Your Wednesday Cute: Little Super Heroes and the Best Canine Sport Ever

Categories: Features, Kids, News, Pets, Sports, Wednesday Cute

After a brief hiatus (I was in England! English accents: so cute), Wednesday Cute is back and cute as ever. This week we’re bringing you little kids at Comic Con, a giant yarn-bombed alligator, and a canine sport so cool (and cute) that you’ll put away your Frisbee in shame.

Let’s jump right in: Doggy dock diving is a sport and it’s the cutest thing ever. Basically, dogs leap from docks over the water and straight into your heart. This slideshow alone is reason enough to buy a subscription to the New York Times. (Photo by Megan Bearder)Photo by Megan Bearder for the New York Times

  • Did you ever give your little sister or brother a haircut with a pair of safety scissors? Your parents were mad, right? They wouldn’t have been mad if you’d been as cute as these girls. Here, NPR reporter Jeff Cohen talks to his two very young daughters about what could have possibly been going through their minds as the older snipped the younger’s long locks. The resulting interview is more adorable than you can even imagine.
  • Watch this baby turtle eat a raspberry. You won’t be sorry.

The Avengers was a great movie, but it was lacking in the aww department. What’s that you say? Comic Con kiddies dressed as super heroes? WHOA, super adorable! Below, Mini-Hawkeye and the Tiny Flash—the latter a familiar friend from the DC Universe. (via The Mary Sue)Hawkeye and the Flash via The Mary Sue

An already awesome alligator-shaped playground (!!) became all the more spectacular when yarn-bomber Olek and a team of “crocheteiros” covered the structure in colorful yarn. Going rainbow-colored and fuzzy would do a lot to improve alligators’ reputations as a species. (via Flavorwire)yarn-bombed playground via Flavorwire

—Avery, who’s going to send her dog to dock diving camp

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Inside the Author’s Studio: Randall Lotowycz of DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex

Categories: Fiction, Fun and games, News

Welcome to another installment of Inside the Author’s Studio, where we give you a peek into the minds and studios of your favorite Workman authors.

Today, in anticipation of the release of Green Lantern: The Movie tomorrow (or tonight at midnight, in select locations, for the truly committed)–we venture into the studio of Randall Lotowycz, author of DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex for a little Q&A, speed-round err…speeding bullet-style.

Recent book you loved/learned from

So you’re going to throw me some softball questions? I think I’ll be able to cut and paste these answers directly from my OkCupid profile. So let’s begin. Recent book: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I know I’m about six years late to the party, but, wow, that book was amazing and devastating, as well as infuriating in the best way possible. It’s a particularly wonderful thing when a book about people who (sorta spoiler alert) may not have souls can remind you that you still have one. You know your soul is there because it hurts so much after you’ve read the book.

Favorite bookstore

I’d never want to play favorites, but Harleysville Books in Harleysville, PA, did host a great little event for me, so perhaps I should go with them (yes, I’m susceptible to bribes). Given the reason I’m doing this Q&A, I should also point out comic book shops. My childhood store, J.C. Comics in North Plainfield, NJ, is a fantastic family-run shop. And though it’s no longer around in its original form, the Brooklyn Monster Factory in Park Slope, Brooklyn was one of the best kinds of comic stores around.

Hidden talent

It’s not modesty, I’ll tell you that. I’m fairly good at measuring time without a watch. I’m not reading the sun or anything, but I can usually give a pretty close estimate of the time without having to refer to my cell phone. And I have an impressive memory when it comes to the year a film was released. Test me.

Bookmark, dog-ear, or virtuality?

Dog-ear, all the way. I also like to underline favorite passages, and if I’m without a pen, I’ll scratch a line under the words with my fingernail. I don’t think that would be smart with an e-reader. But I still maintain that when all my favorite novels are available for download, I’ll pick one up, because it would be great to carry them all with me.

Book you are most ashamed never to have read

Where do I begin? Madame Bovary, Infinite Jest, Ulysses, Oliver Twist, Anna Karenina, Brideshead Revisited, What is the What. I can go on. Maybe I’ve spent too much time reading issues of the Legion of Super-Heroes. But for every traditional classic, I can cite some lesser known book that has left an indelible impression on me, so I’d like to think it all balances out.

Most frequent form of writerly procrastination

I’d say taking photos of myself with the laptop’s camera. It doesn’t require moving from the work I should be doing. I wouldn’t call myself vain, as I’m usually making weird and ugly contorted faces for the photos. It’s amusing and helps pass the time. Next to that, Facebook is probably the most frequent form of procrastination. And sometimes I upload those ugly photos.

Favorite childhood book

Very tough one, but I’m not going to give multiple titles. I’m confident in saying There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar. It has so much going on, and its impact on young me isn’t all that different than the impact of Never Let Me Go. It introduced me to emotions I hadn’t yet experienced and forced me to process them, shaping how I’d react when I did experience them in my own life.

Alternate ambition (i.e. If you weren’t a writer/sales director, you’d be…)

Oh, I’d want to be a small business owner. Number one choice would be to own a bar (those places seem recession proof). But I also entertain the thought of having a restaurant or some type of retail shop. I’d like my own niche in a community that would in turn foster others’ interest in the community. I know that sounds weird to say after claiming my first choice is a bar, but it’s the truth. And the right sort of bar can do a lot of good for people in the community.

Your perfect meal

Lamb vindaloo with garlic naan and ka-chori, followed by rice pudding for dessert. Just perfection. I particularly like ordering it from the same place multiple times and never having it be exactly the same twice. And I know it’s not Indian, but if you could throw some fried pickles in to start, I’d be in a state of bliss.

Big dream

I go back and forth between getting tattooed while skydiving and being punched in the face by a grizzly bear wearing a boxing glove. It’s going to be tough to make either of those happen, but you never know. Other than that, I’d like to create something that would affect someone the same way books like Never Let Me Go and There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom affected me. Who knows, maybe I’ve already written it and that person just hasn’t read it yet. But my dream is to create something of substance and worthy of praise, even if it’s just from one person.

Super power of choice

I’m going with invisibility, and not just for its seedier perks. Observation is powerful tool for an author, but as soon as you’re present to observe, your presence is already affecting the moment. To be invisible, to take yourself out of a moment, you can experience things you never would otherwise.

If you could leap into any single DC Comic book issue for a day, what would it be?

I’d want to leap into All-Star Superman #10 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. It’s one of my favorite single issues ever, capturing everything that makes Superman so great. The issue is inspiring, offering hope and encouragement to anyone who reads it. I could go on for pages and pages on this comic. Put as briefly as possible, this issue of Superman challenges readers to step back and see the great strength that is in each and everyone of us. We don’t need superpowers or to be from a distant planet in order to do good. We’re all strong enough to do good in our own way.

How many DC Comics characters do you have tattooed on your body?

Ha! Just two, Superman and Lois Lane in an airborne embrace. Though it lacks word balloons, it invokes the scene in Superman: The Movie, when Superman catches Lois and says, “Easy, miss, I’ve got you,” to which Lois replies, “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?!?”
I’ve considered a Green Lantern tattoo over the years, but never pulled the trigger. I love the character and the mythology in the stories, but I’ve never been able to narrow it down to one concrete image. I’ve also thought about a tattoo of the latest Robin, Damian Wayne, the illegimate son of Batman and Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of one of Batman’s greatest foes. Damian is a fairly new character, created in 2006, but he’s made a great impression. He was introduced as such an arrogant little brat, but has since grown into being an arrogant little hero. The image of him on the cover of Batman & Robin #1 perfectly captures his nature and I could see getting that image on my leg.

What Workman book would you like to receive as compensation for your involvement?

Well, it’s out of print and I think only one person in the office has a copy, but I’d really like Touch Me: The Poems of Suzanne Somers.  Yes, Workman published it and I want it. I’d also take a copy of True Grits: The Southern Foods Mail-Order Catalog.

So I guess that’s it! Thanks so much for having me on the blog!

Randall Lotowycz, not to be confused with a bird or a plane,  is the author of DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex. He will be attending a midnight showing of Green Lantern.

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Celebrating Superman

Categories: Author guest post, Excerpts, Fiction, Guest post

In honor of Superman’s birthday, we asked Randall Lotowycz, author of The DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex, to weigh in on this significant anniversary.

Action Comics #1, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

On May 3rd, 1938, a strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men first arrived on newsstands across the country in Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I’m talking about Superman, of course, the lone survivor from the planet Krypton who, as an adult, decided to “turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind, and so was created ‘Superman’, champion of the oppressed…” The initial printing of the comic was 200,000 copies, but the series went on to sell in the millions.

These days, the relevancy of this iconic character is often called into question. He’s seen as old-fashioned, or even cheesy, compared to hipper, darker characters like Batman. His clean-cut image often does not jive with modern sensibilities. But still his appeal endures, and people still seem to care about him, and not just loyal comic book readers.  Last week, in the milestone 900th issue of Action Comics, Superman decided to renounce his American citizenship in order to best service the interests of the entire world, not just the USA. And news of this comic book story—an imaginary tale—spread like wildfire, with articles in Time, The Huffington Post, The New York Post, and Fox News, to name a few.  Everyone seemed to have something to say about it, either supporting his decision or finding it alarming.

This isn’t the first time Superman’s exploits crossed over from the comics to the real world. When Superman died (it’s comics, they do that sometimes) in 1992, the world took notice. People who weren’t reading comic books went out and bought the issue. Why is that?

The milestone issue, Action Comics #900

I believe it’s because we all have deeply rooted connection to Superman.  For some people, it was watching George Reeves wink at the camera in the 50s television show. For others, it was Christopher Reeve showing us a man could fly, in the 70s film. Others turned to the cartoons, and some have just been loyal comic book readers over the years. I never picked up a comic book before he died in 1992. The ten-year-old me actually had little interest in comics, but something as momentous as Superman dying had to be seen, and read, and discussed. It made me into a lifelong comic book fan. And regardless of how people are introduced to Superman, they all can connect to him. He’s the archetype of modern American mythology, a Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed for a new era. And the fact that he’s renouncing his citizenship in the comics now doesn’t change that. He’s doing what he’s always been doing, serving as a beacon of hope to the world. I’d like to think most people strive, or at least secretly wish, to be the best person they can be. And I believe a large part of that is realizing what makes you who you are and how you can use your unique abilities to make the world a better place. We don’t have to have superpowers or be from another planet. Superman shows us to take what we have and use it.

To quote Superman’s father Jor-El in Superman: The Movie:  We (not just Americans, but all mankind) “can be a great people . . . if they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son.” Messianic allusions aside, the message is strong and clear. It appeals to all of us, and will always be relevant and never cheesy. After 73 years, Superman is still around to bring out the best in us. Here’s to another 73 years!

—Randall Lotowycz is the author of The DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex.

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2010 Workman Holiday Gift Guide Extravaganzaaaa! Part 3

Categories: Behind the scenes, Calendars, Cookbooks, Crafts and hobbies, Family, Fun and games, Holiday, Pets, Sports

Welcome, one and all, to the third and final installment of the 2010 Workman Holiday Gift Guide Extravaganzaaaa! (Are you tired of all those A’s yet?) By now you’ve found the perfect gift for the kids in your life (Part 1) and the adult members of your family (Part 2). So now it’s time to take care of the rest of your list: your friends! Read on to find out what Workman employees are giving their Might-as-Well-Be-Family Friends this holiday season.

Might-as-Well-Be-Family Friends:

There you have it! The 2010 Workman Holiday Gift Guide…well, you know. We hope this list helps provide some guidance in your holiday shopping this season, so you can show your friends and family how much you care with a gift that’s just right for them. Happy holidays!

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Workman goes to New York Comic Con, gets requests for giant Fandex decor

Categories: Author guest post, Authors on tour, Fun and games, Kids

A couple of weeks ago, Workman went to the New York Comic Con for the first time. I was on hand October 8 to sign and promote the DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex. It was my first time behind a table at one of these cons and it certainly was fun. In addition to signing some autographs and posing for a few photos, I got to be interviewed by the fine folks at Silver Cheese Media. Check out the interview. And, in case any of my bosses, or the legal department at DC is watching, no, I didn’t actually sell the giant Fandex cards and pocket the money. I was going to take them home to decorate my geek-tastic bachelor pad, but then I remembered I didn’t want to be single forever, so they went back to the office.

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Keeping it in the family

Categories: Behind the scenes, Fun and games

Last month saw the publication of my DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex. Like any dutiful son, I sent copies home to my mother, seeing how she’d like to finally be able to brag about something I’ve done (instead of shake her head in shame). Needless to say, she was thrilled by the Fandex and started buying up copies to give to her friends, one of whom is a fellow Workman author, Ilene Beckerman. Ms. Beckerman was so inspired by the Fandex that she decided to make my mother her very own super hero Fandex entry. What’s my mother’s heroic identity, you ask? Luscious Lorraine. That’s right, Ms. Beckerman made it sound like my mother is a stripper. And, hey, that’s all right. As clearly identified on the custom Fandex card, in addition to being a mother, friend, and principal, Luscious Lorraine is also a sex icon. Since I’d prefer not to further delve into the nature of the friendship between Ms. Beckerman and my mom, I’ll leave it at that, and present you all with this one-of-a-kind Fandex entry.

So, thank you, Ms. Beckerman, for this amusing new perspective on my mother. If DC Comics doesn’t snap up the rights to this promising new character, I’m certain the folks in our Algonquin office will want to feature her in your next book.

And, Luscious Lorraine, thank you for sharing it with me. It’s quite probable I’ll now be sharing my therapy bills with you.

Click here for a look inside the real DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex

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DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Radio Interview Party

Categories: Behind the scenes, Fun and games

The editorial staff here doesn’t usually cluster around each others’ computers to listen to mid-morning talk radio, but last Monday we made an exception for a segment featuring the author of Fandex DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains, Randall Lotowycz.

When Randy briefly spoke with his editor that morning, he offhandedly reminded her that he would be making a local stop on his national radio tour in only ten minutes time. With the timing just right, clearly the only logical thing to do was to organize an impromptu listening party!

So, we corralled as many passersby as possible, crowded into an office housing a computer with external speakers (a little luxury mine is currently lacking), and listened as Randy charmed the interviewer and audience alike with his extensive DC Comics knowledge.

Three members of the editorial team – Maisie (the proud editor!), myself, and Nate – listen on as our picture is snapped entirely for the purposes of this post.

Three members of the editorial team – Maisie (the proud editor!), myself, and Nate – listen as our picture is snapped entirely for the purposes of this post.

Don’t miss an opportunity to quiz your knowledge of the DC Comics Universe:

Part 1

Part 2

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How well do you know the DC Comics Universe? part 2

Categories: Author guest post, Excerpts, Fun and games

How well do you know the DC Comics Universe? Test yourself with the following questions from DC Comic trivia master and author of Fandex DC Comics Super Heroes and Villians, Randall Lotowycz, plus a bonus question for the truly devout fan.

Click here for part 1

5) When Batman went on a year-long sojurn to retrace the steps that made him into Batman, he left Gotham City in the care of which villain (who was reformed at the time)?
A) Harvey Dent (Two-Face)
B) Jonathan Crane (Scarecrow)
C) Oswald Cobblepot (The Penquin)
D) Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy)

6) To help control young Clark Kent’s blossoming heat vision, his mother fashioned glasses with lenses made from what?
A) Diamonds
B) Kryptonite
C) A hard, translucent plastic
D) Kryptonian crystals

7) Wonder Woman was not born of flesh and blood, but was made out of ______ and given life?
A) Clay
B) Granite
C) Water
D) Lava

8 ) Green Arrow’s and Black Canary’s wedding was interrupted by an attack from which group of villains?
A) The Secret Society of Super-Villains
B) The Injustice League
C) The Brotherhood of Dada
D) The Secret Six

Bonus: John Henry Irons, the scientist and superhero known as Steel, was buddies with what other future hero while attending University of Michigan?
A) Will Magnus (creator of the Metal Men)
B) Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning)
C) Guy Gardner (Green Lantern)
D) Bruce Wayne (Batman)

All characters, their distinctive likeness, and related elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Click here for the answers

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How well do you know the DC Comics Universe?

Categories: Author guest post, Excerpts, Fun and games

How well do you know the DC Comics Universe? Test yourself with the following questions from DC Comic trivia master and author of Fandex DC Comics Super Heroes and Villians, Randall Lotowycz, plus a bonus question for the truly devout fan.

1) Aquaman’s trusted ally and pet was an octopus named…
A) Toro
B) Topo
C) Toto
D) Otto

2) Members of the Green Lantern Corps must recharge their power rings how often?
A) Once every 24 hours
B) Once a month
C) Once a year
D) Trick question; a Green Lantern’s light never dims

3) The Justice League of America first assembled after teaming up to stop an invasion by which race of aliens?
A) The Dominators
B) The Appellaxians
C) The Daxamites
D) The Thanagarians

4) The night Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered, the family had gone to see a movie featuring which famous silver-screen icon(s)?
A) Dracula
B) Frankenstein
C) Zorro
D) The Three Stooges

Bonus: The S-shaped emblem on Superman’s chest is actually the Kryptonian word for hope. But when upside-down, it means something else entirely…
A) King
B) Apathy
C) Resurrection
D) Sorrow

All characters, their distinctive likeness, and related elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Click here for the answers

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