The Art of Living Joyfully

“The Art of Living Joyfully: How to Be Happier Every Day of the Year” is written by Allen Klein. Klein is the author of “The Healing Power of Humor”, which is in its fortieth printing, and he’s a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. If there is a man who can tell you how to be joyfully, Klein seems like the guy.

So what is “The Art of Living Joyfully”? It’s 179 pages of amusing and inspiring quotes, organized by subject matter, from the likes of Mark Twain, Plato, and George Washington Carver. Klein suggests you pick a single quote and post it in a few places where you’ll see it throughout the day. Personally I’d try carrying the quote on me in my pocket to pull out and read on and off during the day. Klein states that it almost doesn’t matter how you use the quotes, as long as you use them regularly.

It seems like a good plan. Who couldn’t use a little bit more joy in their life?

“Man is so made that whenever anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.” – Jean de la Fontaine

Moonlight Tarot’s Question Corner: Mystical Answers to Mundane Inquiries

By Angela Kaufman, Moonlight Tarot LLC

August brings the early signs of harvest and the desire to reap the fruits of one’s labor. This month’s Querent, who we will call Lisa, is a hard working professional in the sales industry. She has recently started a new job and is interested in finding out how she can increase her sales.

The initial impressions in this reading are full of harvest symbolism- the image of an Apple tree full of connotations; wisdom, risk, fruitful endeavors and Magick. Lisa should also be mindful of potential clients or agencies with apple or apple tree as part of their logo or name. A secondary impression early on in the reading is that of a computerized program that expands Lisa’s network as well as access to a greater database of information and clients. It seems that this is somehow linked with an educational program suggesting either distance learning or a certification that enables her to expand her reach and customer base as well as the information of benefit to clients.

The first card drawn is the Three of Pentacles. This suggests expansion in business and career as a result of specialized training experience or certification. It suggests that branching out and gaining the edge in career as a result of specialization. Lisa should be on the lookout for opportunities for growth through furthering her education. It also seems like this will be an opportunity that is granted to a group but a small group or team. Collaboration in this advancement opportunity will expand Lisa’s knowledge and skill base but more importantly will give some type of official certification or credential which will attract potential clients. It seems like Lisa’s professional network will be improved through exposure granted by this educational opportunity. This also suggests a time period of about three months during which time sales will increase and client base will expand.

The next card is the Three of Rods. As this is another three it strengthens the emphasis on expansion and broadening Lisa’s horizons especially through small group efforts that take shape within the next three months. This time the emphasis is not only on accomplishments through training and recognition of abilities and skills but on networking and communication. Small focus groups and team efforts that involve writing, research and advertising will help advance sales and customer base. It also feels like some type of database or shared network is involved. Lisa should be alert to opportunities to take part in collaborative group endeavors, focus groups and networking opportunities involving both social networking but also access to information stored in a more advanced database. There is some advantage that will come her way through written communication and likely through electronic communication. It seems like access to this database will increase her clientele and access to the information she is able to provide to clients that will give her an edge in her field.

The final card is the Hierophant numbered 5. This card connects Lisa to institutions and organizations which hold a large established structure. Within the next three months Lisa will have opportunities to expand and increase her training and it seems like she will ultimately be facing the decision to make a commitment to advance within a large organization. If the current company is a small or independent business it seems like some growth will take place over the next few months but that the opportunity to become part of a larger system will be enticing. This system has both work and educational components to it and it seems like Lisa will be able to learn a great deal from her experience with this organization but will postpone the autonomy and creative influence she may currently have in order to complete her training or be part of this organization. Likewise within about three months’ time Lisa will have the opportunity to experience advancement and the full potential of her current work but may come to feel stifled or repressed nonetheless. At this point it seems she will have the opportunity to advance her career by breaking ties with the current organization in favor of one in which she will earn more in the long term after completing some short term training and acquiring further seniority. Long term gains with short term sacrifice will be the theme in this transition as it will seem as if Lisa’s efforts are not bringing suitable level of financial rewards. It also seems like work within a government agency or work that involves an initial return to school will be presented and it will be in Lisa’s favor to pursue this in spite of short term financial constraints. This experience of stagnation and financial plateau after some initial gain and recognition will help serve as a catalyst for Lisa to reinvent her professional image with the help of a return to an educational program or alignment with this powerful organization. It also appears that a mentor or guardian particularly an older gentleman, is influential in helping Lisa to develop in her career at this time. The next few months will lead Lisa to opportunities to find her footing within her field by aligning with a powerful structure or institution which helps give her greater confidence and grounding in her new area. This institution blends spiritual tradition with very practical knowledge and skills and will help Lisa to develop an edge over the competition. This fall would be an ideal time to reconsider training opportunities that will allow Lisa to combine traditional techniques with access to newer technology.

As Lisa’s reading emphasizes the number three, this is a key time to network and expand the social links fostering connections with clients and selling opportunities. The theme of expansion is also fostered by stimulating Lisa’s own energy through creativity- especially use of the written word. This will help discharge stagnant energy and develop new potential through the creative act of establishing the end result through the focus of the imagination. It seems that Lisa will progress financially and will find a solid basis in her career but will eventually find some aspects of her current work to be too personally limiting. More specifically it seems that her sales and profits will increase but she will find that her personal share of her earnings will level off. It seems that she will reach a point where she is earning more than at present but not as much as desired to meet her expectations- either a portion of the earnings gets absorbed by the company or actually plateaus. When this time comes it seems that liberation through increased training or retraining will offer a way for personal and professional advancement. She is encouraged to be on the lookout for opportunities to engage in small focus groups as part of training experiences in the near future and be open to considering affiliation with a larger organization that fosters growth through certification, training and knowledge passed down through an official structure or hierarchy. Membership in a group that utilizes an electronic database to gather and share information will also be to her benefit. There is also an impression of mentors both in the physical and spiritual planes- Lisa’s Higher Power is guarding her interests and there is a strong intuitive/guardian spirit present with her especially in travel. She may have this energy focused in the form of a talisman or guardian image or icon in her car, but even if not this spiritual energy travels with her and is looking out for her highest good. She is encouraged to be receptive to the subtle guidance this spiritual energy imparts on her in the form of intuitive knowing beyond logical reason.

Best of luck to Lisa in her quest to enhance her career and find her niche in a new market. Remember, no matter where you are reading this column all readings are intended for entertainment purposes in accordance with NYS law.

Interested in being the Querent in next month’s column? Contact Angela at

About Angela Kaufman:
Angela Kaufman has been exploring divination through Tarot cards for over a decade. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and formed Moonlight Tarot in 2009 which would become Moonlight Tarot LLC in 2010. Angela uses the Tarot to assist clients in exploring personal growth and development, and in accordance with New York State Law offers readings for entertainment purposes. Angela began providing readings on a professional, “Moonlighting” basis in order to provide affordable readings to those seeking guidance, inspiration and fun. Angela is also co-author of the new book “Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions.” And the newly released “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space, Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch” (Schiffer Publishing, 2011). In 2006 she joined ISIS Paranormal Investigations and has accompanied the team on numerous investigations in private residences and businesses throughout the capital region, Adirondacks, Vermont and Massachusetts.

For more information on services offered by Moonlight Tarot LLC, visit

Check out Moonlight Tarot on Facebook:

For more related to Tarot and Wicca, check out: “Wicca, What’s the Real Deal?” At

Want a chance to get a live Tarot Reading? Check out for listing of Tarot events at Café Nola in Schenectady NY!

This month’s reading was conducted using the “Aquarian Tarot” by David Palladini, produced by U.S. Games Systems Inc. for more information please visit

Culture on the Couch: Western Civilization’s Journey from Crisis to Maturity

by Anodea Judith

Sooner or later, we all have to grow up. We’ve heard this a thousand times, as if it were a fact, as certain as death and taxes. Continue to put one foot in front of the other and you will eventually get there, wherever “there” might happen to be. Ideas of maturity vary, but most people assume it will just happen by itself, like ripening fruit, with time as the only necessity.

If only it were that easy! Would that we could endlessly play in the sun and hang passively on the vine for our ripening, until the day when we finally let go and return to earth. Would that we could play innocently in the Garden of Eden, with benevolent parents to protect and guide us, as we imagine it might have been in times of old. Or would that we didn’t have to grow up at all, and could live in the endless pursuit of our pleasures, following our whim from moment to moment, without limitation or responsibility. Ah but these are longings of a former time.

The world of our ancestors was indeed simpler. People grew up, but with fewer choices, their path held more certainty. Follow your duty, do as you’re told, and everything will work out. There were challenges of course, but the external world was expected to continue, just as it always had. Mother Earth would provide for our needs, and Father would set the rules. Growing up meant that we surrendered gracefully to authority and became obedient members of society. Conformity became more important than doing the grueling work of finding our true Self. “Maturity” in those times lacked authenticity and meaning.

Today we face a far different reality, and facing this reality squarely is one of the tasks of growing up. The parental free ride that has given us abundant resources since our earliest infancy is, alas, coming to an end. We who are alive today are saddled with a responsibility far greater than any of our ancestors have faced: the task of saving four billion years of evolution from the possibility of extinction – nothing less than the task of caring for an entire planet. This is not a job for children.

Most people know the litany: global warming that could cause worldwide famine and displace hundreds of millions from their homes; war and terrorism that escalates with ever more dangerous weapons in the hands of power driven leaders or their discontents; disappearing oil reserves that threaten economic collapse; rampant consumption that exhausts resources, environmental decline polluting air, water, and land, with unsustainable energy, economics, and politics expected to govern an exponentially growing population. A grim situation indeed.

We also know that these dire circumstances reveal a deeper crisis of morals and meaning. Depression and chronic illness are epidemic. Economic values serve self-interest above the public good, with the dollar being the deciding factor in almost everything we do. Meanwhile our public media distracts us with sensationalist “Reality TV” shows that have nothing to do with reality – and certainly not the reality that is begging for our attention.

The father figures that we worship, empower, and pretend to elect all too often turn out to be government officials embroiled in scandals, Catholic priests that molest innocent children, gurus who exploit their followers, or swindlers out to make a buck. The archetypal father’s shortcomings are revealed to all who care to look, stripping the role of its numinosity and power. This psychological patricide requires the child to find its own values and wisdom.

The roads that have led us to this point, laid down with the best of intentions, are now leading us astray. With the mother goddess long gone from memory, and the father falling from grace, we have no choice but to give up our passive powerlessness as children and step into our true authority as adults. We are being asked to stand up, speak up, and drum up a reality that has never before existed.

Saving four billion years of evolution is a task for a species on the verge of godlike powers of both creation and destruction, equally capable of either. Today’s problems are the evolutionary drivers, the contractions of the birth process, that will spawn an awakening so massive that history has no precedent. For the planet itself is our teacher and initiator, taking us through a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood, and from an organizing principle based on the love of power, to one based on the power of love. This rite will challenge every facet of life, both individually and collectively, asking each of us to undergo the task of of self-reflection, individuation, and the spiritual growth necessary for maturity.

Cultural Adolescence

One need only turn on the news to see adolescent behavior raging through all ages, races, creeds, and genders. Creative but disrespectful, powerful but reckless, narcissisticly obsessed with our looks, insisting on immediate gratification of our whims, and bursting with libido, we are sorely lacking in social and environmental conscience. Like teenagers thoughtlessly cleaning out the refrigerator while entertaining their friends, human populations are insatiably consuming the once vast cupboards of oceans and forests in the attempt to satisfy gargantuan appetites. And why not? Hasn’t Mother Nature always kept the cupboards well stocked in the past, free to her children, just for the asking?

As adolescent children face the abrupt halt of their biological growth, they must take their prodigious life force and learn to grow in a new dimension. At best, this dimension is spiritual, growing towards deeper understanding of themselves and their world. But if this passage is blocked or distorted, adolescents act out recklessly, often harming themselves and others. Without understanding the longer view of life, they can destroy essentials before they learn their true value. In the case of adolescent suicide, this can even be their own life.

To become adults, adolescents who have previously been nurtured, cared for, and educated by elders must learn to provide for themselves, and others in turn. They must learn about the meaning of life, the structure and order of the world, and their purpose within it. Yet they are also compelled–by the unique life force within them–to question and change that structure as they grow into it. It is a tumultuous time, as any parent knows, and there are days when we may look at our teenagers with exasperation and wonder if they will ever grow up. Yet we have no choice but to move forward as best we can, and hold a container for their process.

Just as adolescence marks the end of physical growth, our human population has grown to its adult size and can no longer continue to expand in the physical dimension, producing more bodies at an exponential rate. We have reached (if not surpassed) the carrying capacity of our biosphere. World population has doubled in the last half-century, climbing from 2.5 billion in 1950 to over seven billion now. Just for perspective, this means there has been more population growth in the last half-century than in the four million years since the earliest humans walked on their hind legs! From the depletion of top soil and underground aquifers, to diminishing oil reserves; from the disappearing forests to the greenhouse gases that are raising global temperatures; from urban smog, to waste disposal; from the billions who live in poverty to the epidemic diseases that threaten life–every facet of human and non-human society is impacted by our unchecked population growth. Controlling that growth is a facet of maturity.

It is not only population growth that must be curbed, but the way that we view progress and success. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, progress has been measured by growth. The success of a company is usually defined by its expansion, not its social contribution. Growth is measured in terms of more products, bigger markets, larger infrastructure, and ultimately greater profits. Whether that means building more housing developments, expanding roads and highways, infiltrating indigenous cultures with Western products and lifestyles, or simply crafting a way to make more with less–our “industrial growth society” must place its value on something other than growth before we exhaust our life support systems. We are quickly discovering that growth-based futures don’t have a sustainable future.

Yet, just like an adolescent, growth has been the driving force of our biology since its earliest beginnings. Prehistoric nomads focused on images pertaining to birth. The Bible tells us to go forth and multiply. From the farmer’s apple tree to the corporate sales charts, growth symbolizes success. In the earlier eras of our collective childhood, this was entirely appropriate. That’s what children do – they grow constantly from birth to adolescence. Like the infamous ship, Titanic, it’s not easy to turn such a colossal system around–even when we see the iceberg up ahead.

But now we must harness that creative urge to multiply and point the evolutionary arrow in a new direction – toward spiritual growth, education, and wisdom. Such potential has never occurred before in our evolutionary history. It signals an extraordinary need for responsibility and a driving imperative to wake up. But even more, it calls for an awakening of the heart. For the values of the heart are what sustains relationship, and our future depends on successful relationships: with each other, with nature, with all that are part of this glorious earth. The puer society that is consuming our world with its rampant consumption and delusions of grandeur needs to find its sacred ground in the Earth, acknowledge its denied Shadow, and balance the archetypal energies of Masculine and Feminine. This is unlikely to occur without entering deeply into a profound healing process.

Culture on the Couch

If we are to reach planetary adulthood, we must heal our wounds, both individually and collectively. We must reclaim the ancient Mother and redeem the archetypal Father. We must face our collective shadow of domination and greed. We must find structures that support our spiritual natures, with disciplines to strengthen mind, body, and most of all, to deepen our soul. We can learn to live authentically, with fully embodied lives and mythically inspired visions.

As individuals enter their own healing process, they open new possibilities for action. As we apply these healing principles to our collective existence, the culture itself begins to heal. No one can do it alone, and the good news is that no one has to. The one and the many work together as a complex field of mutual influence and co-evolution.

The possibilities that await us are unknown, but we are guided by profound archetypes of wholeness – the thrust of the evolution towards greater realization and consciousness. What we are now is a mere shadow of what we can become – in every sense of the word. A glorious banquet awaits us on the other side of this transformation. But the doors to this banquet will only open when we have the ability to walk through consciously, peacefully, and with a maturity that is worthy of parenting the future.

What lies ahead is beyond our imagining, nothing less than the dawning of the next age of civilization, the ability to create Heaven on Earth. We can take the reins from the decaying patterns of the past and hitch them to an evolving vision of the future. The world is in our hands. The journey toward wholeness is now thrust upon us as a collective. We can all be a part of this process. In fact, that’s the only way it will happen.

The only myth that is going to be worth talking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet, not this city, not these people, but the planet and everybody on it… And what it will have to deal with will be exactly what all myths have dealt with—the maturation of the individual, from dependency through adulthood, through maturity, and then to the exit; and then how to relate this society to the world of nature and the cosmos. . . And until that gets going, you don’t have anything.

Joseph Campbell

About Anodea Judith, PhD:
Anodea Judith, Ph.D. is the best-selling author of numerous books on human transformation (“Wheels of Life”, “Eastern Body-Western Mind”, “Creating on Purpose”). She is known for her pioneering thinking and visionary perspective on the human condition with an ability to captivate audiences everywhere with potent visual presentations. Her most recent book is “The Global Heart Awakens: Humanity’s Rite of Passage from the Love of Power to the Power of Love”. For more information, please visit

Magical Times with Magical Times Empowerment Cards

“Magical Times: Empowerment Cards” by Jody Bergsma are simply magical. First I admired the box. It’s beautiful, made out of sturdy cardboard, and it has a hinged top that makes getting the cards in and out a breeze. Then there are the cards themselves. Bergsma’s art is fantastic. Her art is fantasy oriented and whimsical. It reminds me of one of my favorites, NeNe Thomas. Of course there is the empowerment part. The messages Bergsma imparts through her “Magical Times” cards are wonderful. They inspire but many of them also make you consider the future.

Change - By Jody Bergsma

The book that comes with the deck includes a few spreads you can try with the cards. I keep the deck next to my lighted make up mirror. Each morning when I sit down to put on my lotion I shuffle and pull a card off of the deck. I try to keep its message in mind throughout the day. I would highly recommend the deck and this method of using it.

Manifestation - By Jody Bergsma

The “Magical Times: Empowerment Cards” by Jody Bergsma are a wonderful tool. A fun and beautiful deck that can easily be incorporated into your daily life.

Geek Month in Review: July 2013

By JB Sanders

Scorching July…

Weird Things in Urban Environments
What weird things, I hear you ask? There’s the over 500 dogs living in the Moscow subway system, or the City Below Kansas City (businesses and storage, mostly) in the old limestone mines, or Thames Town, which is a completely artificial English town just outside Shanghai. Plenty of urban weird to go around. How about the town in Pennsylvania that has been on fire since 1962, and will probably keep burning for another 250 years? Or the abandoned island city of Gunkanjima? It looks a lot like that dream city from Inception, actually.

The Right Way to Rehabilitate a Quarry
Those folks in China sure know how to revitalize an abandoned quarry: build a nearly billion-dollar hotel/resort inside it. With a 100m waterfall visible from all the rooms. Extra bonus points: looks like a James Bond villain’s lair

That’s Not a Train Set, This is a Train Set
Ever wonder what the greatest model train setup in the world would look like? Think you’ve already seen it? Nope.

Sci-Fi Cooking
First episode of this YouTube series? Cooking Klingon Gagh and Blood Wine.

Robot Spider, Check
So this company has a robot spider for sale, or you can order the plans to print it from your handy 3D printer. It comes with an eye camera in the thorax. That’s not creepy at all, right?

Magnetic Levitation & Mobius Strip Tracks
Scientist shoots a video of not only a “train” floating along a track in the shape of a Mobius strip, but also explains everything. It’s Science-y!

Beer Labels in Motion
I don’t know if this is geeky or just plain weird. Some inventive person has taken clever microbrew beer labels and animated them. How long before we have active-display labels on products?

How to Be Invisible to Mosquitos
The answer: wear the special patch that exudes a chemical that confuses a mosquito’s CO2 sense. That’s how they find you, the CO2.

Details of the Siberian Princess’ Tattoos
See the designs of the Siberian Princess, preserved for several millennia in the permafrost.

New Star Control Game?
Some of you, those of you old enough to remember a computer game from 20+ years ago, may remember the ship-to-ship combat and strategy game Star Control. Well, someone acquired the rights to it and is looking to make a sequel.

Mid-Air Haptic Interface
So the folks at Disney Research (did you know that Disney had an R&D department?) are working on a haptic response interface that works by using puffs of air to provide feedback for systems that rely strictly on hand and body motions (like Microsoft’s Kinect).

Largest Virtual Space Battle Ever
You know it’s a New Geek World when giant space battles are reported on the BBC’s front news page. Eve Online held a 4000-player space battle between two of its largest factions for control of a few systems’ worth of resources. Which is pretty neat.

Beethoven on the Theremin
Here’s an orchestral arrangement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony done on 167 theremins and 1 piano.

That’s Not a Snow-blower!
This is a snow blower. Brought to you by Switzerland, the land that doesn’t do things by halves.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:

10 Questions with Pierce Word

1. What made you decide to do a book of presidential quotations?

Well, since an early age I loved history, and I loved writing. So I always had it in the back of my mind that I would eventually write something history-related. And then one day in college I was writing a term paper on American History, and I was trying to conclude the paper with a profound quote, and thought who would be better to quote than a U.S. president for a U.S. History paper. But to my amazement, this country has tons and tons of books on American History, Culture, and yes, Presidents, but a comprehensive book exclusively on U.S. Presidential quotations was actually non-existent. And it was at this moment that I decided to put “Wisdom from the Oval Office” to pen and paper.

2. How did you go about compiling all the quotes?

I utilized local libraries in Chicago, in addition to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and several presidential libraries. My sources ranged from personal diaries, to letters, to newspaper articles, to autobiographies of the Presidents.

3. There are 40 different categories of quotations ranging from Democracy to Government to War. How did you decide to categorize all the quotes you found?

Well, I was looking for themes that were hot-button issues to Americans. Issues that interest people, and which people want to read and know more about. So I visited surveys, polls, and library catalogs, and pooled categories that people showed interest in, like the economy, love, war, politics, God, and so on. And I eventually made these categories into the chapter headings for “Wisdom from the Oval Office.”

4. Did you ever find yourself feeling a partisan inclination when compiling quotations? Where you maybe wanted to include more of one party’s or president’s quotes than another?

No. The purpose of this book was to give readers a glimpse into the lives of the Presidents, both in their public and private spheres…with no sugar-coating!

5. Who is your favorite president?

Abraham Lincoln.

6. What is your favorite presidential quote?

It really depends on what you’re looking for. You have serious ones, to comedic ones, to meaningful ones. That being said, one of my all-time favorites: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” –Ronald Reagan, during a news conference on August 12, 1986. Also, being a fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I can definitely relate to James Garfield’s saying, “Man cannot live by bread alone; for he must have peanut butter!”

7. Did the President’s with the shorter terms have fewer quotes represented in the text?

Not necessarily. Some Presidents just talked more than others :).

8. Did you discover any unusual bits of trivia about any of the Presidents while researching quotes for the book?

Yes. Did you know, originally, Vice Presidents were the presidential candidates receiving the second-largest number of votes? Could you imagine George W. Bush and John Kerry as President and Vice President of the United States?!

9. Do you have any upcoming projects my readers can look forward to?

Thanks for asking Rebecca. Yes I am. It’s on the successful businessmen and women in America, their lives, their struggles, and their stories, in their own words, and how they reached the pinnacles of financial success in this country. It’s meant to be more of an inspirational business handbook…I’m not set on a particular title yet, but if any readers have any suggestions, please let me know!

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Why do they call it an escalator if it takes you down?

But they can also carry you up! (Although if you want to geek out, you can read about the origins of the name here.)

Wisdom from the Oval Office
Compiled by Pierce Word
List $18.95
Paperback: 303 pages Also available as an e-Book
History Publishing Company, July 23, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1933909448 ISBN-10: 1933909447

Available from (Softcover & Kindle) and Barnes and (Nook)

PR Contact: James or Lynda O’Connor, 847-615-5462,

About Pierce Word:
Pierce Word studied at the College of DuPage in Illinois and later earned a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies with honors from the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and an M.S. in Project Management from Boston University. He spent two years touring Europe and the Middle East. While in Cairo, he taught U.S. History and English as a second language. Over a 3 year period, he researched and cross-referenced speeches, letters and diaries of the American presidents, and compiled a collection of presidential quotations, the largest published collection to date. He lives with his wife in his native Chicago.

The 90s Were Totally Sweet

When I was given the chance to review “The Totally Sweet ‘90s: From Clear Cola to Furby and Grunge to ‘Whatever,’ the Toys, Tastes, and Trends That Defined a Decade” I thought, sure the 90s were fun but do we really need a book devoted to them? I mean, it’s so recent. Then it hit me. The 90s were actually quite a while ago. You know, I graduated from high school in the mid-nineties. You know what else? I’m getting seriously old. What the hell universe?

Where was I? Oh yeah, “The Totally Sweet ‘90s”. Holy crap there was a lot of stuff that happened in the nineties and authors Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont manage to squeeze it all in to one book! Each entry includes a status to let you know what’s going on with it now and also a fun fact. But I know what you’re thinking, Rebecca, what’s in that fun little book that you’ll share?

Hmmmm, shall it be Pogs? Or perhaps “Clarissa Explains it All”? Maybe Zima? Possibly “The Adventures of Pete and Pete”? However, I’ve chosen perhaps my favorite thing……that’s right readers, “Pop Up Video”.

The 1990s were all about multitasking, and music videos were no exception. Why just veg out in front of an ordinary video when you could watch a video paired with “Beavis and Butt-Head” commentary or one adorned with “Pop Up Video’s” cartoony word bubbles?

The best pop-ups told you something hilarious like one on a Rick Astley video pointing out a dancer who never learned the steps, or confiding that the director and producer had a two-hour fight about whether Astley should roll up his sleeves. Awesomely, the writers of the pop-ups seemed to have the same bemused contempt for the music industry as the rest of us, never failing to point out where the producers cheaped out on a set or the singer was replaced with a stand in.

Watching “Pop Up Video” was like kicking back with your friend with your friend who worked as the third director’s assistant and letting him dish about the scene where Meat Loaf fell off his chair or snark that Dexys Midnight Runners fired their drummer midway through the shoot. The pop-ups were like musical footnotes, but footnotes that were more often entertaining than the real text.

Status: “Pop Up Video” popped off the air for a time in 2002 but was revived by VH1 in 2011.

Fun Fact: “Pop Up Brady” gave the pop up treatment to old “Brady Bunch” episodes. One pop-up on the famed Kings’ Island episode claims Robert Reed saved the cast’s life by spotting a poorly mounted camera that would have flown off a roller coaster and possibly killed the actors.

Pop Up Sugar Ray

With concise, but entertaining write ups, that include updates on where they are now and tidbits of trivia; “The Totally Sweet 90s” is a great party book. An amusing stroll down memory lane, reminding us of the good (“Clerks”), the bad (“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), and the ugly (Gak).