Showing posts from December, 2012

Did You Have Nougat for Christmas? Secrets of An Old-fashioned Sweet

Montelimar's claim to fame: Nougat. But was it really born there? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Did you have nougat for Christmas? If you have, you've renewed with an old tradition that is widespread in Europe. You've treated yourself to a moment of joy in a world that, as the year 2012 comes to an end,  is increasingly sorrowful, with reports of people in Mali getting their hands cut off for alleged thieving or stoned to death for adultery, a young woman in Delhi dying after having been raped on a public bus and horrendously massacred with a metal rod, of Afghan policemen killed in their sleep by their turncoat colleagues who then run to the Talibans for safety...

Which is why I wanted to tell you about something pleasant that helps to reconcile oneself with human nature, a simple, magical sweet made from honey, roasted nuts and whipped egg white. Called nougat in most northern European countries, Russia included, it goes by many more names in Southern Europe: turròn in Spain,

2013 Will Be The Year of Baby Boomer Novels, Merry Boomer Christmas!

That's my prediction: boomer literature will be the Big Discovery of 2013, as the publishing industry, and not just Hollywood, realize there is a market out there of 78 million boomers in the US alone and many more in the rest of the world. What the boomers did for YA (Young Adult) literature 40 years ago, they will now do for BB lit. History repeats itself!

Merry Boomer Christmas!

For news about boomer lit around the Net, including articles and posts on the Passive Voice, Boomer Café, Digital Book Today, the Kindle Nation Daily, Venture Galleries and more, check here

For great Christmas gifts for the boomer in your life, check the bookshelf of the Goodreads Group discussing BB novels here, there are some 40 BB titles, see here

Or go to the thread in the Amazon Kindle fora, here.

For the next great boomer film, QUARTET, featuring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon and directed by Dustin Hoffman, check here. In the movie trailer you'll see the setting, it's just amaz…

When Music Meets Poetry...

The international poetry anthology edited by Oscar Sparrow, FREEZE FRAME (published by Gallo Romano, UK) is to be accompanied by music and I wondered what music could ever fit the different voices of 6 totally different poets. Well, now I've stopped wondering and I'm amazed!
Listen to it, tell me what you think:
I find it hauntingly beautiful...Even if you're in a bad mood for some other reason, listen to it, it will change your mood for the better! 
This music has the power of poetry - that ability to operate on one's mood which is poetry's greatest appeal, regardless of the theme. Just let the music and the poems work on you and for you...
NEWS UPDATE: FREEZE FRAME, a poetry anthology, together with audio book, has just come out, click here to purchase.

Also on December 21,there will be a Google+ hangout on 21 December, 6 pm GMT. Click here to join and meet the 6 poets, Paul Tobin, Jefferson Hansen, Jo VonBargen,…

The Scandal of the Charity Business: Donors Beware!

Charity show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)The charity business is the unsavory side of humanitarian assistance. A recent Arte TV investigation (aired on 11 December 2012, click here) revealed the extent of the scandal in Germany, France and the United States. The film lasts 100 minutes and is in French and German only, but here are the highlights, you don't want to miss them:

- fund-raising activities tend to gobble up most of the donations, in some cases up to 100% and not a penny arrives at destination!  In Germany, only some 230 charity funds out of a total of 580,000 have been classified as bona fidae institutions by the German Central Institute of Social Questions. They base their judgment on whether those charity funds make their budget public or not (most of them don't) and whether less than 30% of their budget is spent on fund-raising. 

In France, there is no similar oversight institution, control is in the hands of  the Cour des Comptes (Controller Court) that doesn't s…

The Challenge of Designing a Unique Book Cover

A lot can be learned about effective cover design - the kind that will grab attention from even the most distracted reader - by looking at how the well-known British poet Oscar Sparrow went about selecting a cover for his upcoming poetry anthology (6 poets, American and English,, the only continental European! Bet you didn't know I write poetry!)

Consider the challenge: it's a double one. First the cover must reflect the depth and breadth of an anthology, always something difficult to express through a single image. Second, everybody knows that poetry is not a fast-selling genre and to zero in on an arresting poetic image is especially difficult. When was the last time you read a poem? Okay, I won't make you blush, we all have our small, private failings...

Let's return to the cover, here it is:

What do you think of it? I love it! I didn't design it - Oscar Sparrow did it with publisher Gallo Romano Media's expert support - so I feel quite entitled …

A Hidden Factor in the Euro Crisis Revealed: the World Shipping Crisis

Euro Zone 2008 ; dark blue : de jure ; pale blue : de facto (Photo credit: Wikipedia) It may not look like the Euro Crisis and the World Shipping Crisis have much in common, yet they do and here is how. The key element that links them is the lending behavior of the German banks! 

From the beginning of the Euro crisis - it started in early 2010 when Greece officially asked Brussels for a bailout -, I've been wondering what caused Germany to drag its feet. If only Ms. Merkel had moved fast enough to meet Greek demands, Greece would have been saved within the year and the Euro Crisis would never have happened.

Why did Ms. Merkel not move? Very odd, if you consider how often she claims she's a European at heart and that "more Europe" is needed to solve the crisis. 

Not so odd if you consider the lending history of German banks and how they've granted easy credit left and right, at home to political pals, to the Greeks to finance the Olympic Games and more, to Southern Eu…

A Walk in the Paris I Love

Last week I was in Paris and I'd like to share with you the Paris I love, a little bit hidden, not your usual monuments and touristic high points. Come with me to Shakespeare and Co., surely the most extraordinary bookstore in all of Paris and probably Europe.

Here it is, lying low and snug between two tall 19th century buildings along the river Seine (in the 5th arrondissement). Yet the bookstore is no doubt much older than its neighbors, just look at the beams climbing up between the two façades: 

Moving closer, the bookstore is in the back, on the left and a neat little restaurant  is up front: 

Here it is at last, the splendid, cluttered façade of the Shakespeare bookstore:

Over the front door there's a reminder of George Whitman, a friend of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, but above all, the mythical founder of the bookstore (he founded it in 1951 and died in 2011):

Yes, "...the business of books is the business of life." I love that! And there's no bookstore an…