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Once again I volunteered to handle the money transaction for the yard sale that was held by Changing Focus, a nonprofit group that helps people deal with separation, divorce, and being widowed. The yard sale took place on the grounds of the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church in Crofton, Maryland, where the weekly Changing Focus meetings take place.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

The weather was cloudy and it veered between being warm and cool. When the sun was behind the clouds, I felt cool enough that I would wear my hooded sweatshirt that I brought with me.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

However when the sun emerged from behind the clouds, the temperature would suddenly shoot up and I would end up removing my sweatshirt.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

The weather was crazy at times but at least it didn’t rain so people were more likely to come out and do some shopping.

The yard sale gave me an opportunity to take pictures of some oddities that were on sale. I have to admit that the organizers’ decision to no longer accept certain electronics and other outdated items have had an effect. Like the spring yard sale that took place earlier this year, there were far fewer oddities that really belong in a museum than in the past. (My all-time personal favorite is the time when someone donated a Westinghouse vacuum tube that was still in its original box.) There were still a few items that were worth photographing but they were more of a cool vintage sort than something that was totally outdated. Some of the vintage items could easily belong in a museum.

These fuzzy slippers were obviously meant to resemble an animal but I wasn’t able to figure out which animal. (I couldn’t tell whether it was a bear or a pig with that snout.) In any case, I saw someone purchase it so it all worked out.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

This plate had the pictures and names of Canadian songbirds written in English and French. The one thing I learned is that Canada has the same songbirds as in the United States.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

Those Depression-era pink glass plates looked pretty nice. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m trying to live a more simple life with fewer possessions, I would’ve definitely bought the whole set.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

I never knew there was such a thing as a Never Clog Sugar Shaker.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

This one really caught my eye because it looks like something that belongs in a museum. It’s a cookbook called Frances Lee Barton’s Cooking School of the Air and it also has the name General Foods on it. Many of the pages had the date July 5, 1934 printed on the bottom of each page. I later did a Google search and found that this cookbook was based on a radio show that aired on the NBC Red Network from 1932-1935. After reading that, I found myself wishing I had actually bought it for myself because it would’ve been interesting to try some of the recipes from a long time ago. Oh well. I found that Amazon.com has a few used copies of that book so if I ever feel the need to cook any meals from that cookbook, I can buy it online.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

There was one customer who asked about what kind of furniture it was and it had me stumped. Someone else with the Changing Focus group figured out what it was. Apparently it was something that was used in the days before indoor plumbing became common. Basically one would draw water from a well then place some of the water in a pitcher on the top shelf level of the furniture. A bowl would be placed on the lower shelf while soap and other washing supplies would be placed in the cabinet below. Anyone wanting to wash up would take the pitcher of water, pour it into the bowl, then wash his/her hands or other body parts.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

There were a set of two wine glasses that also had seven colored 3 LED lights. The photos on the boxes made it look like one could drink liquids while the glass glowed a variety of different colors.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

This set of vintage 1948 crochet baby bibs looked really nice. It’s amazing that something that was handmade for a baby nearly 70 years ago has survived being spat upon and enduring other food stains.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

I came upon a postcard that caught my attention. It was for an ice cream parlor known as the Sugar Bowl. I remember when, during one of our numerous trips to Arizona, one of my husband’s step-sisters encouraged us to try going for ice cream at the Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale because that was one of her favorite places. We ate there once and I liked it. (I think my husband liked it as well but we only ate there once.) I looked on the back of this postcard and saw that it was the same Sugar Bowl that is in Scottsdale. That is pretty ironic that I would find this postcard at a yard sales held thousands of miles away from Scottsdale.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 30, 2017

The Changing Focus yard sale is usually held in conjunction with the Festival on the Green, a craft show that’s held on the grounds of the Crofton Country Club (which is located next to the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church). At one point I managed to walk over to the festival where I saw all kinds of neat stuff.

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

There was even a boxing demonstration.

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

At one point I shot this photo of the mascot for the Washington Capitals NHL hockey team.

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

Someone who was in that same booth where the mascot was located had offered to take a picture of me with the mascot using my own camera. I only went along even though I wasn’t in the mood to have my picture taken. Here’s the shot.

Festival on the Green, September 30, 2017

I helped with the yard sale until 2 p.m. when a truck arrived to take the unsold items to a nearby thrift store. I helped with packing the inventory in boxes, loading them onto the truck, then dismantling the folding tables (which belonged to the church). It was sometime around 3:30 or 4 p.m. when I finally left Crofton.

I only purchased two things for myself and they were both from the yard sale. One was the first book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. Among the numerous things that my ex-husband left behind when he abruptly ran away from home three days after Christmas in 2011 (and three months after I had hip surgery) were The Hobbit and two of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I tried looking for that third book but I couldn’t find it. (It would be weird if my husband had taken only the first book in that trilogy but none of the others but he’s been doing weird stuff ever since he ran away from home. In the process he has not only alienated me but many of our long-time friends as well.) It turned out that the yard sale only had one of the books and it was exactly the one that was missing from my home.

What I Purchased at the Changing Focus Yard Sale

I also purchased this book because it has some neat craft ideas that I wouldn’t mind trying in the future.

What I Purchased at the Changing Focus Yard Sale

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I went to my first Baltimore Comic-Con in quite a few years. I attended that event the first time in 2012 and the second time the following year. Then I didn’t go for another few years until recently. The main reason was financial. I ended up going to other events, such as Intervention Con, and with tight finances being the norm these days, I couldn’t afford to attend those events and Baltimore Comic-Con as well. Something had to give and Baltimore Comic-Con was the one that I ended up not attending.

But then a few things happened. First, my utilities company informed me that they had made a billing error in my favor for the last several months so, for the next few months I’m paying a lower bill than usual. Then I found out that Intervention Con wasn’t going to happen this year mainly because the organizers decided to focus on holding two specialized conventions instead—PotterVerse for Harry Potter fans and (Re)Generation Who for Doctor Who fans. While I like both Harry Potter and Doctor Who, I don’t like them enough to consider spending time and money at specialized conventions. I’m more into conventions that cover things like art in general or comic books in general instead of a very narrow field.

I’ll admit that I miss Intervention Con because that was my favorite convention due to the fact that it’s smaller and more intimate than—let’s say—Awesome Con or Otakon. Getting a good seat at a panel was no problem, I found it easier to meet people, and I didn’t have to do as much walking because of the small size so I didn’t become physically spent as much as when I used to go to Otakon. If you want to know why I loved going to Intervention Con so much, check out my blog posts and pictures from the cons I went to in 2013, 2014 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3), and 2016 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3).

As I was typing this, I remember that another annual event I usually loved going to at this time of the year, the Silver Spring Maker Faire, has also decided not to put on another event in 2017. I hope it’s not some kind of a sad trend where the organizers of these fun annual events have decided to cut back on holding their events because it would be really sad if that was the case. (If you want to know why I’m sad about what happened with the Silver Spring Maker Faire, check out the photos I took in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.)

Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, I found out that I had a little bit of extra spending money so I decided to go to Baltimore Comic-Con for the first time in four years. What made it really sweet is that the famed 1980s rapper DMC (from the group Run-DMC) was going to be there and he was not only signing autographs for fans (who paid at least $20 for one of his comic books) but he was giving two panels—one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Saturday was the only day I could go to Baltimore Comic-Con because of finances and the fact that I was serving as a substitute teacher in my church’s program that teaches local immigrants how to speak English the following day. But I managed to treasure every moment of my time there and I took a bunch of photos the moment I stepped outside of the Baltimore Convention Center and paid the $35 Saturday admission fee.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Baltimore Comic-Con

While I was waiting in line I witnessed this cute scene of a baby dressed in a Batman outfit (which isn’t apparent in the photo below because of the angle of the baby but I saw him wearing it in real life) looking at this man wearing his Spider-Man cosplay outfit.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Here’s the cover of the official Baltimore Comic-Con program book.

Baltimore Comic-Con

I even shot a short video when I first arrived soon after the convention opened at 10 a.m. that morning. Fortunately the ticket purchasing lines were shorter that morning, which wasn’t the case later in the day, so I was able to quickly purchase my ticket then go straight to the Dealers Room where I saw the convention employees actually clapping their hands at each guest who walked through the doors.

The employees only did that in the morning. When I returned to the Dealers Room at various times later in the day, the employees stopped clapping for everyone and simply looked at people’s paper bracelets (which served as our passes) before letting them in the room.

If Intervention Con is my favorite convention because it’s smaller and more intimate, then I have to say that Baltimore Comic-Con is my second favorite because the organizers are trying to strike a balance between focusing on comic books and having a few celebrities in attendance, but not as many of them as the gigantic San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve heard all sorts of stories as to how humongous and utterly exhausting it is to walk through that event and I’m pretty reluctant to even consider trying it. I had a hard enough time going to a three-day event like Otakon (which is why I’ve stopped attending in recent years) and I think San Diego Comic-Con would be even worse. I’m happy to say that finding a decent seat at a workshop or panel is still really easy at Baltimore Comic-Con. I never had to stand in any long lines in order to get to the panel of my choice (and I went on Saturday, which is usually the busiest and most crowded of the three days).

After I got my ticket I initially checked out the vendors room but I only stayed there briefly because the panel featuring DMC was scheduled to begin at noon. I found a few reminders that DMC was here at Baltimore Comic-Con this year.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I arrived at the panel early enough that I was able to get a front row seat. This panel was devoted to DMC’s comic book venture known as Darryl Makes Comics and it also had others who currently work on the comic book series including Greg Pak, Khoi Pham, Domo Stanton, and Amy Chu. DMC can be seen in the photos wearing the black Motörhead t-shirt.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I learned that DMC has been into comics since childhood and this fascination even influenced his rapping days with Run-DMC. He said he started Darryl Makes Comics as a way of getting different voices into the comic book industry who tend to be overlooked by the larger companies—including not only people of different races but also people from different classes, older people, women, etc.

I was really enthusiastic by this panel and I found out that DMC was selling copies of his comic books with his signed autograph in the Dealers Room for $20. I wanted to buy it but, unfortunately I was tempted by a whole bunch of other stuff that was also on sale in that same room and I didn’t have unlimited funds. I took a bunch of photos of some of the stuff that was on sale.

There was a booth by a company called FigureThis who had this really neat idea where they will shoot full body photos of you with multiple cameras placed all around you then send those photos to a 3D printer where it will print a 3D figurine of your image.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I still have photos posted in older blog posts of various 3D printers that I’ve shot at various events over the seven years that this blog has been in existence. I have older photos of really large 3D printers that cost at least $2,000. At Baltimore-Comic Con I saw these smaller portable printers by a company known as M3D that were available on sale for only $295.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

What’s more, these printers were small enough that a visitor can easily carry the printer home with him/her after purchasing it. If I had more money to spare, I definitely would’ve purchased one myself.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I was very impressed with the 3D figurines this small 3D printer was capable of producing.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There was this really cool looking computer from a company known as Chimera Computers, whose slogan is “They might have the flash, but we have the power!”

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There were a whole bunch of other products besides comic books (yes, they had a lot of comic books available for sale) that were on sale ranging from t-shirts to drinking glasses to vintage Nintendo video games to realistic looking figurines to superhero stories written in chapter book form for children who are beginning readers. In short, there was a little something for everybody.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The cosplayers were out in full force and I took a lot of pictures of them as well. I saw a lot of people dressed as Batman this year because the day I went to Baltimore Comic-Con also happened to be Batman Day, a day which many comic book shops in the U.S. hold Batman-themed events to observe the anniversary that Batman made his first ever appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939.

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

After wandering around the Dealer Room snapping pictures for a few hours, my legs were growing tired. I decided to check out the 2:45-3:45 p.m. (yes, that was the actual scheduled time) panel on “Baltimore Celebrates Batman Day!” (That panel was how I learned that there was actually such a thing as Batman Day.) I’ve been a Batman fan from way back starting with the time my parents gave me a Batman bank as a present and I still have those early childhood memories of putting loose coins in the slot located on Batman’s back. I grew up watching the reruns of the 1960’s TV series starring the recently deceased Adam West and reading whatever Batman comic books my mother happened to purchase during her weekly grocery shopping trip. (Sometimes she would buy Batman while other times she would buy comic books featuring Captain America, Superman, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk.) So I was eager to check out that panel.

The panel was moderated by Jimmy Palmiotti and it had people who had worked on either the Batman or Harley Quinn comic books including Amanda Conner, David Finch, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV, John Timms.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel primarily focused on the Batman and Harley Quinn comic books that have come out in the last five years while also mentioning the feature films Batman had appeared in within the last ten years. I’ll admit that I was a bit lost. That was because I haven’t read a Batman comic book since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel series back in the late 1980’s. (I remember finding Miller’s interpretation of Batman as a very dark vigilante to be an interesting take but the story left me feeling so cold that I never re-read it. It didn’t help that, years later, Frank Miller was openly accusing the Occupy Wall Street movement as being a bunch of louts, thieves and rapists. Never mind the fact that my visits to the Occupy sites in Baltimore and DC indicated otherwise. I ultimately donated The Dark Knight Returns to an upcoming used book sale after my husband left me. Ironically Frank Miller was Baltimore Comic-Con’s 2017 Guest of Honor and he made his only convention appearance the day before. I wasn’t that inclined to even check him out in person and I don’t regret opting to go on Saturday instead of Friday.)

I watched the Batman feature films of the 1980’s and 1990’s but I stopped watching them after that because they seemed to emulate Miller’s vision of a dark violent vigilante anti-hero and I grew tired of that. The only Batman movie I’ve watched in recent years was this year’s The LEGO Batman Movie, which was excellent because it expertly combined the campiness of the 1960’s TV series with the darker interpretations of recent years and it worked extremely well. In fact, I purchased it on DVD when it was released. Maybe DC Comics should just let LEGO have exclusive rights to making future Batman movies because LEGO knows how to tell an entertainingly memorable Batman story.

My legs were a bit sore so it was a relief to sit down even if what the panelists discussed about Batman went over my head, with the exception of when they were discussing The LEGO Batman Movie. Although I was so intrigued by hearing the description of the Harley Quinn comic book series that I’m going to see if my local public library have the graphic novel reprints on the shelves. The high point of that panel was when the panelists asked if anyone had attended any of the Batman Day celebrations at a local comic book store in addition to going to Baltimore Comic-Con and someone got up said he actually went to such an event before he arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center. He had snagged some free Batman and Harley Quinn masks, which he gave to the husband and wife team behind the Harley Quinn comic book.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel ended but my legs were still sore and tired. I decided to stay in the same room for the next panel that was about the legendary comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Panelist Mark Evanier talked about his personal friendship with Jack Kirby, which he wrote a book about called Kirby: King of Comics. Abram Books’ Charlie Kochman was also on hand as the two of them discussed the book and Evanier’s recollections about Kirby. I found it to be a very interesting talk and it seemed like Kirby was definitely an interesting and unforgettable person.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

After the panel ended at 5 p.m. I thought about making one more return trip to the Dealers Room but my legs were really hurting by then so I decided to just take the next light rail back to the North Linthicum station (where my car was parked) and head home.

I had thought about buying one of DMC’s comic books with his autograph for $20 but I found something else in the Dealers Room that I ended up buying instead and I couldn’t afford to buy both.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

It’s a plastic ocarina, which I purchased for $20, and it came with a free songbook that provided instructions on how to play the ocarina along with songs from the classic Nintendo video game The Legend of Zelda. I paid an extra $5 for a Star Wars ocarina songbook. I bought it from the STL Ocarina booth after hearing the person staffing it playing lovely music with that ocarina. I’ve been slowly trying to teach myself how to play it but I think it will be awhile before I can play songs on it that sound just as lovely as what I heard at that booth.

As for the Darrel Makes Comics comic book, I’ll go to the local public library to see if it has a copy of any of the issues on the shelves. I would like to read it at some point since I own a couple of old Run-DMC CDs and I’ve always been a fan of the group. This is one of those times when I regret having to deal with tight finances just so I can survive.

Tom Petty died suddenly yesterday so I did this drawing based on the video “Don’t Come Around Here No More” which was based on Alice in Wonderland and he appeared as the Mad Hatter.

Previous in This Series

The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I really got into shooting a bunch of photos with my new Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS camera (which I purchased used on eBay for $80) throughout the entire weekend-long Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. My time began when I submitted my artwork to be shown at the Art Show portion of the festival.

The one thing I noticed about this year’s festival was the weather. Usually the weather tends to be on the warm to hot side with some years being in the 70’s with low humidity while other years the temperature rises somewhere between 85-95 degrees with high humidity. This year’s weather was really unusual in that the temperature was in the 60’s and it was so cool outside that I wore long pants for the first night instead of the usual shorts.

On my way to and from submitting my art I shot the very early phases of the festival as it was opening to the general public for the very first time.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The most memorable food booth was this one which not only sold funnel cakes but also fried Oreos, fried Rice Krispies treats, fried cheesecake, and even fried Twinkies.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

For the many years that I’ve appeared at the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, the one thing I have never done before is sit in on the opening ceremony. I decided to finally do this for the first time ever. As I sat in the stands, I took a photo of these nice textured clouds that were floating over our heads.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The opening ceremony included an appearance by the color guard and we all stood as they played the national anthem.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Here’s a photo of one of the photographers who was shooting the opening ceremony.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

I managed to figure out how to use the zoom button on my new camera so I can take a few close-up shots of the stage, which was just in time for the next part of the opening ceremony. For the first time I actually saw the awarding of the annual Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen. Paul Downs, a local artist and environmental activist, won this year’s award. Here he is on the right receiving the award.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul is flanked by Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (second from left) and the members of the Greenbelt City Council.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul’s friends and family were invited to go on stage so they can have their photograph next to him.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs gave a short acceptance speech.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The general public was invited to a reception for Paul at the nearby Greenbelt City Hall, which would begin in about 15 minutes after the opening ceremony ended. I killed some time by taking a few more photos of the various festival attractions at twilight.

The first day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The first day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I arrived at the reception, which was well attended.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Cake and punch were served at the reception.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs can be seen taking to a well-wisher on the right in the next photo.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (on the right) hosted another ceremony to honor Paul Downs.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul was awarded a miniature replica of Greenbelt’s iconic Mother and Child statue.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs posed with some of the winners of the previous years’ Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen award.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Here’s a closeup shot of Paul with his miniature Mother and Child replica.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Up until this point I had the camera set on the automatic function. By the time I stepped outside again I found that the sun had set. I decided to change the camera settings to night so I could continue to take pictures of the festival.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I spent some time at the bingo table while I played a couple rounds of bingo.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

This next photo shows a bingo variant where the winner was required to simply spell the letter “P” on the bingo card. Instructions were handed out on the acceptable way of spelling that letter.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (left) stands next to a couple of Greenbelt police officers.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I purchased two items at the festival that night. Both of them were at the used book table that was run by the Greenbelt Elementary School PTA. One was a DVD set of the first season of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which I only purchased for $4.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The other is this book titled Songs of the Gilded Age. It’s a music book full of songs that were written between 1890-2000 that I only purchased for $2. I can’t wait to plug some of these tunes into MuseScore, just like what I did with a few vintage sheet music that I purchased for 25 cents each at a yard sale last summer. This book also has some very lovely watercolor illustrations, such as what you see on the front cover.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 3)
Greenbelt Labor Day Parade
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

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Three years ago I devoted an entire summer’s worth of Throwback Thursdays to doing a review a series of historical novels by American Girl (yes, that’s the doll company) devoted to a girl growing up in the 1970’s named Julie Albright. I thought it would be fun to comparing how the 1970’s were portrayed in those books with my own memories of growing up during that same era.

In the midst of doing those reviews, American Girl decided to revamp its historical line by retiring a few dolls and placing the remaining historical dolls under a new product line known as “BeForever.” In the process I found that the original six novels I had reviewed earlier that summer were combined into two large volumes with all of the original illustrations removed. In addition American Girl released another volume that was basically a “Choose Your Adventure” book.

By the time I finished reviewing that Choose Your Adventure book (A Brighter Tomorrow: My Journey With Julie), I had not only read and reviewed all of the books in that series, I was starting to burn out from doing this project. I briefly revisited this series last year when I did a review of a movie short that American Girl did based on the books called And the Tiara Goes to…

The last time I went to the American Girl Place in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, I found that a new Julie Mystery was published earlier this year called Message in a Bottle. This is the first new Julie Mystery book since 2013 (when Lost in the City was published) and the first new Julie Book overall since A Brighter Tomorrow: My Journey With Julie was released in 2014. (If you’ve missed the reviews I’ve done for other books in this series, there are links at the end of this post where you can read them at your leisure.)

I know that The Police had a hit song called “Message in a Bottle” but that song didn’t come out until 1979—two years after the events in this book. The closest song title that actually came out in Julie’s era (1975-1977) is Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” which came out a few years earlier in 1972.

The book was written by Kathryn Reiss, who wrote the previous Julie Mysteries The Tangled WebThe Puzzle of the Paper Daughter, and The Silver Guitar. The cover image was done by Juliana Kolesova and Joe Hinrichs.

All of the Julie Mystery books follow the events in the original Central Series books (which are now only available in the two-volume BeForever Books (The Big Break: A Julie Classic Volume 1 and Soaring High: A Julie Classic Volume 2) and Good Luck, Ivy.

Since this new book is the latest one published and since the events take place in the summer (while the previous Julie Mystery, Lost in the City, takes place during spring break), I’m going to assume that it follows Tangled Web, The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter, The Silver Guitar, and Lost in the City.

Like all of the other Julie books, this one was written for a target audience of girls between the ages of 8-12 so some of the hot button topics of the 1970’s (such as the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion) won’t be mentioned at all.

She’s back and all ready to solve another mystery!

Synopsis: Julie Albright is a white girl with long blonde hair and brown eyes growing up in 1977 San Francisco. Her parents are divorced so she spends most of her time living with her mother, who operates her store full of handcrafted items (some of which are made from repurposed and recycled clothes) called Gladrags, and her 17-year-old sister, Tracy, in a small apartment that’s located above her mother’s store. On most weekends she stays with her father, a commercial airline pilot, in the same home that the entire family lived in before the divorce. During her visits with her father, she gets a chance to spend some quality time with her pet brown rabbit, Nutmeg (who has to stay with her father because her mother’s apartment complex doesn’t allow pets), and play with her best friend who lives across the street, Ivy Ling.

It’s the summer and schools are currently closed until September. Julie has been spending most of it alone in her mother’s apartment reading library books. (Apparently Julie’s 11th birthday came and went since it’s on May 1.) Both of her parents are busy with their jobs. Her sister Tracy is currently working not one but two summer jobs so she is rarely home these days. Her two closest friends, Ivy Ling and T.J. (whom the book misidentifies as “CJ” so it’s pretty obvious that some editor screwed up big time), are currently out of town visiting relatives.

But then her mother receives a letter from her younger sister, Nadine, whom she hasn’t seen in 10 years. Nadine writes that she desperately needs her sister’s help on the commune where she lives with her son, Raymond, and she would like for her sister to come soon. She also mentions that she doesn’t have a phone so Mrs. Albright should just drive to the commune as soon as possible.

Apparently Tracy isn’t able to take time off from either of her two jobs so Mrs. Albright has arranged for her to stay at her father’s home and she also got her assistant at Gladrags to mind the store while she’s away. Her and Julie hit the road, driving north of San Francisco.

They eventually reached Sonora, the small town that’s located closest to Nadine’s commune. They decide to eat lunch at the outer space-themed Galaxy Cafe. They are waited on by a teen girl named Dolores who’s having such a hard time with arriving at her job on time from her break and messing up orders that the cafe’s owner, Mr. Coker, really chews Dolores out in front of Julie and her mother. Mr. Coker apologizes for Dolores’ mistakes and says that the meal is on the house. When Mrs. Albright mentions that she’s on her way to the commune to visit her sister, Mr. Coker says that Dolores lives at the commune herself. He also says that he had offered to buy the land from the commune but they keep on turning him down each time.

Julie and her mother arrive at the commune known as Gold Moon Ranch and Julie meets her Aunt Nadine and cousin Raymond (who’s around Julie’s age) for the first time since she was a toddler. As they are given a tour of the facilities, they learn that Gold Moon Ranch is supposed to be a self-sustaining commune where people live off the land and they make extra money on the side selling their homegrown vegetables and jars of honey. The commune includes a small cottage for each family unit along with a large central building, known as the Big House, where all the commune members eat their meals and gather for other events. The commune children are educated in a one-room schoolhouse on the premises and the adult members take turns serving as teachers. There is a large treehouse for the children to play in. There is also a separate bathhouse building with toilets (which are little more than seats on the ground over open pits) and with a water pump where the residents draw water to take a bath. (The commune has no running water or electricity.) They raise chickens, cows, and sheep while also growing their own vegetables. They make everything from scratch, including butter and wool yarn.

The commune got its name from the fact that it is located on the site of a former gold mine where gold miners used to dig during the California Gold Rush that went on from 1848-1855. The former mine has been boarded up in order to deter kids and trespassers from going in.

Nadine and her husband, David, founded Gold Moon Ranch and things were okay until her husband decided to join the military and fight in the Vietnam War. This decision was a shock because both Nadine and David were previously opposed to the war and so were all of their fellow commune members. It turns out that David joined because his twin brother was missing in action and he wanted to find him. He learned that his brother was killed and he was seriously injured not long afterwards. He relearned how to walk in rehab but he was unable to resume his work at Gold Moon Ranch due to his injuries so he has decided to take a part-time job at the library in Sonora. (Nadine mentions that things had become so strained between her and her husband that he decided to live in Sonora instead of the commune.)

David is described in the book as being very industrious and good with his hands before he went off to Vietnam. Ever since David went off to war the various commune members have been gradually moving out and it has gotten to the point where the remaining members can barely keep the place running and they are also having a hard time paying taxes. The reason why Nadine asks her older sister for help is because Mrs. Albright had been writing Nadine letters about how she had founded her Gladrags store and is currently doing well with it.  Nadine hopes that Mrs. Albright can put her knowledge and experience to work in helping the commune start its own store where they can sell their various handmade items.

Meanwhile Raymond has been distraught over his parents’ separation and he frequently talks about how his father had built many things on the commune and he basically misses his father. Julie tries to console her cousin by telling him that her parents are divorced and she once wanted her parents to reconcile but she has gotten used to her parents living apart. It’s obvious that Raymond hasn’t quite fully accepted his parents being separated while Julie has fully adjusted to her parents’ divorce because Raymond frequently talks about how much he misses his Pa.

If all that weren’t enough, there have been some pretty strange things happening at the commune. When Julie and her mother first arrived, they see the commune members trying to capture the chickens that had somehow escaped from the fenced-in area. Raymond tells Julie that the beehives are currently empty because the bees were somehow mysteriously driven away. Periodically Julie finds paper napkins scattered on the property that are the same ones that are used at the Galaxy Cafe. One night after midnight Julie follows her cousin to the entrance of the abandoned gold mine only for the two cousins to discover mysterious lights coming from that gold mine even though it’s supposed to be boarded up. Someone cuts the laundry cord while the commune’s freshly washed clothes were hanging outside to dry. Someone also manages to open one of the gates so the calf can run away while leaving her mother behind as the culprit leaves behind yet another one of those Galaxy Cafe napkins. (Julie finds the missing calf tied to a tree besides the river.)

During one of her walks with her cousin, Julie finds a perfume bottle along the river that runs near the abandoned gold mine. She later inspects it and finds that there is a message inside (hence the name of this book) while the bottle opening itself is sealed with wax. Julie manages to remove the wax, open the bottle, and take out the message. As she reads it she finds that it’s actually a poem about the downside of being a gold miner that has been signed with only the name Jack. Basically Jack wrote his poem to his “darling girl” where he expresses regrets ever becoming a gold miner and he now realizes that his love for her is a better source of being rich than gold.

What Julie saw at the commune raises all kinds of questions with her. Who really wrote that poem and why was it sealed in a bottle and thrown in the river? Who is behind all of those sabotage efforts on the commune and why is the person doing this? Is Mr. Coker doing this in an effort to get the commune to sell him the land? Or is it someone else, such as a disgruntled commune member? And what about those paper napkins from the Galaxy Cafe? Are they being left behind by accident or are they being left behind to send a subtle message to the commune that they should let Mr. Coker buy the property? Does that message in a bottle have anything to do with the sabotage that’s going on in the commune? Julie is determined to get to the bottom of all this.

The book ends with the two-page section titled “Inside Julie’s World,” discusses the rise of communes while mentioning the fact that the fictional Gold Moon Ranch is similar to a real-life Tennessee commune known as The Farm. The section mentions that these 1970s communes would later lead to the creation of co-housing and other forms of intentional communities in recent years (including co-housing for artists and senior citizens).

The section also goes into the plight of the Vietnam vets who returned home only to suffer through disabilities both physical and emotional while briefly mentioning veterans of more recent wars who have gone through something similar.

Music Mentioned in This Book

“Michael Row the Boat Ashore”

“Sweet Betsy From Pike”

“This Land is Your Land”

News and Other Stuff From the Era Mentioned

California Gold Rush
The Farm commune in Tennessee
Vietnam War

My Own Impressions Based on My Own Experiences With the 1970’s

I used to hear about people living on communes when I was growing up but my parents were never into living that lifestyle. I remember when there was a cul-de-sac court of four or five houses located across from the street where I lived and once a year that particular area would organize a block party that was especially for those houses. (I used to go to that block party with a friend who lived next door to me and we used to play with the kids who lived there. The adults never minded us being there at the block party even though our homes weren’t in that cul-de-sac. I remember having fun at those block parties.) My mother used to talk about how she was glad our house wasn’t in a cul-de-sac court so she wouldn’t have to get involved with organizing one of those block parties because she had enough to do with her full-time job (she was an office manager for a life insurance company that has long since been merged with another life insurance company).

If she felt like that about an annual block party, I can only imagine her reluctance to live in a commune where everything was shared and people had to constantly take turns making the communal meals or educating the children. Besides, there weren’t any communes located anywhere near Glen Burnie, Maryland (where I grew up). Heck, I can’t even say if a commune had ever been established anywhere in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

My then-fiancee and I started attending a Unitarian Universalist church just a few months before I was married at 23. It was a usual religious community where people (both with and without families) would attend weekly Sunday service and get involved in extra curricular activities (such as book discussion groups, dinners, and other types of social activities).

My then-husband and I had been members of that UU congregation for a number of years when we got involved in a day-long workshop that was put on by the Unitarian Universalist Association at our church, which had guided activities that encouraged people to come up with ideas as to how to attract more people to our congregation and to UUism in general. This workshop started off with all of the participants being divided into small groups. Then we were given questions about the congregation’s history that we would discuss within the small group.

During the course of doing this exercise, it came out that during the 1970’s that some of the members of our congregation had started to meet in a smaller group where they discussed the issues of the day. In time they started to hold dances and other social events. These members had been dissatisfied with society in general after living through such things as Martin Luther King’s assassination and the Vietnam War. They began talking and this group started to express dissatisfaction with the whole idea of living in nuclear families and they wanted to explore alternative ways of living together in a community.

This group formed the nucleus of a movement where they would live together in a community and jointly share in the household chores and child raising, just like the commune described in the book. However, this group took things a bit further by exploring what was then called open marriage where married couples started having side relationships while staying married to their spouses. (Today it would be called polyamory.) I know that not all communes had explored anything like this and I can understand why American Girl would not even want to even hint about this in that book since their target audience are kids from 8-12 and they just did not want to provoke parental outrage.

There were two communes that they attempted to form. The first one was a group home in the Washington, DC suburbs but that one lasted just a few years. There was another attempt as a group decided to start a farm in Southern Maryland. I know that this farm still existed as late as the 1990’s (that’s because one of our longtime members had moved there because she wanted to live there post-retirement while being reunited with her old friends from the 1970s but she only lasted a few years before she moved back to our area) but I don’t know if it is still around or not.

I was amazed as I was hearing that story for the first time because none of the older members had ever mentioned anything like that to me before. I found out that it was because this group became controversial among other congregation members who weren’t into exploring open marriages or alternative ways of living together. I was told that quite a few members had left over this and it nearly led to a congregational split at one point.

By the time my husband and I started attending that church, this movement had pretty much collapsed and I guess that the other members just didn’t want to talk about a movement that had become very divisive within our congregation so I didn’t learn about this for years until I attended that workshop.

This led to a lay-led summer service just a couple of years later as the people who were active during that group’s heyday spoke about their experiences. I learned quite a lot from that service. For example, in the Message in a Bottle book I read it said in the “Inside Julie’s World” section at the end that it was young adults who had formed communes. This wasn’t the case with the people who formed their own movement within our UU congregation. One of the speakers said that the youngest person involved in the movement was 35 at the time. Another speaker said that her 25-year marriage disintegrated as a result of her and her husband getting involved in all aspects of that movement, including open marriage. Basically the majority of people who were involved were in their 40s, 50s, and even older during the movement’s heyday. Another aspect of that movement is that they had a no-drug policy and one of the speakers said that they had drummed out a few members for violating that policy too many times.

I later read in UU World magazine that this movement exploring alternative lifestyles and relationships was not unique to just our congregation. This article mentions how there was casual sex that took place among members of many congregations during the 1970s, including partner swapping, and how one UU congregation member said that she was frequently propositioned by married men.

The closest I had come to ever living in a commune was the time when I lived in off-campus housing just a half a mile from the University of Maryland campus in College Park. All except one of us were full-time students. (The one non-student was an aspiring DJ who worked as a busboy just so he could make ends meet.) We would socialize and stuff but we rarely ate our meals together because of our different class schedules. We had our own boyfriends/girlfriends and none of us had ever gotten into polyamory or anything like that. (It was hard enough juggling just one relationship with our studies, let alone trying to juggle two or more relationships.) I moved out after I graduated from school and moved back to my parents’ home in Glen Burnie. I moved out again 10 months later when I got married to a townhouse that I still live in because I got it as part of my divorce settlement.

As for the book itself, it’s not the first time Julie had tried roughing it with her relatives (see Julie’s Journey ) but this book had a much better-written plot than Julie’s Journey. The book provided some insight on what it was like to live in a commune. I found it mildly amusing when Julie admired certain aspects of the commune (such as seeing the stars at night with much greater intensity than in the streetlight-soaked city skies) while her cousin Raymond and teen commune member Dolores envied her because she has access to television and all of the amenities of big city life (such as a public library with a lot of books). Julie also took the point of view that it would be very difficult for some people to adjust to a lifestyle like Gold Moon Ranch. At one point in the book Julie admitted that moving to Gold Moon Ranch would mean not seeing her father or friends as much and she would also have to leave her current school.

The book became gripping when a commune member was trapped in the abandoned gold mine in the middle of a heavy storm that had the riverbanks flooding and Julie found herself in a race against time to help free that person before the gold mine became so flooded that the two of them would drown.

I also like the fact that this was a mystery where I wasn’t able to figure out what was really going on until the very end, unlike the earlier Julie Mysteries where I would guess the ending about midway through the book and I would be found correct at the end. I think making the mystery challenging enough makes the book more interesting.

The one thing I miss from this book that the older edition of the Julie Books had were the Looking Back section at the end, which were a multi-page spread that not only featured text but also vintage photographs and other illustrations from the era in which Julie grew up in. This new book, like the newer BeForever books, only have a text-only two-page spread titled  “Inside Julie’s Word.” It would’ve been more interesting to young readers had there been at least one photo of a real-life commune just so the kids could get an idea as to what one really looked like. Granted any kid could just Google “1970s communes” on a computer but I think it’s more convenient to have the visual information at hand while reading the text without having to interrupt reading the book, go to a computer, and do an online search.

I found the book to be a pretty good read but I still think The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter is the best of the Julie Mysteries because it was gripping at times with people following her and Ivy as they went through the streets of Chinatown and it also delved into the uncomfortable history of the racism against Chinese Americans.

That’s it for my book review. I have no idea if American Girl will come out with any more Julie Mysteries but if it does, I’m sure that I’ll probably buy it and read it. I’ll probably write another review for this blog.

I also noticed something about the Julie Mysteries. The events in the first, third, and fifth books (Tangled Web, The Silver Guitar, and Message in a Bottle) predominantly take place while Julie is with her mother. The events in the second and fourth books (The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter and Lost in the City) take place while Julie is with her father. If there is to be another book, it would be the sixth Julie Mystery book, so I predict that—if such a book is written and published—it will take place when Julie is with her father and her pal Ivy Ling will probably be there as well.

That’s the only speculation I’m going to provide about any possible potential future Julie Books because I’m not into spreading rumors.

If you want to buy this book and/or read my other Julie Book reviews that I wrote back in 2014, check out the links at the end of this post.

Where to Buy Message in a Bottle

Amazon
American Girl
Barnes & Noble
Powell’s Books

The American Girl Julie Albright Books List

The Original Central Series

Meet Julie
Julie Tells Her Story
Happy New Year, Julie
Julie and the Eagles
Julie’s Journey
Changes for Julie

The Best Friend Book

Good Luck, Ivy

The Julie Mysteries

The Tangled Web
The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter
The Silver Guitar
Lost in the City
Message in a Bottle

The BeForever Books

The Big Break: A Julie Classic Volume 1—A compilation of the first three Julie Albright Central Series books (Meet Julie, Julie Tells Her Story, and Happy New Year, Julie).

Soaring High: A Julie Classic Volume 2—A compilation of the last three Julie Albright Central Series books (Julie and the Eagles, Julie’s Journey, and Changes for Julie).

A Brighter Tomorrow: My Journey with Julie

Other Media Featuring Julie

And the Tiara Goes to…—A film short based on the Julie books.

Third Eye Comics has been around for a few years. The store had simply moved to larger quarters just around the corner from its former location. The store decided to have a grand opening event to celebrate this. Here’s a look at the entrance to the new facilities.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

This is a really cool example of trompe l’oeil.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

As you can see in the next few photos this event was well attended.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

There were all kinds of items available for sale, such as this Weeping Angel tote bag from the Doctor Who TV show.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

There were comic books, graphic novels, vinyl toys, coffee mugs, and other kinds of related merchandise available for sale.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics also has a games store, known as Third Eye Games, whose entrance is located next to Third Eye Comics’ space.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

As you can guess from the name, Third Eye Games have all kinds of card games and board games available for sale, such as this Ghostbusters game.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

There were plenty of people playing games when I was there.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

I took advantage of the store’s special 20% discount on graphic novels to make my one and only purchase from that store. As you can guess by the cover, Deadpool the Duck is a mash-up between Howard the Duck and Deadpool. Having read it, I can tell you that it’s definitely hilarious. I would recommend picking it up if you have the chance.

Third Eye Comics Grand Opening, July 8, 2017

Sexual harassment in Silicon Valley: have we reached a tipping point?

Rare century-old images of the Inuit people taken by Canada’s first female photographer.

A Chelsea art gallery where artists have to be 60 or older in order to display their works.

Christina in Red: Gorgeous photos of a young woman in vivid reds from 1913.

What happened when Walmart came then left a small town in West Virginia.

Build your ecosystem wisely: the people I don’t want to make business with and why.

Download 300 knitting books published from 1849 to 2012 for free.

Would you like to crochet hippos? You can download a bunch of different crochet patterns where you can make all kinds of hippos.

Bad Bunny: True children’s stories of violent, drug-fueled family life presented as a kids’ book.

Footage from the time a fan smuggled a color camera into a taping of I Love Lucy in 1951.

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