Monday, December 31, 2007

Grandmaster Kaidanov Visit Rescheduled For Feb. 24

Mark your calendar. Chess Grandmaster Kaidanov's canceled Dec. 9 presentation has been rescheduled for Feb. 24, 2-4 PM. This will be a rare treat for anyone who loves chess.

The Jackson W. Showalter Chess Club will next meet Jan. 13 and 27, 2-4 PM.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Archive of Discussed Pig Skull Books

Here are the books we discussed during 2007: Artemis Fowl (Feb.), Arctic Incident, Eternity Code, Opal Deception, Lost Colony (June), Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows (Sept.), Hatchet, Wild Man Island, and The Call of the Wild (Dec.).

Here are the books we discussed during 2008: Ranger's Apprentice (Jan.), The Wanderings of Odysseus, The City of Ember, The Giver, The Pig Scrolls, Black Potatoes (June), The Amulet of Samarkand (Nov.), and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Dec.).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan--Jan. 20 Meeting

Choosing Day is the big day for 15 year-old Will and the rest of his fellow castle orphans. Will wants to be a knight and hopes to be chosen for the Kingdom's Battleschool but is deemed too small and is instead selected by a mysterious Ranger for training in an elite and secretive military organization. Will resists being pulled into the Rangers but soon finds his unusual natural talents transforming him into a Ranger Wunderkind. Just in time too because the evil, exiled Baron of Gorlan, Lord Morgarath, is amassing an army of hideous Warguls and Kalkara to again invade the Kingdom of Araluen.

This adventure story bristles with battles featuring savage wild boars and monsters showcasing characters' courage, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness and perseverance but also their struggles with weaknesses.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Showalter Descendants Honor Chess Club

Three generations of five-time U.S. chess champion Jackson W. Showalter's descendants witnessed at the November 25 meeting the official name change of the Scott County Chess Club to the Jackson W. Showalter Chess Club. Jackson Showalter was champion during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and traveled abroad to battle international chess giants. He lived in Georgetown until his death in 1935. His great-granddaughter, Georgetown resident Ginger Showalter Saker, displayed old pictures of her great-grandfather playing chess in places like Nuremburg, Germany. Ginger and her family, husband Ed, sons Jordan and Miles, and daughter Maggie enjoyed playing games of chess with club members.

Linda Showalter Lankford and Gervis Showalter share stories about Jackson W. Showalter.

Chess club founder, Jim Byrge, multi-tasks listening to stories and keeping the club on schedule.

Mom and son enjoying chess.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Call of the Wild To Be Discussed At Dec. 16 Meeting

Buck, a huge and powerful St. Bernard mix family dog from warm sunny California, is dognapped, humiliated, beaten physically and spiritually and thrust into the frozen frenzy of the late 19th century Klondike gold rush. Buck the sled dog learns the harsh "Law of Club and Fang" and transforms into the legendary Ghost Dog feared by Canada's Yeehat Indians. Join the Dec. 16 Pig Skull discussion of Jack London's The Call of the Wild

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chess Club Renamed Jackson Showalter Chess Club

Scott County Chess Club at it's Nov. 25 meeting will officially become the "Jackson Showalter Chess Club" in honor of Georgetown resident and U.S. Chess Champion Jackson Whipps Showalter. Known as the "Kentucky Lion" for his aggressive chess play and mane of thick hair, Showalter, 1860-1935, was five times U.S. Chess Champion. His great granddaughter and Georgetown resident, Ginger, will be at the Nov. 25, 3 PM meeting at Scott County Library to share stories and pictures of her great grandfather.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chess Grandmaster At Dec.9 Club Meeting

Don't miss a very special two-hour Scott County Chess Club meeting featuring 9th American ranked Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov. Originally from Russia but now living with his family in Lexington, Mr. Kaidanov will dazzle us with a Blitz Simul playing numerous players at the same time and will also while blindfolded battle another player. The special club meeting starts at a special time, 2 PM.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

World's Hottest Chile Pepper--Can You Handle It?

It's official. India's "Ghost Chile" is now the world's hottest chile pepper knocking down a notch former melt-down champion Habanero. The Bhut Jolokia's blistering 1 million Scoville Units (SU) fire rating scorches Habanero's "cool" 580,000 SU. Local chile farmers in northeastern India eat these belly burners and survive...barely! One farmer says eating a Bhut Jolokia is like dying. He warns outsiders not to eat the chiles. According to an online article "The smallest morsels can flavor a sauce so intensely it’s barely edible. Eating a raw sliver causes watering eyes and a runny nose. An entire chili is an all-out assault on the senses, akin to swigging a cocktail of battery acid and glass shards."

Want to buy some Ghost chiles? Presently, India is not exporting fresh chiles but chile paste and powder are available. Fresh Ghost chiles, once available, will make wonderful Halloween treats, don't ya think?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hatchet Discussion Around Campfire

Campfire, hot dogs, great fall weather, and a good book. What more could a pig want? Old and new Pig Skullers showed up for a discussion of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet. Our next club meeting is Sunday, Nov. 18, 2-3 PM in the library's conference room. We will discuss Will Hobbs' Wild Man Island. Pick up a copy at the library's circulation desk. Check out Hobbs' Wild Man website discussion about recent Alaskan and Canadian archaeological evidence weaved into his book that suggests prehistoric man might have migrated to North America in island-hopping boats.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

2007 Cave Run Storytelling Festival

The 2007 Cave Run Storytelling Festival was blessed with great cool fall weather, spectacular scenery, and some great tales.

This is Cave Run beach where the storytelling tents are located.

This is one of the storytelling tents.

This is the camp cook.

This is our camp site.

Early morn moon over Cave Run Lake

Another early morn shot.

And yet another early morn shot.

What's camping without a campfire? Left click the picture to see the campfire ghost.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Library Chess Club Kickoff, Sunday Oct. 28

Do you want to play chess? Do you want to learn how to play? Do you want to improve your game? Don't miss, then, Scott County Library's chess club kickoff, Sunday, Oct. 28, 3-4 PM at the library's community room. Anyone may join this new club-children, adults, novices or experts. The chess club meets the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month, 3-4 PM. The first portion of each meeting is instructional with a discussion of chess strategy. The last portion of each meeting is devoted to playing chess.

Registration is required. Register at the library's information desk or phone 863-3566. Space is limited. Need more information? Phone club founder/instructor Jim Byrge, 513-490-1692. Although it's not required, registrants are encouraged to bring chess sets to the kickoff.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pig Skull Visits Garth School

I visited today with one hundred 4th and 5th grade boys at Garth School, Georgetown. I was really impressed with the "boy energy" bursting from the school library room. The boys exploded answering questions about cobras, Florida, and the oldest American city. I extended an invitation to them to join the Pig Skulls at our Fall Kickoff, Sunday, Oct. 21.

Thank you Mrs. Wells for helping to organize my visit to your library.

Pig Skull Fall Kickoff Sunday, Oct. 21, 7 PM

Do you like hot dogs? Do you like campfires? Do you like talking about great books? Well, then, come to the Pig Skull Fall Kickoff campfire book discussion Sunday, Oct. 21, 7 PM in front of the library. I will provide the hot dogs and drinks, you provide the chairs and discussion. We will be discussing Gary Paulsen's Hatchet. Please RSVP if you plan to attend because I need to know how many hot dogs to grill. Phone me, Mr. Mike, at the library 863-3566 or email This kickoff replaces the previously scheduled 2 PM meeting for Oct. 21. Our next Pig Skull meeting is Sunday Nov. 18, 2 PM. We will discuss Wild Man Island by Will Hobbs.

See you at the campfire.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Mr. Mike Loses To Platform 9 3/4

I took the Tube, London's subway, to Harry-Potter-famous King's Cross train station where I went head-on with the bricks of platform 9 3/4. I lost. My forehead now sports a nifty brick pattern. Bemused, but chintzy, onlooking Brits and other nationals refused my request for a £5 entertainment fee.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Radio Nostalgia Network Podcasts

Check out these free downloadable old-time radio broadcasts at Radio Nostalgia Network. Back in the time before TV, families gathered around the radio to listen to shows such as Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, The Shadow (my father's favorite), and Fibber McGee and Molly. The Network has these broadcasts and a lot more including some classic sci-fi stuff from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Broadcasts are from American and British radio. Be sure to listen to Moments In Time, D-Day Invasion, June 8, 1944 for CBS reporter, Charles Collin's, live report of the Allied invasion that overwhelmed Hitler's war machine. Collin mentions being surprised to see hundreds of Allied gliders being towed and released behind German lines. He reports that the Germans were so stunned that they stopped firing their guns.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Discussing Deathly Hallows At Sept. 16 Meeting

Hope you guys had a grand summer. Is everyone done reading Deathly Hallows? This is the book we will discuss at the Sunday, Sept. 16, 2-3 pm meeting. I'm sure all of you have something to say about what you found surprising in the book. There was at least one thing that really surprised me.

We will discuss Gary Paulsen's Hatchet at our Oct. 21 meeting. I will have copies available for you at the Sept. 16 meeting. You guys will choose the books for the remainder of the year. Do me a favor and choose from the list below the top five books you'd like to read AND choose the five least favorite books you'd like to read. Email me with your choices or just let me know at the Sept. 16 meeting.

Hey, don't be shy about asking someone to join Pig Skulls. Love to have 'em. I recently picked up a new Pig Skuller during my early morning neighborhood walk.

What do you guys know about Hadrian's Wall?

Booklist (choose five favorite and five least favorite books)

The Heroic Adventures of Hercules Amsterdam, Melissa Haber
Mysteries in Our National Parks series, Gloria Skurzyski
The Time Warp series, Jon Scieszka
Time Cat, Alexander Lloyd
The Book of Three, Alexander Lloyd
The Secrets of Droon, Hidden Stairs, Tony Abbot
Pure Dead series, Debi Gliori
Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
Winning Season series, Rich Wallace
Mystery of the Roman Ransom, Henry Winterfield
Last Shot, John Feinstein
The Underland Chronicles series, Suzanne Collins
Frindle, Andrew Clements
Ranger's Apprentice series, John Flanagan
The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau
Wild Man Island, Will Hobbs
The Cross of Lead, Avi
The Eddie Dicken Trilogy, Philip Ardagh
Chet Gecko series, Bruce Hale
Dork in Disguise, Carol Gorman
Old Yeller, Fred Gipson
Silverwing Saga, Kenneth Oppel
Airborn Saga, Kenneth Oppel
Darkwing, Kenneith Oppel
Redwall, Brian Jacques
Call of the Wild, Jack London

You can look over the listed books at Scott County Library.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Deathly Hallows Release In London

Here is an example of the crowd in front of London's mega bookstore, Waterstone's, 30 minutes before the midnight release of Deathly Hallows. It was a mob.

Harry Potter clones were everywhere. Here is a Spanish couple. They were a minor media event. A British TV crew showed up to interview them.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hello From London! Tour de France London Start

For the first time ever, the Tour de France started in London. This part of the race was mostly for show BUT what a show it was! I took this picture within 100 yards of my King's College dorm. The racers started at The Mall near Trafalgar Square on the north side of the Thames River, crossed Westminster Bridge to the south side of the Thames, then raced by me on Upper Ground (Street). Their sudden appearance caught me with my camera turned off so I wasn't able to get the leaders. But these guys were pretty close to the front.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pig Skull Camping and Annual Storytelling Festival

Ghost stories around the campfire, camping at eastern Kentucky's beautiful Cave Run Lake, fishing, hiking, and fantastic professional storytellers--you Pig Skullers need to be there! My family went a few years ago and had a wonderful time. The 2007 Cave Run Storytelling festival is Sept. 27-29, Thurs. - Sat.

Let me know if you can make it. That way we can reserve campsites together. Families are encouraged to join the fun. This is not a "guys-only" event.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, due out July 21, is the book we will read this summer. We will discuss it at our September meeting. The book cover you see here is the British version which is different from the one you will see. Why do I mention this? Only because this is the version I will see while I'm in England during July and August. I'll use this blog to report back to you about the British reaction to Deathly Hallows. I plan to campout late evening July 20 at a London bookstore with some of my fellow American students. Deathly Hallows will be available July 21 at Scott County Public Library.

Feel free to make predictions about the book, such as who lives or dies or anything else. Beginning July 21, I will temporarily stop online Deathly Hallows discussion to prevent spoiling the ending for those Pig Skullers who haven't finished the book. I will reopen discussion after all the Pig Skullers have notified me they have finished the book.

So, is Snape good or evil? My gut feeling is that he is a good guy. What do you think?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Artemis Fowl Is One Cool Series!

We have been reading Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. There are five books. We will be discussing the last book, The Lost Colony, at our June 24 meeting.

Who is your favorite character? Why? I like Butler because he, as one of the Pig Skull Club fathers pointed out, represents a modern knight. I think knighthood still appeals to the best in us.