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Three writers finalists for American humor award - the Thurber Prize: Larry Doyle, Patricia Marx, and Simon Rich

3 novels nominated: I Love You, Beth Cooper, Him Her Him Again The End of Him, Ant Farm

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NEW YORK (AP) — A former writer and producer for "The Simpsons," a former writer for "Saturday Night Live" and a former president of the Harvard Lampoon are finalists for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, a $5,000 award.

Larry Doyle, former writer for The Simpsons and Beavis and Butt-Head and current contributor to the New Yorker and Esquire magazines

Larry Doyle, a contributor to The New Yorker and Esquire magazines whose previous credits include "The Simpsons," was nominated for "I Love You, Beth Cooper," his debut novel, inspired by his experiences at Buffalo Grove High School.

Doyle is now in post-production for the movie version of "I Love You, Beth Cooper."

Patricia Marx, former writer for Saturday Night Live whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Time magazine, and The New York Times, among other publications

Patricia Marx, an author of humor books and children's books who has written for "Saturday Night Live" and "Rugrats" and is a contributing editor to Time magazine, was cited for the novel "Him Her Him Again The End of Him."  read more »

Graphic novels, all grown up – story-telling art form with both image and text, the medium’s influence rises and broadens

Project Superpowers, featured at Wizard World Chicago, is a new comics publication by Glenview artist Alex Ross and writer Jim Krueger that brings back a bevy of vintage superheroes from the 1940s

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In 1969, the American writer John Updike famously declared, "I see no intrinsic reason why a doubly talented artist might not arise and create a comic strip novel masterpiece."

The statement was immediately ridiculed by literary traditionalists, who disparaged comics as a "low" medium unworthy of serious critical attention. But it became a rallying cry among comic book creators, long second-class citizens in the art world.

Persepolis is a French-language autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood in Iran after the revolution

Forty years has proved their prescience. Graphic novels – usually defined as extended-length illustrated books with mature literary themes – have risen to widespread prominence, spurred on by the work of respected talents such as Art Spiegelman ("Maus: A Survivor's Tale") and Will Eisner ("A Contract With God").

Graphic novel sales in Canada and the United States hit $375 million in 2007, five times the figure reported in 2001, according to ICv2, a pop culture site. "Jimmy Corrigan," a book by Chris Ware, has sold hundreds of thousands of copies alone; "Persepolis," originally a graphic novel by Marjane Sartrapi, picked up an Oscar for best animated film in February.

Maus: A Survivor's Tale is a memoir by Art Spiegelman, presented as a graphic novel, that recounts the struggle of Spiegelman's father to survive the Holocaust as a Polish Jew

The world of comics and graphic novels is in the midst of a creative renaissance that may be greater than the dawn of the Marvel Universe in the 1960s. This development has been a longtime coming, considering that the beginnings of both newspaper comics and the cinema occurred at roughly the same time in the late 19th century. Film quite quickly matured into the 20th century's great American art form, while comics remained relatively insular and ignored by adults.

Monster is an award-winning seinen manga written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, about a brilliant, idealistic brain surgeon, and an enigmatic young boy who turns out to have been programmed to be the next Adolf Hitler, or just pure evil incarnate

Alternative graphic novels are represented on film as well (Road to Perdition, Ghost World, American Splendor, Persepholis) and are increasingly making their presence felt at traditional book store chains where there are now entire sections devoted to graphic novels as well as manga (Japanese graphic novels, which are another subject entirely).

Generation Next folks currently coming-of-age are almost as conversant about the latest graphic novel as Generation X-ers were about grunge music. The main difference is that graphic novels show no signs of being a temporary trend. Indeed, they may be here to stay, well into the 21st century.

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The Sandman is a comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and published in the United States by the DC Comics imprint Vertigo. It chronicles the adventures of Dream of The Endless, who rules over the world of dreams, in 75 issues from 1989 until 1996

Images courtesy of Marjane Satrapi. Art Spiegelman, Naoki Urasawa, Neil Gaiman, and Evanston Review

Original Source: Christian Science Monitor and Evanston Review

Comic pioneer George Carlin dies at 71 before he can receive the annual Mark Twain prize for American humor this November

George Carlin’s impact on the English language and modern culture will be felt for years to come

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George Carlin, an extraordinary standup comedian whose dark social satire won him multigenerational popularity and a starring role in the most famous broadcast obscenity case of modern times, died Sunday of heart failure in Los Angeles. He was 71.

In his 50-year career, George Carlin put out 22 solo albums and three best-selling books

Late last week the Kennedy Center announced he would receive its annual Mark Twain prize for American humor this November. The TV network Comedy Central in 2004 named him the second best standup comedian of all time, behind Richard Pryor.

Carlin became one of the most popular standup comedians in America in the 1960s and early 1970s through programs like "The Ed Sullivan Show." Carlin was one of the first comedians to dress "naturally" for a standup routine, in jeans and a beard, and his most famous routine became "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television."

The early 90s saw Carlin dabble in family-friendly fare as the conductor on 'Shining Time Station'

"He was a genius, and I will miss him dearly," Jack Burns, who was the other half of a comedy duo with Carlin in the early 1960s, told The Associated Press. "He had an amazing mind, and his humor was brave and always challenging us to look at ourselves and question our belief systems, while being incredibly entertaining. He was one of the greats," Ben Stiller said.

Carlin appeared in three of Smith's films: 1999's 'Dogma,' 2001's 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,' and 2004's 'Jersey Girl' (seen here, with Raquel Castro)

The comedian, who toured college campuses for years and made a name for himself delivering biting social commentaries, had released 22 solo albums and three best-selling books, including "Brain Droppings," a collection of essays and routines, and "Napalm and Silly Putty," a collection of his stand-up material. Both won Grammy awards. His third book, "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?" was nominated for a Grammy. He earned several gold comedy albums and five Emmy nominations.

stand-up was Carlin's bread and butter, and he was inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame in 1994

Carlin first appeared on radio in 1956 at age 19, while serving in the Air Force. He took a number of TV and movie roles over the years, introducing himself to a new generation of fans with the "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" series and an even newer generation with children's shows like "Thomas the Tank Engine." He did voiceovers in films that included "Cars" and in 1993 he got his own sitcom on Fox, "The George Carlin Show." He played George O'Grady, a New York cab driver, and the show ran 27 episodes. In the 1990s he appeared in the Barbra Streisand- Nick Nolte movie "Prince of Tides." Other film roles came in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Dogma," with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. He was the first host of "Saturday Night Live" and appeared some 130 times on "The Tonight Show."

Carlin on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2003, a show he appeared on many times, even filling in for Johnny Carson as guest host in the 80s

The death of his wife of more than 30 years, Brenda Hosbrook Carlin, on Mother's Day 1997 was particularly hard for Carlin. "See ya Dink," he wrote on his Web site. "Miss you a lot."

Last year, Carlin released "George Carlin: All My Stuff," a 14-DVD collection of his HBO specials from 1977 to 2005. He had shown no signs of slowing down. Just last week, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Carlin would be awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The center is scheduled to honor Carlin at a tribute performance by former colleagues on Nov. 10, which will be broadcast later on PBS.

a note and a flower are seen on the star of comedian George Carlin on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood

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Photos courtesy of LA Times, The Money Times, Reuters/Mario Anzuoni, Lisa Falzon, Galella/WireImage

Original Source: NY Daily News and LA Times

Image Gallery: George Carlin 1937-2008

Reasons for invading Iraq? "Misleading", former Bush aide McClellan writes in a book and testifies

“Ideals of candor, transparency and integrity,” ... should outweigh “loyalty to an individual officeholder.” - Scott McClellan

former White House press secretary Scott McClellan testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday

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WASHINGTON — Scott McClellan, President Bush’s former press secretary, told the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that he had been unfairly vilified by Bush supporters for his recent book criticizing former White House colleagues over the Iraq war and their involvement in leaking the identity of an intelligence officer. Mr. McClellan, however, offered little new information in his testimony on those issues beyond what he wrote in the book, “” (PublicAffairs), which was published in May and last week topped the nonfiction best-seller list in The New York Times.

In the book, Mr. McClellan says senior White House officials misled the nation about the reasons for invading Iraq and maneuvered him into lying to the public about their roles in the leak case. The book, with Mr. McClellan’s lacerating criticism of his former colleagues, has generated a rich discussion about the obligations of political loyalty, and his appearance Friday on Capitol Hill provided another stage for that debate. The man who once regularly and seemingly by rote defended Mr. Bush in the White House press room was attacked by the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, who grilled Mr. McClellan as ferociously as any reporter had in his three years as press secretary. Committee Democrats, on the other hand, were much gentler, treating Mr. McClellan as if he were an author promoting a book in an interview.  read more »

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious. - George Bernard Shaw

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious. - George Bernard Shaw

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.
- George Bernard Shaw

ebook Quotable Wit and Wisdom - Collection 1 available via Amazon Kindle eBooks and Apple iBookstore

Rowling urges graduates to Imagine a Better World at Harvard Commencement, challenging them to use their gifts for greater good

'Harry Potter' Author J.K. Rowling receives honorary degree at Harvard University Commencement 2008

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CAMBRIDGE - Acclaimed author J.K. Rowling, whose boy wizard captured the interest of countless readers with the "Harry Potter" series, urged Harvard graduates yesterday to use their imaginations to create a better world. In an earnest, personal speech, the British author reminded students that their talents and opportunities carry "unique status and unique responsibilities," and challenged them to use their gifts for the greater good.

"That is your privilege and your burden," she said. "If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice, if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless, if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better." "We do not need magic to change the world," she continued. "We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better."

Rowling makes her way to the stage before commencement address at Harvard University, June 5, 2008 in Cambridge, Mass.  read more »

Lyrical Poem: "Mourning mountains toll the bell"


"A simple truth, 'to make sure everyone, alive, makes it home' (as a soldier shouted out), has been debated by many on and on..." Following is excerpt from "He Fell", poem inspired by a true story. Poet: .D. LuCxeed (www.loves-footsteps.com) -
...
To snatch life out of the steel teeth
      of Death, he fell.
Have you, Heaven's Grace, heard him?
Jason Dunham, a handsome
      heart above Hell -
      "I want to make sure everyone,
      alive, makes it home."

"Son, we're praying for you, Jason Dunham."
"Young man, motherland
      needs you, too, home."
To snatch life out of the steel teeth
      of Death, he fell,
      down into somber deserts' bosom.
Mourning mountains toll the bell.
...

*music by calpomatt

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