wildlings against Westeros, or forsaking his Night's Watch vows in the first place?

            • The White Walkers make a much bigger appearance in this book.  What do you think of them? And we see in this book that turning into a blue-eyed killing machine is not the only form of rebirth in GRRM's world. Consider Beric, Catelyn/Stoneheart, and Coldhands.

            • We know Bran is a warg, and now Jon seems to be one too. In this book, we see that Arya has similar potential, despite having lost her wolf in Book 1. Rob, on the other hand, becomes a cruel parody, when the Freys sew Grey Wind's head onto Rob's body after the Red Wedding. Do you see any evidence that Rob and Sansa would have discovered the ability to see through their wolves' eyes, if they'd been given the time? How has the relationship between the Starks and their wolves changed since Book 1?

            • Again with the maimed hands. In this book, Davos's missing fingers go missing for good. Jaime struggles to come to terms with his new life without his right hand. Tyrion struggles to come to terms with his own new life as no-longer-the-Hand, and even strangles Shae with a chain made of little interlocking hands. Even Baelish's nickname is Little Finger. And then there's Qhorin Halfhand.... Does GRRM have a hand fetish? What is he trying to say here?

            • The theme of hospitality runs strongly throughout this book; in this society, breaking the trust between host and guest is a more serious crime than murder. Discuss the story Bran tells of the Rat King. Compare it to the wedding at the Twins. The murder of the two Lannister boys at Riverrun. The slaughter at Craster's Keep.

            • In fact, keeping one's word is at the center of the values most of these characters hold dear, but most of them break their word repeatedly. How does this play out with Jaime and the promise to protect Catelyns' daughters? Baelish's rewarding of Ser Dantos's efforts with a bolt through the heart, in lieue of the agreed-upon payment? Daenerys's shock and outrage when she learns that Jorah betrayed her trust? (Why does she let Barristan Selmy off with a lighter punishment, when she learns that he hid the fact he was working for her enemies?) But why do we cheer for her when she reneges on the deal to trade a dragon for an Unsullied Army? Did you really think she would give up one of her "children"?

            • Among high-born families in the "Song of Ice & Fire," marriage is often a political tool. Give examples of some good marriages and some bad ones, and talk about what makes them work (or not)?

            • Speaking of marriages, there are three weddings in this book. Even in the most joyous of the three, there's no joy: the bride and groom are being forced into it. But at least nobody dies. Did you see the Red Wedding coming? Why do you think GRRM chose to kill off main characters this way? What about Joffrey's death at his own wedding reception?

            • Did you enjoy this book more or less than the earlier two books in the series?

            petrini1 [userpic]

            April 3 Writer Birthdays

            April 3 Writer Birthdays


            • 1593 - George Herbert, Welsh poet, orator, priest, and pivotal figure in devotional lyrics; associated with metaphysical poetry.

            • 1783 - Washington Irving, American author, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat; best known for his short stories, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle."

            • 1837 - John Burroughs, American naturalist and essayist; a key figure in the U.S. conservation movement.

            • 1880 - Otto Weininger, Austrian philosopher and author (now widely considered misogynistic and antisemitic); fatally shot himself in the chest at the age of 23 in the same room where Beethoven died.

            • 1894 - Dora Black Russell, British author, feminist, birth-control activist, and Countess; married to author and philosopher Bertrand Russell.

            • 1898 - Henry Luce, American journalist, editor, and magazine magnate; founder of Time, Life, and Fortune magazines; called "the most influential private citizen in the America of his day."

            • 1916 - Herb Caen, San Francisco-based journalist and columnist for almost 60 years.

            • 1934 - Jane Goodall, British primatologist, anthropologist, author, and animal-rights activist; world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, and the only human ever known to be accepted in chimpanzee society.

            • 1957 - Unni Lindell, Norwegian novelist, poet, and children’s book writer.

            • 1958 - Vanna Bonta, Italian-born American science-fiction novelist, poet, and actress; invented a spacesuit that was tested in zero-gravity on the History Channel; a haiku she wrote is currently on a NASA spacecraft headed to Mars.

              petrini1 [userpic]

              Thumbs Down for A Wrinkle In Time, the movie

              March 27th, 2018 (06:52 pm)

              I saw A Wrinkle in Time a few days ago, and I agree with most of a review I read by John Ehrett. First, here is an excerpt from his review, which really touches on one of the most basic problems with the film:

              This version of Wrinkle doesn’t ignore L’Engle’s motifs, nor does it simply mangle them. Instead, it inverts them entirely, transforming a story of cosmic good and evil into a banal empowerment parable.... What the film adaptation lacks, however, is something far more important than any particular story moment: namely, a sense of cosmic purpose.... L’Engle’s universe is a landscape of primordial conflict between absolute good and absolute evil.... None of this is meaningfully reflected onscreen. Instead, virtually every event in DuVernay’s film is filtered through the prism of Meg’s individual empowerment. Over and over again, cosmic beings urge Meg to find herself, accept herself, be at peace with herself, and so on. By the third time this happens, we’ve crossed from “irritatingly saccharine” into “positively obnoxious”.... Worse, this all means that Meg’s story isn’t one of change or growth, but merely one of self-acceptance.... In one of the novel’s most pivotal scenes, Meg confronts The IT after the dark power has enslaved Charles Wallace’s soul. As L’Engle tells it, in this instant Meg realizes that her weapon against evil is her capacity for love.... “Now she was even able to look at him, at this animated thing that was not her own Charles Wallace at all. She was able to look and love. …‘I love you!’ she cried. ‘I love you, Charles! I love you!’” But when this same moment arrives in the movie version, DuVernay’s Meg leads off with something quite different: “You love me! You love me because I deserve to be loved!” (Yes, that’s actually in the screenplay.) Evidently, Meg no longer must learn to give love, but to demand it.... It would be hard to imagine a more aberrational take on L’Engle’s philosophy.

              He's absolutely right. There are no universal themes in this film; it's about Meg learning that she's OK just the way she is. In addition, it's poorly paced and just not very interesting. It was bad enough to make me consider walking out halfway through, though I did stick it out.

              I'm amazed that some reviewers think it follows the book closely. It does not. And so much of what's been added doesn't even make sense. Camazotz is not a once-normal planet that has been taken over by dark forces. It's a sort-of-virtual world that is the center of evil. An example of the bizarre choices made by the filmmakers: Meg and Calvin are in a forest there (which does not exist in the book) and see a wall in the distance that they have decided, for some reason, they have to get over. They're pursued by what looks like a big dust storm (also not in the book, and never explained) that's uprooting trees and tossing them around. And Meg decides the two of them need to crawl into a hollow tree, which is then hurled a long distance over the wall. When Calvin asked how she knew that would get them over the wall, she mumbles something about mathematical calculations. Right. No mention of how she knew they wouldn't be killed when it crashed to the ground on the other side.

              And what's with weird scene on the beach????

              I didn't mind the race-switching, but a lot of the director's casting and costume decisions left me confused (or rolling my eyes).

              As is usual in movieland, a beautiful teenage actress plays the lead, but the director puts her in thick glasses, and that's supposed to make us and the other characters think she's unattractive. Mrs. Who, Whatsit, and Which are gloriously described in the book as looking like grandmotherly homeless women, wearing layers of old, patched clothes. Instead, they're much younger-looking than described, and are decked out in fanciful sequiny things, or like refugees from a high-budget science fiction convention, and with glitter makeup. (Sparkly silver lips are a very bad look for Oprah, and make it hard to look anywhere but her mouth when she's onscreen. Except possibly at her sparkly jeweled eyebrows.) And instead of turning into a beautiful winged horse for the kids to ride, Mrs. Whatsit transforms into a large flying green plant. WTF?

              Another change: Charles Wallace is adopted, which screws up the theme of heredity that runs through all the books. He's older than he is in the book, as well. And unlike in the book -- where he barely speaks when he's around anyone but his family, so most people in town believe he's not very bright -- he talks like a dictionary, and everyone thinks he's brilliant but weird. The filmmakers also did away with Meg and CW's twin brothers Sandy and Denys. They just don't exist, so there is no contrast between misfits Meg and Charles Wallace and the brothers who have figured out how to fit in.

              And what's the sense of moving the Murray's home from the Northeastern U.S. to a suburb of Los Angeles? This was one of the changes that disappointed me the most. I grew up wanting to live in Meg's historic old farmhouse four miles outside a New England village, with its drafty attic and her mom's stone-floored lab, and the star-watching rock nearby. Forget that. These Murrays live in a standard suburban California tract house, close enough to the neighbors so the Mean Girl next door can look out her window and into Meg's backyard. (Oh, and, by the way, the Mean Girl, we learn in one quick scene that has little to do with anything else, is anorexic and desperately unhappy.)

              I really tried to forget about the book and accept the film on its own terms, but it's hard to accept most of this on any terms at all. So I'm disappointed, but not really surprised. Once again, Hollywood gets it wrong.

              petrini1 [userpic]

              Reflections Alexandria Winners Slide Show

              March 18th, 2018 (09:03 pm)

              Enjoy this slide show of the Visual Arts and Photography entries that won awards in the 2017-18 Alexandria PTAC Reflections competition. They're set to the music of our Music Composition winner in the high school division, my son Jonathan Morgan Petrini. We are so proud of all of our winners! This year's theme: "Within Reach."

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