RebL Books

Dinner with Goosebumps Author R.L. Stine

My favorite part of this photo is how obviously thrilled Stine is. My second is the eerie specter looming over Stine's shoulder.

My favorite part of this photo is how obviously thrilled Stine is. My second is the eerie specter looming over Stine’s shoulder.

Since the new Goosebumps movie came out on October 3, I decided to revisit my night with R.L. Stine at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books Author Dinner.

If you are a writer your children will be nonreaders, at least that’s what bestselling author R.L. Stine told me at dinner. He offers his son as an example. His son read book after book of Garfield cartoons but nary a Goosebumps. When I suggested Stine was putting me on about his son not reading his work he says, “That’s something nice people like you say.” (I often make it through entire meals without revealing my monstrous side.)
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RebL Books

Book Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. WellsI wrote this review for in the summer of 2012 after reading The Island of Doctor Moreau aloud with my then 12-year-old son. When Bookmans did a website redesign earlier this year and migrated their website database, we unpublished all but 30 posts. I tweaked this post to park it here for now.

According to The Literature Network, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) by H.G. Wells, deals with themes of eugenics, the ethics of scientific experimentation, Darwin’s theories and religion. But it’s summer and who cares about vivisecting literature? We care about enjoying a good book, so we’re providing our own guide to The Island of Doctor Moreau.

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“What’s a Movie?” “It’s a form of entertainment that enacts a story by sound and a sequence of images giving the illusion of continuous movement, but that doesn’t matter right now.”

Young@Heart DVD

Dad has pretty much always questioned authority, thumbed his nose at convention, and rebelled against whatever he felt like. He keeps his mind open for continuing revelations even when those are that the status quo ain’t all that bad. For example, after much study he concluded that Elvis is probably dead and aliens are probably not a direct threat, but he’s had enough of the hospital so, smell ya later.

Dad, this movie is for you.

Since we don’t have a television at the moment (CURSES!), I’ve been watching a lot of digital video discs. I stumbled across Young@Heart: You’re Never too Old to Rock at the Pima County Library. This movie is my new best friend and proves that punk was around long before Punk. You don’t have to have pink hair, though blue works nicely. I LOLed at this movie, but I was also deeply touched. Do yourself a favor, if you aren’t going to rent the movie, at least Google their performances of Forever Young and Fix You, though they are more powerful in context.

I had dinner at “the club” with the Bendicksons the other night and we discussed the lineup for the 2010 Tucson International Children’s Film Festival. In the past they have shown movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, Egon and Donci, Azur and Asmar: The Princes’ Quest, Shaolin Soccer, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, The Red Balloon, White Mane, Strings, Please Vote for Me, Microcosmos and even US films like The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and Creature From the Black Lagoon in 3D. This year there are only two films that interest me. Perhaps the line-up is a little too Western? I’ve seen all the movies.

The solution? Saturday night Movie Time at the Bendicksons. Last week, it was on a Friday because the Bendicksons are all punk like that. They don’t need no stinkin’ badges. This week, they are going tropical with George of the Jungle followed by Tarzan. The plan is to wax nostalgic all DeAnza (RIP) like with their late night double feature picture show.

Perhaps they might consider City of Bees: A Children’s Guide to Bees out of Denmark for a future screening ala Microcosmos. I always love to see insects buzzing about and kiddos running in fields in their underwear, but the narrator uses his preschool voice and that is a huge turn-off. The information is appropriate for an older kid and there is some sick propolis action. Also, there is a seven page guidebook that is a little worksheet-y and perhaps a twee young for my kids, but since the 8-YO Girl did a project on bees for Hawt Mz, she is on it like honey on a comb. And just for that local touch, the guidebook has a link to a University of Arizona URL that provides lesson plans for kids K-12.

For family night, Handsome Hubster rented Airplane! That part compelling him to push the envelope is still in tact. Somewhere, I lost my obvious punk edge (never could afford the accouterments anyway) and became a little mommy-two-shoes as evidenced by my watching City of Bees with the 8-YO followed by subsequent Internet searches for further study, but deep down I have the heart of a RebL as placed by my daddy-o, who never wanted me to call him “Shirley” either. Turns out Dad’s cancer is Stage 4 and he’ll decide soon if he wants to ward it off with chemo or garlic or both or neither. I’m grateful for my dad and the community who have come out in such numbers they sometimes must wait their turn. You can follow him and whatever he chooses to tell you here. As for me, I’m off to the Bendicksons.


When Taking the High Road, It’s Best to Know the Way

My brother received a camera for Christmas one year. We can go on ad nauseum about all the great stuff my brother got that I didn’t, but that would ignore the fact that I got a bunch of awesome stuff too and acknowledgment of such would not lend itself well to my sour grapes attitude. We spent some time photographing our normal activities — at least those I was willing to share with my brother. He’d seen me fight before, so I invited him to photograph a fake one (WWF style — I still got my hits in). Check out my form.
I loved being a kid. I loved impromptu games of kickball and climbing fences and walking barefoot on fresh hot tar. I loved my friends. I loved Wendy and Angela most, but I also loved the neighborhood kids and my classmates as well. I loved them so fiercely, especially the ones I saw as weaker, that I would kick the ass of anyone who caused anyone any grief. I guess I maybe had a reputation.

Laura fancied herself as tough stuff and came looking for a fight. For that reason alone, I should have taken an extra hit of joy in knocking that clown down. I made short order of Laura, but it was a joyless exercise. I realized that once people started searching me out to challenge the champion, then I was no longer, nor maybe ever was, defender of of the little guy. I was just a target for every wannabe tough kid.

With one last face shove in the dirt, I got up, my brain reeling in confusion. Yes, I kicked her ass in front of her friends who had just told her they would jump in but who didn’t. Yes, she was more stout than I, but I was an inch or so taller. Not only did I not want to be My Bodyguard anymore, I also didn’t want to be part of that sort of humiliation, even when people deserved it. I determined Laura was my last beat down. I was finished and I said so.

Laura got up with grass in her hair, clothing askew, and obligatory dirt smears on her arm and cheek and asked for more. I couldn’t believe it. She hadn’t even caught her breath from the last round! “Nah, I think we are done here,” I said. “Are you scared?” she asked. Heck no I wasn’t scared; I had just kicked her ass! I laughed incredulously, but couldn’t think of the gracious way out, so I turned away and began walking home. She shoved me and her previously mute friends renewed their empty promises.

I faced them in disbelief. I was absolutely NOT used to people not accepting my word for gospel. “I said I was done.” “Because you’re a big ol’ chicken!” Laura said and her friends clucked in agreement. Then I said the dumbest thing of all. “Can’t you hear my mom calling?”