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The Best Books About Horses for Any Type of Reader

national velvet
Scene From 1944 Film National Velvet Starring Elizabeth Taylor

Horses have long been a source of inspiration for writers. While they are often viewed as books for younger readers, the truth is that some of the finest equine stories are recommended for people of any age.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This is probably the most famous book about horses ever written. You might think that it is a children’s tale because of the animated film versions it has inspired. Yet, Black Beauty is a serious tale about the need to better look-after animals. The story is told by the horse itself. We learn that this noble animal has a variety of owners over the years, with some of them being kind to him and others treating him badly. He meets a variety of interesting characters and lives through some tense moments.

Black Beauty was the author’s only published book and it was a massive success. Black Beauty helped the public to gain a better understanding of animal welfare and possibly led to some of the legal changes that were introduced now long afterwards.

National Velvet by Enid Bagnold

You probably know of this book mainly because of the wonderful 1944 movie that featured a young Elizabeth Taylor alongside Mickey Rooney. Velvet Brown is a 12-year old girl who dreams of riding a horse in a race. She wins a horse in a raffle and learns how to ride it. At the end, Velvet wins the Grand National Steeplechase on her beloved horse. The story is unbelievable, but the book is slightly less dramatic than the movie. It is definitely worth reading regardless of whether or not you have ever seen the famous film version.

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

This is one of the famed author’s earliest books. It follows the life of Jody, a boy who grows up surrounded by horses on a Californian ranch. While he loves being around horses, Jody also lives through a number of dramatic moments with them that teach him valuable life lessons. The Red Pony was first published by magazines in 4 different chapters, all between 1933 and 1936. All of the stories were then gathered together in a single book that was published in 1937.

Jody is the main protagonist, rather than a horse. However, many of the book’s best stories involve horses and their impact on the people around them.

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley

This book takes a close look at the world of competitive horse racing. It is set in California and provides a fascinating insight into what goes on behind-the-scenes at big race meetings. A rich variety of characters – both human and equine – help to make this an interesting read from start to finish. The action takes place over the course of a couple of years and feels sort of like a glamorous soap opera in a type of setting we don’t normally get to see.

Horse racing fans will be pleased to find out some useful information on the sport and how it works. Even if you have never looked for the latest Kentucky Derby odds on horses, there is a lot to like about Horse Heaven, though.

The Kellys and the O’Kellys by Anthony Trollope

In The Kellys and the O’Kellys, we get to see behind-the-scenes of the Irish horse racing business. Since it was originally published in 1848, it is also a historical look at the sport and the country in those times. The main characters are called Martin Kelly, and Frank O’Kelly. While much of the plot centers on their money and love lives, the horse racing element helps to bring it to life. A well-worked hunting scene also adds to the excitement.

These are all terrific examples of books that feature horses, but there are plenty of others for you to explore, too.

The Greatest Sports Documentaries of All Time

the last dance netflix
Michael Jordan in The Last Dance

Settling down to watch an interesting, thought-provoking documentary is a way of learning something new. As you are probably held in quarantine right now, you might be missing sports, if you are a fan. Currently, everyone is buzzing on the recently launched Netflix documentary about Michael Jordan’s golden era, The Last Dance. However, if you are looking for similar documentaries to keep you entertained, we got you covered.

Even if you aren’t a particularly big fan of the following sports, you should find that these documentaries involving them make for great viewing.

Do You Believe in Miracles?

This 2001 documentary takes us back to the 1980 Winter Olympics. At the height of the Cold War, a young and inexperienced American ice hockey team took on the vastly experienced Russians for a crack at winning the gold medal. This inspirational story shows us footage from the legendary final from Lake Placid in New York. It became known as the Miracle on Ice and this documentary lets us see exactly what was so incredible and unexpected about the American comeback and eventual triumph.

Commentator Al Michaels shouting out “Do you believe in miracles?” as the crowd counts down the final seconds remains as one of the most thrilling moments in sport. It is one of the greatest underdog stories of all time.

A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story

You will find yourself engrossed in this riveting story of the golden age of motor racing. Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio was the main figures in the early years of Formula One, as he won five of the first ten championships. His record of five victories was only beaten almost half a century later, by Michael Schumacher. Fangio has the highest winning percentage in the history of the sport and is regarded as being arguably the greatest racing driver of all time. Yet, this documentary looks at more than just his triumphs on the track.

A Life of Speed is a misty-eyed look back at the days when the drivers were great friends and when the sport wasn’t so dominated by commercial interest. Originally broadcast in Spanish, A Life of Speed shows interviews with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Mika Hakkinen.

Hoop Dreams

Dating from 1994, this fascinating documentary shows us how basketball offers the hope of a brighter future to many players. It follows a pair of promising young players – William Gates and Arthur Agee – from inner-city Chicago who dream of becoming professionals in the NBA. It is about the hopes that these players have of reaching the top of their chosen sport. Hoop Dreams is also about the sacrifices that are needed to make a dream come true. The youngsters need to take a 90-minute commute to a new school to try and fulfill their potential.

Hoop Dreams was only meant to be a 30-minute short film, but filming was carried out over 8 years and it ended up as a 3-hour documentary that has enjoyed huge success around the planet. It is a story that can capture anyone’s interest, regardless of whether they understand NBA odds and statistics.

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg

He may not be a household name now, but this 1998 documentary gives us an intriguing glimpse at the huge impact of Hank Greenberg in baseball and in sport in general. Hammerin’ Hank played in the MLB in the 1930s and 40s, mainly for the Detroit Tigers and also briefly for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

His spectacular statistics show us that Greenberg was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He recorded a batting average of .300 in the 8 seasons he played as a pro and still holds the record for most runs batted in during a single season by a right-handed player. However, this documentary largely looks at the uphill struggle he faced to be accepted, due to the fact that he was Jewish. We can see how he was forced to ensure abuse on and off the field before going on to cement his reputation as one of baseball’s true legends.

Mr. Skin Offers Fans $1,200 Stimulus Relief Package with New #MrSkinChallenge

mr skin challenge graphic
It’s a Contest, Bitches!

MrSkin.com, the internet’s number one source for celebrity nudity, announces the launch of a brand-new social media contest, #MrSkinChallenge, for a chance to win $1,200. Fans can show off their artistic skills AND win cold hard cash by simply drawing, sketching or painting a famous nude scene or sexy celeb moment, then posting the results on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

“While people wait for their government stimulus checks, we thought we would stimulate the economy ourselves with THREE $1,200 checks up for grabs,” said a Mr. Skin rep. “During these trying times of pandemic quarantine and self-isolation, we’re doing our part to help!”

The contest, open to U.S. state residents 21 & over with valid social media accounts, will be conducted in three phases:

Phase One (ends May 1st @ 11:59 AM CST):

On Facebook ‘Like’ Mr. Skin Facebook.com/mrskincelebs and/or Mr. Man Facebook.com/mrmancelebs and post a sketch, drawing or painting – keep it clean per Facebook rules, please! – by commenting on the Mr. Skin Challenge pinned post. Entrants MUST include the hashtag #MrSkinChallenge along with it.

To enter via Twitter, follow @MrSkinCeleb and/or @MrMan and post submissions by replying to the Mr. Skin Challenge pinned tweet. Entrants MUST include the hashtag #MrSkinChallenge and keep their Twitter profiles public during the contest period.

On Instagram, entrants must follow @MrSkinCelebs and/or @MrMan and post submissions on their Instagram feed. Entrants MUST include the hashtag #MrSkinChallenge and keep their profiles public during the contest period.

NOTE: ONLY ONE SUBMISSION ALLOWED PER SOCIAL ACCOUNT.

Phase 2 (begins May 1st @ 12:00 noon CST; ends May 3rd @ 11:59am CST)

Preliminary Judging – Ten finalists will be selected by a panel of qualified judges from all eligible entries, judged on creativity/ originality of concept; humor and delivery of the concept and clarity of the delivery of the concept. The entries with the highest scores will be deemed the finalists. Finalists will receive notification via electronic mail, on or about May 3rd, and will have 24 hours to confirm that the notification has been received.

Phase 3 (begins May 5th @ 12:00 noon CST; ends May 11th @ 12:00pm noon CST)

Finalists’ entries will be uploaded to the MrSkin.com and MrMan.com websites; registered members will judge and vote for their favorites (limit one vote per person and per email address). The three finalists with the most votes will win $1,200 each! Woo!

ABOUT MR. SKIN:

MrSkin.com is the world’s foremost authority on celebrity nudity, and MrSkin.com is the web’s #1 go-to destination for the complete skinny on Hollywood starlets at their hottest. Founded in 1999 by movie buff Jim McBride, MrSkin.com has grown exponentially, now attracting more than 10 million unique visitors every month who come to experience the site’s cast library of sexy celebrity content – including more than 20,000 actress bios, 30,000 movie and TV show reviews and over 200,000 pictures and videos.

Pink Thing of The Day: Buff Monster’s Mister Melty Figure

Buff Monster Pink Mister Melty Photo By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

Do you like Buff Monster? I sure do.  If you are familiar at all with this world-famous street artist’s extensive body of work, then you know that his key creation is Mr. Melty, which is an anthropomorphic ice cream cone. This Hot Pink version of Mister Melty was a limited edition that was selling in the Clutter Magazine booth at last years Five Points Festival for about $275, I think. That sounds like a big chunk of change, but consider that this piece is also a highly-collectible work of art, and, you know, it’s kind of a bargain. Plus: Pink.

Pink Thing of The Day: Abandoned Pink Minnie Mouse Toy Car

Abandoned Pink Minnie Mouse Toy Car By Gail Worley
All Photos By Gail

Oh, what fun it is to spot treasures in the trash. I can’t help but wonder what decided the sad fate of this very fun-looking pink toy car, whose official name is the Disney Minnie Mouse Hot Rod Coupe Ride-On Toy by Kid Trax. While this polka dot marvel does not look terribly Hot Rod-like to me, it sure is a sweet ride. Let’s check it out!

Disney Minnie Mouse Hot Rod Coupe By Gail Worley

This car features a Reclining Passenger Seat, and the dual side mirror appears to be in good working condition.

Disney Minnie Mouse Hot Rod Coupe By Gail Worley

Drive in luxurious comfort with the spacious Minnie Mouse-Shaped Driver’s side Headrest! Also note: Vanity License Plates!

Hello Kitty fans surely will appreciate the Bow detail on the windshield. Factory-fresh models sell for $267.00 (plus shipping) on sale now at Walmart!

Spotted On Avenue C Between 5th and 6th Streets, East Village, NYC.

Recommended Viewing: Rolling Stone, Life and Death of Brian Jones

Brian Jones Movie Poster By Gail Worley
All Photos By Gail Worley

Growing up with an older sister who came of age amid the fever pitch of Beatlemania, I received an excellent education in British rock starting at about the age of five. I knew the music of The Rolling Stones because their hits were all over the radio and, because he was the lead singer, I thought of them as “Mick Jagger’s band.”  For whatever reason, I don’t recall even hearing the name of the Stones‘ original guitarist and foundling member, Brian Jones, until I was in high school, which would have been in the late ’70s. At that time, I was completely obsessed with The Who.

One afternoon, I was pouring over an interview in Circus magazine with Who guitarist Pete Townshend, in which he cited Brian Jones as a key influence; not only on his playing, but on his personal image and sense of style. Townshend also mentioned having written and recorded a song called “A Normal Day for Brian, A Man Who Died Every Day” — the title based on an off-the-cuff quote he’d given to a reporter on hearing about Jones‘ untimely death in 1969. And I very distinctly remember pausing to think, Who the fuck is Brian Jones, because I had no clue. What I realized though is that if Pete Townshend — who was like a god to me — held him in such reverence that he wrote a song about him, then I need to do my homework. Sadly, the Internet did not exist in the seventies, so the life of Brian Jones remained a mystery to me beyond what I could glean from listening to his work with the Stones, which spans many studio albums including Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, which is a work of genius.

For decades Jones’ death at age 27 was ruled to be an accidental drowning: he was an admitted drug user, and there appeared to be no reason to suspect foul play. It took the 2005 biopic, Stoned (which features great performances and excessive nudity – two thumbs up) to explore an alternate version of Jones‘ demise, based on the deathbed confession of his (alleged) killer Frank Thorogood, who was employed as a builder at Jones‘ estate. Now, an exhaustive new documentary directed by Danny Garcia gives equal time to both Brian Jones‘ extraordinary life and his mysterious, controversial death.

Brian Jones Movie Invite By Gail Worley

Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones, which I was fortunate to see at a NYC screening in late January, is a wildly engaging and meticulously researched documentary that I believe any music fan — whether or not they even know who Brian Jones‘ was  — would enjoy viewing. Pardon the pun, but while the surviving Rolling Stones declined to participate in the making of this film, no ‘stone’ was otherwise left un-turned by Garcia in his quest to paint a complete picture of a vastly talented and charismatic musician who remains a juggernaut of pop future influence four decades after his death.

Life and Death of Brian Jones tells its story through archival footage augmented by dozens of first-hand interviews with the people who knew Jones personally — his friends, family, and fellow musicians — so the viewer really gets to know what Brian was like as a person from childhood through adolescence and adulthood. We learn that Brian was musically gifted, headstrong and rebellious from an early age (he had fathered 3 illegitimate children by age 19!) as he grew into the original Bad Boy of Rock and Roll who set trends on and off the stage, and raised the bar very high for living a hedonistic lifestyle. It’s truly amazing how much he accomplished in his short life.

The film also dives deep into the circumstances and the aftermath of Brian’s apparent drowning, including various conspiracy theories and documented evidence, building a very compelling case that Jones did not suffer a death by misadventure but, rather, was murdered; and there are more than a few suspects. Equal parts nostalgia-inducing, pop culture time capsule and riveting true-crime procedural, Rolling Stone, Life and Death of Brian Jones, is a story that likely took as long as it did to tell because Danny Garcia — who specializes in making films about controversial music icons — was the only filmmaker who could do it justice. It’s a film that will haunt you, as you think on who Brian Jones was, and who he might have become had he lived.

Rolling Stone, Life and Death of Brian Jones, will receive a very limited, select-market run of theatrical screenings in April 2020 before the film’s release on DVD later that month. Check the website of your favorite local Art House theater to find out if it will be playing in your area, and watch the trailer below:

Shark Attack Lounge Pillow!

Shark Lounge Pillow By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

Ah, the cuteness. This super comfy smiling Shark Lounge Pillow was spotted at the recent NY Now Winter Market and we find it irresistible! A lounge pillow lets you effectively make a chair out of your bed, so you can read, watch TV, or mess around your electronic devices all day long! Made of soft, easy-care fleece with polyfiber fill, this pillow sells for $71.00 and is from I Scream products. You can purchase one for your shark-loving self on their website at This Link!

Yes It Exists: Residents Eyeball Bobblehead

Residents Bobblehead
Photos By Gail

In this age of downloading all music purchases from the Internet, it’s easy to forget how much fun it can be to browse the weird, music-related shit that can be found in a good, old fashioned record store. I was wandering aimlessly in Rough Trade Records of Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn when I spotted this neato- thing that exists: a Residents Classic Eyeball Limited Edition Bobblehead! Yes, I just typed that.

Limited Edition

The backstory, for those not in-the-know, is condensed as follows: The Residents are an American art collective best known for their avant-garde music and multimedia works. Since their first official release, Meet the Residents (1974), the group has released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects, and ten DVDs. Throughout its existence, the individual members have ostensibly attempted to operate under anonymity, preferring instead to have attention focused on their art output.  In public, the group appears silent and costumed, often wearing eyeball helmets, top hats and tails — a long-lasting costume now recognized as its signature iconography. This figure, fabricated of high quality polyresin, and standing  7.5-inches tall, is available in an edition of just 1,000 hand-numbered units. You can get yours for just $26.99.

Residents Bobblehead Box

David Bowie Christmas Ornaments

David Bowie Christmas Ornament
Photos By Gail

Nothing says ‘Have a Glam Holiday” like a couple of David Bowie ornaments on the tree. I spotted these beauties last summer at the NY Now gift show and have been holding onto them since then, just waiting for the seasonally appropriate time to share! The ornament above depicts Bowie in his “Life On Mars” Suit. Designed by Freddie Burretti, Bowie’s go-to fashion designer (as well as lover and protege) between 1970 and 1974, this turquoise “ice-blue” suit was featured in the music video for “Life On Mars” from the album Heroes in May, 1973. You can watch the video here. It’s a bit lame that the ornament’s designer has added the facial lightning bolt from Aladdin Sane to this piece, but I guess they were going for maximum icon appeal.

Rock Star Christmas Ornaments

On the far left in the photo above, you’ll see another ornament that’s a bust-only attempt at a likeness of Bowie where he’s probably meant to be wearing the “Space Oddity” space suit, with its flared shoulder pads. Bowie wore that suit in the early days of the 197273 Ziggy Stardust tour. Once again, they added the lightning bolt adornment to Bowie’s face, which is historically inaccurate, but kind of necessary for identification purposes, since the face looks nothing like Bowie at all. These ornaments are available from Cody Foster & Co on Amazon Dot Com for $24.99 each.

Pink Thing Of The Day: Minnie Mouse Pink Toy Phone

Minnie Mouse Pink Toy Phone
Photos By Gail

Isn’t it charming that certain toy manufacturers would design a Pink Toy Telephone that’s so retro, there’s 100% certainty that no child using this toy has ever actually seen (let alone used) a phone that looks like this. What a way to teach the history of telephone communications!

Manufactured by Just Play, here’s the lowdown on this vintage-inspired phone:

Minnie and Daisy (Duck, I assume) are always on call to help one and all with Minnie’s Happy Helpers Phone. This pink vintage-inspired phone looks just like the one Minnie Mouse uses in Disney Junior’s Minnie’s Happy Helpers! Featuring adorable Minnie phrases, realistic telephone sounds and fun light up effects, your little one will love recreating her favorite scenes from the show! Minnie’s Happy Helpers are here for you!

Sounds rad!

Minnie Mouse Pink Toy Phone

Spotted at Target (Price $14.99) on 14th Street and First Ave in the East Village, Manhattan.