Bruce Farrar's blog

Life in the Middle Ages

What would it be like to live in Europe sometime between five- and nine-hundred years ago? We now call that time the Middle Ages between the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome and our own modern age. It was a time of knights and castles of elegant ladies and traveling minstrels, but it was also a time of great poverty and warfare.  What would it be like to be alive then and there? Here are some aids for your imagination:

Knights & Castles Through Art    Knights & Castles: Exploring History Through Art by Alex Martin

True Stories About Real People

 Here are a half dozen new picture book biographies 

 Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek     Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: a Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend) / Deborah Hopkinson ; pictures by John Hendrix

When he was seven Abraham Lincoln fell into Knob Creek near his home in Kentucky.  He might have drowned. Luckily for him his friend Austin got him out of the water in time.  What would it be like to be there then?  Would you fish him out with a fishing pole, or jump in after him?

Yo Ho Ho!

School’s just started and already you’re thinking of running away to sea to get away from it all?              

Girl Detective, Hard-Boiled Variety

What do you do when you’re playing with your grandmother’s binoculars, looking out the window at the hotel across the street and you see a burglary in progress—wait, don’t answer yet—and the burglar looks up and sees you watching him?

To boldly go… in your ear: Episode 2: the Radio and Other Full-cast Audio Thrills!

Thanks to Signor Marconi and his fellow inventors we have the marvelous wonders of wireless telegraphy. And what better use could be made of invisible waves traveling at the speed of light than to bring you the drama from long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars Radio Drama cover    Star Wars: the Radio Drama Brian Daley turned the original 1977 two-hour film by George Lucas into a six-hour thirteen-part radio play for National Public Radio in 1981.

To Boldly Go…In Your Ear: Episode I: Untouched by Human Hands! Downloadable Audio!

From the Net Directly to Your Home or Rocket Ship!

Imagine a brave new world in which you can beam your scientific romances, speculative fiction, and fan-boy/girl favorites directly up to your starship using your already installed computer tractor beam or directly to the control room of your TARDIS! Well now you can! Have your Communications Officer tune your ansible to the Harris County Public Library’s website. (If you don't happen to have an ansible you can also use your home computer.) Send out a probe to detect the word “Downloadable” in the Format Field of the Refine menu on the right-hand side of the page. Then say, in a firm commanding voice, “Energize.” If that doesn’t work then click here.

Native America

The first humans arrived on this continent about twenty thousand years ago; about sixteen thousand years later a new set of immigrants from began to show up in great numbers on its eastern shore. There was both cooperation and conflict between the new population and the old.

The Bat-Man and his Ancestors

When writer Bill Finger met artist Bob Kane at a party in 1938 he realized that he’d met a kindred spirit.  Both young men were anxious to succeed in the new publishing enterprise that was blossoming in New York at the time: comic books!  Just that year two other young men, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, had sold an idea they’d thought up in their teens to National Publications.  It was their comic strip about an extremely physically fit extraterrestrial good guy.  Superman became a publishing phenomenon, exceeding sales expectations almost faster than a speeding bullet, and National Publication wanted more. 

Bob Kane had the idea for another costumed superhero, as the genre woul

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