The Under Dog’s Manifesto: A Guerilla Artist’s Path To Independence

Part small business basics manual, part biographical text, ‘The Under Dog’s Manifesto: A Guerilla Artist’s Path To Independence’(Published by Coffee Grind Media) provides a wealth of information to the aspiring artistprenuer or ‘anyone who’s ever felt like an underdog’ as its dedication exclaims. Very impressive is this compilation of true life experience not only from Creature its creator but also a number of successful artists in their own right that contribute real life insight, substantiating the fact that it is indeed possible to not just survive off of your art but to thrive and live well because of it. This back pocket friendly package of pulp discusses topics ranging from making a brand, to being confident in self and realizing if your skin is actually tough enough to survive the initial struggle working independently. Ultimately, it will become easier with time, experience and a bit of fine tuning.

What Dr. Spock Didn't Tell Us by B.M. Atkinson

What Dr. Spock Didn't Tell Us or A Survival Kit for Parents by B.M. Atkinson, Jr. is an entertaining list of afflictions parents and their children acquire quite naturally in the course of living. The book, replete with illustrations (by Whitney Darrow, Jr.) of the bedevilments parents can at best mentally prepare for, succinctly describes these ailments; most are a paragraph long but a few of the more complicated dis-eases take a page to fully explain. Soon-to-be parents, nervous Nellies that they sometimes are, may miss a few hours of sleep over the adroitly named memories most veterans will laugh and cry about. If any of this bedlam is in the traditional parenting books, it surely isn’t presented in such a seriously funny manner. Parents, sit down and enjoy What Dr. Spock Didn't Tell Us, you'll need all the help (and rest and laughter) you can get. If nothing else convinces you, consider the author’s explanation and the remainder of the book’s title: An encyclopedic guide to hitherto uncatalogued afflictions, aberrations, exotic diseases of the American Child. Told ya.


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird is a collected reflection on the writing process. Author Anne Lamott begins with a vignette on the origin of the writer within, then discusses writing styles while adeptly weaving in examples, writing in different instances as a child, for a child, and as an adult reflecting on childhood so her students, er, readers experience the affects of character and narrator on a story. One can appreciate the candor with which the author reveals the realities of a writer's life (although it seems more specific, perhaps a middle-class, sufficiently connected writer's life): the bumps, trips, jealousy, depressions and near breakthroughs and almost made its and little acclaim for all that effort. Though the book attempts to defy categorization, this writer has labeled it a narrative lesson plan for a writer’s workshop with real life illustrations. Lamott may be a sweet but determined gangsta issuing a thinly veiled warning to aspiring writers that this is tough work and her turf or she may be a writer with a deadline and a drawer full of notes (on writing?) jotted on index cards that, with her insistence, arranged themselves into this book.


True Notebooks by Mark Salzman

True Notebooks is the story of high-risk offenders in LA’s Central Juvenile Hall exposing their vulnerable selves in a writing class. This one opportunity to share their thoughts literally gives the few who attend room to breathe and a window to the sky instead of a tenebrous 10 by 12 cell abutting a brick wall. For their efforts, the prisoners unearth pain and fear and find joy and understanding. Salzman pens the sojourn without pity, emitting the raw energy of these prisoners, showing through his eyes and their voices that they are like so many teenagers we know…they think about girls incessantly, they clown around, they make mistakes, they have yet to discover their true selves. The author moves through scenes with dexterity as he shares his journey­ in a world not his own while contextualizing the stories of his students for whom life is a sentence not an abstraction and endings are rarely happy. Read True Notebooks and remember that life is less black and white but so many shades in between.

Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset

Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset is a fairy-tale-like story told in the context of the complex realities of early to mid 20th century America. Set in Philadelphia and New York City, this novel is crafted with such subtlety that the casual reader may miss the depth of knowledge and life that brims below the daintily espoused language. Although she approaches despotism at some points, the author, in the voice of the omniscient narrator, builds trust with adeptly evinced setting and insight and, at times, just as deftly misleads the reader. Minor roles are made vital when Fauset presents them with all their flaws and ornament. The word “propinquity,” employed several (or one too many) times, serves as a metaphor for the protagonist and for the novel: while close in proximity and forthright in words and deeds, both are obscured as their deeper selves remain veiled to the inattentive eye. This coming of age novel takes the structure of a nursery rhyme and fills it with the stuff of life—hope, disappointment, irony, wisdom—and reminds us that each moment of the journey is a worthwhile one.

To Market, To Market,
To Buy a Plum Bun;

Home again, Home again,

Market is done.

The Social Meaning of Language by JB Pride

The Social Meaning of Language brings together the sibling sciences—psychology, sociology, anthropology, and all their compound and hyphenated forms—to discuss linguistics as a social science or, as it is now commonly known but was still emerging as at the time of its publication in 1971, sociolinguistics. (Yes, I know. Really.) This book collects and argues the ideas of the –ologists, men today’s students might google on their smart phones just before class. It examines how and why our speech functions range from unconscious to deliberate choices as we attempt to communicate with others who interpret our coded messages as intended and sometimes in unexpected ways. This surprisingly mod little book of complex ideas is valuable as a reminder that many textbook “facts” are not so much facts as accepted notions. Ideas like multi-dialectal speakers and second language acquisition theory—current terms in the field—are postulated and countered by the originators of the conceptions and their contemporaries. Such in-depth discussion will be especially appreciated by the student seriously studying the stuff of language and the social science enthusiast (if there is such a thing). Engage your left temporal lobe and peruse The Social Meaning of Language.


If you're accustomed to using Alexia to determine traffic received by your website, you may want to consider a new source for that info. is a search engine/stats monitoring system alternative for users providing an entirely different model for acquiring accurate statistical data. Unlike Alexia, Compete estimates 'complete people' as apposed to unique visitors. Stats are determined by assessing a consumer based community. No bots, spiders, agents, pingbacks or rss feeds here to contend with; just real human beings visiting your web space. Currently, Compete only monitors US traffic month to month. Alexia tracks internationally on a daily basis. But there’s much more to Compete then merely analyzing traffic. Compete informs a person searching whether or not a site is safe from spyware. It also allows them to select and compare similar sites. Compete alerts you of promo codes that some sites have, to help save you money. Their mission statement is a simple one, to ‘help create a more trusted, transparent, and valuable Internet for consumers’. Obviously they’re doing something right, they have 2 million plus active panel users. Compete uses a normalization methodology, leveraging scientific multi-dimensional scaling (by age, income, gender and geography) in other words their way of the best representation of the U.S internet population.


The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx

The old saying has always been “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” and few in the musical genre’s long history have lived those words quite like Nikki Sixx. The Heroin Diaries covers a year in the life of the Motley Crue bassist / songwriter when he was addicted to heroin while writing for the band, recording an album and doing multiple tours. It’s told both through the actual diaries Sixx kept during that time and side commentary from the people that were closest to him while all of this was going on. At times the reality of Sixx’s life is startling, especially the amount of drugs he used and what he ended up doing while he was on those drugs, while at other times you may find yourself laughing at his dark humor. A quick read despite its length, The Heroin Diaries provides an insight into a world most of us will hopefully never see. It also illustrates the fact that even though many addicts aren’t happy being addicted they are the only ones that can truly help themselves. It’s amazing Sixx lived to tell this story.


The Sixty One: A Music Adventure

The other day Sumkid sends me this link. A dope idea that kinda mixes indie music site promo with a web 2.0 Digg model. This is pretty high up on the, 'I wish I would've thought of that' scale. 'The Sixty One' is a cool tool for discovering new music from a growing list of independent artists. It's a simple concept. If you like something you 'bump' it. As an artist the more times you're bumped, the more likely you are to gain new fans and solidify a slot at the top of your genres queue. You can sign up as a listener and create your own play list station with feed to communicate with your subscribers. Or you can create an artist account and try your hand at 'innanet' fame by cleverly promoting with tenacity to an audience that is actually interested in hearing something new and different.



I found traces of the predictable in Untraceable. We all knew the good guy would die and that the game would prove a pivotal factor but predictability is par for the course in suspense thrillers. I easily forgave this misstep because the movie has gruesome killing and a plot, with an Asian false lead no less (or am I giving too much credit here?). Attempts at serious reflection rendered trite dialogue that interrupted the flow like Crazy Eddie commercials during The Cosby Show but were few enough in number to keep me from screaming insanely. This anemic moviegoer welcomed the touches of irony, especially when presented subtly in the settings (pay attention, you must!) though I didn’t know if I should blame the film’s editor (David Rosenbloom) or screenwriters (Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker, and Allison Burnett) for the fill-in-the-blank style plot progressions. Someone suggested the director Gregory Hoblit, omitted these expendable details. Altogether, the 21st century Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes in each of us can enjoy this modern murder mystery.

Tyrell by Coe Booth

Tyrell is realistic fiction for many an urban teen coming of age in or around poverty and a nightmarish fantasy in the seedy part of the city for suburban and rural dwellers. At times, the narrator’s slang distracts from the rhythm of the prose but such staccato may keep the interest of the adolescent who loathes reading 310 pages of anything. Images of poverty are fresh; the emotional undulations the title character experiences and shares lend authenticity and, along with ubiquitous sexual pressures and illegal activity, make this tale of stolen youth a page turner. With nearly every female in the novel characterized as irresponsible or a sexual deviant, I almost assumed Coe Booth a member of the generally hairier gender but I suppose that the notion of a near-perfect protagonist and narrator would make many a male novelist chuckle then pause. Still, you gotta love Tyrell’s fear and courage, naivety and wisdom all balled up into one hormone heightened kid who can’t catch a break but never stops trying.


King & I - Fairfield, CT

Great Thai food places are still fairly tough to find in some places. In fact, I hadn’t found a spot that qualified around me until last week when I happened upon King & I, a beautiful restaurant tucked away in the Post Road Plaza in Fairfield, CT. The chicken panang was fantastic. Rather than trying to blow you out of the water with spiciness they make it so you can actually taste the sauce. The drunken noodles were tasty, as well, and pricing wasn’t bad at all. Dinner for two including an alcoholic beverage for each person totaled up to $40. Even if you have the most expensive meals on the menu your bill shouldn’t go too north of $50 unless you’re ordering appetizers and desserts. A perfect date spot, King & I keeps its lighting low and its service knowledgeable and quick. I plan on going back and eating my way through the menu.

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Crest Clean Mint Extra Whitening Toothpaste

As anyone who drinks tea, coffee, or anything else that may stain their teeth knows, it’s not always easy to find a good whitening toothpaste. There are a lot of brands out there, I’ve tried a few. The one that has worked the best, and I stick with to this day, is Crest’s Clean Mint flavored Extra Whitening toothpaste with Tartar Protection. From the first day I used it I noticed my teeth getting whiter and some of the staining that other whitening toothpastes had left going away. I’ve tried other versions of Crest Extra Whitening toothpaste but the Clean Mint is the one that works best. So before you throw up your arms in confusion while staring at the myriad of choices in your toothpaste aisle, focus on finding Crest’s Clean Mint Extra Whitening variety. Hopefully it will work as well for you as it does for me.

Praverb The Wyse - The Gospel Is Free

Everyone and their mother has a friggin mixtape. (I heard a couple mom's that were actually pretty tight. I must admit, pretty tight). Praverb The Wyse releases 15 scriptures from his book of life over a few industry beats as well as original production. This is gospel rap without furious fire and brimstone exclamations or overtly self righteous finger pointing. His voice is pretty human, very easy to listen to. There's a charm that most rappers don't have you can hear shining through on, 'Loving Morning'. Its obvious that this young man has a fair amount of skill, 'The Gospel is free' serves as a nice introduction to this emcee that surely loves this Hiphop thing.

You can check it out for yourself here.


Ledisi - Lost & Found

Ladies, it's alright to smile and be happy. To love your man and give him your all, if he so deserves it. Listening to Ledisi I gather the previous statements are felt and appreciated by more than just a mere handful of powerfully progressive, forward thinking females like the many that attend this dynamic femme body's shows. Her essence on this record as well as in person is nothing short of inspiring. Ledisi's 'Lost & Found' is great music to wake up to whether you're female or male - alone or attached. Various expressions of true love and passion inhabit this sound tablet of strength within poetical phrases and silky soulful music. Ledisi leads by example by putting forth a vibe of positive communication. It is obviously uncontrived. Natural. You can't fake this type of human therapy.