Tag Archives: nonfiction

Book Review: ‘Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello’ by Steven Hancoff

Being an avid, life-long fan of classical music and having studied the violin in my later years, I jumped at the opportunity to review this ambitious work put together by internationally renowned guitarist Steven Hancoff.
Hancoff 3CDBach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello, a project that took Hancoff eight years to complete, is a fascinating, immersive multimedia extravaganza that combines music, history and art, a gem for classical music enthusiasts.
The ebook has four volumes:
Volume 1 is all about Bach’s life; volume 2 is about Bach’s death and the following 80 years of total obscurity until his music was discovered by Felix Mendelssohn; volume 3 focuses on Pablo Casals, his heroic life, and how serendipity brought him to Bach’s music; finally, volume 4 consists almost entirely on nine videos about the mystery and greatness of Bach, and how he didn’t allow his personal tragedy to define his music. Over one thousand illustrations grace the pages of the volumes, including three hundred works of contemporary art. There’s also a scholarly bibliography.
The four-volume ebook is available on iTunes and is accompanied separately by a 3-CD set recording of Hancoff’s acoustic guitar transcription of the suites. Readers may listen to samples here.
Like some other famous creative artists in history, Bach led a harsh life, losing his siblings and parents by the time he was ten, then having to work for years in an environment that didn’t support his music talents. He was even thrown into jail at some point. He never recovered from the death of his wife, whom he loved dearly. It was in times of deep pain and hardship that he created his sublime masterpieces, Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and then his Six Suites for ’Cello Solo.
The cello suites are a testament to the tragedy in his life, to all the pain and sorrow, but also to his determination and transcendence—a gift to his then gone beloved wife. Particularly interesting and surprising is how Bach’s prodigious music almost fell to oblivion if not for the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn’s great aunt, and how Pablo Casals discovered the suites in a little shop in Barcelona and how he studied them for over a decade before performing them in public.
Steven Hancoff’s passion and reverence for Bach and his music resonate throughout and shine through the pages of these volumes. He’s done an admirable job presenting “the miracle of Bach,” as Casals once put it. Moreover, his transcriptions of the suites in acoustic guitar are a pleasure to listen to: serene, bitter-sweet at times, filled with emotional power and depth, always sublimely beautiful.
Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello is a feast to the senses, a testament to the greatness of Bach and comes highly recommended from this reviewer.
Useful links:
Listen to a samples Steven Hancoff’s transcription of the six suites here:http://www.stevenhancoff.com/music.html
Watch the video “Bach in 3 Minutes” on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=QZmmIIMBBug
Watch Hancoff’s various videos on the subject: http://www.stevenhancoff.com/videos.html
Connect with Hancoff on Facebook and Twitter @StevenHancoff.
My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

– See more at: http://asthepageturns.blogspot.be/2015/10/book-review-bach-casals-and-six-suites.html#sthash.GARw6tsC.dpuf

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The Writer’s Life with Author Michael Ditchfield

michael_106 (2)Michael Ditchfield continues to live and work in the United States after moving here from England. He finds time between his successful restaurants to engage in humanitarian causes in Africa. He is especially focused on Ethiopia, after many years in Rwanda and Sudan. Michael spends the rest of his time speaking about the plight of the people in these countries, with an emphasis on bettering our lives from understanding theirs. He is currently working on his next book.

What’s inside the mind of a non-fiction author?

The willingness to serve others through the written word.  I’ve has been involved  in saving lives in Africa and now wanted the means to keep these acts moving forward in print so the world can contemplate the process.

What is so great about being an author?

To be a true and passionate messenger of what the written word portrays. I believe through print that results are attainable to better this world and bring thought -provoking discussion to light on the subject matter.

When do you hate it?

When I am not writing.

What is a regular writing day like for you? Be honest!

I wake up around 4am and after coffee begins the thought process of what I’m trying to achieve that day. When the thoughts are lifeless I walk the park or go to the gym, returning to write again. The evening holds little for the process as the downtime is needed to re-charge the batteries.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you? How do you know?

Some do, but that is their make-up. I relish my accomplishments in an appreciative manner. Talent is God-given. Conceit is self- given.

How do you handle negative reviews?

There is always a committee of “they.” He rolls with the punches. Good reviews are not always that good and bad reviews are not always that bad.

LTS-front (2)What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

They are impressed as they usually realize the sacrifice and passion needed. They always wanted to write something themselves but just never got started.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

Takes a break unless procrastination has brought a deadline closer to reality.

Any writing quirks?

Napkins to paper to lap top.

Have you worked on your novel intoxicated? What was the result?

Some of the greatest parts of the book came after a glass or two of Pappy Van Winkles. I wouldn’t call it intoxicated merely “merry.”

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

Congratulate them for making me feel more special and accomplished.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate? 

Romeo and Juliet never had it so good.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

In my case with the latest book, yes, as more lives in Africa can be saved. A portion of the book sales go towards my African passion at Project Mercy.

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Don’t prove others wrong, instead prove yourself right!


Title: Life’s Too Short for Leftovers – 9 Lessons from a Third World Kitchen

Genre: Memoir

Author: Michael Ditchfield

Website: http://MichaelDitchfield.com

Publisher: Black Crown

Purchase link: http://amzn.com/099625370X

Ditchfield takes the reader on his personal journey with his mentor to Africa. Here he enlightens us on what we can learn from people going through extreme hardship, and how we can benefit from such revelation. He spends time applying this knowledge in a way that allows us to reflect and act with our own personal growth.

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The Next America Book Blast & Win $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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The Next AmericaTitle: The Next America: Moving Beyond a Fragile Economy
Author: Don A. Holbrook
Publisher: Don A. Holbrook
Pages: 304
Language: English
Genre: Nonfiction/Business & Economics
Format: Paperback, eBook & Audio Book

The economic chaos of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis that has created so much destruction of wealth for regular Americans is far from over. This book examines problems and possible solutions within national, international, and local realms that will help us navigate these times and set a course toward calmer waters. While some clamor for more taxes to cover our government’s programs, The Next America shows how we can restructure our tax code so it positively affects all aspects of our communities: education, businesses, innovation, political transparency, environmental issues, investments, and more. Concerned citizens and economic players alike will be inspired and motivated to act to reestablish the American Dream during this transitional time. The Next America believes an informed citizenry can create a solution to hold our elected officials accountable for real change that will be robust and beneficial to all American’s not just the elite few at the top, without moving away from our free market and capitalism based economy.

Purchase your copy:

amazon2About the Author:

Don Holbrook is a private economist consultant involved in economic development public policy, site location decisions for private sector investments of new facilities, strategic destination tourism development feasibility and public-private partnership conceptualization, including public sector incentives to entice business investment into local economies. His non-fiction books on local economic development efforts to rebuild, renew and sustainably balance economic development public policy to create world-class communities have been groundbreaking successes within economic development.  His first book, the “Little Black Book of Economic Development” has spawned a series of follow-up books on how communities, companies, individuals and families can navigate these treacherous economic times.

Holbrook is one of the worlds foremost thought leaders and public speakers on the subject of how communities can build smart and sustainable local grassroots driven economic development strategies to achieve maximum success in what he refers to as “The Art of the Deal Today.”

Holbrook was formally indoctrinated as a Fellow Member of the International Economic Development Council, for his lifetime achievements by his peers in 2008.

He lives with wife and two sons in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 2010, Holbrook was formally Knighted at West Point USMA as a member of the modern day Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, a modern day Knights Templar Order.

His latest book is the nonfiction/business/economics,The Next America: Moving Beyond a Fragile Economy.

Pump Up Your Book and Don Holbrook are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins December 2 and ends December 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 30, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


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Is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? Susan Louise Peterson tells us why or why not

Susan PetersonSusan Louise Peterson is an author and school psychologist living in Las Vegas, NV. She has taken a twenty year journey working in the tough inner city schools of Las Vegas, Nevada as a teacher and later a school psychologist. Susan has worked with students from pre-kindergarten to high school levels. Working in a large inner city high school she noticed that many teenagers were dealing with communication issues related to their parents, teachers and other adults. Students were given limited information from adults when they asked questions and usually did not understand the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ type of responses they received from adults. In response, Susan Louise Peterson wrote two companion books to help teenagers with this communication dilemma. She is the author of the newly released books entitled THE YES BOOK FOR TEENAGERS and THE NO BOOK FOR TEENAGERS.

Susan is an award winning educator and has won several national awards for improving educational practice. She was named to the Practitioners Hall of Fame for Improvement of Educational Practice from NOVA University.

In addition, Susan is the author of the recently published book IS MY CHILD AUTISTIC OR DELAYED? (Vilnius Press-2013), as well as eight other books in the areas of education, research and child behavior.

You can visit her website at www.susanlouisepeterson.com.

Click here to enter the $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!


The Yes Book for TeenagersThe Yes Book for Teenagers was written to address the multiple meanings of ‘yes’ as teenagers often ask parents and adults for numerous requests. Susan Louise Peterson, a school psychologist has worked in the inner city high schools of Las Vegas with a large number of teenagers. She has seen the ‘quick and fast’ requests from teenagers. These requests when answered with a ‘yes’ response often need a little more explanation and detail. It is hoped this book will help teenagers understand the broader meaning of a simple ‘yes’ response.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.


The No Book for TeenagersThe No Book for Teenagers seeks to help teenagers understand why adults (such as parents and teachers say ‘no’ to them. Teenagers literally have thousands’ of requests and these requests can cause major disagreements between teens and adults. Parents and teachers are often helping teenagers understand the ‘bigger picture’ and some of the challenges they may be facing now and in the future. The book is written by Susan Louise Peterson, a school psychologist who has worked with teens in the inner city schools of Las Vegas, Nevada. As Susan emphasizes in the book, the word ‘no’ can be connected to many things. She helps teens explore the various meanings connected with a ‘no’ response.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Susan. Can you tell us what your latest books, The Yes Book for Teenagers and The No Book for Teenagers, are all about?

These companion books (The Yes Book for Teenagers and The No Book for Teenagers) were written to help teenagers understand the reasons behind the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses from parents and other adults.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I came up with the idea to write these books from my twin teenage daughters. They were always coming to me with requests and questions that they wanted an immediate ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.  I realized that many of the things they wanted were more complicated and needed a little more explanation than a quick response.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Most of the research for this book comes from my experience working as a school psychologist in a large inner city school district. I have seen teenagers with a multitude of issues so a quick response may sometimes need more clarification or a little more direction.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

The message of these books for teenagers is that there are many issues in life and a simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’ response may be to guide them in a new direction or keep them safe.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Excerpt from The No Book for Teenagers

“No could mean that a change is needed so that you can continue your request. For example, saying ‘no’ might mean you should consider more options and look at the challenges before you change a plan. No could mean that it is an unhealthy request or one that involves bad habits. Sometimes parents may want you to slow down in a relationship or calm down and relax more about a decision. At other times, parents are wanting you to gain independence and they help you in clarifying confusing details as you make adjustments and learn how to be flexible in life.” (The No Book for Teenagers, page 1, 2013, Vilnius Press)

Excerpt from The Yes Book for Teenagers

“When adults tell you ‘yes’ they could be saying that you need to look at the big picture. This could be a hint you are only looking at part of the information or have completed half of the steps in the process. Sometimes your request may lack focus and goes in many different directions. At other times, you may be only focused on one thing.” (The Yes Book for Teenagers, page 12, 2013, Vilnius Press).

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

I think the key to getting a nonfiction book published is feeling strong about your message and explaining it in simple terms that make it a user friendly book.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

During the school year, I start my day at 4:30 a.m. and I am at work by 7:00 a.m. It is busy and hectic raising teenagers and working full time. I do jot down notes and ideas throughout the day that can spark my writing ideas when I have time to write and compose material. Sometimes I close the door and write during my lunch hour.

Q: What’s next for you?

This summer I have had three books published so I want to work on promoting these books and take a little time to reflect on life.

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Thy Kingdom Come Book Blast and Giveaway with Lakesha Monique Ruise

After petitioning the Father for answers to basic theological questions about the universal church, she took an eight-year journey with the Holy Spirit to provide clarity for herself about His vision.

Thy Kingdom Come provides readers with that clarity.

For anyone wondering what has happened to the Church, for anyone whose faith in God has been diminished, for anyone whose life has been destroyed by the yolks of bondage, Ruise offers new answers. She encourages her readers to follow along in the Bible itself to see how each of her lessons is validated by the Word of God.

“We perish because we don’t know how to survive,” writes Ruise. Thy Kingdom Come offers not only an apt diagnosis of the problem, but equips readers with the cure, as well. It is an excellent source book for Biblical history and spiritual revelation and it prompts valuable internalizing and soul-searching for veteran Christians as well as for new converts.

Link to book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1432787683/

Link to book at B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thy-kingdom-come-lakesha-monique-ruise/1114171729

Lady Ruise is a native of Thomasville Georgia. She is the First Lady of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ in Macclenny Florida. She medically retired from the U S Navy in 2007. Since her retirement, she obtained a degree in respiratory therapy and works as a Registered Respiratory Care Practitioner. She has a strong Christian background. She dedicated her life to the Lord at the age of 9 and became a minister at the age of 14. She has been licensed through the Holiness Church and the Baptist church as a minister for the past 24 years. She has been mentored by countless Pastors and Elders in the COGIC, Holiness Church, and the Baptist Church. She currently labors in ministry with her husband Pastor Joe Nathan Ruise as a praise team leader. She is also the president and founder of the Baker County Circle of Sisters in Macclenny, Fl. Lakesha Ruise is a prayer-warrior and intercessor, who is holy-ghost filled with an assignment from Jesus Christ to build his church!

Website Address: www.theerrorproofchurch.com

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/ThyCome

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/#!/lakesha.ruise.5

Pump Up Your Book and Lakesha Monique Ruise are teaming up to give you a chance to win some fabulous prizes!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. This promotion will run from March 8 – Apr 8. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on April 12, 2013. Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. Good luck everyone!

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If the Rafflecopter form doesn’t load, please visit the THY KINGDOM COME TOUR PAGE to enter the giveaway:


Thy Kingdom Come Book Blast Schedule


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Friday, March 29th – OPEN
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First Chapter Reveal: Going for Excelsior by Wayne Hatford

Genre: Nonfiction
Author: Wayne Hatford
Website: www.deborahdupre.com
Publisher: Duprevent Publishing
Purchase Link: AMAZON


What if you were as savvy as you could possibly be in matters of aging and, therefore, really soar, breeze through the final chapters of your life with flying colors? The ’senior’ experience, through only the most constructive and creative of lenses! Going for Excelsior” offers practical suggestions for successfully negotiating Seniorhood, a blueprint for active living ~ how to embrace where you’re at in your life, find hidden gems, turn up the voltage. Thriving in Seniorhood is about going beyond what’s expected or being directed at you by the host society and this book provides the reader with the tools and understandings to accomplish that goal. Conundrums solved. The sting removed from such phenomena as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Myths about Seniors debunked. These are only a few of the benefits that can be derived from reading this book which, hopefully, will serve to stretch your consciousness, something that’s rather elastic to begin with ~ in every stage of life.

‘Seniorhood’ ~ Where people often like to perceive us, once we have attained a certain age. Also, where we can choose to thrive, with clarity of purpose ~ and by design!

“Like all those who currently inhabit a body, you, too, are getting ready for Excelsior. Especially allow the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond of your ages to be magical in this regard, for you to be way-showers, preparing yourselves mentally, physically and spiritually for the next phase. There always is a next phase, by the way, and we are always getting ready for it. You are part of a grand design as am I. There is no other option!” ~ Rudolph Valentino


“Balance is probably the most important concept in the Universe. Not the same as equilibrium, however, which is much more temporal and fleeting. Balance is a fuller word, an end in and of itself. (Addressing the author) You, Libra, know a thing or two about this state of being, a desired state, in fact, the most desired state, always being sought. Teeter-Totter; to get there we must stand between the dimensions, one foot in each. This is nirvana when it can be accomplished, bliss when we reside in both planes

That is what our book is about, getting to balance, becoming more alert to our opportunities to live in two worlds simultaneously. Why not? It can be done. I do it a bit myself when we write, also at other times, like when you have seen glimpses of my form. Balance necessitates an agility not unlike what is required in dance ~ always shifting your weight as conditions change, coming down harder on one side versus another ~ as warranted. And it’s not just a matter of having your feet in two dimensions; the figurative face can be inserted in either very easily. I do it, for example, to watch what you are writing, also to witness the joy that comes from our being able to communicate in this manner.

Sometimes objects are very instructive, especially if one opens up to the possibilities they represent. I own a piece of Victorian flotsam and jetsam, for instance, that is particularly apropos to the genesis of this book. It is a decorative item, a tabletop ornament consisting of a column or stem on a stand entwined with flora, with two opposing arched branches at the top, each holding a sphere or, in my estimation, ‘world.’ Allow me, if you will, to wax a little poetic on the meaning of this worn piece of old silver plate and how it applies to what we are purporting to do here which, among other things, is to assist the reader in achieving greater balance in his or her life.

The stem is our core, grafted, so it seems, onto a platform where our individual realities mesh, interacting with each other along some commonly agreed-upon continuum of expression, the one that most of us like to think of exclusively as pertaining to the Earth Plane. I would like to invite you consider an alternative. Just maybe, the unseen world is as important in our daily lives as the so-called seen. I put it this way because there is some controversy (well-placed) over whether what we see is actually what we are seeing or simply a reflection of what we think we want to see. Anyway, let’s suppose that the Astral Plane is as fully a part of our lives as what we see and experience in the waking state. Indeed, we spend a good portion of each incarnated life-time in the dream world, a vibrationally-induced level of consciousness where we are able to continue living our lives in a more natural state, without the self-created limitations the Earth Plane affords. There, the sky’s the limit. That’s the way “it is” in the Astral ~ no boundaries as to what can be imagined and therefore “shown.”

Ladies and gents, not only do we sleep some in each twenty four hour period, we also have our fair share of “Day Dreams,” the more than apt title of Rudolph Valentino’s 1923 poetry book. In it, he was subtly encouraging us to also focus on the Astral world, to give it as much attention and credence as we do our so-called waking life, because the reality is that both have equal weight and, in giving each its fair due, balance is achieved ~ again, what some have termed nirvana, incredible lightness of being, a sense that you are walking, or dancing, on the dimensional cusp.

That is the big picture. Now, let’s go into a little more detail. What happens when we day dream? Well, our eyes are usually open (though not always) and, it seems, our thoughts start to wander, often entertaining scenarios that the rational mind would define as improbable or unlikely, hence the label dream. Know that when you day-dream, just like when you dream at night, you are exploring options without necessarily having to live them out with all their attendant cause and effect and, at the same time, you are contributing to the on-going development of your current reality ~ in other words, having input. Therefore, some amount of day-dreaming is invaluable, indeed necessary to the on-going development of what we perceive as our personal reality and the continued evolution we all seek. Day dreams, too, have an effect on what we create, just as all our thoughts do, wedded, as they are to will, perspective, belief and the full array of reigning emotion.

Countless gurus tell us to stay grounded in the NOW to be happy. Of course, as we pointed out in “Valentino Speaks”  the French got it right in the sense that the core word in their language for happy (heureux) is “heure” (time/hour and, by extrapolation, NOW) but I propose that you can be grounded in the NOW and still day dream from time to time. In fact, it’s necessary. Have you ever noticed that you cannot completely stop doing so, no matter how hard you try? And if that isn’t a confirmation of its validity, I don’t know what is!

What happens when we day dream? We enter a time warp, transported to other times, places and, dare I say, worlds, those of our own making. Yes, as disparate as they may seem, we are the authors of all our dreams, the “dream-makers,” whose ability to craft works of art never ceases to amaze. Weavers, too, are we, capturing threads of our known reality in order to constantly spin new webs. Yes, think of each dream or snippet thereof as a ‘web’ site, a station in the Cosmos where we can really tune in ~ full of information, also pregnant with possibilities! Any dream is really about you experiencing yourself. As Valentino explains it, “reveries, what pleasantries, how best to let you know, what it is that is needed in order to grow.

Generally speaking, any kind of dreaming is some of the best fun you’ll ever have. However, we do, every so often, touch a nerve, that piece of a dream sequence that is most likely to stick with us when we wake up, the bitter pill, so to speak, sometimes also known as a grain of truth. It’s what we debate with ourselves about later, discuss with our therapists, describe in our journals and tend to examine from all angles. These touchy points are also where our greatest potential growth lies. Unlock their meaning and everything shall be yours. At least, that is what we think and, we’re not so wrong. Any jolt to the consciousness has a beneficial effect, a wake up call, if you’d prefer. It’s what we Californians call a “Eureka” moment, our state motto meaning ‘I have found it’ ~ I have discovered another key which will unlock a mythical door that is sure to lead somewhere.

Apart from dreams, the Astral is represented in the Earth Plane in any number of ways, perhaps most notably in films and the whimsy of advertising, in a sense as bleed-through from other levels of existence. Movies are, once again, life ~ life extrapolated, where anything is possible, even probable.

Movies, whatever their subject matter, tend to focus our consciousness. That is why the countless hours spent in a darkened theater or watching films in the comfort of your home have not been in vain. To the contrary, in many ways they have elevated the level of discourse in your brains. How so? By presenting us with possibilities, many of which we might not have been able to think of on our own.

Speaking of elevation of thought, as Valentino I started a crusade for better scripts, deciding, at the time, that those being routinely offered me were of inferior quality. Now as I review, each had their good points too. “The Young Rajah,” for example, a picture that I once considered to be among my least successful, examined intuition and the concept of thought-power, especially as it pertains to creating personal reality. Amos Judd, my character, could see the future for others but, alas, not for himself. Nevertheless, he was always busy creating it anyway. And so it is for all of us. Where would we be without our dreams?

The great thing about movies is that they translate thoughts into a series of picturizations, the net result of which is to make them more accessible and easier to understand. This is also what happens when we dream. Most of the picturizations we view in dream sequences do not have language attached.  Yet, when they do, the meaning is often doubly exaggerated. I once believed that silent films were the perfect vehicle to convey thought because of their universality but now I know that sound is not a detriment. In fact, it only adds to the vibrational wallop of any photoplay.

Why is it that movies are such a boon to mankind? Because, again, they make us think and they present us with options, ways of being that we might never have considered before. Some of these are negative ~ examples, if you will, of what not to do. Others are exemplary, inspirational or simply plausible solutions to complicated problems. Movies, like every kind of experience, present us with opportunities for growth. As the curtain rises on a film, you enter another world, suspend disbelief, and let yourself go, often becoming ‘at one’ with the characters before you. Watching a movie is never a waste of time. As a matter of fact, we reap untold benefits, in each instance, for having done so. Ostensibly merely entertainment, they provide our minds with input, helping us to shape our own realities. Think of how many people tend to conflate their lives with the movies they’ve seen or use them as markers in the sands of time. Indeed, we often link some of the events in our lives with the viewing of certain films. And, when examined, they are often intertwined. Sometimes a particular movie really strikes our fancy and we suddenly become much more aware of any number of issues for the simple fact of having seen it.

Rudy, what say you about the question I asked myself at age six, upon having seen my first film? (i.e. why can’t our lives be more like movies?)

A very perceptive question, especially for one so young. Well, you were dragged into the picture, willingly I might add, and with open arms. You embraced that reality for yes, “Nancy Goes to Rio” was just another series of possibilities strung together like a popcorn necklace. Movies, like so many things, are meant to give us ideas, to be inspiring more than anything else. They are least successful, however, when they end up stupefying the audience. Now, what else? Let’s see. Life is a movie, by the way. In the strictest sense we move. Therefore, we are in a movie, our own, rather than a product of the screenwriter’s guild.”

Though on the surface a stock MGM musical of the time, “Nancy Goes to Rioreally opened my eyes. Up to then, I had not even been aware of foreign countries or cultures, let alone the possibility of visiting them. I was also fascinated with how the family depicted, so different from mine, interacted with each other. I guess you could say that my love of Latin cultures was born out of seeing that film, also an understanding of the joy associated with the idea of bursting out in song.

According to where we are in our personal evolution, we will focus on different aspects of any given movie or event, especially the things that give us grist or fodder for growth. Therefore, any film can be catalytic in some way, no matter what sort of potboiler it might be on the surface. The above-mentioned “Nancy Goes to Riowas certainly no masterpiece, yet it provided a young boy with a chance to view the world around him through a different lens.

That fate brought me from Castellaneta to Hollywood was certainly no accident. To the contrary, it was a meant-to-be. All my films had teachable moments even if I didn’t necessarily think so at the time. And that even includes the cinematographic obvious such as “Beyond the Rocks and “Stolen Moments.” Each had elements the audience could identify with and was, in some sense, part of a morality play.

As an actor, it was my express purpose to make people think and silent pictures, devoid of language except for inter-titles and that which was primarily imagined, were wonderful vehicles for achieving that goal. Moreover, I was meant to be inspirational, to move audiences to a higher level of thinking. What you may perceive of as entertainment, therefore, may instead be considered a form of advanced education.

We tend to think of ourselves as alive, completely ensconced in the Earth Plane, or dead, completely not. The truth is we walk in both worlds, eternally among the living. ‘Dead’ is a misnomer. The only thing it really denotes is a sudden lack of animation in a human body but does not, under any circumstances, imply the cessation of life.

Recently, much has been made of the life and times of Michael Jackson, a somewhat reclusive soul who was not always very comfortable being in a body. He is an extreme example, yet he instructs us well. More than perhaps any other entertainer, he set about creating his own world, expanding on what each of us does anyway, everyday. That he was more successful than most was possibly because of the almost unlimited funds at his disposal. But, Friends, the real point is this: Michael was able to walk in two worlds, literally, as illustrated by his famous moonwalk! Not only that, at his behest thousands of playful scenarios were created for the benefit of his children, friends and family, also his many fans. In the doing, he taught them to become more aware of life’s possibilities. Neverland, his primary residence, was a dream factory, to a much greater degree than many other entertainers’ homes but certainly on the order of Graceland and even to some extent Falcon Lair. All three are examples of the wonderful things that can be accomplished when certain thoughts are thunk. What seemed to be mere fluff in the case of Jackson’s home: rides, amusements, animals, were all instructive to those who partook. They had meaning and purpose, even if that did not necessarily appear to be the case.

And this, my Friends, is a point that I would like to reiterate, over and over again:  everything we do has purpose and meaning, every-thing. There’s no such thing as wasting our time, which is a ridiculous statement, even to the uninitiated. Do I say only do seemingly frivolous things? No, I propose a balance, based on a mix that’s appropriate for you and the result of a compact that’s been signed off on by both the personality and soul. But never think that any activity is useless, no matter what it is, because that’s just not true. Hopefully changing the way you think about certain activities and the judgments that you yourself have placed on them will have the effect of expanding your consciousness. Indeed, this is one of our most cherished desires as well as one of the principal reasons why this book has come into existence.

Two world consciousness was very prevalent in ancient Egypt, in fact, it was pivotal to the workings of that society. Egypt is often referred to as the cradle of civilization. So true! But in those days, working with energies that were sited around specific vibrations evoked by the names, Thoth, Ptah, Isis, Bast and so many more, Egyptians walked the line. That is to say, they were always aware of the imminence of the Veil. The realization of its presence colored every aspect of Egyptian daily life. In fact, probably no civilization either before or after has ever been so finely attuned to both planes of existence. Not only that but somehow they knew that ours was really a flat plane. That is why they made no attempt to include depth in their paintings or some of their other perceptions of reality. A part of each Egyptian’s day involved contemplating the Other Side, what we term the ‘Beyond.’ Indeed, their society was steeped in reminders of the afterlife. Monuments to past and present Pharaohs and other dignitaries were everywhere as were pyramids, in a sense living tombs. Death was seen as Life, just having a slightly different flavor. How accurate the Egyptians were, how keen their perceptions! Would that we, in the 21st century, had some of the same aplomb! Instead, we often fear death rather than being ready to embrace it when the time comes. By the way, please do not construe what I am saying as a license to kill ~ either yourself or others. Such behavior is against the natural order for human beings. We must wait until it is our time to cross over but then do it with gladness in our hearts and walk into the Light, arms open wide, embracing the new reality that lies before us.

Rudy, do movies exist in the Astral? And if so, are they originals or replicas?

Well, the whole Astral may be likened to a movie. That is why the analogy is so apt. What we do, what you do in snippets of dreams, is to create scenes, part of the continuity of all life. Yes, dreams are what we in the Astral do too, but ours are more actively created, let’s say the difference between Aries and Libra, to put it into a context that you are familiar with. Aries: active; Libra: active too, though sometimes with a more passive demeanor. There is no zodiac sign, by the way, even Pisces that is not active. Anyway, the dreams that occur while we are in the body are rather different from the dreams we dream while discarnate. Here, we play with them all the more consciously, constantly jiggering, tinkering with the sidebars, rearranging the deck chairs ~ the facets, if you will, to see how the bauble we are working with is going to shine if we turn it this way or that. It’s like playing with a prism. Each glance produces a different refraction, each concentration of energy a different result.

For those of you in the Earth Plane, however, it’s a different story. Current issues, replays of what went on during the day or last year, tidbits from other life-times, all combine to form the substance of a dream. My point is this: the substance of any dream varies greatly depending upon the context in which said dream is being dreamt.

Returning to your question, each dream is like a self-contained movie. Do we have the same movies as you, on the screen and off? No, but we can if we want to. We can reproduce what has already been done but why should we, for the most part, except to create nostalgia? There is so much more to explore, so much to discover. A movie is infinity. There is no limit as to what can be conceptualized and therefore depicted. Originals, my friend, count for so much more than replicas.

Though we’ve already made reference to it, let’s talk more about the unique opportunities that silent films present and also hope, at the same time, for a resurgence in their popularity. Could happen, you know. What’s old is often new, especially when we decide to look at it from a different angle!

Well, silence offers us an opportunity to focus. It narrows the aperture on our attention spans, making us all the more laser-like in our affectation. Lost we become in our eyes with the ‘word’ removed from the equation. Word, while powerful when combined with sight, is usually replaced in silent film with the phenomenon of music, to many a clearer and more definitive representation of vibration. The spoken word, powerful though it may be, can sometimes divert, add complication or ambiguity, if you will, while the combination of a visual with music takes the viewer to a special place, dare I say to an arena where the experience is heightened and, as a result, ingested, digested and excreted into something new, all within the speed of the eye of a gnat.

There’s a purity of purpose evident in silent film that is second to none. The elaborate ruses, the exceptional muses, the shortest of fuses, all these can be depicted with fierce intensity ~ to an even greater degree than in talkies. Fact is, the eye sometimes catches more than the ear. This is a premise that I can ascribe to, especially given my experience in the movie industry. The eyes tell it all, on screen and off. Again, a narrowing of the aperture, that is what watching a silent film affords, in a way very much like meditation. Indeed, most of our dreams are like silent movies. Nothing need be said in order for them to be salient.

I had the good fortune to be blessed with an expressive body and face. In fact, they were gifts and I used them well during my brief time in motion pictures to communicate my thoughts without the benefit of voice. What did I want to impart? The overall message was one of love ~ specifically that Love overrides all other considerations and is the most powerful force in the Universe. This we all know, of course, on the cellular level, but our personalities need to be reminded of it time and time again. Not only that, it was my goal to present those who watched my films with alternatives, ways of being that they could then either accept or reject as they saw fit. Like all films, mine were instructive. That was their real reason for being.”

– Excerpted from Going for Excelsior by Wayne Hatford

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The Abraham Man by R. Gregory Lande


The mere mention of the insanity defense guarantees a lively debate. Opponents of the defense cite the loss of criminal culpability while proponents argue just as passionately that the insanity defense is the ultimate act of compassion. The protagonists would probably be quite surprised to learn that the same basic concerns consumed Americans in the nineteenth century. One factor – The Abraham Man – sowed the seeds of confusion and controversy that united the past with the present.

Some of the most celebrated civil and criminal trials in American history were argued under the shadow of the Abraham Man. The detailed stories of long forgotten legal cases bring the antics of the Abraham Man to life. Through the process, readers will follow the careers of notable Civil War era surgeons whose post-war professional development shaped the future of modern mental health care.


R. Gregory Lande, DO is a physician and retired US Army Medical Corps Officer. Dr. Lande completed his medical education at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Lande was commissioned an officer in the US Army. During his career in the military, Dr. Lande was active in a wide variety of clinical, academic and administrative positions. Upon leaving the US Army as a full colonel, Dr. Lande was awarded the Legion of Merit recognizing his career contributions. The next phase of his career involved administrative positions in hospital management, research, and teaching at various civilian facilities. Dr. Lande is the author of numerous medical and historical works. He lectures widely on both subjects.



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Get to Know My Book: The Human Spirit by Carole Eglash-Kosoff – Part III

Today we are honored to be hosting Carole Eglash-Kosoff on her virtual book tour this month with the 3rd installment of her 3 day Get to Know My Book series of book excerpts.  Get to Know My Book is an ongoing feature between blogs where we post excerpts of an author’s book so that you can get to know the book better, one blog at a time.

Carole Eglash-Kosoff lives and writes in Valley Village, California. She graduated from UCLA and spent her career in business and in teaching. In 2006 her husband, mother, and brother died within a month of one another, causing her to reevaluate her life. She volunteered to work with the American Jewish World Service and was sent to South Africa to teach. She returned there a year later, having met an amazing array of men and women who had devoted their lives during the worst years of apartheid to helping the children, the elderly, and the disabled of the townships. These people cared when no one else did and their efforts continue to this day. It is their stories that needed to be told. They are apartheid’s unheralded heroes and The Human Spirit is their story.

Carole has also completed a historic fiction novel, a pre- and post- Civil War interracial love story set in Louisiana, When Stars Align.

In addition to writing Mrs. Eglash-Kosoff has established the …a better way! Scholarship program, which provides money and mentoring for several worthy local high school students for both their first and second year of college.

All profits from the sale of The Human Spirit will be donated to Ikamva Labantu and other South African charities. The book is available at Amazon, Author House and Barnes & Noble on-line sites as a hardback, paperback and as an e-book.

An avid student of history, Carole Eglash-Kosoff is a native of Wisconsin. After graduating from UCLA, she spent her career in the apparel industry and teaching fashion retail, marketing, and sales at the college level. Her first book is . She has also established the …a better way! Scholarship program, which provides money and mentoring for worthy high school students for both t

You can visit her website at www.whenstarsalign-thebook.com or connect with her at Facebook at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553077163.

About the Book:

Apartheid in South Africa has now been gone more than fifteen years but the heroes of their struggle to achieve a Black majority-run democracy are still being revealed.  Some individuals toiled publicly, but most worked tirelessly in the shadows to improve the welfare of the Black and Coloured populations that had been so neglected.  Nelson Mandela was still in prison; clean water and sanitation barely existed; AIDS was beginning to orphan an entire generation.

Meanwhile a white, Jewish, middle class woman, joined with Tutu, Millie, Ivy, Zora and other concerned Black women, respectfully called Mamas, to help those most in need, often being beaten and arrested by white security police.

This book tells the story of these women and others who have spent their adult lives making South Africa a better place for those who were the country’s most disadvantaged.

Book Excerpt:


Jean and John manage the Lakeside Village resort in Sedgefield along the Garden Route….really lovely people. They had lived most of their lives in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, the country just north of South Africa. For the past decade under the tyrannical presidency of Robert Mugabe. That country was known as Rhodesia until they gained independence in a long, bloody war. It is an incredibly rich and diverse land but they had no Nelson Mandela or Bishop Tutu to unify the country peacefully. Independence brought economic disaster.

John was in charge of all agricultural development within their entire college system. He worked closely with the World Bank and international development agencies. Jean was a teacher and one son, born late, was now in college. But Mugabe told all the white farmers they had to leave….the land belonged to
the blacks. There would be no compensation, no transition. Killing and looting were rampant. John and Jean left with nothing…no pension, little for their home and only what they could carry under the guise of vacationing for a week. The country now has a 6000% inflation rate and surplus farm production is long gone. Nearly ½ million people have left over open borders to South Africa and they account for major increases in local crime. Meanwhile Jean and John, like most of the country’s middle-class whites, scattered and now live at a far lower economic level. John spends most of his time fishing…he loves to fish, primarily fly-fishing. They are both bright and articulate, longing for the pleasantness of a life that will never return.

To read the excerpt from Get to Know My Book Day 2, click here.

To read the excerpt from Get to Know My Book Day 1, click here.

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Interview with Megan van Eyck, author of ‘Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress’

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress by Megan van Eyck, is a cautionary tale about the causal relationship between marital emotional neglect and questionable choices. It is a warning for the spouse who wants to dismiss an affair as just sex or for any woman who thinks love is enough to keep a man that isn’t really hers.

“You never know what happens between two people when they are alone” is a common sentiment reserved for married couples who appear to have relationships that defy the odds. The same can also be said for couples involved in long-term adulterous affairs.

Many people believe that infidelity is only about sex: two people, one hotel room, and a few hours to spare. And Megan van Eyck’s extramarital affair began just like that, with lusty hours spent between hotel sheets. But within a few months van Eyck realized she had found what she and her lover did not know they were both looking for: true love.

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress offers an honest look behind closed doors. It is a forthcoming, sometimes steamy, account of both the passion and the heartbreak associated with being a mistress; about the futility of sharing a love while not sharing a life. Van Eyck is reflective as she addresses her compelling and unusual personal history, which made being the other woman an acceptable option. She makes no excuses for herself, her mistakes, or her betrayal of her husband as she recklessly pursues love. She wants everything, unabashedly.

But her priorities shift when Carlos, her lover, is diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder. Her concerns shift for hoping for a life with him to hoping that he’ll be able to live through treatment for this rare and incurable disease. In the end, van Eyck must not only come to terms with her loss, mistakes and regrets, she must come to terms with herself.

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is must read for anyone that has struggled with love, intimacy or self-acceptance. Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress will captivate supporters, surprise critics and change the perspective of those that have ever considered having an affair.

We interviewed Megan to find out more about her powerful new book.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Megan. Can you tell us what your latest book, Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress, is all about?

As the story opens, I meet Carlos, an attractive married man, while seated next to him during a five-hour flight to Hawaii. We exchange numbers, and two months later I called him. I was needy, vulnerable, and lonely after another argument with my indifferent husband about our empty sham of a marriage. I wanted a distraction … an escape, a friend. Initially, that was what I found with my affair.

But then we fell in love.

In the midst of our passionate yet tender affair, I began to see myself through Carlos’s eyes. Throughout the five years of our relationship, I came to terms with my abusive childhood spent with my grossly negligent and abusive bipolar mother who used me for child support checks and the roof over our heads.

My story is also about my struggle in engaging in a satisfying and successful long-term affair while also maintaining a marriage and a family. But mostly, it is about love and how far one woman will go in her reckless pursuit of it.

Once Carlos was diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder, my priorities shifted. As his mistress, ultimately I had no choice in his medical decisions or his treatment protocol. I could not take care of him, could not visit him in the hospital, and could not say a final farewell. As a mistress I could only pray … and wait for him either to recover or die.

My husband never learned of my affair, until one fateful day three years after Carlos’s passing. After years of living in bitter resentful denial, after little more than playing house, my husband and I were forced to face the realities of our marriage—the truths and the lies. We had to decide if we truly did love one another, if we had anything worth fighting for.

In the end, Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress ultimately is a story of reconciliation, not only with my husband, but with myself.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

As one might guess by the title of my book, I was involved with a married man. Our affair ended when he died from Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder. I loved him very much and when he died I was devastated. For about six months I tried to do some of the things I would have done had I been his widow: I helped out at an Amyloidosis support group meeting and I walked in a walk-a-thon, raising $3,000 for multiple myeloma (a related disease) patient services. I also tried to do a few other things, but I was constantly reminded of the fact that I was not his widow, but rather his widowed mistress. I couldn’t do anything in his name because of the nature of our relationship, so everything was just a nameless tribute.

Months later, once I realized that I was trying to fill someone else’s role—trying to do the things I believed his widow ought to be doing—I figured out the path I was trying to walk wasn’t mine. Then I began to wonder what form of tribute would be appropriate for a mistress, and it didn’t take long for me to come up with the idea to write the book.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Since Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is a memoir, there was little research necessary. But since Carlos and I traveled to Thailand and Tokyo, I did have to do a little research about the correct spelling of monuments and cities. Thank goodness for the Internet!

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

In Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress, I actually try to convey two equally important sentiments: the way you love your children is the way they will love themselves and, no matter what, cheating husbands are almost always waiting to love their wives.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Sure, I’d be happy to.

About two years into my and Carlos’s affair my mother passed away. In the weeks that followed I was stuck in a fog of murky sadness. In his effort to be caring, Carlos took me on a trip to Hawaii so that I could process my emotions without having to worry about getting dinner on the table or doing laundry. He understood that I needed space. I was so fragile and vulnerable at that time and I didn’t have the strength to muster my coy mistress pretences any longer.

That was the moment I knew I was in love with him—when I knew that he finally loved me for me, not for all of the things I always pretended to be.

The following in an excerpt from Chapter 14 covers that time:

I realized I had not reinvented myself within the context of my evolving mistress role. Rather, my grief and neediness had stripped me of every pretense and fabrication of my mistress character: I was just me. Carlos seemed to love the woman I was under my curls and smile. He did not notice that I had stopped making double entendres. I’d dropped my coquetted demeanor. I unabashedly told him I needed him. I wore my neediness on my sleeve like some sort of Girl Scout merit badge, next to the one with my heart on it. He was no longer loving the woman of my manifestations. I had stopped being the compilation character of my father’s lovers. I was just me—only me. And with that, there was relief, joy, and a new self-acceptance…I felt free to love him with my nubile heart.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

Actually, I chose to self-publish. Going the conventional route, finding an agent and then a publisher, can take years. Given that mistresses have been such popular topic with the media lately, I believed that I needed to get my book out sooner than later.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

Besides being an entrepreneurial author, I am also a wife and mother. My primary obligation is to my family, so I try to respond to mail, do interviews, and write blog posts in the early morning, before everyone is awake.

The rest of the day belongs to my family. I cook, clean, run errands, volunteer at my children’s schools, meet my husband for lunch—typical mom stuff.

That said, I do log on to Facebook and Twitter several times throughout the day and try to contribute something regularly. I believe it is important to remain accessible and in touch with people.

Q: What’s next for you?

I have a concept for a series of children’s books I would like to pursue once this book has run its course. But right now, I’m so busy with Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress that I haven’t had time to do much else.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Megan. We wish you much success!

Thank you so much for having me. It has been a pleasure!

Megan van Eyck lives near Seattle, Washington with her husband and children. Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is her first memoir. You can visit Megan’s website at www.widowedmistress.com.

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Guest Blogger: 7 Things You May Not Have Known About House, M.D. by Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Co-Executive Editor of Blogcritics, an Internet magazine of pop culture, politics and more owned by Technorati Media. Always a pop-culture geek, Barbara was raised on a steady diet of TV (and TV dinners), but she always found her way to TV’s antiheroes and misunderstood champions, whether on TV, in the movies or in literature.

Barnett’s regular column, “Welcome to the End of the Thought Process: An Introspective Look at House, M.D.” features insightful episode commentaries and interviews with the House cast and creative team. It is the place for intelligent discussion of the hit television series starring Hugh Laurie.

Barbara has had an eclectic career. With an undergraduate degree in biology and minors in chemistry and English, she pursued a PhD in Public Policy Analysis after spending a few years working in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Her first professional writing gig was with a food industry trade magazine, and although it wasn’t exactly like writing for The New Yorker, it completely hooked her on the profession of writing.

She also writes lots of other things, including technology (from a non-geek perspective), the movies, politics and all things Jewish. Based in the north shore suburbs of Chicago, Barnett is married with two brilliant children and a dog. Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is her first (commercial) book. She hopes it’s not her last.

Visit Barbara’s website at www.barbarabarnett.com.

8 Things You May Not Have Known About House, M.D

by Barbara Barnett

1. The character of House is loosely based on Sherlock Holmes (as you might know). But you may not have known that writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created Sherlock Holmes was a also doctor. His mentor was the very House-like Dr. Joseph Bell! (Bell’s medical text On Surgery makes a guest appearance in the season five episode “A Wonderful Lie”)

2. Hugh Laurie composed the beautiful, evocative piano piece that plays over the closing scenes of season five’s “Unfaithful.” The piece is appropriately titled “Cuddy’s Seranade.”

3. House has dual board certifications in Infectious Diseases and Nephrology, both subspecialties of internal medicine. Diagnostic Medicine is a purely fictional medical specialty (at least for now!).

4. House must have an affinity for disabled musical geniuses. A biography of deaf 19th century composer Ludwig von Beethoven sits on House’s piano in season one, and he also keeps a poster featuring disabled drummer/bandleader Chick Webb close by (it’s been seen both in his apartment and in his office).

5. Several of the actors on House have real life doctors in their families. Hugh Laurie’s father was a physician; Lisa Edelstein’s father is also a doctor, and Jesse Spencer has several docs in his family, including his father and siblings.

6. Omar Epps is a ranked chess master, which must’ve come in handy when the season three episode “The Jerk” was being filmed.

7. Are you a fan of the Harold and Kumar movies? If so, then you may have noticed that both Harold and Kumar have been on House (though never together!). John Cho (Harold) was the “patient of the week” in the season one episode “Love Hurts.” Kal Penn (Kumar) was the much-beloved Kutner, who was a House fellow in season four and in season five (until the character committed suicide).

Medical students are taught that when they hear hoofbeats, they should think horses, not zebras, but Dr. House’s unique talent of diagnosing unusual illnesses has made House, M.D. one of the most popular and fascinating series on television. In Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., Barbara Barnett, co-executive editor of Blogcritics magazine and widely considered a leading House expert, takes fans deep into the heart of the show’s central character and his world, examining the way this medical Sherlock Holmes’s colleagues and patients reflect him and each other; how the music, settings, and even the humor enhance our understanding of the series’ narrative; what the show says about modern medicine, ethics, and religion; and much more. Complete with an episode-by-episode guide and quotes from her numerous Blogcritics interviews with cast members, producers, and writers, Chasing Zebras is an intelligent look at one of television’s most popular shows.

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