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Archive for November, 2016

Book: ‘Harpo Speaks’ by Harpo Marx – November 25th, 2016

by on Nov.25, 2016, under Books

Harpo SpeaksHarpo Speaks by Harpo Marx
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE this book of the one, the only, Harpo!

I first became a fan of the Marx Brothers when i was about 9 years old being able to watch their films on television. It was also at this time that our weekly trips to the library had me shifting from the cartoon section to the section beside it, the written humor section. In the written section I found books of the writers of these Marx Brothers films and books of the Brothers, themselves. Book store trips had me purchasing with birthday and allowance money books of the Brothers. It was the perfect time as the 1970s was finding a resurgence of the Brother’s films and books to go with it! I have continued to build to my Marx Brothers library ever since.

One book i couldn’t find was ‘Harpo Speaks’. I finally found the book .at a library book sale in the early 1980s. I’ve saved it all this time to read in later life. With this year bringing the death of my father and health scares for me, I realized “Later in life” was now!

The wait was worth it! This is an incredible book about an incredible person and the people in his life. Harpo does an outstanding job covering his entire life up to publication of his book in 1961. The story gets very personal and easier for the reader to follow than other works of the Marx Brothers story. Especially well portrayed is the Marx Brothers parents and how strongly tied they were to the very existence of the team.

Other stories range from tales of his family, friends and a whole series of encounters with complete strangers that are funny and touching. His trek into Russa has as much intrigue as humor. His encounter of Hitler’s Germany comes back later in the book and is likey to stay with you beyond the book.

There are drawbacks to the book. Though there are many, many fun and happy stories. With the exception to the death of Alec Woollcott, no sadder stories are told. Many of Harpo’s friends died or had their lives drastically altered due to events. These are not mentioned at all. It would take knowing the larger story to know all that harpo leaves out.

Something hardly touched on are the movies and television Harpo and his brothers made. I know Harpo had many, many stories of film making. But that is not to be found in his book. He doesn’t explain why he leaves out the wrenching of their career with the loss of Irving Thalberg or the well known story of the Brothers having to reunite because “Chico needed the money”. Those stories were more told after Harpo’s death, so repetition wouldn’t have been a reason. Though, it turns out it would’ve been.

That’s what makes this tale unique. ‘Harpo Speaks’ is actually about the person of Adolph Marx – his love of fun, friends and hijinks – than a chronological logging in of Hollywood fables.

Bottom line: i highly recommend this book. 10 of 10 points.

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Book work I’m doing! – November 25th, 2016

by on Nov.25, 2016, under Swampy's Florida

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Been working away on my Swampy’s Florida books all week while also trying to stop a cold. The last couple of days have been real trying, but I’m hoping the cold will calm this weekend. The cold has managed to slow me down quite a bit and I’m filling wastebaskets with tissues.

The goal is to complete two of the books to a point before returning to working on my annual Christmas card. the clock is ticking! 🙂

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My paintings Black Friday Sale! Today Only!

by on Nov.25, 2016, under Illusration

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Here’s the deal!
Just like the other paintings you’ve seen I’ve done, I will create an original watercolor painting based in a park with critters, including ones of your choosing, involved in a humorous scene.

$100 for a 16″ x 20″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.

$50 for a 11″ x 14″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.

$25 for a 9″ X 12″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.

You can leave the request in the comments section below or in a private message or e-mail: projects@robsmithjr.com. Feel free to call me to request, also: (407) 880-1128.

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Harpo’s Birthday! – November 23rd, 2016

by on Nov.23, 2016, under Books

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Harpo’s Birthday!
 
Today would have been Harpo Marx’s 128th birthday! I’m a huge fan of the Marx Brothers and the writers who wrote for them. One of the greatest things that has happened in my life has been the Marx Brother’s films I watched as a child leading me to discovering, also as a child, the amazing collection of writers and their pals who were part of the Smart Set and the Algonquin Round Table back in the 1920s and beyond. What Kaufman, Parker, Benchley, Sherwood, Woollcott, Ferber, etc, etc could do with the English language is mesmerizing.
 
Harpo was also part of the elite literary set through his great friendship with Alexander Woollcott. The adventures they and Round Table members had are written through Harpo’s autobiography, ‘Harpo Speaks’, which I’m finally reading now.
 
I first found a hard cover copy of the book about 35 years ago. I remember it being that long ago and the card from the long gone grocery store Kash ‘n Karry inside helps me remember. Of the few dozen Marx Brother’s books in my collection, ‘Harpo Speaks’ was one i decided I would read later in life.
 
This year with the death of my father, cartooning hero Jack Davis, so many friends members of families and my tiny stroke had me realize later in life is now. So, I’m reading the book and loving every part of it! Marking the great parts and the bits of Florida history included.
 
The photo is of the book and my Marx Brothers Shrine. The Shrine includes 3 statues of the brothers that i bought around 1982 from, one time Central Florida tourist stop, Stars Hall of Fame Wax Museum, where i drew caricatures. The statues and book have weathered many significant moves and tumultuous times. All show wear and tear, just like me. But we’ve gotten through it all. Just as Harpo writes he did in ‘Harpo Speaks’.

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My Christmas Card Update! – November 21, 2016

by on Nov.21, 2016, under Illusration

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During a meeting tonight, I took a short break from working on books to finally get back to this year’s Christmas card. Next is to add a whole mess of animals!

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More Hiking Photos! – November 18th, 2016

by on Nov.18, 2016, under Florida Outdoors!

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Here are more photos from the hike along the trail in the Prairie Creek Preserve near Gainesville, Florida.

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Books, books, books! – November 15th, 2016

by on Nov.15, 2016, under Books

Rocky day learning something about somebody I didn’t know. Goes to show I gotta learn even more! Which is why I read so much! Got a chance to log in some recent acquisitions!

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Otherwise lots of work on creating my own books!

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Book: ‘Find This Woman’ by Richard S. Prather – November 15th, 2016

by on Nov.15, 2016, under Books

Find This WomanFind This Woman by Richard S. Prather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nifty tale of Shell Scott in hot pursuit of someone he doesn’t know in Las Vegas. One of the niftier bits in this book is that it portrays 1950 Las Vegas. Prior to the extravagant glitz that would swarm the area years later.

Prather again power packs 160 pages that lesser writers today seem to have trouble corralling in 400 pages. This tale gets diverted as others get in the way that Scott must work around to learn what happened to two missing people. How Prather handles the plotting with so many complications is admirable. It’s fun, exciting and well written.

There is a bit involving Scott and desguises which is a bit much, but that was the only real drawback. Smaller trouble is just my historic preservationist self wishing there was far more written about the structures involved.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 9 out of ten points.

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Dinner with a lot of Friends! – November 14th, 2016

by on Nov.14, 2016, under Friends

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Attended a dinner meeting with a pile of friends tonight. The fellowship was great and the vittles by Chef Randal White even better! There were give-a-ways including items Brigitte Smith brought back from her recent trip to Kenya. How she got a fine statue of elephants back from Kenya in one piece is anyone’s guess. Here are a few photos mostly taken by, co-organizer of the event, Donna Dollar Wilson. Incredible job, Donna, you and Ed did!
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Book: ‘Spirit of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone – November 11th, 2016

by on Nov.11, 2016, under Books

Spirit of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #16)Spirit of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story is basic. The writing is superior. This may be the best written of all of the Johnstone books I’ve read. The highlight are the vivid descriptions throughout the book of scenery and story.

The story is a bit complicated in how three men want to rid the world of Smoke Jensen. How they lure him out is obvious. Encounters along the way of the bad guys and sets of good guys and others enriches the story greatly.

The writing of this book and the one previous, ‘Power of the Mountain Man’, shows the night and day difference of using ghost writers. Due to certain underlining simple aspects of the story, I see where Johnstone, himself, set the basic story and the actual writer built way up from there.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 9 out of ten points.

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Cartooning the Marines! – November 9th, 2016

by on Nov.09, 2016, under Cartooning

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My Swampy’s Florida daily celebrations continue and tomorrow’s celebrates the Marines. I needed a model and so happens my friend Brent Schell graduated his first Marine platoon Wednesday. (Congratulations, Brent!) His wife Andrea Schell posted a photo of Brent in his uniform. A perfect model to ensure accuracy of my drawing to celebrate our Greatest American Heroes in the Marines protecting our country, like Brent! 🙂

Though maybe it shouldn’t get around the platoon that Brent was the model for a cartoon cat. 😀 The inked version is above.

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