by Alison Caporimo
by Jim Menick
I have a cousin who would kill to find the Hopalong Cassidy lunch box of her youth. It's the guiding principle when anyone in my family stops at a tag sale. Found a Hoppy? Pull out the cellphone and hit that speed-dial button!
You can't blame my cousin for her commitment. As explained in Smithsonian.com's History of the Lunch Box, those heavy metal lunch boxes long served as personal billboards, bearing the messages we kids wanted to send the world at large, or at least our classmates. What better way for a cool '80s fifth-grader to sum himself up than with a "Knight Rider" lunch box?
The article digs deep into "Paileontology" and explains how 19th-century workers first brought their lunch to work in metal containers—and how their kids wanted to emulate them. Not surprisingly, Mickey Mouse was the first popular character to hit the pails, but the craze really took off when the first baby boomers headed off to school in the '50s. Today…Read More >>
by Rachel Mount Hofstetter
by Beth Dreher
by Perri O. Blumberg
by Amy Reilly
Sometimes a good book is all about balance. It should be accessible, yet challenging. Funny, yet insightful. Makes you laugh, makes you cry. Filled with everyman characters with everyday foibles who can rise to heroic levels when needed, counterbalanced by a smattering of colorful oddballs.
This summer, I found such a gem. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walteris that rare book that covers all my bases. It opens in a tiny coastal Italian village circa 1962, where young Pasquale Tursi is building a tennis court to elevate his rundown hotel to resort level. The rustic inn gets few visitors, so Pasquale is shocked when a beautiful American actress arrives. Lovely Dee Moray has…
Thus begins an extraordinary tale that takes us from that long-ago Italy to modern-day Hollywood, a story that juggles not only an unforgettable collection of characters, but also juxtaposes past and present lives, dreams both filled and unfulfilled, and the promise of futures both possible and perhaps impossible. Walter’s prose sings, and his imagination…Read More >>
by David Noonan
With Labor Day behind us, the race for the White House becomes a sprint, and the time has come to pay serious attention to the Electoral College. I know, I know, that sounds really boring, but trust me: with this cool interactive map from PBS Newshour, it's actually kind of fun.
I've tried most of these online gizmos, and Newshour's is the best. It uses projections from the Associated Press, offers lots of info—including state unemployment rates and election results as far back as 1964—and it's easy to use.
As of today, the map shows President Barack Obama in the lead with 18 states and 247 electoral votes to Republican candidate Mitt Romney's 25 states and 206 votes (it takes 270 votes to win). The fun comes with the seven toss-up states*—Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida. By clicking on them, you can add their votes to either…
You can also do your own thing and, say, take Wisconsin away from Obama and give it to Romney, or take North Carolina away from Romney and give it to Obama. So give it a try. It really is fun.
*While the PBS map gives Wisconsin to Obama and North Carolina to Romney, other maps, including CNN's, list those two states as toss-ups.Read More >>
by Andy Simmons
by Dawn Raffel
by Caitlin O'Connell