Utopirama: Dogtology – Live. Bark. Believe.

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Welcome to Utopirama, the feature in which we present to you books that are guaranteed to uplift the weary of spirit and buff the corns of the emotionally downtrodden.  Today’s tome undertakes to prove once and for all the philosophical debate relating to whether humans’ appreciation of dog-kind has in fact attained religious status.  In Dogtology: Live. Bark. Believe, author and dog-lover J. Lazarus argues that it certainly has.

dogtology

Quick Overview:

Humanity’s love of canines is both universal and ancient.  In recent decades, at least in more affluent nations, the exaltation of our doggy friends seems to have reached a fever pitch.  Attentive owners purchase all manner of accoutrements for their pampered pooches, behaving in many cases as if their dogs were more important than their human relations.  Lazarus uses this tome to define and explain Dogtology: a religious belief system that retains at its core an unwavering belief in the goodness, connection and solace provided by Dog. After all, there could be good reason why dog spelled backwards is “god”.

Using humour and a light touch Lazarus spells out the ways in which human behaviour towards dogs has, over hundreds of years, developed to mirror the ritualistic practices associated with other world religions.  In clearly delineated chapters, the over-the-top actions of enamoured dog owners is flipped on its head and closely compared to other spiritual belief systems in an attempt to show how humanity has elevated humanity’s humble, shoe-chewing, face-slobbering, bum-sniffing companion to the status of a deity.  Non-believers be warned – the time of the Dogtologist is already upon us.

Utopian Themes:

Human’s best friend

“Normal” is relative

Sniffing out a connection

Spiritual philosophy for the layperson

Protective Bubble-o-meter:

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Three bubbles for the comforting odour of a couch upholstered in dog hair

I am also submitting this one towards my Non-Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by The Introverted Reader.

Nonfiction 2015

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Utopirama: Yarn Bombing (The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti)…

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Utopirama time again! This feature is where I share with you books that are almost certain to inspire a sense of warm fuzziness in the cockles of your heart.  Today I have a bit of a subversive choice, but it made us all smile and has engendered within us a new sense of happiness related to the possibility of secretly beautifying dowdy places.  I give you….

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti

by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain

yarn bombing

Quick Overview:

Yarn Bombing, for those who don’t know, is the art of attaching crocheted or knitted pieces to random objects in the real world.  A car antenna, a neglected sign post, even the cold top of a lonely bollard – all of these are perfect locations for yarn bombing.  This book takes the uninitiated through the process of yarn-bombing from its inception in the mid-2000s in Texas.  It includes the history of yarn bombing, the philosophy of a wide range of yarn bombers and lays out a step-by-step guide for those intrepid crafters who know just the place for an injection of whimsical craft (and/or political statement).

I stumbled upon this book while browsing in the craft section (for Mad Martha, obviously) of my local library.  I only discovered yarn-bombing earlier this year and all of the shelf-dwellers immediately fell in love with the whole idea of non-permanent, aesthetically pleasing graffiti that is designed (in most cases) simply to uplift the spirits of all those whose eye falls upon it.  If you are unfamiliar with yarn-bombing and what it might look like, here are some instances…click on the image for the link.

The book contains a bunch of patterns for pieces and also for clothing to wear while yarn bombing, as well as interviews with prominent yarn bombers from around the world.  And it’s just beautiful to look at too.

Utopian Themes:

 Crafting positivity

Urban beautification

Whimsical imagery

International co-operation

Protective Bubble-o-meter

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Four protective bubbles for the unexpected joy of spotting granny squares in the urban wild

Mad Martha even got in on the trend after being inspired by this book.  Here’s a little piece she made for the tree outside our dwelling.  It’s not much, but it’s a start towards Utopia in craft.

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Until next time,

Bruce

Utopirama: A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home…

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Welcome once again to the semi-regular Utopirama feature, wherein I aim to heighten awareness about certain books that promote that feeling of happiness and that sense of all being right with the world.  Books featured in Utopirama posts are cosy reads, in which nothing occurs to disturb your equilibrium.  Today’s offering is one for the dog-lovers. And also for the nursing home lovers (in case any exist).  And finally for lovers of old age.  It is, of course, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher by Sue Halpern.

dog nursing

Quick Overview:

The book follows the story of Sue, and her loveable dog Pransky, who decide that the time is ripe for some volunteering in order to make their corner of the world a better place.  In the face of reasonably large odds (Pransky’s lack of desire to participate in the process, for one) Sue researches the requirements needing to be satisfied for herself and Pransky to become a therapy team and then tries to whip (metaphorically, obviously) Pransky into shape.  After passing the rigorous test for therapy dog teams, Pransky and Sue begin to volunteer at their local nursing home.  From the cranky to the welcoming to the downright not-quite-sure-what’s-going-on, Pransky and Sue encounter and engage with every possible attitude, state of mind and personality in their weekly visits to the elderly residents, proving in the process that sometimes the most effective form of healing and connection can be packaged in the shape of a big furry pillow. With dog breath.

Utopian Themes:

Comfort for the Afflicted

Going Gently into that Good Night

Furry Friends

Communicating beyond Words

Cultivating Virtue

Protective Bubble-o-meter:

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5 out of 5 bubbles for the gentle whuffling of a hound all a-snooze

This is the perfect read for those who like a dog book in which you can be sure that the dog doesn’t die at the end.  Although, a lot of the old people do.

Until next time,

Bruce

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Utopirama!: The Wisdom of the Shire….

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Evening all! It’s time once again for the soothing sounds of Utopirama, my semi-regular feature celebrating  contributions to literature that promote a vision of utopia in you, the reader.  This feature focuses on comfort reads – the kind of books with no nasty surprises, that you can confidently pick up when you’re feeling a bit dissatisfied with the state of the world, or have had your fill of zombification/totalitarianism/natural disaster etc etc…

Today’s offering, selected once again by the Marquis de Chuckleworthy (aka Larry), is The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life from an author by the simultaneously grandiose and hoi polloi-ish name of Noble Smith.  Here is a picture of Mad Martha, snapped very recently reading the aforementioned tome while relaxing in the utopian location of Rainbow Beach, Queensland.DSC_0553

Quick Overview:

For those quick of both eye and wit it will come as no surprise that this book proposes methods for attaining satisfaction from living based on the lifestyle and outlook of those hairy-footed gurus, the Hobbits (found, of course, in the work of J. R. R. Tolkien).  Smith suggests applying careful scrutiny to, and adopting aspects of Hobbity living, such as their enjoyment of good, healthy, homegrown food and alcohol, their penchant for bursting into song and their commitment to friends and countryfolk, as a means to create a peaceful slice of Hobbiton in one’s own hectic, Mordorish world.

Utopian Themes

Eating, Drinking and Being Merry (or Meriadoc, as the case may be)

Cosy Hobbit holes

Communing with nature

The ultimate triumph of good over evil

the wisdom of the shire

Protective Bubble-o-meter

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5 out of 5 bubbles for the generic cosiness of Hobbit holes

This is a perfect pick-up, put-down, read-a-chapter-every-now-and-again-when-you-need-a-motivational-prod-towards-happiness utopian read.

Until next time,

Bruce

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Utopi-rama!: Introducing a New Feature and a New Reviewer…

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Good morning all! Today I am excited to introduce a brand new feature for the blog and a brand new reviewer, who has been shuffling about the shelf for a good long while now, but has finally made the leap into sourcing books for our glorious work.

First, the feature.  It may come as a surprising, perhaps even shocking revelation, but I can finally admit that I am getting a bit over dystopian novels.

There. I said it.

Gasp in horror if you must, but I have reached the point where if I have to read one more blurb (attached to a YA novel or otherwise) indicating mass death and destruction by zombification/totalitarian state/natural disaster/human-made disaster/mutated virus or otherwise, then I may have to jab myself in the eyeball with a toothpick.

I have reached my dystopian limit.

Instead of bemoaning the fact (more than I already have), I have decided to implement a new feature, titled:

utopirama button

This will be a semi-regular feature to celebrate all things utopian in the literary world.  For want of a better term, this feature will be promoting comfort reads – the kind of books with no nasty surprises, that you can confidently pick up when you’re feeling a bit dissatisfied with the state of the world, or have had your fill of zombification/totalitarianism/natural disaster etc etc…

And who better to select the books for this feature than our good friend and shelf-dweller, the Marquis de Chuckleworthy!  Although as his proper name is a bit of a mouthful, we on the shelf tend to just call him Larry.  As in “Happy As…”

You can probably guess why from his picture.

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Larry will be sourcing the books for this segment, and I will be presenting them to you, for your viewing and reading pleasure, with pleasure being the operative word.

Without further ado, here is Larry’s first offering, The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie!

dalai lamas cat

Quick Overview:

A cat born in the slums of India serendipitously finds itself saved from death and whisked away to share the dwelling of the Dalai Lama.  His Holiness’s Cat (aka Rinpoche, aka Mousie-Tung, aka The Most Beautiful Creature Ever Seen) reflects on this good fortune and shares her insights about the way to enlightenment in the way that only an exalted feline can.

Utopian themes:

Reclining cats

Crisp mountain air

Cheerful Lamas

Bookshops at the end of the world

Protective Bubble-o-meter:

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4 out of 5 bubbles for encouraging the gentle stretching of one’s comfort zone

So there you have it.  Thank you for joining us for the first ever Utopi-rama.  We would love to hear what titles you consider to be the perfect comfort read in times of inner or outer turmoil!

Until next time,

Bruce (and Laughin’ Larry)

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