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Memories
night rain on cobble stones
we sheltered under eaves
of lost time and aching solitude

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Illustrator Evan Turk and Author Bethany Hegedus are flanked by Fairview’s Lincoln School faculty, administrator Dr. Dave Sleppin, and Superintendent DeLissio in center

by Sam Juliano

The Romantic Films countdown is nearing its conclusion, with the final post set to publish next week, on Monday, October 6th.  The project has showcased some of the finest writing on films online, and some effusive praise is in order for all who contributed during the duration of this twenty week project.

We’d all like to again wish Allan Fish a full and speedy recovery to the operation he faces mid-week.  Thanks to our muse Dee Dee for the lovely sidebar acknowledgement to our longtime friend.

The author and illustrator of Caldecott hopeful Grandfather Gandhi (Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk) delivered an extraordinary presentation in my Lincoln School district last Monday.  The themes of violence and bullying were part of the fabric of this remarkable discussion and slide show from the former high teacher who wrote this acclaimed book with the grandson of Gandhi.  The 26 year-old Turk, a gifted artist helped make this show wildly engaging to the 4th through 8th graders.

Longtime friend, and former Fairview resident Peter Danish made a stellar presentation on his new novel THE TENOR at the Fairview Free Public Library on Thursday evening in front of a spirited group that included his wife Sanela.

Peter Brown and the son of children’s book luminary Richard Scarry appeared for an engaging talk about the work of Scarry’s father at THE WORD bookstore in Jersey City. Brown as always was fantastic.

We saw one film in theaters this past week, and attended the Chappaqua, New York children’s book festival on Saturday.  With the start of October, many of us are anticipating some great films in the coming months as per normal late year roll outs of the prestige pictures.  The Metropolitan Opera season also begins this week. (more…)

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Allan Fish will be undergoing an operation tomorrow morning for the small malignant tumor that has responded very well to previous chemotherapy.  Because of the early detection and localized nature of the tumor, Allan is fully expected to make a complete recovery, but will be on the sidelines until around February.  It has been a very trying time for Allan, his dear mum and aunt, but the successful end to this stress and fear is drawing to a close.  Here at WitD we all send our very best wishes to our longtime friend.    -Sam

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Lucille, the gang and I will classmate and artist extraordinaire Frane Lessac and his her husband the renowned author Mark Greenwood at Brooklyn Book Festival.

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With world famous author illustrator Brian Collier in Brooklyn

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Florence and Wendell Minor, author and artist extraordinaires with Jeremy and new fantastic book SEQUOIA

by Sam Juliano

One of the most hectic weekends on record for Lucille, the kids and I has resulted in a very brief Monday Morning Diary.  I am in fact trying to scratch together a short report of what we did, but will just put down a brief re-cap.  We attended two book festivals on Friday and Saturday, seeing a few of the same author-illustrators at both, though each was different in that one was exclusively for children’s books, while the other was for all types of books.  The Children’s Book Festival on Saturday was held in Princeton, New Jersey – it was the ninth annual- and it featured over a hundred writers and artists, some dual under white tents with colored designations on the courtyard outside the Princeton Library.  Numerous high-profiles figures in children’s literature were there, including Wendell and Florence Minor, Brian Floca, Peter Brown, David Collier, Edward Hemingway, Sophie Blackall, Jennifer Berne, Anne Rockwell,  and others.  Special shows and readings were done under the large demonstration tent.

The Brooklyn Book Festival, one of the largest in the world, was held on both Saturday and Sunday, though the childrens’ events were held on Sunday, when we were able to attend.  Unlike Saturday, when we only had Jeremy with us, we had the entire brood for Brooklyn.  We were absolutely thrilled to meet my old classmate at Cliffside Park High School, Frane Lessac and her husband Mark Greenwood, who performed a dramatic reading of their sublime 2012 picture book DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN.  We also got to see the young illustrator Evan Turk, (GRANDFATHER GANDHI) who will be appearing at my school tomorrow with author Bethany Hegedus to do several shows on their book to 4th through 8th graders.  We got to see Brian Floca again for the second consecutive day, and take in his fabulous reading and drawing show on his Caldecott Medal winning LOCOMOTIVE.  Again we chatted with Bryan Collier at his tent, and bought two of his John Lennon drawings for Lucille and my Lennon fanatic son Danny. (more…)

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12. Annie Hall (1977)

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By Dean Treadway 

Even after watching it literally a hundred times, I still feel a sense of surprise when Annie Hall begins. It happens almost immediately, despite those regal white-on-black credits that’ve appeared in the same font (Windsor) before every Woody Allen film since. It’s the silence, actually, that messes me up. There’s no wild or even silky jazz accompaniment. The brilliant cast isn’t paraded before us. Woody Allen’s name isn’t mentioned until the final cards; instead, after the title and the producers (Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe), the editor Ralph Rosenblum gets the first credit (and rightfully so, as would later be revealed; without Rosenblum, Annie Hall would definitely not be the movie it is). And then there that is that first visage of Woody, standing alone against a reddish-brown background I always misremember as being grey. I also, over and over again, am shocked by how in-your-face his confessional here is. He appears absurdly close to us in his tweed jacket over a red flannel shirt, with those black glasses framing totally confident yet self-effacing eyes He’s completely himself, or at least completely the smart and not showy fellow he wants us to think he is. His opening monologue feels absolutely off the cuff, and in 1977, it took us all aback, even though nearly no single celebrity had spent so much time in front of audiences confessing his shortest of shortcomings as Allen had. I think it’s this: No audience is ever prepared to see another Charlie Chaplin or Orson Welles, especially one in such a nebbishy package. This was something wholly stunning: (more…)

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L'Atalante (France 1934)

By Tony d’Ambra

Jean Vigo when he made one of cinema’s poetic masterpieces was consumptive and likely had a keen awareness of the slender hold he had on life. L’Atalante was to be his last film and his enduring cinematic legacy. A simple romantic story told with a shimmering love for those that history ignores, for unaffected lives which have a glory beyond greatness, bound up in the simple verities. The early tentative days of a just-married couple have a romance and visual poetry tinged with the melancholy of the river’s flow, itself a metaphor for the ineluctable passing of time, and the ebbs and flows of life. A tale told without artifice and with a boundless optimism. A timeless story of young love, the tribulations of matrimony, the joys of friendship, the rewards of loyalty, and the delight from the comic mishaps that life thankfully can bring; along with the conflict, the suffering, and the heartache.

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Jeremy poses with the great illustrator/painter Wendell Minor, with two of his supreme masterpieces, GALAPAGOS GEORGE and EDWARD HOPPER PAINTS HIS WORLD, both remarkable released during 2014. (At Bankstreet Bookstore in Manhattan).

by Sam Juliano

Time marches on.  Mid-September and moving closer to autumn.  Nothing too extreme weather-wise over the last week in the vicinity of the Big Apple, though it does appear that even so much as a wind breaker is still some time away.  But like everything else that scenario can change in a heart beat.  Here at Wonders in the Dark it is business as usual.  The long-running Greatest Romantic Films Countdown has entered the final leg, with the Top 15 set to post starting tomorrow.  Certainly the quality of the reviews over the past week has basically matched some of the great stuff we’ve seen here in previous weeks.  What with everyone on their best behavior the site is honored to have received some of the finest writings the esteemed authors have yet composed.  True, the comment and page view totals have dropped – this has been obvious throughout – but this has more to do with the general downtrend of blogsites, all of which have taken a major hit from the likes of Facebook and Twitter.  As many here will recall the most successful countdown (or any project for that matter) at this site was the Greatest Musical Films Countdown of 2011.  That 70 Film survey not only attracted some of the greatest film writing I have ever laid eyes on, but also the most spectacular comment totals ever recorded here.  Numerous posts amassed well over 200 comments, which a bunch of others pulled in over 100.  But numbers by themselves don’t add up to much – it was the quality and the passion of the responses that made them so memorable.  A dash of contentiousness also added some color to the proceedings.  In any case, Wonders in the Dark also scored big with the Greatest Comedy Films Countdown and the Greatest Westerns Film Countdown, even if both showed a progressive downward trend.  The community aspect of the site is still thriving -certainly well ahead of the life support that taken some less fortunate blogs over the past year.  In behalf of the site’s writing staff I want to thank all those who continue to read, leave likes and comments under all the latest posts.  This is alas, our life’s blood.

Specifically I want to take this opportunity to salute Jon Warner, John Grant, Frank Gallo, John Greco, Pierre de Plume, Jim Clark, Peter M., Judy Geater, Sachin Gandhi, Pat Perry,  Jeffrey Goodman, Duane Porter, Tony d’Ambra, Laurie Buchanan, Dee Dee, Jeff Stroud, Celeste Fenster, Maurizio Roca,  Robert Tower, Jaimie Grijalba,  Dean Treadway, Tim McCoy, Marilyn Ferdinand, David Noack, Karen, Joel Bocko, Ricky, Mark Sadler, Margaret B., JacquiWine, Ed Howard, Brandie Ashe, J.D. Lafrance, Stephen Mullen,  Shubhajit Lahiri, Mark Smith, Terrill Welch, David Schleicher, Anubavkist, Pedro Silva, Broadway Bob Eagleson, Mike Norton, Lucille Juliano, Melanie Juliano, John R. Thom Hickey, smallwoodryan, girlsdofilm, Giovanni Battista, Diana and Allan Fish for their essays, their comments and their “likes,” or any combinations of those.  51 reasons to celebrate!!!  If I have missed someone who may have left a comment or a like or several in fact, please accept my apology.  I have done my best to look back at every single review and corresponding comment section, but I am no longer as sharp as I once might have been.  Ha! (more…)

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