New Year, New Roles as Citizens

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Carwil Bjork-James

For those of you who make New Year’s resolutions, here’s one to consider (albeit a few weeks late): resolve to become a part of the solution this year. It might be easier than you think, thanks to Colorado state senator Morgan Carroll. A major advocate for citizen involvement, Morgan, with her new book out this month, Take Back Your Government: A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Change, shows how any ordinary citizen can make and change law and policy in their state, through practical tips, checklists, and sample documents. Morgan aims to give readers an inside look at how state legislatures really work through this accessible how-to manual.

Morgan conducts hundreds of town hall meetings and community seminars, teaching ordinary citizens how to influence the legislative process, and it was her own civic activism that launched her ultimate decision to run for office. In Take Back Your Government, she shares practical information and easy-to-follow steps for beginner advocates, including:

  • How to find out who your elected officials are
  • How to make contact– sample letters, e-mails, and telephone scripts are all included
  • How to write petitions and fact sheets
  • How to  testify at a legislative hearing
  • How to be an advocate in ten minutes or less
  • And more!
Morgan (above) will be at the Tattered Cover Colfax on Friday, February 10, at 7:30 pm, and at other venues around Denver this spring and summer. For her upcoming schedule, please check here. For more tips, follow Morgan on Twitter: @TakeBackYrGovt, on Facebook: www.facebook.com/takebackyourgovt, and on her blog: www.takebackyourgovt.com.
(Top photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Carwil Bjork-James)

Dia de Los Muertos at the Denver Botanic Gardens

The original Day of the Dead movie poster—If you're like me you're spending this weekend watching zombie films. (Credit: United Film)

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 29, the Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting a celebration for Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That’s the traditional Mexican celebration in honor of departed souls, not the Romero film or, for that matter, its far inferior 2008 remake.

At the Botanic Gardens Dia de Los Muertos, there will be face painting, sugar-skull and papel picado (“perforated paper”) making, as well as flamenco dancing and live music.

Details from the Denver Botanic Gardens’ website:

Date and Time:
Saturday, October 29, 5–8 p.m.

Admission:
$8 Adults
$7 Member Adult/Student/Senior
$6 Child
$5 Member Child
Come in costume and painted skeleton face and receive $1 off admission (you must purchase tickets at the door the day of the event to receive this discount).
Buy tickets online. Limited tickets available—get your tickets today!


Entertainment and Activities
 (included in admission):

Mitchell Hall
5–6 p.m.: Aztec dancers
6–7 p.m.: “Dancing Across Cultures”
7–8 p.m.: “Mariachis San Juan de Colorado”
Gates Hall
5:30–6:30 p.m.: Spanish guitar and Flamenco dancer
6:45–7 p.m.: Mexican loteria “bingo” game #1
7:15–7:30 p.m.: Mexican loteria “bingo” game #2
Lobby Court (5–8 p.m.)
Face painter
Photo booth
Interpretive signage
Sugar skull display from different regions
of Mexico
Traditional altar
Gates Garden Court (5–8 p.m.)
Sugar skull workshop
Papel picado workshop
More crafts — TBA
Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory Balcony
5:30–7:30 p.m.: Storyteller provided by El Semanario
Helen Fowler Library Foyer (5–8 p.m.)
Professional pumpkin carving – Carving Día de los
Muertos images

I hope to see some of our readers there!

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“It is not the big dramatic things so much that get us down, but just being Indian, trying to hang on to our way of life, language, and values while being surrounded by an alien, more powerful culture.” —Mary Crow Dog, American Indian activist

The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day occurred in 1977, at a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on discrimination against indigenous populations in the Americas. But it wasn’t until 1991 that activists in Berkeley, California, convinced the Berkeley City Council to declare October 12 a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.” Since then, there has been a growing movement to appropriate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. States including South Dakota, Hawaii, and Alabama (but not Colorado) have changed the holiday’s name, and many more cities have taken similar action.

On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, this blogger intends to spend some quiet meditation honoring indigenous resistance and to contemplate how to best confront current injustices. For our readers, I’ve linked to some great posts and articles on the history of Christopher Columbus and on Indigenous Peoples’ Day below:

Blueness has a great post on Admiral Columbus at The Daily Kos. From the post:

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought Original Sin to the New World. The policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.…

Today,’ the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest is gone.

From Hispaniola, the Admiral and his works brought destruction too to all the native peoples of all the rest of the Americas—north, central, and south.

And to replace the falling bodies of the Taino, who died extracting gold and silver for him, the Admiral birthed the transatlantic slave trade, bringing to the New World in bondage people from the place where people were born.”

Racialicious has posted “An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters on Columbus Day,” in which Sasha Houston Brown writes:

“I doubt that you consulted the Navajo Nation about using their tribal name on sophisticated items such as the “Navajo Hipster Panty.” In fact, I recently became aware that the Navajo Nation Attorney General sent your company a cease and desist letter regarding this very issue. I stand in solidarity with the Navajo Nation and ask that you not only cease and desist selling products falsely using the Navajo name, but that you also stop selling faux Indian apparel that objectifies all tribes.

Urban Outfitters Inc. has taken Indigenous life ways and artistic expressions and trivialized and sexualized them for the sake of corporate profit. It is this kind of behavior that perpetuates the stereotype of the white man’s Indian and allows for the ongoing commodification of an entire ethnic group. Just as our traditional homelands were stolen and expropriated without regard, so too has our very cultural identity. On this day that America still celebrates as Columbus Day, I ask that do what is morally right and apologize to Indigenous peoples of North America and withdraw this offensive line from retail stores.”

There’s also a great excerpt from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States on Christopher Columbus at the Manifest Destiny blog. From the excerpt:

“When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure—there is no bloodshed—and Columbus Day is a celebration.

The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they—the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court—represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as “the United States,” subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a “national interest” represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media.”

Last year, on the Republic of Lakotah site, Glenn Morris and Russell Means did a great piece on why AIM opposes Christopher Columbus Day and Christopher Columbus celebrations. And today, the site has a great post calling out Occupy Denver and asking them to integrate Native peoples and methods into the Occupy movement. From the post:

“We have been waiting for 519 years for such a movement, ever since that fateful day in October 1492, when a different worldview arrived—one of greed, hierarchy, destruction and genocide.

In observing the “Occupy Together” expansion, we are reminded that the territories of our indigenous nations have been “under occupation” for decades, if not centuries. We remind the occupants of this encampment in Denver that they are on the territories of the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Ute peoples.  In the U.S., indigenous nations were the first targets of corporate/government oppression. The landmark case of Johnson v. McIntosh(1823), which institutionalized the “doctrine of discovery” in U.S. law, and which justified the theft of 2 billion acres of indigenous territory, established a framework of corrupt political/legal/corporate collusion that continues throughout indigenous America, to the present.

If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations. Without addressing justice for indigenous peoples, there can never be a genuine movement for justice and equality in the United States. Toward that end, we challenge Occupy Denver to take the lead, and to be the first “Occupy” city to integrate into its philosophy, a set of values that respects the rights of indigenous peoples, and that recognizes the importance of employing indigenous visions and models in restoring environmental, social, cultural, economic and political health to our homeland.” 

Banned Books Week—More Banned Books We Love

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff is sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers.To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

From our editor, Carolyn Sobczak:

I finally read Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War a couple of years ago, having somehow made it through my middle and high school classes without it being assigned reading. What struck me most, reading it at age 32, wasn’t how many times Jerry, the protagonist, thought about masturbation and sex, or how bad the language was (commonly cited “problems” with the book)—it was how the adults in the book ultimately fail the youngsters. (This is just my interpretation, of course. Maybe you wouldn’t read it that way…or maybe that’s the real reason the book’s been challenged so many times.)

I admit that I was upset when I closed this book, but that’s the effect a rich and complex story can have. I wondered how a teen might respond and what my then classmates would have said. There are so many great discussion topics to consider: What is the nature of the world? Can we work against the status quo? What is right and wrong? And that’s just the beginning.

I wish someone would have suggested to me that adults aren’t infallible. I wish that before I went to college I would have understood what all those bumper stickers meant that said Question Authority, and why it’s important to do so. I wish The Chocolate War had been required reading.

Carolyn is an editor at Fulcrum, where she prides herself on encouraging her authors to produce the best books possible. She enjoys projects that are both intelligent and highly readable, like Ted Gioia’s The Birth (and Death) of the Cool.

From our editorial intern, Jessica Engman:

Fahrenheit 451 is a science fiction novel about a dystopian society where books and all printed material are banned because of the fear that books create individualism and freedom of thought, enabling people to rise up against their government. The protagonist, Montag, is a fireman, but not the kind who puts out fires—he burns books. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which books burn.

Fahrenheit 451 was first banned because of its use of words like damn or hell and because the Christian Bible was one of the books that was burned and destroyed. Ironically, Fahrenheit 451, a book that condemns censorship through its portrayal of it, was banned in schools because many groups feared that it advocated anti-Christianity and governmental suppression.

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Okay, concerned mothers of America, I’ll give you the fact that Shel Silverstein was a mildly controversial figure. A man who writes for both Playboy and 2nd graders is bound to be. But, speaking as a former 2nd grader and faithful memorizer of good ol’ Shel’s poetry, I feel like I owe him a little love during Banned Books Week.

A few years ago, a mother was outraged by one of Shel’s poems, “Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony,” and tried to have it banned from the shelves of her daughter’s elementary school. She took issue with the dark outcome of poor little Abigail. (“If I don’t get that pony I’ll die,” Abigail said. And she did.)  She felt that it was giving children the wrong idea, and that ultimately the poem promoted suicide and the manipulation of adult figures. (Because it would never have occurred to children to beg for ponies without Shel.)

While readers (i.e., children) may sympathize with Miss Abigail, I am happy to report that not only was I not permanently scarred as a child by the poem, I hardly remember it. Instead, I remember counting down the days until I could afford my own “Homework Machine,” only mine would know that nine plus four is not three, and fighting an internal battle whenever I had to dry the dishes after supper. (Thank you, “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes”). But I knew if a dish ever “accidently” slipped and shattered on the linoleum, my mother would be onto me. After all, she’s the one who read the poems to me before I could read them myself.

Which is why, years later as an older and wiser camp counselor, I used to read the poems to my campers. On rainy nights, we would create a tent in the cabin made of safety-pinned sheets and a roaring fire of piled up flashlights. And we would read Shel Silverstein. They now know all about how to catch a moon (“Moon-catchin’ Net”), the proper use of kitchen utensils to form their own rock ‘n roll bands (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Band”), and what happens if a whatif (“Whatif”) crawls into their ear. And you know what’s amazing? I’m sure none of them ever tried to put a brassiere on a camel (“They’ve Put a Brassiere on the Camel”).

Still, it’s amazing to see that even though Shel is only living now in the memories of children and adults who love his stories, his writing continues. Every Thing, a new book out this month, carries on his tradition for wacky words and stirring insight into the minds of the forever young.

An ode to silly poems by a man named Shel:

 

Beware of those hills, er, holes.

Banned Books Week—Weetzie Bat

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff is sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our sales and marketing associate (and your friendly Fulcrum blogger), Dani Perea.

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block wasn’t explicitly banned from our school library (it was on the shelves, right next to Witch Baby, which I had read and loved because of Witch Baby’s cowboy boot roller skates). But when I tried to check it out in fourth grade, the librarian aide, after gazing at the back of the book jacket, walked around the counter, took the book out of my hands, and hissed, “Young ladies should not be reading these sex books.”

In an instant, my mild interest in getting this book to read on the bus to Hebrew school grew tenfold. My tiny fourth grade mind was all, SEX book?! Give it here, lady.  But the librarian aide wasn’t having it—she pointed back to the stacks and glared at me.

At that point, curiosity had already overtaken the portion of my brain that handles restraint and lawfulness. I had been checking out Stephen King and Michael Crichton books from the military base library all summer without anyone batting an eye, and there was lots of sex and swear words and glorious violence in those. What was so naughty about this book?

I made a big show of shuffling back to the stacks while I secretly slipped the book inside my coat. I hadn’t learned shoplifting from books—that was thanks to my older cousins who taught me to smuggle schnapps out of my grandfather’s garage.

It turns out that Weetzie Bat didn’t compare to the lust and gore of King or Crichton. Instead, that night I read an airy confection of a story, written in dreamlike prose, about two best friends who made a family amidst the new-wave punk/surf scene in Los Angeles. There wasn’t any explicit sex, just the admission that sex exists and that people have it for all kinds of reasons. One of the main characters was gay and talked candidly with another character about AIDS. A central message of the book was about making a family, which can happen in all kinds of ways besides a heteronormative nuclear unit. I’m not sure what the librarian aide saw on the book jacket to react so strongly—perhaps she read the name of one of the characters, Secret Agent Lover Man.

The story didn’t perform any transformative tricks on my young, innocent worldview, but Francesca Lia Block’s surreal, surfer-slang style of writing did inspire me to write my first novel. Which I proceeded to do, on those bus rides to and from Hebrew school. It was a comedy about a fourth-grade girl with superpowers who fights aliens on a battleship and then becomes president of the United States. I mailed it to HarperCollins, handwritten on 50 sheets of wide-ruled paper, sure that I’d be a best-selling author with my own mansion by fifth grade, but they never responded. (Ahem, if you’re reading HarperCollins, I’m still waiting on that response.)

I wasn’t gutsy enough to smuggle the book back into the library. It’s still on my bookshelf with the plastic library jacket and check out card pocket, and on the inside cover is the word CONTRABAND, printed in careful block letters by the hand of a fourth-grade thief.

Dani Perea is the marketing and sales associate at Fulcrum Publishing. Ever since working in a comic shop as a teenager, she has bought her books, instead of stealing them. When she’s not wearing her sales and marketing top hat, she enjoys punk rock, a rousing game of tumbleweed chasin’, and gazing at vast desert skies filled with stars, preferably all at once.

Banned Books Week—Julie of the Wolves

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff will be sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our editorial and production manager, Haley Berry.

When our marketing team asked us to write about a banned book, I was surprised to see one of my favorites, Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, on the list. I had to google it to see the objections to the book (marital rape scene), and I had to admit I didn’t remember that part of the story. The part that had stuck in my impressionable young brain was when the main character eats food regurgitated by a wolf. That’s hard core.

I didn’t love the book because I was shocked or felt like I was reading something I shouldn’t; I loved it because the story spoke to the independence I so craved. I was hungry to prove myself, to have my own place in the world. After reading Julie of the WolvesMy Side of the Mountain, and Hatchet, when I was eleven you could have parachuted me into the wilderness and I would have been really happy about it (for a while, anyway). Because after reading those books, I looked at myself and knew I could survive, that I was smart enough and strong enough. Whether that’s true is definitely debatable. I probably would have starved to death or fallen out of a tree or something within a week or two. Still, those books gave me confidence and fed my already independent spirit. What’s not constructive about that?

I can’t imagine what I’d be like if my parents had kept certain books from me. Neither of my parents have a college degree, so they were happy I was hoovering books and that BOOK IT! was giving me free pizzas for it. They figured if it was in the school or town library, then it was probably safe. In short, I was reading Stephen King and watching Predator at nine. That’s likely objectionable to a lot of parents, but I’m so grateful mine didn’t keep certain books and movies away from me. Living in a small town, books provided so many experiences and viewpoints that I never would have had access to otherwise. They made my world bigger and my choices more informed.

But here’s the funny part: my mother never attempted to censor any books or movies, but she was terrified about my exposure to MTV or music with “dirty” lyrics. Makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it? She almost blew a vein when I brought home Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, which drops a single F-bomb. One curse word equaled one really big fight, and I was sent to my room (sans Alanis), where I probably curled up in bed to finish Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Go Ask Alice.

Haley is the editorial and production manager at Fulcrum. Some of her favorite Fulcrum authors include Craig Barnes, Dick Kreck, Mitch Tobin, Amy Masching, Kirk Johnson, and Anita Thompson. She’s happy to spend her days working with talented designers and editors (and marketers!), and to have finally found a world that embraces word nerds. If Haley were a book, she’d be a petite paperback with matte lam, flaps, and a deckled edge.

Banned Books Week—In the Night Kitchen

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff will be sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our special sales manager, Ingrid Estell.

In the Night Kitchen (978-0-06-026668-4) by Maurice Sendak was published in 1970 and received well-deserved honors: 1971 Caldecott Honor Book, Best Books of 1970 (School Library Journal), Best Illustrated Children’s Books, and Children’s Books of 1970 (Library of Congress), just to list a few. It also weathered protests: how could a children’s picture book depict a naked child? And from the same and other detractors, how could cake be advocated for breakfast? While I’m not sure Sendak advocates for anything but a magical expression of the world as children see it, I would have loved cake for breakfast in 1970. I was the perfect age to enjoy In the Night Kitchen then, but I didn’t have the book read to me and it certainly wasn’t in the small-town elementary school I attended.

My earliest recollection of Sendak’s work dates to 1975 when I read Where the Wild Things Are to my brother ten years younger than me. It would be another ten years before I read a copy of In the Night Kitchen. Not long after my daughter was born, I purchased a set of Maurice Sendak books for her. I was attending college and had taken children’s literature classes, had discussed various banned books, and had discovered my small-town library did not have a copy of In the Night Kitchen, nor had it ever had one.

With what lewdness had Sendak drawn his character Mickey? I was curious to see, as I had my own small child. The first time I opened In the Night Kitchen, I entered a wonderful dreamworld of a little boy in a baker’s kitchen. I happily followed along as Mickey floats from panel to panel, discovering the night kitchen. As the dream progresses, Mickey’s pajamas float here and there, and he’s left, for a page or two, tastefully and in not much detail, naked. This was it? This was what all the fuss was about?

As I mentioned before, I attended a small-town school and that small town was in a very rural area. I grew up outside that small town on a dryland farm, and most of the kids I knew grew up on farms or ranches. Without exception, we all knew what body parts went with what gender, not just for people, but for animals too. The little boy penis in Sendak’s book was a lot less “shocking and disturbing” (to use a phrase applied to In the Night Kitchen) than dairy cow propagation at the local 4-H meeting.

I still laugh to think of what the schoolteachers and librarians were trying to protect me and the other local children from. Thankfully, I finally discovered the book on my own and enjoyed it with my two children. Buy a banned book this week. Read and learn to decide for yourself!

Ingrid Estell is Fulcrum’s special sales manager and places Fulcrum’s titles with museums, state and national park stores, and many others. In her time away from the office, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and white-water rafting.

Banned Books Week—The Catcher in the Rye

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff will be sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our designer, Jack Lenzo.

The Catcher in the Rye

There is something especially satisfying about reading a banned book. My first encounter with banned books came as a young teen. My mom ran the bookstore at Holy Cross Jr. College in South Bend, Indiana (the very same place where Rudy went to get better grades so that he could go to Notre Dame and play one down in a football game that was already over).

I was a freshman at the high school next door and had to help my mom out during registration because for one week at the start of each semester it was crazy busy. The reason I mention this is that in what seemed like a fairly conservative place, I kept handing these young impressionable students a stack of books that included The Catcher in the Rye. And every time I grabbed it off the shelf, my mom felt the need to comment on what a horrible, filthy book it was and couldn’t believe that it was being assigned in class.

Okay, let’s stop there and reflect. What would your thirteen-year-old self have done? Of course I read it. Anything that could incite such an impassioned response from my mom, time and time again, was clearly something I had to get my hands on. So there I was, reading The Catcher in the Rye with the satisfaction of the guilty. It did a couple of things for me.

First and foremost, it inspired me to start making up my own freakin’ mind. If a priest (or a brother…I can’t quite remember which vows this particular professor had taken) and my mom can have a differing opinion on the value of a book, what else was out there in the world? Books often make very different impressions on people based on when in their lives they read them. And hell, she may have never even read it herself and instead just passed along yet another person’s take whose opinion might have had some agenda that my mom failed to convey. You just never really know. Reading that book was the only morally ambiguous thing that a man of the cloth ever inspired in me. Can you imagine a world where this could be the norm? If they can read it and still be priests, I probably wouldn’t go to hell for reading it, so read it I did.

Aside from opening my eyes to choices outside my mom’s iron curtain, reading The Catcher in the Rye showed me that banned books, much like the rest of life, are mostly hype. I was actually disappointed by the general lack of offensive material. And when it came down to it, I thought Salinger’s Franny and Zooey was a much better book. But I wouldn’t have been able to form that opinion if I were afraid to read it in the first place. And that’s really what banned books are about: fear. Someone is afraid you will lose all ability to be yourself (or perhaps what they want you to be) if you are allowed to read a book, which is just ridiculous.

A special thanks to that priest (or brother) who indirectly opened my eyes to the possibility of creating my own reading list and thinking for myself.

Jack is the designer at Fulcrum. He appreciates looking out his window and seeing mountains instead of cornfields, and bumper stickers that say Naive instead of Native. Some of his favorite projects have been ones that have overlapped with and informed his own experiences in the West.

Pumpkin Fest at the Denver Botanic Gardens

On Saturday, October 8, and Sunday, October 9, the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield are hosting Pumpkin Fest.

Pumpkin, I choose you!

Pumpkin. Fest. Let’s break this down, shall we?

Pumpkin:

If you’re autumn-obsessed, like me, pumpkins are kind of a big deal. They appear every fall, stuffed with beta-carotene and ripe with possibilities: pie, jack-o’-lantern, pumpkin seed depository. I love pumpkins so much, that on the first day of fall, I pay homage to their king by watching The Nightmare Before Christmas.

All hail the Pumpkin King. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Fest:

A shindig. A hootenanny. A party. From the Latin festivus, which basically means “Party on, Romans!” (Disclaimer: this blogger was a terrible Latin student).

Pumpkin Fest clearly = pumpkin shindig.

And more. The Botanic Gardens are offering pony rides; face-painting; amusement rides; an activity tent with arts and crafts, pumpkin bowling, and monster hand building; a barrel train; and, best of all, a tour of fairyland guided by the Harvest Faerie.

There’s also a corn “maize” next door. Who doesn’t love a corn maze?

Actual photo of Fulcrum blogger lost in a corn maze. Hint: all paths lead to Pumpkin Fest.

We thought that our readers would be just as excited about this sweet opportunity as we are. So, we’re giving away a free book.

Win this book.

Tweet us @FulcrumBooks, tag Fulcrum Publishing on Facebook, or reply to this entry with photos of you, our dear readers, with pumpkins to enter for a chance to win a copy of In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin by Gloria Evangelista. Pumpkin carving, pumpkin eating, pumpkin throwing—we don’t really care as long as we see your lovely faces with a pumpkin.

Giveaway ends on October 25, so there’s plenty of time to find the perfect pumpkin!

MBA Trade Show

Fulcrum Publishing will be at the Midwest Booksellers Association Trade Show next week. Our marketing manager, Katie O’Neill, and our publisher, Sam Scinta, will be representing Fulcrum, so stop by our booth (#605) and say hi!

Authors Jerry Aps and David Wilkins will be in attendance, signing copies of their books (Campfires and Loon Calls and The Hank Adams Reader, respectively).

A certain blogger is perhaps the teeniest bit jealous of missing out on all that Minneapolis has to offer:

Bookstores

Photo Credit: Once Upon a Crime

Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore, purveyor of mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction, looks like a great place to steal an afternoon.

Magers & Quinn Booksellers is another great indie bookstore in Minneapolis. Their blog and events calendar are worth keeping an eye on for bookish observations and happenings.

Minneapolis is also home to True Colors Bookstore, one of the oldest feminist and lesbian-oriented bookstores in the country. I have an affinity for feminist and GLBT bookstores after working at Calamus Bookstore in Boston. Bookstores like these have been a safe haven for readers like me many times; and they’re inevitably full of top-notch folks who know their books.

Comic Shops

Photo Credit: Comic Book College

Minneapolis is also home to the endearingly named Comic Book College, which offers a huge selection of back issues.

DreamHaven Books & Comics stocks new and used science fiction, fantasy, horror, film and media books, comics, and graphic novels. Also home to a bookstore owner who proudly blogged on loving his job. Cue the collective “Awwwwww” from fawning publishers.

Renaissance Festival

Photo Credit: MN Renaissance Festival

Oh, yes. The RenFaire is in towne. Yards of beer, turkey legs, jousting, corsets, and plate armor. This weekend has a High Seas Adventure theme, with pirate games and a homebrew competition. Yarr! The snack stands at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival offer a curious snack called Turtle on a Stick. If Katie tries a turtle on a stick during her trip to the festival, I’ll try to get her to take a picture of it so we can satisfy our curiosity.