Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 30: Me Likes You Very Much by Lauren Barnett

If you've been following Lauren's blog for the past few years, then you already know how great this book is. But if you have yet to be introduced to Lauren's genius, no worries, this book (published by Hic and Hoc Publications) will get you all caught up. Lauren Barnett creates short and simple comics (each one getting its own page) involving quirky, sometimes crude, yet lovable characters making witty, sometimes vulgar, but also endearing comments. The characters are either animals (birds seem to be a favorite) or some inanimate object, such as a fruit or vegetable or some other food or non-food related item. The art is very simple and unrefined, however the minimalist approach is what gives Lauren's comics their character and originality. This is laugh out loud, catch you off gaurd kind of stuff, with a mix of some cute and endearing pieces presented in a very approachable manner. Visit Lauren's blog for examples, and once you're hooked - which won't take long - get your hands on a copy of this book.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 29: Jason Anderson Live

I go to a lot of rock shows. It's one of my most favorite things to do. The best part of seeing live music is being part of the experience, being pulled into the music and participating in something singular...a moment in time that can't be repeated. Whether it's dancing like a maniac to the music or just bobbing your head, singing along at the top of your lungs or just mouthing the words, live music is all about the experience...and it tugs at every sense. If all you want to see is people playing instruments and singing, you can turn on your TV or find a video to watch on the interwebs, but if you want the full experience, you absolutey must be there in person, present and available. Of course, some folks don't do live music well. They don't create an atmosphere where all senses can be involved, where the soul can come alive and get lost in the sound reverberating through the body. These performers are boring and offer little more than what a TV screen or computer monitor can offer. Jason Anderson is not one of those performers. Jason Anderson endeavors to create an unforgettable experience, replete with crowd participation and energy overload. His shows are extreme with emotion, passion, courage, and heart. He gives everything he has regardless of how few people are there to see it. Whether it's a completely acoustic show in a stranger's living room or a poorly attended show at a hipster bar, Jason Anderson comes completely alive when he performs. He bears it all with heart on sleeve and guts hanging out. If you ever have a chance to see him, I implore you, do not miss out of the opportunity. For information on upcoming Jason Anderson shows, go here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 28: Growing Things: A Guide for Beginning Gardeners

Growing Things is a little zine that Joshua put together out of desperation after seeking for a good zine about basic gardening to include in his distro (Ms. Valerie Park Distro) but not finding anything suitable. With promptings and contributions from friends, he took the initiative to produce the publication that he found lacking. Joshua starts out by making it clear that he and the other contributors are not experts and have no formal training in gardening (especially the science thereof), and that there are myriad ways of going about things. What works for one may not work so well for others. I am pleased that he stated this upfront because as an avid gardener (and as someone who is trained in the profession), I did find a few of the things in this zine to be a bit “off” from my experience and perspective. However, I also agree that everyone’s gardening experience is unique, and in fact, Joshua’s summary of the zine provides very succinct examples of how starkly different the experiences of gardeners can be and how, as I have always felt, gardening is a trial and error, seat of the pants adventure regardless of how long you’ve been doing it or how trained and educated you are concerning it. The content of the zine is exactly what you would expect from a zine about basic gardening: making garden beds, container gardening, planting, weed control, insects, composting, seed saving, watering, plant nutrition, etc. Some of the writing is less about the how-to and more about the joy of gardening. All in all it’s a very informative zine and a great introduction to the world of gardening. Joshua was correct in (albeit reluctantly) deciding to put together the zine he had been wishing existed, because the outcome is a very approachable, well put together, straightforward gardening primer. You can get a copy for yourself by sending $3 + $1 shipping in US or $2 outside the US to Ms. Valerie Park Distro PO Box 2645 Olympia WA 98507.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 27: Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came To Be

The book, Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be by Daniel Loxton, is a short, illustrated book that introduces and explains the Theory of Evolution in the simplest terms so that anyone can understand it. The general concept of evolution is actually quite simple, but there are many people that still don’t know much about it or that don’t quite understand its mechanisms. Loxton’s book does a great job of solving issues like this with its simple language, helpful graphics, and overall straightforwardness and readability. The illustrations are very well done and help to compliment the text so that the concepts are easier to relate to and understand. Apart from addressing the main concepts of evolution, Loxton also spends a portion of the book addressing questions that people who are skeptical about evolution might have, including questions concerning the existence or lack thereof of transitional fossils, the diversity of life and the complexity of some organisms, the origin of life, and religion. This book is designed to be a resource for teaching children about evolution, which is essential for understanding biology and science in general, but it could also be useful in explaining evolution to adults who, for whatever reason, have not been exposed to these concepts. It could also be a great book for those that have been trained in the field of biology who just want to brush up on the main ideas. Either way, I highly recommend taking a look at it. I’m certain that it will have something to offer everyone, regardless of one's level of understanding concerning evolution.