Waverly dance
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Designer Cufflinks: Wearable by Design

It seems to you you've spent half your life waiting to see Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, "Mona Lisa" in person. You have read virtually every book and article about the mystique surrounding the work. You saw "The da Vinci Code" thirty times, which is probably a world record. On several occasions, you have burnt the midnight oil studying reprints of the artwork. Now here you are -- in Paris' Louvre Museum, standing in front of one of the world's most famous artworks! Your eyes zoom in on the magnum opus like a microscope, examining the details of the painting, inch-by-inch. You realize that something is wrong with Mona Lisa's smile, but you find it hard to put a finger on it. Then, it hits you what the problem is. Her mouth is missing! A detail missing from such a masterpiece is like a formal outfit without the perfect designer cufflinks.

More than Mere Details

The brilliance of artwork masterpieces is in the details. In another of da Vinci's works, "The Last Supper," the artist includes extra details of the background, which provide the work with increased depth and realism. Each of Jesus' apostles displays a different reaction to their leader's words. In addition, Michelangelo needed four years to complete the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which includes one of his most renowned works, "The Creation of Adam." The artwork meticulously shows the artist's familiarity with the human body. Similarly, while a man's formal outfit might not take four years to complete, its designer cufflinks must be chosen carefully to make the ensemble a masterpiece. The set of cufflinks puts the finishing touch on a work-in-progress that includes a shirt, a suit, a belt, socks, and shoes.

Shaping Up to Be a Masterpiece

In painting, the use of shapes is one of the numerous methods to perfecting details. For instance, some medical experts have indicated that in "The Creation of Adam," the shapes and figures behind God form a human brain. If this were true, it would reveal the artist's mastery in manipulating objects in artwork, to create shapes of other known objects. Also, in Georges Braque's "Woman with a Guitar," the artist expertly uses cubism to create his unique yet effective portrayal. Likewise, designer cufflinks can come in limitless shapes, from simple oval and square, to palm trees and faucets.

Mass Media

As important as the painting itself is what the painting is painted on. Masterpieces can be created using numerous media, including watercolor, pastel, oil, ink, fresco, and acrylic. For example, Claude Monet painted "Woman in the Garden" using oil. While Michelangelo's artwork on the Sistine Chapel was done using frescos, in modern times, perhaps he would have used his talent to create the newest CGI animation blockbuster. In the same way, designer cufflinks can contain an array of materials, including fine stones, silver, gold, and even diamonds!

Soup and Superheroes

Finally, remember that details on a medium create the big picture. When an artist sits down in front of a white surface, his imagination alone limits what he can create. Vincent van Gogh painted sunflowers. Andy Warhol painted soup cans. Edvard Munch painted a screaming dude with a very bad hair day. In choosing designer cufflinks, the sky is the limit! Basic designs include your first name's initial or naturally paired words. If you feel a little more expressive, go for the superhero or sports team logo. If you want truly wacky designer cufflinks, choose the telephone or acorn models.

A masterpiece does not happen by mistake. It requires great vision, planning, and attention to detail. Designer cufflinks are the same. A lot of vision, planning, and attention to detail go into their selection. It's all worth it, however, because designer cufflinks make each suit you wear a singular modern masterpiece.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The Account of - Guadalupe and Little Coyote (A True Story on Crossing the American Boarder)

The Account of: Guadalupe and Little Coyote

(A True Story on Cross the American Boarder)

(Written 6-24-2007)

Advance: No one noticed her in particular disembark the airplane in Tijuana, Mexico, in the unanimous night, no one saw her sister either, to speak of, they simply sunk into the multitude of people, but in a few hours, days and months, things would be different. She, I should say they, came from the south, that is, South America, Peru, from Huancayo, a small city in the Andes, to Lima Peru, and now as you know, they are in Tijuana. This is a true story, the names of the real persons involved are not going to be mentioned here but the names they chose to use on this drama adventure, I will share, Guadalupe, was the name she picked out, and her sister, Rosario.

(The Story:) Here they both lived for two months (in the house of the Little Coyote), their objective, and the premise of this short story is simple, both wanted the benefits the United States had to offer them: two women from Peru, seeking a new life in America, and their struggles to get from Huancayo, Peru to Portland, Oregon (let no one thing, it was easy).

The year is 1998. Normally the fees involved to fix an escort from South to America can range from $3000 dollars a piece (per individual), to $30,000-dollars depending on what part of South America you are coming from, and your connections, trying to get into America illegally. Mexicans of course do not wish to pay these horrendous fees, but do not mind collecting them to bring their neighbors across, and in the process many things can happen, rape, robbery, even murder, and this story you are about to read involves all three of them.

She, Guadalupe knew this city was the place required for her invincible intent, the place where she had to succeed, yet two months went by. Her obligation was to insure the folks on the way would get paid; this was done by phone, via, Portland, Oregon, to Mexico, and San Diego, California. The money was guaranteed, if indeed these two women were delivered to their family members.

Once in Tijuana, she was introduced to Little Coyote, her Mexican representative. She was given a new Passport, and Little Coyote was to be her husband, Guadalupe was twenty-eight years old at the time, had two children in Peru, a husband (or future husband, mother of her two children, for she is married now) who tried to make it to the United States, but was captured and turned back at the Mexican boarder. Thus, it was her turn to try.

And so in a car, and through the gate, Guadalupe and Little Coyote drove, Guadalupe a foot taller than her pretend husband, it felt odd for her, so she told me, but it was as it was, her new protector, respectfully, and once they got to where they were suppose to be going, and handed over to relatives, it would cost $3000 per person, $6000 total.

She felt a chill of fear, as they drove through the gates of Mexico to the country of opportunity; now in an unfamiliar city as she was and dependent on the good will, and consciousness of Little Coyote. She waited in San Diego for her sister, they were previously separated, as planned and now would be reunited; thus, once across the boarder, she found out it was not impossible to cross the supernatural boundary lines between the land of less and the land of plenty.

And accordingly, she felt this was halfway to her destination, unhindered thus far, and reunited with her sister, as I have just mentioned. It suited her quite well, and in the process (with twenty other migrates) Little Coyote offered them, or provided I should say, some frugal needs, food in particular. She noticed the Mexicans were eating out of their hands, and she asked for a fork (not the thing to do), and they looked at her as if she was asking for the moon, and consequently she passively accepted their style of eating, and ate out of her hands likewise.

The former group, and she and her sister, were brought to a house in San Diego, a new Coyote's house, as Little Coyote had to leave and return to Mexico, for his next group. Here six of them had to fit into a compartment or platform underneath the car, where she had to push her nose close to a hole for air, and a fat Mexican next to her, was intoxicating with her smelly armpits. Nonetheless, she survived, as I would not be able to write this account, had she not.

As she arrived to the second location in San Diego, a house with two Coyotes waiting for the six individuals, she dismissed the vast illusory bodies that cramped and kept here like a sardine in the compartment of the car. She was happy to get out of there, although it was necessary, for there were immigration officials along the road they had to pass over to get to the second location in the city. Here things would change drastically.

In this new location, they were told they'd have to stay a while, perhaps four days, because no one came to pick them up. Matter of fact, their family members were in Portland, and to the understanding of the two Coyotes, they didn't know were Portland was, but once finding out, they put the two girls into an isolated room, with bared windows, as a result, there would be no escape. Nonetheless, a catastrophe was building up, in that, throughout the day, the Evil Coyote, fought with the so called Good Coyote, over the two girls, he wanted to rape one, if not both. All day long this intolerable lucidity of insomnia fell upon the two girls, who found out there, was no escape from the room, and that their family members in Portland were reluctant to come to their rescue, in San Diego, lest they be captured for being illegal immigrant's themselves, and a crazy Mexican outside their doors.

Guadalupe could hear them swear, that is curse at one another, and as night had fallen into early morning, it being 2: 00 AM things would change again.

Prior to this, the Evil Coyote was pounding on the door of the girls, trying to get in. And then the harsh pounding stopped, at which time the girl's hearts started throbbing for the unknown was bleak at best, then a silenced came about. Next, another knock on the girls door sounded, a softer knock this time, it was the Good Coyote, "Come, come quick…!" he said to the two girls, carrying a sack outside to his car. He was exhausted, and as the two girls got into the car, they noticed a body lying by the sidewalk; it looked like the Evil Coyote.

"We are going to Las Vegas," said the Good Coyote, there you can take a bus to Portland. And so they drove all that night.

Once in Las Vegas, the Good Coyote, he deliberately gave his black bag (sack) to Guadalupe to carry (as he went to clean up, after buying himself some cloths, and some shoes and cloths for the girls); then she, Guadalupe put her hand into the black bag, as he was changing she discovered it was a gun, and she quickly dropped it back down into the sack, aghast at what she had discovered; alas, she had left her fingerprints on the gun.

Guadalupe made a phone call to Portland, telling her folks, the Good Coyote had paid their fair on the Greyhound bus, to Portland, and they'd be there shortly. Prior to this, the Good Coyote had asked them if they had any money, Guadalupe did, she had $200-dollars, but said "No, we are broke…!" Well, that is the Peruvian way is it not. Anyhow, the Good Coyote (Mexican by Birth) perhaps was not as good as we'd like him to be, he took the $60,000 dollars that he and his partner had collected in San Diego, for the twenty or so clients they had taken across the boarder. So he was of course far from being broke himself.

(The innumerable variables Guadalupe had to endure were not over yet, a most difficult task still resided in the future over this drama, and unwinding of events.)

Once in Portland, neither of the girls could find a job for three months, and so that was not a good start, but her family provided, as often Peruvian families do. And in due time, they both did find a job.

It was shortly after she got her job, the mysteries of the murder that took place in San Diego, made it to the steps of the house, the house Guadalupe and her sister was living in. The police, Federal Agents knocked on their door, and gradually, the door was opened. It was to her surprise, the agents knew her full name, real name, and almost everything she knew about herself, they knew. What they really wanted though (the Agents) was cooperation, and so both Rosario and Guadalupe gave them as much as they could, and wanted, lest they be facing murder charges, thus, the Good Coyote was not as good as he tried to pretend.

After a certain amount of time, and movies on the two girl's testimony on what took place in San Diego, the Good Coyote was picked up, and put into prison. And the Girls got a nice letter from the Federal Government, and a work permit.

In conclusion, this short sage of Guadalupe is but one story of many who come over the boarders of America to find a better life. I do not support the Mexicans phantom approach that they should be given rights to the American Dream, or as I refer to them as abnormal privileges, simply because they escaped from their country to ours, and in many cases, these adventures end up in rudeness, if not death along the way, but of course, not without a certain forewarning.


Thursday, June 21, 2007
Memorable 4th of July Celebrations

Almost all of us celebrate our glorious Independence Day with food, fun and fireworks. Here are some of the notable Independence Day celebration occurrences, that were celebrated very much in the way that we celebrate today. But these celebrations are notable because they were different in some way or the other.

1776 Independence Day Celebration

In 1776 Independence Day was celebrated on different dates in different parts of United States. This is the most noticeable point that attracts our attention. The first 4th of July celebration occurred shortly after the Declaration of Independence was declared in various locales along the Eastern Seaboard.

The glorious Independence Day was celebrated very much in the way we celebrate today. There were sound and dazzling fireworks covering the black sky. Emotions and sentiments played very significant role in the celebration.

In Philadelphia the celebration did not occur until the 8th of July as the Declaration of Independence was read on that day and in Williamsburg, a grand celebration had occurred on July 25.

1776 Independence Day Celebration included the reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Courthouse, the Capitol and the Palace. The celebration also included firing of cannon and musketry followed by a military parade.

1777 Independence Day Celebration In Philadelphia

This is one of the most well organized and the first elaborate Independence Day celebrations we have ever witnessed. The celebration included all the inspirational events along with the demonstration of joy and festivity. The first anniversary of our Independence Day in Philadelphia was celebrated on the 4th of July with parade and firing of cannons, one round in the honor of each state of the union. The day was closed with the tolling of the bells and at the night there was a grand exhibition of fire works and the city was beautifully decorated with lights. Music, dinner and and other entertainments were parts of the celebration and everything was conducted with utmost decorum.

1826 Celebration of the Fourth

Referred to as the "Jubilee of Freedom" the 50th anniversary of our Independence Day was celebrated in 1826. It was in 1826 that our Independence Day was celebrated with the greatest procession of loyalists in Charleston. The city had witnessed such a beautiful procession after a long span of time. Our Nation was adorned with lights and the flags. The procession started from the Citadel green with an immense gathering of 10,000 men, women and children and the place was flooded with huge number of spectators. And the most interesting thing was that, during the entire length of their journey they sang:

"John Brown's body lies a moulding in the grave,

John Brown's body lies a moulding in the grave,

John Brown's body lies a moulding in the grave,

His soul is marching on!

Glory! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

We go marching on!"

4th of July Celebration Around Skagit River in 1876

The first recorded community celebration of 4th of July was held at Fidalgo Island and March's Point in the year 1876. This has been an ever memorable day for the early settlers of Fidalgo Island and March's Point, although there was a small gathering of only 100 people on the William Munks' farm for celebrating the nation's centennial birthday anniversaries. This 4th of July celebration included full day festivities with lots of fireworks, foods and fun. They started the the day with an opening salute followed by three loud cheers in the honor of the nation's birthday. Then there was music and marching, following which Hiram March (March's Point) read the Declaration of Independence. Three cheers were also given to the "ladies of Fidalgo". The celebration was enriched with oration, lots of toasts and numerous beautiful songs and finally a grand march to the table.

The amount of information on 4th of July is enormous and here are some of the never to be forgettable episodes. We can share all such information along with our heartfelt love with our friends and beloveds on this Independence Day. Let us share our feelings with all our American brothers and sisters by sending inspirational ecards along with great wishes and messages.

"Hallowed be the day, forever bright its memory in the heart of the Nation.
Sing to it, poets;
shout to it, freemen;
celebrate it with bonfires, parades, and triumphant assemblies"
(Daily Alta California, 4th of July 1855).

This memorable 4th of July celebrations article may be freely reprinted or distributed in its entirety in any ezine, newsletter, blog or website. The author's name, bio and website links must remain intact and be included with every reproduction.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007
How I Lifted 50 Pounds With My Mind

One cold, winter day, about two years ago, I was preparing for my workout as usual. I had been keeping a workout log and recording my weights, sets, reps, etc., so I could track my progress and improvements. I've been working out, playing sports, and training in some way my entire life, but this was around the time that I really started to take training and nutrition seriously. Before each workout, I would look at last week's log to make sure that I pushed myself to do just one more rep and/or five more pounds than I did last time. For example, on squats, if I had done 3 sets of 10 with 200 pounds last week, then I wanted to do 3 sets of 12 with 205 pounds this week, and so on. This way, I was constantly pushing myself to improve and increasing the intensity of each workout.

OK, so back to that magical winter day. I'm looking at last week's log, and writing down all the weights and set/rep schemes for each exercise on this week's page, so I will have them to refer to and hopefully surpass for today's workout.

Workout Log for December 16, 2005

  • Dips: 5 Sets of 5

  • Deadlifts: 4 Sets of 5 and 1 Set of 4 with 135 Lbs. (couldn't quite get the last rep up on the fifth set)

  • Lunges: 2 Sets of 8 with 120 Lbs.

  • Barbell Rows: 2 Sets of 8 with 50 Lbs.

So, now it's December 23, and my goal is to increase the weight on all of last week's exercises above. Specifically, I'm determined to finish all five sets of the deadlift this week. Here's where it gets interesting. When I'm loading up the bar for deadlifts, I mistake the 3 for an 8 from last week's 135 Lbs., and without realizing it at the time, I load the bar up with 185 pounds.

Keep in mind, last week I tried as hard as I could to push through 5 sets of 135 Lbs., but just couldn't muster up enough strength to finish the last rep on the fifth set. This week I was determined to finish all 5 sets with 5 reps each, not knowing that I've mistakenly loaded the bar with 50 more pounds than last week!

I start the first set...1...2...3...4...5. "Wow, that was hard, but I'm going to finish all 5 sets this week, because I was so close last week!", I thought to myself. Second set...1...2...3...4...5. Same for the third and fourth sets at 185 pounds (even though I thought I was doing this with 135 pounds!). Now, the fifth set...1...2...3...4..."AHHHHH! (grunt, yell, scream)"...FIVE!. "Yes! Finished all five sets of five!"

I still think everything is normal, and that I had simply done what I set out to do -- one more rep at 135 Lbs. than I did last week. I continue on and finish the rest of my workout. Then, when I'm comparing this week to last week again to see where I had improved, I finally realize that I had accidentally lifted 50 more pounds on deadlifts than last week! That's 50 pounds times 5 sets of 5, for a total increase of 1,250 pounds in one week! -- all because my brain thought that everything was normal and that I had already lifted 185 pounds last week.

I had always heard the phrase, "mind over matter", but this is when I fully realized the power and truth behind those words. I had experienced "mind over matter" first hand -- and by accident. This wasn't just some small 5 pound discrepancy. We're talking about a 50 pound increase on 135 Lbs. -- that's nearly a 40% increase in 7 days! Try taking any exercise you do, whether it's squats, bench press, deadlifts, or anything else, and try to increase the weight you use by 40%, then not only do as many sets and reps as last week, but do even more! You'll quickly realize that this isn't something that just happens because you want to get strong really fast.

What's even more interesting, though not as inspiring, is that the next week (already having realized the "mistake" I made last time) I figured since I had done it once, I could load it up and do 185 Lbs. again. Unfortunately, just the simple fact of my mind knowing that last week had been a "fluke", I was barely able to get the 185 pounds up even two times on the first set. It's almost as if my body was mad at my mind for playing a trick on it.

So, even though it didn't stick (although I did gradually, over the coming months, work back up to that level), it was amazing to see what our minds are capable of achieving. For no other reason than the simple fact that I thought I had lifted 185 pounds before, I automatically assumed that I could do it again. I wish I could replicate this situation again, but, obviously, it's a little difficult to "remember to forget to remember".

I know this story sounds somewhat trivial on the surface, "Ohhhh, big deal, some guy lifted 50 pounds more than he was supposed to", but this experience has made me push harder and farther at everything I do ever since, because I now know that our bodies and minds are capable of doing much more than we expect them to or give them credit for -- now, get out there and push your mind and body to the limit (and beyond)!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Victorian Theatre and Visual Spectacle

The theater rises upwards, or at least the central space, where the auditorium is. This is the great space between the stage and the balcony and dress circles. The auditorium is an important design space, which fills the space between the balcony and the stage and it is this space, which opens out and rises upwards. This central space is a unique characteristic of Victorian theaters.

When you visit a theater, you go into the foyer and then you are led to your 'area' whether it is the stalls or the dress circles. The foyer is the entrance into another world. Or you could say that the foyer is a part, one of the parts, of the close-knit structure that is the theater.

There are the entrances into other worlds, or at least one world. For the entrances to the dress circles, the balcony, the stalls, are just different entrances. They are different viewing areas for one show. You could say that they are different viewing areas for different visual and auditory 'shows'. A theatre is for entertainment. It is structured so that people or the audience can see and listen to the visual and aural effects of the show.

The theater is a place for visual effects, because people come to see a show. The structure of the theater from the stalls to the gods, you could say, is to allow the visual effects to be seen. You are looking down from the gods. You look down from the circles, and you look across in the stalls. The structure of the theater is also to allow the full artistic effect to be produced or, you could say, the full effects of the entertainment on the stage to be produced.

That is why the form of the 19th century west-end theaters is admirable. Their form is functional. It is functional because the structure of the building aims to heighten and bring to full fruition the visual effects of the show. The visual effect is important! This is apparent in the way that the theatre seats, in some way, grade upwards. There is the fact that seats go upwards -higher and higher- to the upper dress circle and sometimes to the gods and then there is the dome.

What is apparent too is the whole visual effect as well as the general audience closeness to the actors. Yes actors have to act and perform and they need an auditorium. Victorian theaters allowed this, with the centre-piece auditorium and the overall close structure of the theater. There is the emphasis on the visual and the auditory, and the way too that things are functional i.e. seats go upwards. Space is thus important. Within modern theatres sometimes there is too much space. And within this 'close space', there is decoration, the Victorian decorations; the arcs, the shapes and the grotesqueness of the era ; the great theatrical distinctions, you feel them too in the theater, the columns, the curtains.

In some theaters, the stage reaches back and the orchestra is seated at the far end of the stage behind the performance. Sometimes the orchestra sits in front in the stage. However, the former situation is a laudable location for the orchestra and it can be an admirable design element in some performances. Yes when the orchestra plays behind the performance! This can be a real scenographic effect! And when you have the orchestra on stage, it can produce a real scenographic mix.

Victorian theaters hold within them that peculiar theatrical excitement. They 'hold' the closeness. There is the 'show' aspect. There is the fact too that the theatre is for the people.


Sunday, June 10, 2007
Lost and Found Paintings

We often hear from the news about paintings by famous artists being auctioned at greater value – in the hundreds of thousands and sometimes, millions of dollars. And then the next news we get is that renowned paintings have been stolen in the different parts of the world. Perhaps, some people are just so obsessed with getting those paintings for monetary gain thinking they can get away with it. Thanks to hardworking law enforcers and the FBI, those masterpieces have been traced, recovered and returned to the place where they truly belong.

The latest news on lost and found paintings concerns Francisco de Goya's "Children With a Cart" painting. After being stolen last November while on its way to New York from the Toledo Museum in Ohio, the painting that features children at play finally joined an exhibit of Spanish masterpieces at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York mid-February this year. The painting got stolen on the night the drivers, in charge of delivering it to New York, stopped over at a motel in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. They apparently left the artwork unattended and found it missing the following morning. Thanks to a good Samaritan, authorities were informed of its whereabouts in New Jersey within ten days after being stolen.

After its recovery, the painting was returned to the Ohio museum undamaged before it was lent to the Guggenheim Museum for the show dubbed "Spanish Painting From El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth and History" to run for six weeks. The "Children With A Cart" was painted by Goya in 1778 and shows four kids one of whom is blowing a horn and another with his back to the viewer. It is insured for $1 million.

Goya's masterpiece was lucky to have been recovered in only a few months' time. Previously, two paintings by Edvard Munch were also stolen from a museum in Oslo, Norway in 2004 and were found after two years of hunting in 2006. The paintings "Scream" and "Madonna" were forcibly taken in August 2004 from the Munch Museum by two armed men and were recovered during a police operation. Police believed the paintings never left Norway since they were stolen. The "Scream" was painted in 1893 and is a world-renowned work of art.

If Munch's paintings took two years to be found, we have one story that took eight long years to be recovered. The two paintings of Turner, both considered 19th century biblical works, were stolen from the Schim Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany in 1994 while on being lent to the show of Goethe and the Visual Arts. The artworks "Shade and Darkness" and "Light and Color" are among Turner's most important paintings that showed reference to Goethe's theories of color.

Still another painting illegally taken from the Hermitage Museum six years ago has been returned to the Russian museum where it belongs. The painting titled "La Piscine Du Harem" (Harem Pool) was done by French artist Jean-Leon Gerome during the 19th century. It vanished from the museum in March 2001 and was brought by an unidentified man at the Communist Party offices in Moscow last December 2006. Unluckily, the painting had been severely damaged. The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia is home to one of the finest art and artifact collection in the whole world.

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Friday, June 08, 2007
The Phenomenon That Is The Richard and Judy Book Club

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan present a popular late-afternoon magazine show on Channel 4 in the UK. One particular feature, the Richard and Judy Book Club has become something of a phenomenon, turning the presenters into a couple of the most powerful figures in UK publishing. It has become so popular with viewers that the major literary publishers are clamouring to get their book titles included on the short list.

The Richard and Judy Book Club is now entering its fourth year. The programmes executive producer Amanda Ross dreamt up the idea as a means of making reading popular again. With the advent of modern technology, not least the internet, fewer people are enjoying the experience of settling down and reading a good book. The Richard and Judy Book Club aims to shortlist a selection of 10 fiction titles which will appeal to the widest possible market, and that viewers will want to take away with them on holiday to enjoy whilst lounging in the sun on the beach or by the pool. The format is similar to the book club that Oprah Winfrey features on her show and has generated a tremendous following in the States. The books are reviewed and discussed on the show over 10 weeks, where viewers are actively encouraged to participate and give their reviews.

The Richard and Judy Book Club has proved to be an extraordinary success; having already made 10 authors into millionaires, it virtually guarantees bestseller status for the book titles selected on the featured list. With this unparalleled popularity, it seems that the Richard and Judy Book Club is the literary shortlist that really matters, eclipsing the Booker Prize or the Whitbread Book Awards when it comes to the potential sales boost and author popularity that comes with being featured on the shortlist. The list is often an eclectic mix of books, including established authors, complete unknowns and newcomers alike.

Publishers are literally falling over themselves to get their books and authors featured on the show. Last year, the 10 titles were selected from over 500 books submitted by publishers; this year the programme makers have received over 1400 titles to read and choose a final list of 10 books for the Book Club. Reviewing so many titles is an unenviable task, requiring a team of people to read them all before the final list is announced.

The now prestigious title of Richard and Judy Book Club Book of the Year is announced at the annual Galaxy British Book Awards ceremony, and is eagerly awaited. In 2007, winner was the sensational novel, The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. The next shortlist is announced in mid-June 2007, the publishing world holds its breath to see if the book they submitted is featured in the list.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Watch Satellite TV on PC – Does PC Satellite TV Software Deliver?

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Monday, June 04, 2007
Pieter Breugel The Elder - Early Years

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, nicknamed 'Peasant Bruegel' was amongst the most significant and exciting painter in the Northern Europe Renaiisance that flowered in the middle part of the sixteenth century. Although his nickname was "Peasant Bruegel", he was certainly no peasant and it refers more to the subjects of his paintings than to himself.

As well as being among the greatest, Breugel is also amongst the most enigmatic, even the date and place of his birth are obscured by the mists of time. Many however accept that he was born near the town of Breda som time between 1525- 1530.

To add to the mystery that swirls around him, som time around 1559 he changed the way he spelled his surname from 'Brueghel', to 'Bruegel'. No one knows the reasons nbehind this change and, even more perplexing is the fact that his sons retained 'h' in their names.

It's very probable that as a youngster Bruegel was apprenticed to Pieter Coeck van Aelst (1502–1550). Van Aelst was a leading leading light in Antwerp artistic circles and as well as being an accomplished painter, he was also a sculptor, architect, and designer of tapestry and stained glass. Some time around 1563 Bruegel married van Aelst's daughter, Catherine.

Breugel's talents and reputation developed quickly and, in 1551 he became a Master of the Antwerp Guild. From around 1551 to around 1554, Breugel travelled, mainly, to Italy southern Europe and Switzerland where he made maultiple drawings of the Swiss Alps.

When he returned to Antwerp (late 1554-1555) he went to work for Hieronymus Cock (1510-1570), the Antwerp engraver and publisher of prints.

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Friday, June 01, 2007
Am I Too Old To Learn To Play The Electric Organ?

If you're reading this article, you must think you or someone you know is too old to learn to play a piano, keyboard or organ or any musical instrument for that matter.

So lets give you the quick answer, "no you are not too old". Now I think I should actually re-phrase the question, "Do I want to learn to play a musical instrument?" If you can ask yourself this question, whatever age you are, then you should be able to answer positively.

So let's assume you have reached retirement age and you are in your sixties. Let's also assume you have some saving and a pension and you need a hobby to fill up your time. You decide that you want to learn to play a keyboard instrument. The next step is, do you want to learn to play an arranger keyboard or electric organ.

If you want a new electric organ such as the Roland Atelier, its going to cost you anything up to twenty thousand pounds. Having said that, the organ market is all but dead in the UK, so there is a thriving second hand market, and plenty of bargains to be had. If you want an electric keyboard then you can buy one of these, brand new with the latest technology for between two and three thousand pounds. If you do go down the keyboard path then I would recommend you buy an arranger keyboard such as the Yamaha Tyros, Ketron SD5, Roland G70 or the Korg PA 800. Although there is some operational learning with these keyboards, they are designed so you can start playing the thing as soon as you take it out of the box.

Avoid workstation keyboards such as the Yamaha ES7 or the Roland Fantom. These are fantastic keyboards but the learning curve for these machines is very steep and if you are learning to play the keyboard, you don't want to be spending all your time learning how to operate the keyboard. Whatever instrument you choose I recommend, you find yourself a music teacher. If you buy a keyboard or organ from a music shop, they can certainly recommend a local teacher or like many music shops provide keyboard lessons on the premises.

Learning music is about what you personally want to get out of it. You might for instance want to learn to play one piece of music or a book of music or just to see how far you can go. There are no limits. You can learn at your own pace.

I have taught many older people that have said, "I wish I had learned to play when I was younger" and "children can learn a lot quicker" and "maybe I won't be able to learn at my age". Yes children will pick things up a little quicker because that's the nature of being a child, to learn new things everyday. Adults however, are probably better at applying themselves to one particular subject such as music.

Adults of any age, have less time to learn a musical instrument but still have the ability to learn. So if you are between five years old and a hundred and five years old and thinking whether to get yourself a Yamaha electone organ or an arranger keyboard. Then what are you waiting for, what have you got to lose. You won't regret it I promise you.

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