In Praise of the Gobblings

The illustrated book "The Gobblings" offers a dark tale of one boy's scary adventures in space -- but it's hard to say if this is indeed a "children's book."

The illustrated book “The Gobblings” offers a dark tale of one boy’s scary adventures in space — but it’s hard to say if this is indeed a “children’s book.”

We all have those dreams from time to time — to suddenly find ourselves in a very unfamiliar place. For some reason in those dreams, unfamiliar rarely feels exciting, like we’re about to start on a new adventure. Instead, it always feels ominous.
We’ve been taken out of our regular, cozy place — whether it’s home, or the office, or a favorite spot for social gatherings. In my two most reoccurring dreams along these lines, I’m either in a dark parking lot and can’t find my car, or I’ve just arrived in a strange and very big city and have immediately gotten lost. I wake up feeling anxiety and unsettled.
There are probably flashes of childhood memories buried deep within these adult dreams, of the first time as a child you found yourself in a situation, or place, where you experienced a similar emotion. You wake up alone in your bedroom after hearing a strange noise and you wonder for a second, If I scream, will my parents hear me? Are they even in the next room?
Or your parents take you to a shopping mall, and when your mother let’s go of your hand and you wander off for a second to look at something, you turn and … don’t see your family. A panic grips you — are you now lost? That feeling stays with you until your mother reaches out and takes your hand again, and says “Don’t leave my side.”
Who knows how long adults carry with them buried memories of those anxious and disturbing moments, of being in situations where you feel lost, and alone, and vulnerable. After reviewing the new book “The Gobblings” by authors Matthue Roth and Rohan Daniel Eason, it’s easy to momentarily slip back into those feelings once again. Read more »

Florida’s jobs engine begins to rev up into high gear

The economy in Orlando and across Florida has been getting stronger.

The economy in Orlando and across Florida has been getting stronger.

MAITLAND — Florida got an early Christmas present this week, when the latest jobs numbers indicated that the Sunshine State’s economy was clearly on the upswing.
On Friday, the office of Gov. Rick Scott announced that in November, the state experienced the single highest month of private sector job growth in four years, when 38,000 jobs got created in Florida.
In total, the governor’s office noted, Florida businesses have added 715,700 private-sector jobs since December 2010.
Last month, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, the lowest since May 2008, and about the same as the national average.
The governor made the announcement during a trip to Maitland, as part of his appearance at Viewpost, a financial services and business invoicing firm that announced it would create 262 new jobs in the Orlando area over the next three years.
For a state that had crashed economically when the housing market collapsed in 2008 and the national recession set in, the governor was clearly eager to boast about the turnaround.
“Four years ago, we unveiled an ambitious plan to fix Florida’s economy and turn the state around,” Scott said. “Our goal was to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Today our goal was reached three years early, with 715,700 private-sector jobs created in Florida since December 2010.” Read more »

Freeline Media Review: “A Christmas Carol”

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol" continues through Dec. 28.

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol” continues through Dec. 28.

ORLANDO — The Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol” opens with a novel concept: a family is getting ready to celebrate Christmas Eve when they head into the attic in search of holiday decorations, and a small child finds a book.
When he asks what the book is, one of the adults smiles and says it’s Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.” The adults then reenact the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the sour old miser who opens the story by dismissing Christmas with a sneer of “Bah humbug,” but becomes a radically changed man by the end. Read more »

“Bloody Rabbit” explores lingering economic anxiety in the U.S.

The fiction novel "Bloody Rabbit" explores the continued economic anxiety so many Americans have as the economy struggles to recover from the great recession.

The fiction novel “Bloody Rabbit” explores the continued economic anxiety so many Americans have as the economy struggles to recover from the great recession.

ORLANDO — This month, the federal government reported, the U.S. created 321,000 jobs. It seems like there was good reason to cheer the news. As the government noted, the economy has added 200,000 workers or more for nine straight months.
And yet, as the Nov. 4 election results demonstrated, people are still feeling nervous about their job security — and angry and frustrated that despite the acceleration in hiring, average hourly wages barely nudged.
Anyone who got downsized during the great recession, and found a new job — or multiple jobs, including part-time positions below their skill levels — at a far lower rate of pay is now feeling that painful financial pinch.
Freeline Productions’ novel “Bloody Rabbit” explores that economic anxiety, a nervousness and unending tension being felt even as jobs get created each month, even as gas prices fall, and even as the pace of layoffs has slowed to a crawl. If this is a recovery, the nation seems to be saying, it sure doesn’t feel like one yet. Read more »

Freelining with Mike Freeman: The Christmas card dilemma

The holidays bring out an annual dilemma: do you know who is, and isn't, in the holiday spirit this year?

The holidays bring out an annual dilemma: do you know who is, and isn’t, in the holiday spirit this year?

On Thanksgiving morning, I got my start on writing my Christmas cards. I like to say something in the cards, although one thing I’ve noticed is that in the age of social media, my world has shrunk. Virtually everyone I wanted to send a card to is on a social media site like Facebook, and knows everything I’ve been up to this year. Only a small handful of people — maybe six or seven — don’t use these sites, and that Christmas card I’m writing out is the first time I’ve reached out to them in a year.
In those instances, I like to “catch up,” in a sense — to let them know what my 2014 was like. It’s always an odd thing to ponder: how do you sum up a whole year in a small card? Read more »

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