Tag Archives: biography

EXPIRED | Deal Alert: Pop Culture Survival Guide Humble Bundle

From Quirk Books, the publishers who brought us such awesome stories as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, comes a bundle filled with pop-culture fun. You’ve got quirky horror stories, a couple of volumes of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, whole volumes dedicated to pop icons, and a number of survival guides of various sorts. Frankly, this collection looks absolutely quirky and definitely fun. If you’re interested, you can check this bundle out here.


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The Wind Rises

Studio Ghibli

Written & Directed by Hayao Miyazaki/Produced by Toshio Suzuki/Music by Joe Hisaishi

Ever since he was young, Jiro Horikoshi has dreamed of the sky and the aircraft that inhabit it so gracefully. He would have loved to be a pilot, but due to his poor eyesight, that dream would never come to pass. Realizing this early on, he takes a note from his hero, the Italian airplane designer Caproni, and pursues a career in aircraft design. A combination of innate talent and unflagging work keep him on the path, designing better and better planes, always pursuing the ideal craft that exists only in his dreams.

Over the years, I have come to expect great things from Studio Ghibli, and from Hayao Miyazaki in particular–and I must say The Wind Rises is something special indeed. It is, at its core, nearly a documentary on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero–a plane used by Japan during the second World War. Yet Miyazaki transforms this young man’s life story into something beautiful and spectacular. Jiro deals, throughout the story, with the impossible question: would you pursue your dreams, even knowing what you create may be used in war, or would you live in a world where you abandon your dreams and refuse to create? The telling of the story itself is fascinating–you are given snapshots of various important events in the life of Horikoshi, but each is filled out in great detail, enough to give a good idea of who the characters are. I love that Miyazaki included Jiro’s brief, fateful relationship with Nahoko his beautiful, sickly wife (although I find Nahoko herself a strikingly Mamoru Hosoda sort of heroine). All the aircraft that are included only serve to emphasize that this is a Hayao Miyazaki movie–they’re kind of his trademark. The art is classic Studio Ghibli–breathtakingly beautiful. I think the inclusion of certain rather surreal elements, particularly in Jiro’s dreams, adds a lot to the story as well. I think my favorite Miyazaki movies will always be his fantasies like Spirited Away and Howl, but The Wind Rises is pretty incredible as well–you should check it out, especially if you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli or of older planes.


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Author/Illustrator: Mike Venezia

Rembrandt van Rijn was a painter who lived in Holland during the 1600s. Some consider him the most influential painter of the Renaissance. He might even have been one of the greatest artists ever. But how much do you really know about Rembrandt and his work?

Ever since I was in grade school, I’ve enjoyed and admired Mike Venezia’s “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists” books, including Rembrandt. In this book, Venezia presents Rembrandt van Rijn’s story and art in an open, accessible way that’s really refreshing. The text is simple, light, and fun, yet presents the most important information about the artist, his times and country, and his works in a way that you don’t even realize you’re learning (plus it’s only about 30 pages long, and can easily be read in one sitting). Venezia uses humorous comics to punctuate certain points, to great effect. Interspersed with these are actual samples of Rembrandt’s work, carefully chosen to both be interesting and clearly show what made his paintings important to the world of art–as well as tying them in with his historical and personal context. Rembrandt is a fun, fascinating way to learn about this great artist–one that is accessible for both children and adults alike!

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