September 04, 2005

​​​​If you're writing a screenplay (and let's face it, who isn't?), get thee to this blog. Subtitled "a ton of useful information about screenwriting," the site shares, well, a ton of useful information about screenwriting. John August, whose credits include "Big Fish," "Go," and "Charlie's Angels," walks us through the trials and tribulations of wielding the pen in Hollywood. Along the way, he addresses such topics as...

Even if you don't indulge in fantasies of writing your own screenplay but just love movies (and let's face it, who doesn't?), you'll enjoy this glimpse into the inner workings of La-La Land.

September 4, 2005 in Art, Books, Info | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

Books online

For all Alistair Maclean fans you can read his books online here.

June 24, 2005 in Books, Fun, Info | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2005

Seymour Topping

I am very pleased, as predicted in January, Seymour Topping and his book Book.JPG FATAL CROSSROADS: A Novel of Vietnam 1945 are making waves.

May 20, 2005 in Books, Columnists, History | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 29, 2005

Magic Feathers by James W. Reid

This lavishly illustrated large-format art book by James Reid - is the first major publication in the world devoted entirely to this magnificent ancient art form. It focuses on the aesthetic beauty of the feather textiles and three-dimensional objects, unparalleled in their artistry and sophistication, that were created for the elite of the ancient Andean world between approximately 500 BC and 1550 AD.

Son of a British Army Officer and UN diplomat, and of an American mother, James Reid was educated at England’s 600 year old Winchester College, at Princeton (BA), the Ecole de Sciences Politiques ( Paris), Stanford (MA), and with doctoral studies at the University of Buenos Aires.

The author, internationally recognised as one of the leading authors and scholars on the textile art of ancient America, focuses on:
- The characteristics and chronology of the major featherwork-producing cultures of ancient Peru, and the geographical features of the area.
- Technical facets of feather textile production, including: sources of the feathers; different types of feather objects; creation and construction; dating and cultural attribution.
- The religious, political, social, psychological, economic and communication roles of the feather textiles in ancient Peruvian life.
- Design concepts and the meaning and importance of the motifs and shapes employed.
- The parallels to be drawn between ancient Peruvian feather textiles and Modern Art.

He is the author of eleven major books, which contain introductions by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Mario Vargas Llosa and such internationally renowned archaeologists as Federico Kauffmann-Doig. He has presented his books personally, in official ceremonies, to the Presidents of Brazil and Peru.

In addition to numerous other publications( scholarly articles and museum catalogues, et al.,), he has been guest lecturer at US universities ( Princeton, Yale, Syracuse), and such institutions as the Americas’ Society, New York; the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem , and numerous South American institutions. He was recently invited by Germain Viatte, Directeur du Musee du quai Branly – French President Chirac’s huge new museum, ten years in construction( due to open in 2006) – to lecture in Paris, and to author a 100 page catalogue.

A linguist in seven languages, Colonel Reid is an elected member of New York’s prestigious Explorers Club as the result of his expeditions to, and accounts of remote areas of the world. An artist who studied in Paris, he has exhibited his paintings internationally – primarily in France, the US and South America.

An excellent Feather book though not so feather-weight (11 pounds)

April 29, 2005 in Art, Books, Columnists, History, Travel | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 05, 2005

Ex libris

EXLIBRIS MUSEUM. We've done ex-libris bookplates before, but trust me, this site far surpasses anything you've ever seen. Just go to the Gallery and click on any of the names. Vereshchagin, for instance. Or Karol Felix. Or... hell, just dive in, you can't go wrong.

March 5, 2005 in Art, Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2005

John Maxwell Hamilton: Vietnam fights for liberty after WWII

I take great pride in being the first one to bring this best seller novel to the world through my blog (January 14 2005) and now the world is talking about it!

Published on Sunday, January 30, 2005 by John Maxwell Hamilton Special to The Plain Dealer. Hamilton is dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University.

Write about what you know." No one better exemplifies the wisdom of this admonition to writers than veteran newsman Seymour Topping.

The setting of Topping's historical novel is Vietnam at the end of World War II, not long before he became the first American correspondent stationed in the country. The central issue is the fate of the Vietnamese people, who yearn for independence rather than a return to French control.

Fatal Crossroads: A Novel of Vietnam 1945 by Seymour Topping Book.JPG

The French and Vietnamese, both of whom have vying factions, are not the only ones to figure in this fateful story. The defeated Japanese, who have yet to completely surrender in Vietnam, do not want to see Westerners rule an Asian country. The British, whose job it is to disarm the Japanese, favor preserving colonization. The Chinese commu- nists and the Soviets have their interests -- and intrigues. And there is the United States, which in the end fails by not playing a strong enough role at this "Fatal Crossroads" in history. Topping's tragic hero is Travis Duncan, a U.S. foreign-service officer who is detailed to the Office of Strategic Services or OSS, the wartime forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency. Duncan's mission is to link up with nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh, who is hiding in the countryside, and report back on his aspirations. Duncan's mission is complicated -- and abetted -- by love interests with a Vietnamese woman he had known when stationed in Saigon in the 1930s and with a Frenchwoman who works for France's M.5 intelligence service while posing as a journalist.

Duncan finds Ho a contradictory figure, at once unwilling to rein in his brutal general, Vo Nguyen Giap, and yet interested in democratic ideals. Ho asks Duncan for a copy of the Declaration of Independence and incorporates language from it in the speech he gives upon entering Hanoi.

"I'm first a nationalist and then a member of the Communist Party," Ho tells Duncan. "Independence is my paramount goal." Accordingly Duncan argues the United States should press France's new leader, Charles De Gaulle, to establish phased-in independence for the Vietnamese.

Our hero maintains this point of view despite the danger of being labeled soft on communism, an issue that is becoming political at home. He is equally courageous when sent to Saigon ostensibly to repatriate American prisoners held by the Japanese. In reality, he is there to work behind the scenes to avert a French takeover, which he correctly foresees leading to protracted bloody fighting.

Duncan's French lover is also disillusioned with her country's Vietnam policy. When the British declare him persona non grata and he must leave Saigon, Duncan and his lover agree to reunite soon. That is not to be.

Topping, whose career includes stints abroad for The New York Times, for which he served as managing editor, is one of our country's most distinguished journalists. OSS involvement with Ho, which Topping learned about while a correspondent in Saigon, has been substantiated in memoirs that he has drawn upon. This is Topping's second historical novel and an engaging story that is well told. After years of reporting, Topping's strength quite naturally comes more in providing facts than, say, in writing clever dialog. In fact, he uses every inch of the story, including much of his characters' conversations, to fill in facts related to this complicated history. The virtue of this historically careful approach is that it delivers more than a good story. Duncan vividly and poignantly personifies what could have been right with U.S. policy but was not.

Vietnam did not command much attention from American policymakers in those fateful years. Consumed with countering the threat of the Soviet Union in Europe and not wanting to alienate De Gaulle, U.S. policymakers ignored Ho's overtures. As Topping suggests, more attention could have prevented the tragic war that consumed so many American lives.

Hamilton is dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University.

February 17, 2005 in Books, Columnists | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

FATAL CROSSROADS: A Novel of Vietnam 1945

As a child in Bombay, India I enjoyed reading international newspapers at the library. Initially it was just a desire to know what is happening in the far away land. One name that kept coming over and over again was Seymour Topping. I must have read every article of his which I could find. To me New York Times became a great newspaper when Seymour Topping joined them.

Seymour Topping has devoted much of his fifty years in journalism to covering Vietnam and China as a correspondent and editor. He became the first American correspondent to be stationed in Vietnam after World War II when in 1950 after reporting the Chinese civil war for three years he opened the Associated Press bureau in Saigon. Following two years of roaming Indochina and traveling with the French Foreign Legion along the China border, he went to posts in London and Berlin. He joined the New York Times in 1959 and after three years in Moscow as chief correspondent became Chief Correspondent Southeast Asia. He was appointed Foreign Editor in 1969 serving later as Managing Editor for ten years. He was the Administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes and is now SanPaolo Professor Emeritus of International Journalism at Columbia University and lives with his wife, Audrey, a photojournalist, in Scarsdale, New York. He has written three fiction books so far.

Today I am lucky to know the Toppings personally and to be invited for his book party of “FATAL CROSSROADS: A Novel of Vietnam 1945”. It is an historical novel and except for the story characters is historically accurate. To me this book is especially interesting to read since I can draw similarities with the current situation in Iraq.

I can proudly say that like Walter Cronkite, U.S. Broadcast Journalist, Neil Sheehan, Pulitzer Prize author, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, Henry F. Graff, Historian and editor, History of the Presidents, A.J. Langguth, author, Our Vietnam, David Phillips, Council on foreign relations, Dr. Andrew Economos, Chairman of RCS and many more; I know Seymour Topping and am a fan of his.

I wish the world would learn a lesson from history and from Mr. Seymour Topping!

Fatal Crossroads: A Novel of Vietnam 1945 by Seymour Topping Book.JPG

January 14, 2005 in Books, Columnists, History | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 09, 2005

Andy Goldsworthy

A new kind of poetry is created when Andy Goldsworthy works with stone, wood and water — our world never looks quite the same again.

Goldsworthy regards all his creations as temporary. He photographs each piece once right after he makes it. His goal is to understand nature by directly participating in nature as intimately as he can. He generally works with whatever he notices: twigs, leaves, stones, snow and ice, reeds and thorns.

I like all his work but one of my favorites is 'Wall'. Come walk alongside Andy Goldsworthy's extraordinary Storm King Wall. Created over a two-year period, the 2,278-foot-long site-specific sculpture was made using stones gathered from the Art Center property. The first part of the wall weaves in and out of trees, following and extending the path of an old stone wall that had existed previously on the site, meandering downhill to a nearby pond. The wall's second section emerges out from the other side of the pond, continuing its westward "walk" uphill. According to historical maps, another wall originally existed in this vicinity, but its remnants are gone. The wall's full extension physically links disparate areas of the property, from the trail overlooking Moodna creek to the south fields and the western border.

January 9, 2005 in Art, Books, Photography | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack