In 1956 when Maurice Sendak published his first book, Kenny's Window, the world of children's books was a very safe place. Stories were light and happy, set in a world without disorder.
Seven years later Sendak turned the children's book world upside down with his masterpiece Where the Wild Things Are, gaining international acclaim for his illustrating and writing. The book captured the public's imagination with a tale of a boy's journey into a strange land inhabited by grotesque yet appealing monsters. The main character Max-- like many of his protagonists-- acted like a real child, not some idealized version of youth.
All his life Sendak challenged the idea of childhood innocence.
"In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy," Sendak once said in an interview. "There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books."
Meet Jacob Velazquez. He's got a busy weekend. The nine-year old boy from Pembroke Pines won't be zooming around on his scooter or dialing up his favorite video games.
Jacob has a date with to perform Haydn’s piano Concerto No. 11 in D Major in two concerts with the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. Diagnosed with high functioning autism in 2012, Jacob will be playing the 25-minute movement from memory in his orchestral debut on Saturday, April 8 at 7 p. m at Vero Beach High School PAC and Sunday, April 9 at 3:00 p. m. at the Scott Center for the Performing Arts at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy.
Shortly after Jacob's fourth birthday, Tina Velazquez heard a song coming from the family piano at their south Florida home. Her husband had been playing the night prior, but Willie was now at work. When Tina entered the room, it was Jacob playing.
"I was shocked, couldn't believe my eyes. So I asked, 'How did you do that?' Jacob turned and looked at me and said, 'I watched Daddy.'"
Bad news usually starts with a phone call. However, the call that came to the home of retired Tamarack County (Minn.) Sheriff Cork O’Connor was different. The look on Cork’s new wife Rainy’s face was chilling. She had received a message from her son, Peter, and though it was garbled it seemed to indicate that he has killed someone named Rodriguez.
It's the opening to William Kent Krueger's fifteenth novel Sulfur Springs in his Cork O’Connor series. If you’re a fan of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series or Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire books, then the St. Paul, Minn. author could be right up your alley. Krueger is appearing at the Vero Beach Book Center on Thursday, September 28 at 4 p.m. when he takes the stage for a free live Q&A session followed by a book signing.
Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota before becoming a celebrated mystery writer. Literary wonders, his last five books were New York Times bestsellers.
Just after dawn on August 30, a Chinook helicopter's two enormous rotor blades began to spin at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. Then the beluga whale-shaped helicopter began to rise off the Mohave desert floor with a 200-foot long tether dangled to the ground.
At the opposite end of the rope was a revolutionary spacecraft called the Dream Chaser that slowly was lifted skyward. Suspended high over the Mohave, the "captive carry" test flight was used to test out the telemetry and control systems before a planned drop test towards the end of 2017 to demonstrate its ability to accomplish an auto pilot approach and landing to a runway.
If you were dazzled by NASA's giant space shuttles from 1981 to 2011, the Dream Chaser offers an improved version, albeit smaller one measuring just 30 feet in length. Its maker, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) calls it a "space utility vehicle," marketing it as a crew and cargo transport to low earth orbit. It's a self-launching, self-flying, self-landing small spacecraft (about the length of a Cessna) that can make 15 or more trips to space and land, after each one, on any commercial runway that’s 10,000 feet long—no Cape Canaveral necessary.
The unmanned Dream Chaser can be modified anytime to carry seven astronauts to space. It currently is equipped to only carry cargo to space. That translates to 12,125 pounds of cargo, in a space about the size of a studio apartment.
Being on or under the aqua blue water, the spiny lobster sport season is one of the best parts of living or even visiting Florida.
One of the most celebrated outdoor events of the year, a two-day sport lobster season arrives in late July annually that attracted floods of scuba divers and snorklers in their quest for the tasty sweet lobster. It's projected that as many as 50,000 divers invade the state's reefs during this frenzied 48 hours. Hunters in boats big and small revel in this adrenaline-packed activity.
Closely regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, scores of law enforcement officers with federal and local agencies patrol the waters to ensure that lobsters were caught in legal areas, and were of legal size (the carapace length must be at least three inches that it reaches in about two years).
Eight days later the commercial lobster season launches and recreational harvesting continues throughout the commercial season that runs through March 31.
They're getting ready to rumble. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk says Falcon Heavy, the mighty rocket created for bringing very large loads to orbit and beyond, will get its first launch coming up in November. Musk posted an image on Instagram of a concept depiction of the rocket’s launch alongside the target date.
The 230-foot Falcon Heavy uses the combined power of one Falcon 9 rocket flanked by two additional Falcon 9 boosters to propel up to around 30 tons to geostationary transfer orbit. The rocket's maiden launch will take place from pad 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It's the same pad that saw NASA's storied Saturn V rumble to orbit for the first time 50 years ago on November 9, 1967.
Musk said all three cores would return for individual landings – the two side boosters at and the center core on the company's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The three rockets bolted together will generate 5.1 million pounds of thrust with 27 Merlin 1D main engines, making the Falcon Heavy the most powerful present-day launcher in the world once it flies. If the flight is successful two more Falcon Heavy flights are on the books in the first half of 2018, both from the Cape. While the inaugural launch will not carry a customer payload, the Falcon Heavy missions next year will deploy satellites for commercial companies and the U.S. military.
Get ready to raise the roof. The bright, brash, and sassy sounds of the Jarred Armstrong Quartet and the remarkable vocalist Kristen Warren are headed to the Henegar Center performing as the Lady Day Ensemble on Saturday, August 19. The jazz quartet is led by Jarred Armstrong on piano with Ethan Bailey-Gould on bass and Ashton Bailey-Gould on drums.
The concert in some ways is a reprise of Melbourne director Pam Harbaugh's production Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill at the Henegar last February. The show experienced a sold-out run with an additional show selling out immediately. Rather than a musical, it is a one-woman play with music. Written by Lanie Robertson, the play is set in the historic Emerson’s Tavern in Philadelphia where legendary jazz singer Billie “Lady Day” Holiday (Warren) performed shortly before her death at age 44. In the play, Billie sings and tells stories of her life, which was rife with challenges born out of racism.
"It was a very successful production, catching the hearts and minds of the region's jazz lovers," Harbaugh related. "We created the atmosphere of a legendary jazz club and told the story of the amazing challenges in Billie Holliday's life and how she rose about them and society at that time. People were blown away by it. Couldn't get enough of it. If we would revive the show, it would sell out in a day."
For the past fifteen years I’ve been a contributing writer to a variety of national & regional magazines, prominent daily news-papers and websites. I have written about an array of topics such as arts & culture, chefs, food & drink, business entrepreneurs, travel, history, thoroughbred racing, and the animal and natural world.
I'm currently a regular arts & culture contributor to WFIT's website (the NPR radio station in Melbourne.), Vero Beach Magazine and Florida Today newspaper on a number of topics. Over recent years my work has been published regularly in Blood-Horse, Long Island Boating World and The Hunt and PA Equestrian magazines.
I am a regular contributor to the websites JustLuxe.com and SeeTheSouth.com. JustLuxe is an online magazine featuring the best of luxury lifestyle and travel, while SeeTheSouth features truly unique southern destinations. My travel articles also regularly appear in Florida Today, Long Island Boating world and the Delaware County Times, a major daily newspaper just outside Philly.
I've also contributed a variety of articles to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Delaware County Times, and the Montgomery County Newspapers. I have been an Arts & Culture correspondent for Newsworks, the website for WHYY-TV (PBS in Philadelphia). I have been a correspondent to ESPN.com, America's Best Racing, the Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.
After spending the past two decades in Wilmington, Delaware, my wife Jane, our Toller retriever Smarty and I have moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, Melbourne Beach sits on the southern end of Florida's "Space Coast." The famed coastal highway A1A runs directly along the Atlantic. Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,000) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and thousands of beautiful seabirds and long-legged shorebirds.
Head north 35 miles on A1A and you arrive at Cape Canaveral, for decades our nation's gateway to exploring and understanding our universe. Today, Cape Canaveral is a hub for many of the most exciting new private space projects such as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk (manufacturer of Tesla vehicles). Upwards of 30 launches are planned in 2017.
Back down to earth traveling on two-lane A1A south from Melbourne Beach's compact business area brings you to a series of secluded and undeveloped natural beaches. Bonsteel Park's two-acre beach provides an excellent vantage point to catch glimpses of passing dolphins, while the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as the most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere. It's also home to the gigantic leatherback turtles.
Nearby is Sebastian Inlet State Park which connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. Its jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots. Three generations of world-class surfers have surfed here, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The 600-acre park is also celebrated for world-class fishing, and plenty of seabirds and wildlife.
Through my writing over the past decade I have traveled to spectacular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. and Sun Valley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming/Yellowstone Park; Saratoga Springs, the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and Rhinebeck, New York; Port Clyde and Monheghan Island, Maine; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.
Other travel adventures have included Tampa and St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida; and St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia. My travel articles thoughtfully explore the history of the region along with museums, music and the arts, chefs and restaurateurs, wineries and craft breweries, outdoor and sporting adventures as well as profiling intriguing personalities of those regions.
In addition to my writing career I owned a marketing company where I represented a diversified list of clients in the areas of publicity, marketing and business development-- such as the famed Baldwin's Book Barn, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Kahunaville restaurant chain. In another life I was the founder, publisher and editor of Life Sports Magazine.
Along with Jane and Smarty I look forward to writing about new adventures in Melbourne Beach, the "Space Coast" and other Florida destinations. That's Smarty below with his pals Willie and Nelson.