The Teenage Slasher Movie Book

I don’t know if you’ll find this surprising or not, but I do not watch horror movies. I just can’t handle it, they stick with me way too long. That said, I love reading about horror movies. I go online and read plot summaries, analysis, and reviews for tons of horror movies. Weird, right? I just feel the genre has a lot to offer. That’s why I agreed to read and review the 2nd revised and expanded edition of “The Teenage Slasher Movie Book” by J.A. Kerswell. I will admit that I don’t normally look into the slasher subgenre, but just like the rest of the horror genre, the author showed me there are surprises to be found there.

Have you heard of the gory, Italian, thrillers known as giallos? I hadn’t, but it turns out they played a huge role in the eventual teenage slasher film. I had no idea that many popular slasher movies came from Canada! Sure, now it seems all movies come from Canada, but the late 70’s, I had no clue. Also, I didn’t realize that Britain had previewed and censored all videos being released in the country. This delayed the release of many slasher movies in the country.

Kerswell does an excellent job condensing the history and works of the genre into a fast paced read. He succeeds in striking the balance of treating the subject matter seriously while acknowledging how silly it can all be.

With Kerswell’s authoritative writing and a dizzying amount of full color photos from films and movie posters, I can safely say “The Teenage Slasher Movie Book” is a great resource for anyone interested in horror films.

You can learn more here.

The Instrument of Freedom

An excerpt from The Meaning of Happiness by Alan Watts

We have examined something of the meaning of unhappiness, of the war between the opposites in the human soul, of the fear of fear, of man’s consequent isolation from nature, and of the way in which this isolation has been intensified in the growth of civilization. We have also shown how man is intimately and inseparably connected with the material and mental universe, and that if he tries to cut himself off from it he must perish. In fact, however, he can only cut himself off in imagination, otherwise he would cease to exist, but we have yet to decide whether this elusive thing called happiness would result from acceptance of the fact of man’s union with the rest of life. But if this is true we have to discover how such an acceptance may be made, whether it is possible for man to turn in his flight into isolation and overcome the panic which makes him try to swim against the current instead of with it. In the psychological realm this swimming against the current is called repression, the reaction of proud, conscious reason to the fears and desires of nature in man. This raises the further question of whether acceptance of nature involves just a return to the amorality of the beast, being simply a matter of throwing up all responsibility, following one’s whims, and drifting about on the tide of life like a fallen leaf. To return to our analogy: life is the current into which man is thrown, and though he struggles against it, it carries him along despite all his efforts, with the result that his efforts achieve nothing but his own unhappiness. Should he then just turn about and drift? But nature gave him the faculties of reason and conscious individuality, and if he is to drift he might as well have been without them. It is more likely that he has them to give expression to immeasurably greater possibilities of nature than the animal can express by instinct, for while the animal is nature’s whistle, man is its organ.

Even so, man does not like to be put down to the place of an instrument, however grand that instrument may be, for an instrument is an instrument, and an organ does what it is made to do as subserviently and blindly as a whistle. But this is not the only consideration. It may be that man has a wrong idea of what his self is. In the words of the Hindu sage Patanjali, “Ignorance is the identification of the Seer with the instruments of seeing.” Certainly man as instrument is an obedient tool whether he likes it or not, but it may be that there is something in man which is more than the instrument, more than his reason and individuality which are part of that instrument and which he mistakenly believes to be his true self. And while as an instrument he is bound, as this he is free, and his problem is to become aware of it. Finding it, he will understand that in fleeing from death, fear, and sorrow he is making himself a slave, for he will realize the mysterious truth that in fact he is free both to live and to die, to love and to fear, to rejoice and to be sad, and that in none of these things is there any shame. But man rejects his freedom to do them, imagining that death, fear, and sorrow are the causes of his unhappiness. The real cause is that he does not let himself be free to accept them, for he does not understand that he who is free to love is not really free unless he is also free to fear, and this is the freedom of happiness.

About Alan Watts:
Alan Watts (January 6, 1915 – November 16, 1973) was a British-born American philosopher, writer, speaker, and counterculture hero, best known as an interpreter of Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and numerous articles applying the teachings of Eastern and Western religion and philosophy to our everyday lives.

Excerpted from the book “The Meaning of Happiness: The Quest for Freedom of the Spirit in Modern Psychology and the Wisdom of the East”. Copyright ©2018 by Joan Watts and Anne Watts. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

Zen Bunnies!

Who doesn’t love cute bunnies? Seriously, does anyone ever think, I have no interest in adorable bunnies? Since one of my favorite things to do online is look at cute animals, when I was offered a chance to check out “Zen Bunnies: Meditations for the Wise Minds of Bunny Lovers” I was all in. Talk about truth in advertising, it is a whole book of photos of little bunnies paired with assorted Buddhist and mindfulness type quotes. The author credit on the cover is “Gautama Buddha and the editors of Mango Publishing”.

Is this a scholarly work for practitioners of Buddhism? No. But is it the perfect gift for any occasion? Absolutely. The combination of cute bunnies and thoughtful quotes make it an excellent gift for just about anyone, for any reason. Perhaps even for yourself to enjoy.

To learn more about “Zen Bunnies”, visit here.

Good news! Mango Publishing was nice enough to provide a copy of “Zen Bunnies” to give away to one lucky reader! I’m using my usual Rafflecopter option, so see how to enter below. Contest ends Saturday, Sept. 29th at 11:59 PM eastern. No social media platforms are sponsoring this contest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Banned Books Week 2018

It’s the end of September again, so it is time to remind all of you about the important work the American Library Association does in the form of Banned Books Week. For those unfamiliar with the event, you must be new to my site. Welcome! Here’s a brief description from the ALA:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Highlighting the value of free and open access to information, Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read, and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

This year’s theme is “Banning Books Silences Stories”. You can learn more about the impact of Banned Books Week by visiting the site.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials in 2017. Of the 416 books challenged or banned in 2017, the Top 10 Most Challenged Books are:

Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”

The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”

George written by Alex Gino
Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.

Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”

To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.

The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.

I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

Oops He Did It Again!

It may seem weird to use a Britney Spear’s song title for a book review about Zen Buddhism. However, we’re talking about Brad Warner’s latest book “It Came from Beyond Zen! More Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master”. Warner is well known for dropping some popular cultural throughout his books. (Full disclosure, I doubt he’s a Britney fan.)

As for truth in advertising, the title fits the reality. Again, Warner goes through the teachings of Dogen and breaks it down so us non-Japanese speaking, non-Chinese speaking, non-practicing Buddhists can understand the frequent twists and turns that Zen writings can take. First Warner translates the texts into a layman’s translation, then follows that with some information about other English translations and explains his personal interpretations on what each writing means. Therefore, Warner is one of my favorite writers when it comes to Zen Buddhism. He works hard so it’s accessible for everyone.

I know it’s a short review, but what more can I say? Researched, thought provoking writings presented in an accessible, fun manner.

Learn more about “It Came from Beyond Zen!” here.

Tarot Made Simple

Prepare yourselves for what you are about to see! There are loads of books on the subject of tarot and how to do tarot readings, but I think I may have come across one of the best for beginners or people with horrible memories (like me). Let me introduce you to “Tarot Made Simple” by Liz Dean.

“Tarot Made Simple” has this fantastic split page design that allows you to choose your tarot spread, leave that page open to follow along, but also lets you look up individual card meanings without losing the page the spread is on! Watch this short video of the book in action!

What more is there to say? I think it’s a great resource, particularly with its unique format.

You can learn more here.

The Life You Were Born to Live

By Dan Millman

Author Jack London once proposed that “It takes hard writing to make easy reading.” The Life You Were Born to Live took some hard writing. It was born from twenty small pages of handwritten notes, taken from several lectures given by an unusual mentor in 1985. Eight years passed, bringing experiences and insights from hundreds of personal life readings — eight years before I began teaching the system to small groups of helping professionals — eight years before those twenty handwritten pages expanded into a 500 page book to clarify and focus earlier work of many esoteric traditions.

One key element of this book is the section on spiritual laws specific to each life path for individuals born between 1750 and the year 2000. These laws, expressed as guiding principles, can help anyone overcome the hurdles on their own life path. So it is not only a book providing insight, but also action. Most people who read about their life path are astonished at the accuracy of the material. Especially when it makes no scientific sense how the date of one’s birth can provide a doorway to accurate, reliable insight into the core drives and qualities of one’s life.

As I explain in the Preface of the new 25th Anniversary Edition: We all share an innate desire for meaning, direction, and purpose — a desire as important to our psychological growth as eating is to our biological survival.

Yet few of us consciously recognize that we even have a specific life path or purpose. Meanwhile, our potential and destiny call out to us, sending messages through dreams, intuitions, and our innermost longings — hidden drives that define our personality, shape our careers and relationships, and influence the quality and direction of our life.

Until we recognize and live in accord with our underlying purpose, life may feel like a puzzle with missing pieces, as if there’s something we’re here to do but we can’t quite grasp it. As actress Lily Tomlin once quipped, “I always wanted to be somebody, but maybe I should have been more specific.” Lacking these specifics, we work and rest, eat and sleep, make money and spend it, and experience our share of pleasures and difficulties, even as clarity about our life purpose eludes us.

Over the years, I’ve written a number of books about the peaceful warrior’s approach to life — facing our inner battles with courage, compassion, and higher wisdom. The Life You Were Born to Live, one element of my work, presents the Life-Purpose System, a tool for insight and a map that reveals your life path up the mountain you’re here to climb and the most direct route to reach the summit.

The Life-Purpose System enables you to expand your awareness of not only your path but the paths of friends, loved ones, clients, colleagues, and others. The insights and guidance provided can help psychotherapists, physicians, physical therapists, bodyworkers, social workers, managers, teachers, coaches, and other helping professionals enhance the effectiveness of their ongoing work, adding a measure of compassion and insight.

Beginning in 1985, I applied, tested, and refined this system by working with thousands of people. The system’s strength lies in its relative simplicity and directness, and its demonstrated effectiveness over time. The enthusiastic responses I’ve received inspired me to write this book and to expand and revise it.

Many systems of personality typing exist in both psychological and spiritual traditions. While self-analysis can generate the impulse to change, the Life-Purpose System provides the means — namely, specific spiritual laws keyed to each life path to help us transform our health, our relationships, our work, and every other facet of our life.

For the 25th Anniversary Edition — the first major revision since the original publication — I’ve added new life-path information to include all those born in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. While the original edition addressed the thirty-seven life paths of those born in the twentieth century, this edition includes all forty-five life paths now possible. I’ve also added new insights about those working single-digit birth numbers, which only began appearing in the new millennium, and I reveal more about the origins of this particular system and how I came to share it with you. Other refinements reflect the added knowledge of twenty-five more years of real-life experience of many thousands of individuals working with the system. Even those familiar with earlier editions of the book can gain new insights.

The Life-Purpose System has illumined my life and the lives of many others, bringing new levels of clarity and compassion. I trust that this book will bring fresh appreciation and empathy, generating an impulse to make a positive difference for friends, family, and maybe even our planet. In the meantime, may this book guide you toward the fulfillment of your personal destiny — the life you were born to live.

I am gratified that my publisher, New World Library, encouraged me to make significant revisions and updates to the new, 25th Anniversary Edition of The Life You Were Born to Live. The number of life paths has increased from thirty-seven (for those born before 2000), to forty-five life paths, including relatively rare one-digit birth numbers for some children born after the year 2000. I’ve also written sections about what makes these single-digit numbers unusual, and how that relates to so-called “master numbers.”

If you are new to this work, and have healthy skepticism, I only ask that you keep an open mind. I also refer you to my website — www.peacefulwarrior.com — and to the free Life Purpose Calculator, which will reveal your birth number (and the birth numbers of friends and loved ones), and provides a few words about your life path — the beginning of greater insight and compassion as you discover the life you were born to live.

About Dan Millman:
Dan Millman, former world-champion gymnast, coach, martial arts teacher, and college professor, is the author of seventeen books published in twenty-nine languages and shared across generations to millions of readers. His internationally bestselling book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” was adapted to film in 2006. Dan speaks worldwide to people from all walks of life. He lives in New York City. www.PeacefulWarrior.com.

From the book, “The Life You Were Born to Live — Revised 25th Anniversary Edition”. Copyright © 1993, 2018 by Dan Millman. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. NewWorldLibrary.com

The Green Burial Guidebook

Not to be morbid, but we’re all going to die. We generally learn this at a young age, which gives you (hopefully) plenty of time to ponder that fact. For as long as I can remember I told people that when I died to donate any parts of my body that could help others, cremate me, and toss the ashes in the garbage because they don’t really matter. I found the idea of my body being around in an urn, or with a headstone somewhere, to be kind of a burden on those left behind. Why bother? I’ll be dead so who cares what happens?

Then, thanks to the internet I started seeing articles about having your ashes put in a seed pod to grow a tree. Suddenly there seemed like there was a way for my body to still be useful! Of course that was the stuff of essentially internet legend, right?

This all brings us to the fascinating book “The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial” by Elizabeth Fournier. What an amazing resource! I got to learn about the impact our deaths have on the environment. Embalming, caskets, even cremation all have different impacts on the environment. Fournier expertly explains all these differences and how you can choose to lessen the environmental impact of your burial. Better still, she takes you step by step through the funeral process. Different types of funerals, various laws to consider, figuring out what to be buried in, cremations, and more are clearly outlined. Once you’re loaded with all this information and feel ready to act on your new knowledge, Fournier offers a bunch of resources.

“The Green Burial Guidebook” is a helpful book to read to just to learn about the after death process of legally burying someone and honoring the deceased wishes. Essentially if you, or anyone you know, is planning on dying one day, you should read this book.

You can learn more here.

Who Doesn’t Love Caddyshack?

The folks at Audible.com reached out to me with a new book to share. I was excited when I learned it had to do with the movie “Caddyshack”, because who doesn’t love “Caddyshack”? The book is called, “In Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story” by film critic for Entertainment Weekly Chris Nashawaty. Here’s the details:

Caddyshack is one of the most beloved comedies of all time, a classic snobs vs. slobs story of working-class kids and the white-collar buffoons that make them haul their golf bags in the hot summer sun. It has sex, drugs, and one very memorable candy bar, but the movie we all know and love didn’t start out that way, and everyone who made it certainly didn’t have the word classic in mind as the cameras were rolling.

In Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story, film critic for Entertainment Weekly Chris Nashawaty goes behind the scenes of the iconic film, chronicling the rise of comedy’s greatest deranged minds as they form The National Lampoon, turn the entertainment industry on its head, and ultimately blow up both a golf course and popular culture as we know it. Caddyshack is at once an eye-opening narrative about one of the most interesting, surreal, and dramatic film productions there’s ever been and a rich portrait of the biggest and most revolutionary names in Hollywood. So, it’s got that going for it…which is nice.

On a fun side note the audio book is narrated by Peter Berkot, who played Angie D’Annunzio in the “Caddyshack”!

Audible.com was nice enough to provide a clip for me to share with you!

Loves Me, Loves Me Not

I keep hearing that this strange season called spring is approaching. Flowers will be blooming and markets everywhere will be selling all kinds of arrangements for Mother’s Day. However, before you pick a flower based on its looks, wouldn’t it be cool to know what that flower represents? Enter “Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Hidden Language of Flowers” by Peter Loewer.

If you read my review of the “Botanical Inspirations” deck then you already know that global culture and folklore has always attributed special meanings for flowers based on their appearance or practical applications. Peter Loewer specifically takes a look at the Victorian era and their love of the language of flowers. “Loves Me, Loves Me Not” profiles 50 flowers and better yet each entry is paired with a beautiful, full color illustration by Loewer.

Obviously this book is great for nature and flower lovers. Now I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but if I was considering getting flowers for someone as a gift, I would absolutely buy this book, pick the flowers based on their meanings, and then give the flowers AND this book as a gift. But you know, you do you. “Loves Me, Loves Me Not” is a delightful and informative read that is made for sharing!

You can learn more here.