Archive for October, 2014

What We’re Reading

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Cover art by Leo and Diane Dillon for The Halloween Tree

Cover art by Leo and Diane Dillon for The Halloween Tree

Halloween, as it’s celebrated today, is a relatively recent development. Our great grandparents, as children, probably never heard of it and never went trick-or-treating or dressed in costumes. Over the past 100 years, All Hallows Eve has gradually transformed into a holiday for all ages filled with partying, candy and disguises. But its roots lie deep in the past.

In Texas, we’re more aware of those roots than in many other parts of the country. We celebrate both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. For us, the connection between Halloween and the dead is much clearer and runs deeper than skeleton costumes and white-sheeted ghosts. Now that Halloween is almost upon us, we reread one of our favorite holiday stories: Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree.

Bradbury is perhaps best known for his stories The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451. But he was also a master of the small town fantasy where his youthful characters are faced with great peril, and those who rise to the challenge take giant steps towards a larger, more mature vision of the world. Bradbury’s stories are, by turns, poetic, dramatic, wise and downright scary. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a favorite in the genre, and The Halloween Tree is a close cousin.

In it, boys intent on Halloween thrills get far more than they expect. One of them is spirited away, and his friends travel through space and time to rescue him, with the help of Mr. Moundshroud. Their journey carries them to ancient Egypt; to our distant ancestors, the cave dwellers; to the Celtic Feast of Samhain; into the company of witches and gargoyles; and on to Mexico where the boys decide that Mexican Halloweens are better: “Up in Illinois, we’ve forgotten what it’s all about. I mean the dead, up in our town, tonight, they’re forgotten. Nobody remembers. Nobody cares. Nobody goes to sit and talk to them. Boy, that’s lonely. That’s really sad. But here – it’s both happy and sad. …Up in the graveyard now are all the Mexican dead folks with the families visiting and flowers and candles and singing and candy. I mean it’s almost like Thanksgiving. And everyone set down to dinner and only half the people able to eat.”

The book was first published in 1972, and was based on a screen play penned by Bradbury for an animated feature film by Chuck Jones. The film was finally made in 1993 by Hanna–Barbera and won a daytime Emmy. The book is beloved by many who read it as children and found it scary but also comforting.

Bradbury loved storytelling and writing, and his well-crafted novels and stories are difficult to put down. He creates an immersive experience where the need to know what happens next is matched with visually evocative images that play out in the imagination like a film. Here’s a taste of Bradbury’s magic. The boys of The Halloween Tree have reached Notre Dame in Medieval Paris but see that there are no gargoyles. The call goes out and:

“…all the dead statues and idols and semigods and demigods of Europe lying like a dreadful snow all about, abandoned, in ruins, gave a blink and start and came as salamanders on the road, or bats in the skies or dingoes in the brush. They flew, they galloped, they skittered.

…And obedient to the summons, the mobs, the flocks, the prides, the crush, the collection, the raving flux of monsters, beasts, vices rampant, virtues gone sour, discarded saints, misguided prides, hollow pomps oozed, slid, suckered, pelted, ran bold and right up the sides of Notre Dame. In a floodtide of nightmare, in a tidal wave of outcry and shamble they inundated the cathedral, to crust themselves on every pinion and upthrust stone.”

So if you’re looking for a short Halloween tale to enjoy yourself or to read aloud as a family, The Halloween Tree just might be the book for you. It’s a reminder that “Night and day. Summer and winter. Seedtime and harvest. Life and death. That’s what Halloween is, all rolled up into one.”

Chapter heading for The Halloween Tree by Joseph Mugnaini

Chapter heading for The Halloween Tree by Joseph Mugnaini

Dansko Days for the Texas Land Conservancy

Dansko Days Image

Dansko shoes are loved by people who are on their feet all day long: doctors and nurses, teachers, sales clerks, and chefs and their kitchen staff to name only a few. But Dansko offers more than just comfort. They have style. Whole Earth Provision Co. has been celebrating Dansko Days for years, but this year there’s something new. For each pair of full price Dansko shoes sold at Whole Earth from October 24th through October 31st, our Dansko rep will donate $5 to the Texas Land Conservancy.

The Texas Land Conservancy was founded in 1982 by Ned Fritz, known as the father of Texas conservation. Responding to the increasing encroachment of development on natural areas in Texas, Fritz decided that there was a need for a land trust that would take on the preservation of small but important properties that were not large enough to be saved by other organizations. Using conservation easements the Texas Land Conservancy has preserved the physical and ecological integrity of wildlife habitat, native plant communities and scenic landscapes across the state for the benefit of present and future generations of Texans. The Texas Land Conservancy is near and dear to our hearts. Ned Fritz’ granddaughter Molly is a Whole Earthling and we’re proud to claim a member Fritz’ family as one of our own.

Most of the property protected by the Texas Land Conservancy is not open to the public. Conservation easements limit development and provide for restoration and land management, but the land still remains in private hands. However, there are six sites open to the public. Two are in major Texas cities: Oak Cliff Nature Preserve in Dallas and Cibolo Creek Preserve in San Antonio.

We hope you’ll visit us during Dansko Days, find you new favorite pair of shoes and support the Texas Land Conservancy with your purchase.

Texas Land Conservancy Image

The Last Act Theatre Company presents Peer Gynt at the Graffiti Park – Austin

October 16th – November 2nd   ~   Thursday – Sunday 8:00PM
HOPE Outdoor Gallery (Graffiti Park)
1012 Baylor St. Austin, TX 78703

The Last Act Theatre Company presents Peer Gynt at the Graffiti Wall

The Last Act Theatre Company in Austin has chosen a most unusual venue for their upcoming performances of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. The production will take place at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, also known as the Graffiti Park on Baylor Street. The Company embraces unconventional venues to create immersive experiences for the audience. According to Sara Billeaux of Last Act, the HOPE Outdoor Gallery was a perfect fit. “We were inspired by the look and atmosphere of the space, and we like the fact that artists are free to come by and paint at any time so the backdrop is always changing. We felt that those things all combined to create the perfect place to stage this fantastical, whimsical story.”

Peer Gynt is loosely based on a Norwegian fairytale which plays out both in the “real world” and in the realm of dreams. The hero, Peer Gynt, has been described by Harold Bloom as a “Norwegian roaring boy, marvelously attractive to women, a kind of bogus poet, a narcissist, absurd self-idolator, a liar, seducer, bombastic self-deceiver.” Ibsen weaves Peer’s story from both folkloric and satirical threads. The play was first performed in Oslo in 1876 and included music composed by Edvard Grieg some of which we know today as the Peer Gynt Suite. Following the lead of many modern theater companies, the Last Act’s presentation has been adapted from the original by the director Bridget Farias Gates.

Whole Earth Provision Co. is taking a particular interest in this production as it is located near our 1014 North Lamar store and our company offices. The Graffiti Wall is a constant source of entertainment and it will be very interesting to see it used in this new and unusual way.

GoPro Hero4 – In Stores Now!

GoPro - Be a Hero

Nick Woodway wanted a camera he could strap to his wrist while riding the waves. With it, he could capture his exploits on film and share them with his fellow surfers and landlubber friends. Since such a camera didn’t exist, he made one, using a Kodak disposable camera, rubber bands and Velcro. Woodway’s creation became the progenitor of today’s GoPro camera. Fast forward to 2014, and Whole Earth is proud to announce the arrival of the newest members of the GoPro family, the Hero4, Black and Silver.

GoPro Hero4 Black

The Hero4 Black is the most advanced GoPro camera ever. It features improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates. With high resolution 4K30 and high frame rate 1080p120 video, you can record your world in stunning, immersive detail.

GoPro Hero4 Silver

The Hero4 Silver is the first GoPro camera to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling the camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings are all easily done – just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 4K15 and1080p60 and 720p120 video and 12MP photos at 30 frames per second, this camera combines powerful, professional quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.

Hero4 Black and Silver are both durable and waterproof to 131 feet, have built in WiFi and Bluetooth, have night, low light and time-lapse settings, ultra wide-angle lenses and both are compatible with all GoPro mounts. In short, the difference between the two is this: Hero4 Black offers high performance video capture features that are not found on the Hero4 Silver. The Silver offers a built-in touch display that is not found on the Black. Two cameras. Two fabulous choices.

Vincent Laforet recently wrote a blog post assessing the GoPro’s place in the history of cameras and photography. “Very few cameras have had as large of an impact on the evolution of image capturing as the GoPro. …It has singlehandedly re-defined the way the average person interacts with photography and film and how they capture important and ‘everyday’ moments in their life – from motorcycle rides across the planet to videos of their pets’ POV.” We’re living in a digital world and it’s easier now than ever before, with the help of GoPro, to capture your world and share it with others. Go forth and create!

Rock Climbing still shot with GoPro

bucketfeet meet & greet – Austin N. Lamar

Bucketfeet banner

bucketfeet believes that art is for everyone, particularly art that you can wear, on your feet! They collaborate with artists around the world and here in Texas to create canvas shoes for men and women, designed with bold patterns and colors.

The first pair of bucketfeet was created by the chance meeting of an artist and a backpacker. The resulting pair of hand-decorated shoes inspired thousands of conversations with amazing people on six continents and powerfully demonstrated the power of art to bring people together. And so bucketfeet was born – artist designed canvas shoes made to bring beauty and connection wherever they go. There are four Texas bucketfeet artists: Sebastian Gomez de la Torre and Santiago Fuentes from Houston and in Austin, Sophie Roach and Madeline Waggoner, not to mention the special ACL Festival designs for men and women.

During the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Whole Earth Provision Co. and bucketfeet are having a giveaway drawing for four pairs of bucketfeet shoes. Here’s how to enter: when you try on a pair of bucketfeet in our AUSTIN NORTH LAMAR store from October 10th through 12th, you’ll receive an entry form for the drawing. We’ll be giving away two pairs of women’s and two pairs of men’s bucketfeet, to be chosen from our stock. This will include the special ACL bucketfeet designs.

On Friday, October 10th, from 1 to 3 pm, the bucketfeet team will be at our Austin North Lamar store to introduce you to their fun, fabulous shoes. So please stop by our North Lamar store and try on a pair. You might win!