Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Mark of Cain

Kevin Coolidge

The pub, the bar, the old watering hole: it’s where all the animals gather at the end of the day, but that also includes the predators. I met a gal with the nickname of “Lou”. Lou challenged me to arm wrestle and beat me two out of three, and me being a weightlifter and wrestler in high school. But in all fairness, I was distracted by the tattoos of bleeding skulls and naked women rippling down her biceps.

Tattooing is becoming much more commonplace and mainstream in today’s society. It used to be that very few women got tattoos. Those that did were the exception and usually a touch eccentric and rebellious, not to mention being able to hold their liquor. All that changed in the late 80’s when tattooing became much more socially acceptable, largely due to the many celebrities who publically sported tattoos. In the fall of 2006, a study was completed by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, which found that 24% of Americans who were between the ages of 18 and 50 had a tattoo. This is almost one in four people in the United States, including women.

Throughout human history, we have deliberately and permanently marked our skin. Tattoos have served as rites of passage, marks of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations of bravery, punishment, talismans of protection, to identify oneself with a particular group or gang, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. Today, most people choose to be tattooed for cosmetic and sentimental reasons. No matter the reason – tattoos are forms of expression that carry meaning.

Perhaps you are thinking of getting a tattoo like my drinking buddy “Lou”, and you don’t know where to start. I recommend checking out The Tattoo Encyclopedia: A Guide To Choosing Your Tattoo by Terisa Green with illustrations by Greg James. This illustrated reference book has entries on the origins and meanings of nearly one thousand tattoo symbols that can serve as your guide for choosing a personally significant tattoo.

For people contemplating a tattoo, the choices can be overwhelming. Do you get a tiger, a dragon, or is a 13 ½* better suited for your current situation? Maybe a butterfly, flower, or cartoon character is more your style. Tattoos can be rich in symbolism or whimsical fashion statements. The Tattoo Encyclopedia presents concise descriptions of symbols both common and unusual, and provides information on their historic, religious, and cultural significance.

Most people and most cultures do associate tattoos with some deeper meaning. They can be an outward sign of inner transformation, an appeal to the forces of fortune, or a declaration of love, loyalty, or sometimes even hatred. They are reminders of events both grim and uplifting -- a glimpse into our past and the events and experiences that have shaped us. I’m thinking of getting a tattoo of the Phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from the ashes. I know I can beat “Lou”, and I’m going to challenge her to a rematch. Right after I pay for the next round…

*The number 13 ½ is a prison tattoo that stands for the judge (1), the jury (12), and the “half-assed” sentence. The number 13 in the same circumstances can represent a marijuana dealer or user. Sometimes it’s important to know what not to have inked on your body.

Ink, or no ink? What would you choose for a tattoo? Drop me an email at Miss a past column? Check out for past reviews. Does Hobo have a tattoo? Check out his book, “Hobo Finds A Home” and see for yourself. It’s a children’s book about a cat who wanted more than scratchy hay and clumsy cows in his life.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Check out this awesome slideshow from my friend & fan Brian!

Bryan Robinson, special member at From My Shelf, nice man, fellow book fiend and writer, made a really cool slideshow of the bookstore!!! If you'd like to see all the things offered at the store, and lots of cool photos of how it looks this summer of 2008, check out this link:

You can copy and paste the entire link into your browser, I guess, because I can't seem to make it an active link here in this post. I'll work on that. OR you can go to the list to the left, where Hobo's favorite links are listed, and click on the one for "slideshow of the bookstore!" Yay, Bryan, and thanks!!



Friday, June 6, 2008

Hobo's Summer Book Tour 2008

Hobo is on tour of Tioga County and the Twin Tiers this summer! Here's an update of all the places you can find Hobo in the upcoming months! Come pet the goofy golden boy, get your picture taken with him, let your kids cart him around, have him autograph a copy of his book especially for you!

To start the summer off right, Hobo returns to his hometown bookstore. That's right, Hobo is the kickoff author in the Laurel Festival week of author events at From My Shelf. Hobo will be at the store on Monday, June 16th, from 1 to 2:30 pm. We'll be reading his book several times and he will be available to play with the kids. Bring your cameras, he's a star!

Hobo will also be doing a children's story hour at Galeton Library on Saturday June 14th, at 1pm.

Besides his events with kids, Hobo has quite a line up of dates with local Senior Centers. Come visit the members of our community in their golden years and hang out with the golden boy!

Friday, July 11: 11am at the Wellsboro Senior Center
Monday, July 14: 11am at the Elkland Senior Center
Tuesday, July 22: 11am at the Millerton Senior Center
Wednesday, July 30: 12:15pm Westfield Senior Center

We'll let you know as more events are scheduled! If you'd like to have Hobo come to an event for your organization, email us or call:

(570) 724-5793

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When All Hell Breaks Loose

Kevin Coolidge

“If you are going through Hell, keep going.”—Winston Churchill

Once upon a summer day, a Grasshopper hopped and danced and sung to his heart’s content. An Ant passed, dragging a huge sack of powdered milk, beef jerky, and salt.
“Why not come and sing karaoke and do a Jell-O™ shot with me,” chirped the grasshopper, “Instead of breaking your back, working all day?”
“I am preparing for hard times ahead,” said the Ant, “and I recommend you do the same.”
“Why worry about winter?” said the Grasshopper. “There’s plenty of food right now.”
But the ant continued his hard toil. When winter came, the shivering grasshopper had no food and found himself slowly dying of hunger. So, he kicked down the Ant’s door only to find out that the Ant had completed a comprehensive martial art training regimen that focused on close-quarters combat and self-defense, and that food was not the only thing the Ant had packed away. Only then did the Grasshopper realize that…

It is best to be prepared for the days of necessity. Haven’t you ever stayed awake late at night running through “what if” scenarios? Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornados, zombies, asteroid strikes -- you didn’t build that bomb shelter in the backyard just for the kids to use as a playhouse. Well, grab your gasmask and a copy of When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes by Cody Lundin.

He is not another paranoid survivalist huddled in a cave spouting Bible verses and lovingly stroking his guns. Cody Lundin and his Aboriginal Living Skills School have been featured in dozens of national and international media sources, including Dateline NBC, CBS News, USA Today, The Donny and Marie Show, and CBC Radio One in Canada, as well as on the cover of Backpacker magazine. When not teaching for his own school, he is an adjunct faculty member at Yavapai College and a faculty member at the Ecosa Institute. His expertise in practical self-reliance skills comes from a lifetime of personal experience, including designing his own off the grid, passive solar earth home.

This book is not going to teach you how to wrestle an alligator, or try to convince you that all you have to do is gaze into your backyard to find endless amounts of wild edible plants, or that wild game is there for the taking. Hunting and trapping are true arts and require practice, the right equipment, and the proper environment to be successful. What this book will do is provide the knowledge to help you survive the standard survival scenario, which lasts about seventy-two hours, in the most practical, affordable, simple and realistic way possible.

The book is divided into two parts. Part one deals with the psychological aspect of surviving. According to the author “surviving a life-threatening scenario is largely psychological on the part of the survivor(s). Get this fact into your head now that living through a survival scenario is 90 percent psychology, and 10 percent methodology and gear.” He covers how to define your survival priorities with his “Pyramid of Needs” and great checklists for preparing you physically, mentally and emotionally, as well as spirituality and the equipment you are going to need. This section will give you the common-sense foundation upon which to base your survival plan.

The second part of this basic survival guide contains the information to keep your physical body alive. Specific chapters on emergency sanitation, water, food, first aid, communication, and more are presented in the most practical detail as possible. Entire books have been devoted to each of the above subjects. So, don’t expect this book to cover every possible aspect of these skills, but appreciate the excellent overview..

Perhaps the greatest survival skill of all is being able to keep calm in the face of chaos. This is accomplished by being sensibly prepared and not scared. It may sound romantic to live off the fat of the land. You may have a great yearning to live wild and free. I sometimes get the urge to grow a beard, live in a cave, and become a combination of Grizzly Adams and Daniel Boone, and then I realize that many indigenous peoples died young and died hard. No one plans to find himself in a survival situation. That’s part of what makes those situations so terrifying when they happen. This book can be a useful for keeping you and your family alive, or you can pray and wait for FEMA…

Are you an Ant, or a Grasshopper? Email me at Check out past columns at Hurry, before the world ends: get“Hobo Finds A Home”, a children’s book about a cat that didn’t wait to inherit the earth. Grab your popcorn and get ready for “Hobo: The Motion Picture”, coming in 3D and Dolby surround sound.