Happy 115th Anniversary to L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

Today is the 115th anniversary of the publication of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Is this a special book or movie to you? What about the many spin-offs it’s inspired?

For a fascinating look into the inspiration behind the classic work, check out the Smithsonian’s online gallery and videos here.

I really need to read the original book–it’s been on my list for years. I’ve seen the movie many times, of course, especially as a child, when my sister couldn’t get enough of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. (Did you know they were silver in the original book–changed to ruby to show off the movie’s technicolor?) P.S. My sister is still on the hunt for a pair of ruby slippers of her own–the marketing team just didn’t cater to tall young girls like us at Dorothy’s age. ;)

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, is a very important book and musical to me. I read and watched it at a very important time of my life–a little over a month after my traumatic brain injury. It was very inspiring to me to see a young woman change the world for the better, even if she looked and thought differently than everyone else. I couldn’t believe my luck when the author, Gregory Maguire, visited my college campus and I got to thank him in person for the impact he’d had on my life. (Thanks to fellow blogger, Chris, for discovering the opportunity!)

Fangirling and getting many books signed by my author hero and inspiration, Gregory Maguire.

Though the book and the musical are very different, I love them both. “Defying Gravity” is still the song I try to live my life by. ;)

So, happy anniversary to a book that has inspired the imagination–and heart, brains, and courage–of people around the world for 115 years.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mother figures out there–biological and adoptive moms; teachers/counselors; fur-baby-moms (me!); and anyone who’s ever loved someone in a nurturing way.

I’d like to wish a special Mother’s Day to my own mom. I’m blessed to have such a strong, loving, kind role model in my life, let alone to call her my mother. She’s always taught my sister and me that we should reach for our dreams and determine our own lives, never letting someone or something else hold us back. More than anyone else, she’s taught me how to treat others with kindness, even if it’s difficult. (Please read this poem for one of my defining memories with my mother from childhood.) Over the years, my mom has never stopped being my mother, but now I’m lucky to call her my friend, too.

Here are a couple of pictures from about a month ago, when my mom and I went to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show together. Gardening is something we’ve dabbled with (her, much more than me!) together since I was little. We had so much fun learning about pollination and edible gardens, but what was most fun was the time we spent together. :) <3

I am also blessed to be a mom to this precious baby:

Cuddle time with Oreo <3

and this one in Heaven:

Smooches with Chad <3

Our Mother’s Day this year was pretty laid-back. My mom is an AMAZING cook, but today, she got a break from the kitchen, as the rest of us pitched in for meals. :) We enjoyed spending time together; giving cards and gifts; and watching some Game of Thrones. Jennifer and I have a pedicure booked for our mom next week, when salons will be a bit less crazy, hopefully. ;)

Also, something I’ve been aware of this year especially is that this can be a hard holiday for some people. A radio station posted this on Facebook, and I think it expresses sympathy and comfort perfectly:

And finally, to end this on an upbeat note…Buzzfeed posted this excellent list of “19 Badass Literary Mothers Who Need to be Celebrated.” Well, the title pretty much sums it up–and I must say, I agree with as much of the list as I’m familiar with–and like yesterday’s list, it’s added more to my ever-growing “To Be Read” list. :) Molly Weasley of Harry Potter and Catelyn Stark of Game of Thrones top the list–check it out!

Happy Birthday J. M. Barrie! Peter Pan’s Importance to Adults + Adaptations

Happy birthday to J. M. Barrie, author of many wonderful works, and most famously, Peter Pan. In honor of his birthday, Book Riot posted this list of books inspired by Peter Pan, some of which are a retelling of the story, and some of which act as prequels/sequels to the original content.

This book holds a special place in my heart and imagination. My exposure to it as a child was mostly through the Disney Peter Pan movie, followed by Hook. Then, as a teenager, the little-known, fantastical, romantic live-action version came out, and it became my favorite of all. I also loved the recent Johnny Depp movie about the author’s life.

However, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally read the original book–which I absolutely LOVED. At the end, I cried–truly feeling the loss of innocence that must come with “growing up,” even as we try to remain optimistic and imaginative. It describes a truth that’s well-known, but in such a lovely way that it feels you’ve never heard it before. It may be labeled as a children’s book, but, as with many with the label, you can’t understand all its layers until you look at childhood in retrospect.

That’s why I’m excited to see this list. Tiger Lily is already on my “To Be Read” list, but I think I need to add many of these others, too!

How about you, readers? Is this a special story for you? What versions are you familiar with?

P.S. I am planning to post a Mother’s Day tribute tomorrow, but in case I get too busy with festivities–I’m wishing all mother figures out there a happy day! <3

Yes + No–A Paradoxical Language Habit that Just Makes Sense

I’d like to share with you tonight a quirk that’s wriggled its way into our modern English language. It’s so insidious that you’ve surely used it today without even noticing it. I’ve found it to be equal parts amusing, fascinating, and frustrating. Ever since I read about it, I’ve caught myself using it multiple times a day, in all settings–social and professional.

Alright, I’ll cut the suspense–it’s the paradoxical construction of “yes” plus “no” to emphasize the last part of the phrase. It sounds more confusing than it is.

Here are some examples:

Elizabeth: Don’t you like dancing?
Darcy: No, totally.

Katniss: Would you like some berries?
Peeta: Yeah, no.

Out of context, it may sound bizarre. But if you take note, as I have (inconveniently), you’ll hear it ALL THE TIME in conversation–I’d say only verbal, not written, at this point.

The phenomenon was recently explored at length in The New Yorker article, “What Part of ‘No, Totally’ Don’t You Understand” and more concisely in NPR’s “No, Yes, Definitely: On the Rise of ‘No, Totally’ As Linguistic Quirk.”

According to both, we’ve set this problem up for ourselves as the English language has evolved. As in many other current languages, English used to have a four-part positive/negative answer system. However, we’ve dropped down to two, causing us, perhaps subconsciously, to compensate for the meaning emphasis by combining the words.

NPR explains:

Schulz [in The New Yorker article]…found out that the English language used to have more options than just “yes” and “no.”

There were four options, to be precise: “yes,” “yea,” “no” and “nay.” She writes:

” … ‘nay’ was used to respond to positive statements or questions, while “no” was reserved for contradicting anything phrased in the negative.

Is the Tabard open?
Nay, it closed at midnight.
Isn’t Chaucer meeting us here? 
No, he went home to bed.”

So, there you have it! Tell me, dear readers–have you noticed yourself using this habit lately? I’m not arguing against it; in fact, Schulz argues that sometimes, using both words increases clarity of meaning, or at least adjusts intensity. I agree with that! It’s just very interesting the way it’s sneaked into our language–unnerving, perhaps, to a writer who takes great efforts in being deliberate in her word choices. ;) Can I get a “No, totally!”? ;)

Women Warriors–Literary Match-Ups

Hello, dear readers!

Imaginary battles between established have been a thing since action figures were invented–OK, maybe since imagination was invented. So while they’re certainly not new, this one, in particular, caught my eye.

Cage Match 2015 Round 3: Susan Sto-Helit vs. Alanna Trebond

This is a pretty neat concept: pitting literary heroines/#StrongFemaleCharacters against each other. This is my second round of voting, although the match is in round three at the moment. Each round on Suvudu features a story describing the battle and predicting the winner of the match.

Round 3 pits Tamora Pierce‘s Alanna Trebond vs. Sir Terry Pratchett’s Susan Sto-Helit. I will forever be partial to Tamora Pierce, but Pratchett’s recent passing and enormous fandom may tip this match in his favor.

Click here to see the match-up schedule.

Whom would you vote for, readers? Better yet–go cast your vote, then leave your decision in the comments. :)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day: Top Ten Quotes from Irish Authors

Jelly-Side Up:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, dear readers! To celebrate, I’m reblogging last year’s Top Ten Irish Author Quotes. Also, I’m posting Oreo’s official St. Patrick’s Day photo (edited courtesy of Jennifer):

Originally posted on Jelly-Side Up:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, dear readers! Pardon the pause in entries here–I’ve been sick and busy and finally well again–but I missed you! <3

St. Patrick’s Day is a beloved holiday, celebrating the patron saint of Ireland on the date of his death in the 5th century. I had no idea how much mythology had eclipsed the facts in popular customs, and that evolution of how stories grew into beliefs is just as fascinating as the stories and facts themselves. Many traditions actually began in America, some as a way for Irish immigrants to celebrate their nationality. Check out History.com’s brief video on that evolution here.

One of the traditions that started centuries ago was wearing green clothing on St. Patrick’s Day. As you know by now, I can never resist an opportunity to dress festively, so here was my business version of that today–complete with Facebook’s “emerald”…

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Happy Pi Day–Pi and Prejudice

Happy Pi Day! According to piday.org:

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

Celebrations for this holiday have really picked up over the last few years. When I stumbled across this one on Buzzfeed, I found my new favorite:

If You Aren’t Having A “Pie And Prejudice” Party On Pi Day You Are A Dummy

It’s like a drinking game, but with pie and Pride and Prejudice. How else are you supposed to celebrate 3/14?!

What is Pie and Prejudice, you ask? Well, it's like a drinking game, except with pie!

Make sure to check out the whole list of hilarious instructions on how to celebrate. As a lover of both Pride and Prejudice and pie (and even, at times, pi), I am excited at the idea! However, I’ll have to enjoy it vicariously through you all, since I gave up sweets for Lent. :'( Or maybe I can just substitute fruit for pie…which just sounds so much less satisfying, but I’m sure the film would be sweetness enough…right? :-|

Are you planning to celebrate Pi Day, dear readers? If so, how? Please share your plans in the comments below! :)