How to Become a Werewolf by Alarie Tennille (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

WolfManForest-1024x576 copyHow to Become a Werewolf
by Alarie Tennille

Do you ever have insomnia?
Experience disturbing dreams
at the full moon? Then you may be

ready for an exciting change!
It’s easier than you think. That’s
right, for just $39.95 plus shipping

you can get our glow-in-the dark
instructional booklet and DVD (for rainy
night viewing). Sure, you could search

for a werewolf to bite you, but just think
how many ways that can go wrong!
Like violent death, duh. Our patented

DIY process has proven safe and effective
for a smooth transition. Why wait to explore
your wild side? You can start tonight!

That’s right, warm-up nocturnal exercises
will accelerate your training. Stay up till 1:00,
2:00, even better 3:00 a.m. (You don’t want

anyone around to ask what you’re doing,
do you?) Keep it a surprise! Your improved
night vision will be a plus in step 8: Learning


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Marguerite Taos Amrouche Was Born March 4th

Flowers For Socrates

On March 4, 1913, Marguerite Taos Amrouche was born. She was an Algerian author and singer, one of the first Algerian women to publish a novel in French. She also collected and interpreted Kabylie Berber songs. She was born after her family had moved to Tunisia to escape persecution when they converted to Roman Catholicism, but she and her brother Jean returned to Algeria for extended visits, and she became interested in the rich oral traditions of the Kabyle Berber people. Amrouche’s first novel, Jacinthe noire (1947; “Black Hyacinth”), recounts the story of an “uncivilized” young Tunisian girl who is sent to a French pension for studies, reflecting her own days as a student in Tunisia and later in France. Taos Amrouche recorded several phonograph albums, and produced a number of programs for French radio and television, including Chants sauvés de l’oubli (“Songs Saved from Oblivion”) and Hommage au chant profond

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Gravy by Barbara Crooker (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

Elwell licensedGravy
by Barbara Crooker

To make good gravy, you must be patient,
let the juice settle to the bottom, let the fat
float to the top in all its golden light. Skim
it with a thin spoon, take its measure. Equal
it with flour, sprinkle with salt, speckle
with pepper. Stir constantly in the roasting pan,
making figure eights with a wooden spoon.
Scrape off strips of skin, bits of meat; incorporate
them in the mixture, like a difficult uncle
or the lonely neighbor invited out of duty.
Keep stirring. Hand the wooden baton
to one of your daughters; it’s time for her
to start learning this music, the bubble and
seethe as it plays the score. One minute
at the boil, then almost like magic, it’s gravy,
a rich velvet brown. Thin it with broth,
stir in chopped giblets, then pour into
its little boat, waiting with mouth open.

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Give Thanks to Our Teachers for Braving the Pandemic!

Diane Ravitch's blog

I am breaking my recent promise not to post articles that were previously published, but this is one of those rare exceptions to the rule, because it would not get the national audience it deserves without reposting it here. This article by Sandra Vohs, president of the Fort Wayne Education Association, appeared originally in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, one of the few newspapers in Indiana and the nation that appreciates our public schools and their teachers.

Vohs writes:

These days, it’s impossible not to hear cries of “get kids back in school” and “we need to reopen schools.” These declarations certainly suggest that schools are closed.

In this era of alternative facts, there is some bizarre belief out there that, all over the nation, school leaders have decided just to skip this year, allowing teachers to take a long, paid vacation. Of course, that would mean students have a year…

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The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History

1960s: Days of Rage

“Fred Hampton was the 21-year-old chief of staff and national spokesperson for the Black Panther Party when, on the morning of Dec. 4, 1969, Chicago police broke into his apartment and murdered him. Hampton was considered a charismatic danger by the Chicago PD and the FBI, a successful organizer whose leadership of the militant group constituted a threat to society. He had to go. For author David Walker, Fred Hampton’s murder 50 years ago was not ancient history, but a totally relevant story he had to write about. ‘Fred Hampton was a story I wanted to tell so badly, but to tell that story without contextualizing it would be a mistake,’ says Walker, who, along with illustrator Marcus Anderson, is the creative force behind The Black Panther Party, a beautifully conceived and sobering graphic novel tracing the history of this doomed, but influential, group. … The Black Panther Party…

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Cinematic History and Its Defining Moments: 1961-1971

1960s: Days of Rage

John Huston’s ‘The Misfits’ (1961)

“As technology and storytelling evolved, the second half of the twentieth century brought forth a plethora of iconic films that changed the way we see and understand cinema today. Directors of a previous generation delivered their last masterpieces, bowing out gracefully as the new generation emerged with daring new concepts. Young actors we worship today as legends were only just getting started, and from 1961 until 1971, many of their performances made cinematic history. … John Huston’s ‘The Misfits’ (1961) is a heart-breaking work of art, showing us Marilyn Monroe like never before. Her Roslyn ends up running into the desolate flatlands, a raw animal howl bursting from her throat and cutting through our souls as the line is blurred between the character and the real woman—it all comes spilling out: the foster homes, the sexual abuse, the divorces, the beatings, the miscarriages, the drugs……

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lockdown writing routines – a.k.a a cheer for the humble pear


Most creative writers have their own idiosyncratic set of rituals and routines. Academic writers do too. But at least some of these practices may have had to change during WFH – working from home – during the various lockdowns. While I’ve been acutely aware of changes that lockdown has brought to PhDers I hadn’t thought a lot about what it meant for me. I’ve been aware of fluctuating motivation of course, something a lot of people experience at the best of times – but more so now. But that’s not all that’s been going on for me. As I realised a couple of weeks ago.

I was doing an online shopping order, as we privileged people are able to do. The supermarket site offered me the option of starting with my “regular items”. This seemed to be a sensible suggestion so I went ahead and pre-packed my basket. When…

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TCS: Poems for Black Women in Jazz & the Arts Day

Flowers For Socrates

Good Morning!


Welcome toTheCoffeeShop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.


I walked into the palaces of kings and queens
and into the houses of presidents. And much more.
But I could not walk into a hotel in America and
get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad.

– Josephine Baker

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How to Cut Your Own Hair by Janet Banks (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

degas 1How to Cut Your Own Hair
by Janet Banks

1) Admit desperation:
Bangs tickle your eyelashes
Gray roots grow beyond an inch
Favorite earrings are now totally invisible

2) Observe others:
Scroll through hairstyles on Pinterest
Watch how-to haircutting videos on YouTube
Find a photo, an “ideal” look, post it, study it often

3) Assemble tools:
Order a cheap barber’s kit on-line
Buy a professional long-toothed comb
Search for your hand mirror

4) Picture it:
Get comfortable with the scissors’ little finger brace
Practice how your stylist lifted hair between two fingers
Strategize the sequence of cutting

5) Find courage:
Give yourself a pep talk — how hard could it be
Open a bottle of wine and pour a glass
Repeat pep talk, pour another glass of wine

6) Start small:
Trim hair around your face, the bangs, the sides
If the mirror’s reverse image confuses you, don’t panic

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How to Avoid Appearing in a Poem by Tina Hacker (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

hopper blue copyHow to Avoid Appearing in a Poem
by Tina Hacker

Don’t be friends with a poet. Don’t even
say hello to one you pass on the street.
Otherwise your chances of avoiding
poetic fame sink lower than a guy
stealing from the collection plate.
If you’re a poet’s relative,
you’re poetic booty.
Better than the Crown Jewels
because your luster can be captured
on paper without alarms going off.
Even if your name is changed,
everyone will know, “It’s you, isn’t it?”
If you share some coffee
and conversation with a starving poet,
people will soon be texting condolences.
“Didn’t know you had it so bad.”
If you live on a farm,
the whole spectrum of nature,
from plants that grow in Mongolia
to rivers that ran dry a century ago,
will be described in words that rhyme
with your name—first and last.
Sometimes a poet will ask permission

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