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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Golden Signing at Lone Star Comics!

Hi Everyone-- Michael Golden will be signing at Lone Star comics in Dallas tomorrow. Come by if you are in the area. And check out the DallasComiCon, Saturday and Sunday! --Renee


Friday, January 29, 2010
5-7 pm
6780 Abrams Rd. Suite #109, Dallas, TX 75231

"Michael Golden, the artist most well-known for his work on Micronauts, who has also worked on She-Hulk, Dr. Strange, The 'Nam and many others and is now an acclaimed cover artist will be signing here in our store this Friday afternoon January 29th from 5-7pm. Don't miss this special one-time only appearance! Get here early to reserve your place in line and meet this world-famous comic artist!"

'Nuff said! :-)
I'll be there too, ya'll!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm SOOO Lucky! People ALWAYS Want to Give me Money!

Yeah know, I'm not sure how I became SO lucky, but it seems every day practically I get e-mails from some nice person in Africa or in China, or in Outer Angola, willing to open their wallets and share with me their GREAT fortune--usually cash, but sometimes daimonds-- if I'll only let them deposit HUGE sums of money in my bank account!

For this small act on my part, I am usually offered to receive 50% of the profits after helping them transfer the funds to another account TBD later.
Doesn't seem too much to ask!!

I just have to give them my address, social security number, date of birth...oh... and bank account number, routing number, photo, and sometimes a copy of my passport! Of course! All perfectly sound and logical.

I am overwhelmed by this generosity, really... Why me? Why should I be SO lucky and so blessed? Did I wake up on the right side of the bed, find a four leaf clover, avoid stepping under ladders or crossing a black cat?

No, really, it JUST happens! Honest!!

These lovely missives simply show up on my e-mail account, and I don't have to do one single thing to make it happen!

It truly IS the magic of the internet that they could find me like this. Out of the blue. The ONE person in the WHOLE world who can help them.

Other times, long lost relatives in England have left me ample inheritances, and there have been a few cases where some poor soul has died without ANY heirs, and just wants to find some nice person to leave their estate to, and have decided on ME!

I guess all my years of trying to be a good person are finally paying off. Thank God, I was getting kinda tired of being so good all the time.

Aside from that, the generosity truly warms the heart, doesn't it?

Today, for example, I received the e-mail below. I have to say, of all the e-mails I receive asking for my help, support, bank account, or credit card information, this one was one of the MOST thought out and articulate. Why the story it paints. And MOST of the words are spelled correctly too!
HOW can I resist?

I really just wanted to share it with you all. This letter from my new friend..uh.. let me look...Morine Lorna! Yes, Morine. Charming child. Beautiful child. Lives in Burkina Faso, apparently, at least until her father died in a horrible plane crash and her wicked step-Mom and Uncle made off with the family fortune....Oh, but I should let you read the story in Morine's words:


Hello My Dear , How is your day ? I guess nice.Mine is a little bit hot over here in Ougadougou Burkina Faso.My name is Morine Lorna Laboso I'm (23) years, from Kenya in West Africa. I am 5'7" tall, Fair in complexion,Single (never married before) My late father Dr,Lorna Laboso was the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs. Mine beloved father had been on board the Cessna 210, which was headed to Jericho and crashed in a remote area called Kajong'a, in western Kenya . The plane crashed on the Tuesday 10Th, June,2008.

After the burial of my father, my stepmother and uncle conspired and sold my father's properties to an Italian Expert rate which the shared the money among themselves and live nothing for me. One faithful morning, I opened my father's briefcase and found out the documents which he have deposited huge amount of money in one bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin,I have written to the bank asking them to release the money. so that I can take care of myself and start a new life, the Bank Director told me that my father's instruction to the bank is that the money would only be release to me when I am married or present a trustee who will help me and invest the money overseas.
My Father of blessed memory deposited the sum of US$9,400,000.00 in a bank with my name as the next of kin.

However, i shall forward you with the necessary documents on confirmation of your acceptance to assist me for the transfer and investment of the fund, i will like to complete! my studies, as i was in my first year in the university before the sudden death of my father, in any case , my extended family abandoned me, i am currently living on the charity of the church and God’s grace, i need your help to collect this money in the bank and invest it in a profitable venture in your country, i am contacting you to assist in repatriating the money left behind by my Father before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank where the deposit was made.

Mean while i wanted to escape to to any where in the world she hide away mine international passport and other valuables travelling documents luckily she did not discorver where i kept mine father file which contains important documents, so i decided to run to the refugee camp where i am presently seeking asylum under the United Nations High Commission for refugee here in Ouagadugu Capital of the Republic of Burkinafaso.

I wish to contact you personally for a long term business relationship and investment assistance in your Country.If the money is properly and profitably invested abroad ,
I intend to leave Burkina Faso permanently.

Can I count on your help? As soon as i receive your positive response showing your interest i will put things in actionimmediately in the light of the above, i shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely, i am staying at the female hostel.For your help and assistance, you will keep 20% of the money for your self and balance shall be kept for me in safe custody for investment capital until I travel to meet you and invest my share.

Waiting for your urgent and positive response, please do keep this only to your self, please i beg you not to disclose it till i come over, once the fund has been transferred i will be obtaining my travelling documents to meet you so that i will start a new life with you and your family in your country, I will like you to send a copy of your photograph to me, am waiting to hear from you soon

Morine Lorna

I particularly like that she took the time to ask me how my day was? See, good manners are something that NEVER go out of style!

So, I guess after this whole thing is done, Morine will come over to the US to live with my family and I. I haven't told them yet. But I'm sure they'll be pleased.

Of course, I'll be STINKING wealthy by then, and won't have time to be blogging or talk to anyone anymore, really, so just wanted to give you the heads up.

And ya never know this good fortune might find you as well!
Tah Tah.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kickin' Up a Great Guest List for the Dallas ComiCon--Michael Golden added!

Hi ya'll!

I'm really looking forward to getting back to my home state for this one! My first appearance at the Dallas ComiCon!

I've got my cowboy boots polished and ready to go (seriously....I just picked 'em up from the cobbler--my refurbished "Black Jacks" !), and we'll have several new prints and book previews to show folks at the DCC. Tons of stuff for sale, etc. etc. and more etc.

Hope to see some of you there.
--Renee :-)


Dallas, Tx
-- Everything IS bigger in Texas!...Or so they say, and considering the line-up at this month's Dallas ComiCon, we sure can't deny that old adage--especially since artist/creator Michael Golden is heading to the Lone Star state for his first appearance there in OVER 20 years.

Scheduled for January 30-31 at the Richardson Civic Center, The Dallas ComiCon is fast becoming a true destination for fans of comics, movies, media and more!

"I am also very happy to be returning to my home state and bringing Michael with me," says Renee Witterstaetter of Eva Ink Publishing. "We're looking forward to showing some new items at the event and meeting some new fans and friends. I should even have a preview copy of Michael's new sketchbook, 'MORE Heroes and Villains.' "

With recent work on "Spiderman," "Hulk," and new pieces coming for "Planet of the Apes," "Mouse Templar," and much more, Michael has long been known for his storytelling work on "Spartan X," "Bucky O'Hare," "The 'Nam," "Micronauts," "G.I. Joe," "Doctor Strange," "Star Wars,"....the list goes on and on! In fact, be looking for announcements about his upcoming storytelling class in the near future--in a city near you.

"I'm designing this course to be relevant for writers, artists or anyone interested in crafting an effective tale," says Golden about the upcoming workshop.

To mark his return to Texas in the meantime, Golden will be available both days of the show to sign, and do limited sketching during convention hours. He'll also be debuting three new art prints added to his portfolio just in time for DCC, as well as showcasing two art books "Excess: The Art of Michael Golden," from Vanguard Productions and "Michael Goldens: Heroes and Villains" sketchbook from Eva Ink Publishing.

Joining Golden at the Dallas ComiCon are talented artists and media guests including: Tim Sale, Adam Hughes, Mark Brooks, Peter Mayhew, Sean Patrick Flanery, Daniel Cudmore, Adam West, Todd Nauck, Pat Broderick, Terry Moore, Jim Mahfood, Mike Huddleston, Tom Feister, Matt Sturges, Brian Denham, John Lucas, Bill Williams, Jaime Mendoza, Tone Rodriquez, Josh Howard, James O'Barr, Cat Staggs, Kerry Gammill, Kez Wilson, Joe Eisma, Brent Peeples, Renee Witterstaetter, Brad W. Foster, Allison Sohn, Dirk Strangely, and many more!

So, be sure to check out Artist Alley, then buy and sell your collectibles in the show's huge exhibitor room loaded with more than 100 tables of comics, posters, cards, movies, t-shirts, and more!

The Richardson Civic Center is located at 411 W. Arapaho Rd. Show hours are Saturday 11-6 and Sunday 12-4.
For more information on the Dallas ComiCon, go to: http://www.scifiexpo.com/DCC/Home.html For more information on Michael Golden and his work, contact: evaink@aol.com

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mid-Ohio Charity Auction on E-Bay! NOW!!!

On E-Bay right now: the Mid-Ohio-Con charity auction is up and running and our friend James Henry, one of the organizers of the show, has just send me some images and links to the auction, which includes an awesome Batman sketch that Steve Scott did for the convention on their Main Stage.

The auction also features copies of the Texeira's "Babes & Brawn" sketch book, Golden’s "Heroes & Villains sketchbook," and the Creator Chronicles DVDs that I co-produced on Joe Jusko and Bill Sienkiewicz, so take a look. You'll also find some great pieces by some of our friends such as Chris Sprouse, Billy Tucci, Fred Hembeck, Jay Fife, Todd Nauck and many more, representing the awesome line-up at last years show!

You can check out a page with all the eBay listings here: http://bit.ly/5lewdW

Happy Bidding! All proceeds benefit the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps ailing comic book creators in need.


Eva Ink Artist Group

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Did "Avatar" Kill Spider-Man #4?

Interesting take on the recent developements. As reported in The New Yorker. You can read more as well as various comments on the link below.



The Green Goblin couldn't kill Spider-Man. Nor could the Sandman, Dr. Octopus, or even that anticlimactic black goo from Spider-Man 3. So how was Tobey Maguire's webslinger finally squashed? Oddly enough, insiders say it was Avatar.

Director Sam Raimi isn't commenting on exactly why he pulled out of Spider-Man 4; Columbia execs are mum, too. But production insiders tell Vulture that after seeing James Cameron's fully immersive film, Raimi wanted all sorts of envelope-pushing CGI (though not 3-D, which the studio was considering). Such effects would take more money and, just as crucially, more time. But the studio, whose corporate parent Sony must answer to Wall Street, had set a strict May 6, 2011 release date, and missing that date would mean depriving Sony of a billion dollars in revenue. “Every movie is a power struggle,” explains one producer on the Sony lot familiar with the fracas. “But the tipping point was that Sam wanted to do certain things that would push the envelope in terms of [special effects] ‘toys’ and other visual stimulation, and Sony didn’t feel that was essential to the franchise.”

The studio is obviously upset about losing such a huge tent pole, and yet script issues with Raimi had them nervous about the project anyway. After three different writers, the Spider-Man 4 script was still a schizophrenic mess, and according to a knowledgeable production insider, the Spider-Man story line championed by Raimi “threatened to torpedo the whole franchise.”

Condensed, it went something like this: Peter Parker gets over MJ, finds a new girl, falls in love. But: Peter also discovers her father is actually the Vulture, a naughty green guy with wings to be played by John Malkovich. Peter is torn between the love of his new lady and taking down the Vulture. Being a Spandex tight-ass, he decides to take down the Vulture, and kills him. This patricide goes down poorly with Peter’s new fiancĂ©e, and she rejects him. Despondent, Peter decides to abandon his superpowers, and Movie No. 4 ends with Peter Parker throwing away his Spider-Man mask, and audiences wondering if they are watching Superman II.

Sony’s execs didn’t much care for this dour story line, and its consumer-products division especially detested the villain who, let’s face it, is pushing 60. (But hey, John Malkovich, from one Vulture to another, we think you look great! Really!) Columbia’s toy partner, Hasbro, also worried that suggesting its main character was packing it in might hurt future toy sales. And these days, toys are a key revenue stream, and demand far more forethought than that given to the scripts of $200 million movies. "This is piecemeal, old-school Hollywood mentality," says Jeff Gomez, President and CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, which advises studios on how to define their franchises' universes and mythologies for maximum toysploitation. (Past clients: Pirates of the Carribean, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and — wait for it — Avatar!) "Spider-Man belongs to a millennial generation that demands continuity, and that requires long-term and careful design. None of that has existed for Spider-Man since the second movie."

Columbia was about to bring in — yet again — screenwriter Alvin Sargent (who wrote 2 and 3 and is also the husband of former Spider-Man producer Laura Ziskin) to fix things, but by that time it was too late: Raimi had become convinced that even if the script were perfect, he still couldn't hit Sony’s immovable date, and he was out.

Now the studio is scrambling to find something to play in the summer of next year, but it also may be relieved to be rid of such a creatively muddled financial burden. Director Raimi and star Tobey Maguire were being paid a fifth of the film’s gross, and neither seemed to have a clue as to what story, exactly, they were telling.

The planned reboot with younger talent will be far, far cheaper. You can almost imagine Columbia chairman Amy Pascal screaming at her pool of assistants: “Somebody get me that kid from Twilight on the phone!"

“Which one?”

“Any of ‘em!”

Read more: Vulture Exclusive: What Really Killed Spider-Man 4? Avatar! -- Vulture http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/01/avatar_killed_spiderman_4_sam.html#ixzz0cnm1XQV3

Friday, January 15, 2010

Raimi and Maquire Get Untangled! Out of Spider-man Franchise!

I have several colleagues, from some of the crews I've been honored to be a part of, that also worked on these films, so I'm certainly sad for them. Gigs are hard to come by in Hollywood these days. And crews usually follow directors and First and Second AD's. i.e. you end up working alot with the same people if you mesh, etc. etc. That being said, comic book fans I'm sure have a word or two about the developments as well. --R.


Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012. Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.

The new chapter in the Spider-Man franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.

“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots and we look forward to working once again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job,” said Sam Raimi.

“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade.This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “Now everything begins anew, and that’s got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012.”

“Spider-Man will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen.”

The studio will have more news about Spider-Man in 2012 in the coming weeks as it prepares for production of the film.

You can follow more about this over with Heidi MacDonald's reporting on "The Beat," via the link below: http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2010/01/11/sony-reboots-spidey-raimi-maguire-gone/

(Above Image by artist Michael Golden. Don't worry, Spidey will get himself out of this little situation too! He always does.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Marvel Will Trade Ya One of Theirs for 50 of the Other Guys!

This Just In: This is what I call a really balls-ey marketing move. It reminds me for some reason of 15 years ago or so, when many, many comic shops went out of biz because they were convinced to buy so many alternate covers during the over-inflated comics boom, which in turn ended up not being worth much. Not that this is the same thing exactly, but....

As someone who is a big fan of Gorilla marketing, I kinda admire Marvel's plan here. Not sure how it will "help" retailers, but it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

i.e. Who will end up with all the marbles? :-)

Press release and link to further reporting by Heidi MacDonald, below:


In an effort to provide assistance to comic retailers in 2010, Marvel is offering retailers an opportunity to turn unsold comics into an extremely rare Siege #3 Deadpool Variant!
Retailers – for every 50 stripped covers of the following comics sent to Marvel, you will qualify to receive one FREE Siege #3 Deadpool Variant. The 50 stripped covers can be any combination of the comics listed below and all submissions need to be received at the Marvel office at the address below by Tuesday 2/16/2010. Also included with the stripped covers must be your store contact information including Diamond Account # and email address.

Stripped Covers To Be Sent:
Adventure Comics #4
Booster Gold #26
Doom Patrol #4
Justice League Of America #39
Outsiders #24.
R.E.B.E.L.S #10

Address To Send Submission:

James Nausedas
Marvel Entertainment, LLC
417 Fifth Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10016

Information To Be Included With Submission:
Store Name
Store Address
Contact Person
Email Address
Phone Number
Diamond Account #
List of stripped covers being returned and their quantities

All the directions above must be adhered to in order to receive the free Siege #3 Deadpool Variants and the submissions must be received by Tuesday 2/16/2010 in order to qualify.

Please note that this is not a Diamond-affiliated promotion and Diamond should not be contacted. Retailers will be contacted via email once Marvel receives the submissions. Retailer with further questions should contact helpme@marvel.com.

Reporter Heidi MacDonald reports more here on "The Beat":

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's a Done Deal for Disney!

I for one think this is pretty exciting news. Below is the blurb from Diamond's current newsletter. (Above, Mickey and Minnie share the news at my Comics and Animation forum in China!)


Disney/Marvel Aquisition!

This just in--Marvel Entertainment’s shareholders approved the company's acquisition by The Walt Disney Company on December 31, 2009 as expected. The $4.3 billion acquisition gives Disney control of Marvel’s more than 5,000 characters.

While most of the characters counted in that tally range from obscure to, well, very obscure, a select handful have been the basis for blockbuster movies, cartoons and video games in recent years. Additionally, Disney believes that if they find even a few money-makers among the second, third and fourth tier, the deal could well end up being a steal.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review of "Tex: The Art of Mark Texeira" on Collector's Corner!

Hi Everyone--

Collector's Corner reviews new book on Mark Texeira; "Tex: The Art of Mark Texeira." Published by Vanguard Productions. Written and designed by myself. I'm very happy with the way this book turned out and thrilled with my friend, David Spurlock at Vanguard for his continued dedication to making books such as this available. Give it a Read.


Collector's Corner Reviews New Artbook on Mark Texeira

Recently Vanguard Productions released four new books in its artist’s series. Before I begin reviewing each book individually I’d like to comment on the books as a whole.
As a graphic designer I know how important it is to choose the right type of paper depending on the type of print product you want to promote. In the case of art books it’s especially important to choose the right cover and interior stocks.

Vanguard has done an excellent job selecting the stock that best complements and enhances the art in each of its books. Both the cover and interior pages are of coated stock, yet not so high gloss coated as to be too reflective and detract from the art.

Paper stock also determines ink absorbs ion which is especially important when it comes to text. Text must be crisp and clean and easy to read. So is the case in Vanguard’s books.
Paper stock must be stable enough to trim leaving crisp edges and no fold over, display colors in their proper hue and intensity, handles scoring and keep small details from smudging or disappearing all together. Binding must be snug with tightly bound, stitched or glued pages so that the books hold up. All of the books do just that.

Copy structure is equally important in art books. Too much copy detracts from the art, not enough leaves the readers slightly frustrated having not received enough information. I was impressed that in each art book I’m about to review that their was just enough copy to hold my interest, of appropriate size and line spacing (leading) for easy reading and very informative context-containing not only interesting facts about the art but facts about the artists as well.

I felt that after reading each book that I knew the artists personally as well as their motivation, work ethic and capabilities.

Overall production value on each book rates high. I plan on making these titles an important part of my collection. Well done.

Tex: The Art Of Mark Texeira: The Artist’s Great Escape came as a big surprise to me. I’ve always loved Mark’s comic book work-especially his Ghost Rider series and his comic book covers paintings.

I was unprepared and caught off-guard when I saw his commercial art work and paintings. The man is a powerhouse of imagination and a master of illustration and painting media. His new book, co-written by Renee Witterstaetter, looks into his impressive career.
Mark was born and raised in New York City amongst somewhat less than savory surroundings. As a young man he was entrenched within a rough environment with street gangs and poverty all about hi,. Still his dream to become an artist motivated him to create despite his situation and with the encouragement of a teacher Mark was able to enter a prestigious art school and excel.

Soon after gradating he acquired work and has been producing art ever since. Besides his comic book work Texeira is also an accomplished painter and illustrator with works gracing book covers, movie production pieces, trading cards and other commercial art projects.
The Art Of Mark Texeira contains examples from all of his projects. What I really liked about the book is that it contains sketches and preliminary drawings for much of Mark’s finished paintings. I enjoy seeing how he puts his ideas down on paper and formulates his final work. Too often people who look at an artist’s wok don’t appreciate the amount of time and effort it took to create the final piece.

Mark is very candid about his background, his education, his work and his life in general. His observations and insights into producing art are invaluable and his wicked sense of humor often shines through his prose. The book is well laid out with black and white illustrations and color paintings evenly distributed throughout its pages. This makes the book fun to look at as visual treats pop up unexpectantly.

Mark Texeira’s work is well represented in its pages and both looking at and reading the book is extremely satisfying.

Purchasing books from Vanguard Productions is money well spent. As a veteran artist or novice it would be a wise investment to purchase these books not only for their visual value but for their instructional value as well.


(For a full review of the other recent Vanguard Books on Joe Kubert, St. John, Alex Horley, as well as the one on Mark Texeira, check out the link below!)


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why I eat Black-Eyed Peas for New Year's? --and the history of the tradition!

As long as I can remember, Mom insisted that we MUST eat Black-eyed peas, collard greens, onion and chow chow relish on New Year's day...along with some homemade cornbread, of course. NOT that she had to twist our arms. We loved the stuff, topped off with a heap of my Maw Maw's aromatic pepper sauce!

The reason, according to Mom, and my much missed Maw Maw was that it would bring us prosperity in the New Year. Mom would say "The more peas you eat, the more money you'll have in the New Year."

I don't know....there have been plenty of years that I filled my gut with black-eyed peas and that translated into stomach upset more than into prosperity! LOL ... But what I DO have is plenty of memories-- of Mom soaking the peas overnight, adding all the ingredients necessary to complete our yearly ritual, and the SMELL! The smell of simmering black-eyed peas and spices filling the whole house, the taste of real butter on hot, coarse-ground cornbread...and most of all... ALL of us-- my brothers Ray and Robbie, my Mom, my Dad, all taking our usual seats around our little dinner nook--four chairs wrapping around a central bar, connected to the kitchen, giving us a vantage point to watch Mom as she got everything ready. Her seat was the tall bar stool near the stove, where she sat watching us continue a tradition of chowing-down frenzy that no doubt she'd done every New Year's as a child.

These days stand out as staccatos in my memory...the days when, for a brief time, the stores were closed, the streets were quiet, and everyone, you knew, was safe. And time stood still.

I know why these days were important for my Mom...she was a career woman. Worked outside the home her whole life. Was a high ranking manager at Sears, efficiently working her way up from a shop girl at Newberry's to overseeing the employees at the local Sears store. To this day, she still has people come up to her and say. "Thank you. Thank you for believing in me and giving me job." I've always been so proud of her. She doesn't consider herself a great cook, but what I think she's always enjoyed most about those times of cooking for the family was that for her--since she couldn't always be there-- it was a way of connecting and showing her love--singular times within our four walls. She still enjoys cooking Christmas dinner for as many folks as will come...in fact, I think she is most happy when there are children and family in the house. I wish her much more of that.

The passage of time happens so quickly, doesn't it...Dad is gone now. Maw Maw too... Some of us (including me) are dispersed, or too caught up in the every day of life to consider these simple things.... how a repeated little ritual can come to mean SO much more than it's parts...

For me, the simmering of New Year's peas and co-mingled aromas trigger images, sounds, smells and..Voila... my Dad is here again and none of us are so gray or half as cantankerous (oh wait, maybe we always were. LOL). Times are not so hurried. We stopped.

I close my eyes and the time traveling always brings a smile...

As my nephew's lovely wife Elodia said about one of our group Christmas pictures of our little gaggle of young-uns, "This is the type of picture that you look at and it melts your heart 5, 10 year's from now." Funny, but smells too, have always painted those pictures for me in my mind as surely as a camera.

Over the year's I see my tradition's falling away... We all used to gather on Christmas eve and open presents--first at Maw Maw's then Mom's then Aunt Lana's, later it was shuffled to Christmas Day. Now it's a miracle if we are all in the same room together at any given point in time to say hello. Sunday meant the whole family converged on Maw Maw's house (you did NOT say no) and then my Mom and Dad's house for Sunday dinner after church....often that meaning a fish-fry of catfish or perch that Daddy had caught and scaled himself (he loved the invention of the fillet knife!), while Mom made the hush-puppies. Easter meant that all the kids were in ONE place hunting eggs. No excuses. And those too old to hunt did the hiding. I always remember when I was really young, my cousin Johnnie doing those honors. He hid 'em good too. :-) These things don't seem to happen any more....everyone together...I guess it's the normal passage of time(?)...something I have NEVER liked, to tell you the truth.

So, for me, I will continue my own little tradition...like my Mom...like her Mom before her...THAT I can do. We can always pay tribute to our roots, can't we? It's what makes us who we are.

So, YES. On my stove for New Years you will always find the bubbling pot of Black-Eyed peas. The cornbread in the oven. Hot sauce at the ready... The little symbols meaning more than their parts.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

The History of eating Black-Eyed Peas for New Year's:

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity.

The "good luck" traditions of eating black eyed peas at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (compiled ~500 CE), Horayot 12A: "Abaye [d. 339 CE] said, now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see Qara (bottle gourd), Rubiya (black-eyed peas, Arabic Lubiya), Kartei (leeks), Silka (either beets or spinach), and Tamrei (dates) on your table on the New Year." However, the custom may have resulted from an early mistranslation of the Aramaic word rubiya (fenugreek).

A parallel text in Kritot 5B states that one should eat these symbols of good luck. The accepted custom (Shulhan Aruh Orah Hayim 583:1, 16th century, the standard code of Jewish law and practice) is to eat the symbols. This custom is followed by Sephardi and Israeli Jews to this day.

In the United States, the first Sephardi Jews arrived in Georgia in the 1730s and have lived there continuously since. The Jewish practice was apparently adopted by non-Jews around the time of the American Civil War.

In the Southern United States, the peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.

The traditional meal also features collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.

These "good luck" traditions supposedly date back to the Civil War, when Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, typically stripped the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock, and destroyed whatever they couldn't carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" and field corn suitable only for animal fodder, and didn't steal or destroy these humble foods.

(Karah, Benjamin, Ally, Ryan, Randall and I making Sugar Cookies, December 2009, at the dinner nook in my Mom's kitchen in Texas. The site of many a plate of Black-eyed Peas in the past!)

(Black-Eyed peas with ham hocks, and side order of Texas Pete, o' course.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There--Tips to Avoid Identity Theft!

One of my friends sent me this e-mail last week, and I feel there is indeed some valuable information here that we all can use. There are so many things out there to protect ourselves from it seems... for instance on my last TWO trips to Europe one of my credit cards was stolen compromising my trip and of course my sense of well-being. The first time it was stolen somehow while I was buying tickets at the Paris Nord train station. The second time just from buying some boots in Gijon, Spain. So, I speak from experience. (Thanks to Brian F. diCaprio of CB-United for the info below. and to Wally Wood for the illustration! )

These are easy steps to take to make your private information more secure:

1. The next time you order checks have only your
initials (instead of first name) and last name put on
them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not
know if you sign your checks with just your initials or
your first name, but your bank will know how you sign
your checks.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards.
Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."

3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit
card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number
on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four
numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the
number, and anyone who might be handling your check as
it passes through all the check-processing channels
will not have access to it.

4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your
home phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of
your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use
your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your
checks, (DUH!). You can add it if it is necessary.
However, if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy
machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card,
etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all
of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and
cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Also carry
a photocopy of your passport when traveling either here
or abroad. We have all heard horror stories about fraud
that is committed on us in stealing a name, address,
Social Security number, credit cards.

6. When you check out of a hotel that uses cards for
keys (and they all seem to do that now), do not turn
the "keys" in. Take them with you and destroy them.
Those little cards have on them all of the information
you gave the hotel, including address and credit card
numbers and expiration dates. Someone with a card
reader, or employee of the hotel, can access all that
information with no problem whatsoever.

Unfortunately, the attorney who originally sent out this message, has first hand
knowledge because his wallet was stolen, as my friends was a few weeks ago
when I was helping him move out of a storage facility.
For the attorney, within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive
monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit
card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway
computer and received a PIN number from DMV to change
his driving record information online. Here is some
critical information to limit the damage in case this
happens to you or someone you know:

1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards
immediately. The key is having the toll free numbers
and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call.
Keep those where you can find them.

2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction
where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves
to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a
first step toward an investigation (if there ever is
one). However, here is what is perhaps most important
of all (We did this for my friend.)

3. Call the three national credit reporting
organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on
your name and Social Security number. I had never heard
of doing that until advised by a bank that called to
tell me an application for credit was made over the
Internet in my name. The alert means any company that
checks your credit knows your information was stolen,
and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new
credit. By the time I was advised to do this, almost
two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been
done. There are records of all the credit checks
initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I
knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no
additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw
my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It
seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact
about your wallet and contents being stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just
about everything. So here is something perhaps useful!