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Piper Castillo, Times Staff Writer

Piper Castillo

Piper Castillo grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and received her English degree from Florida Atlantic University. As a community news reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, she covers north Pinellas County. She also writes the "Nightstand" column for the Sunday book pages and thinks the only thing better than a good read is a day in the sun with her family.

Phone: (727) 445-4163

E-mail: pcastillo@tampabay.com

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  1. What's Kim Sullivan reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Kim Sullivan

    Sullivan concedes that he'd be pleased if Sunday night's Oscars reward the movie version of the late August Wilson's Fences. (It has four nominations, including best picture.) However, he is excited most for all the African-American artists involved this year. "I'm for what everyone is doing, so whether it's Moonlight, Hidden Figures or Fences, or whoever gets a nod, I'm for it,'' he said. We had a phone conversation with Sullivan a few days before his final performance as Seth Holly in American Stage's production of Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone. The St. Petersburg theater is one of only a handful of theater companies to achieve the feat of producing all 10 of Wilson's Century Cycle plays, and Sullivan has performed in each one....

    Kim Sullivan has performed in all 10 of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays.
  2. Oldsmar adopts marijuana moratorium

    Local Government

    OLDSMAR — The City Council gave final approval for an ordinance calling for a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensing organizations and medical marijuana treatment centers. The ordinance is designed to help city officials move forward on how to handle the new state law concerning medical use of cannabis.

    iStockphoto
  3. What's Eddy L. Harris reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Eddy L. Harris

    Harris, a graduate of St. Louis Priory School and Stanford University, has embarked on many journeys over the years for his work, including a one-man canoe trip down the Mississippi River for Mississippi Solo (1988), extensive travel in Africa for Native Stranger (1992), a motorcycle trek through the South for South of Haunted Dreams (1993) and a return to New York, where he spent his early years, for Still Life in Harlem (1996). His most recent project is River to the Heart, a documentary about a second trip Harris made down the Mississippi in 2014. "The focus of the movie is the journey, and the focus of the journey is partly river, partly me personally as well as the people who touch me as I go downriver," said Harris, 61. "I'm using the Mississippi as metaphor for who we are and where we are."...

    Eddy L. Harris will be a featured speaker at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs.
Courtesy of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
  4. A new chapter: Five questions with retiring Clearwater library director Barbara Pickell

    Local Government

    BY PIPER CASTILLO

    Times Staff Writer

    CLEARWATER — Barbara Pickell, 67, has been the director of the Clearwater library system for 11 years, where she has juggled a $6 million annual budget and five branch locations. During her tenure, she led the library through the Great Recession, helped orchestrate the relocation of the Countryside branch (now next to the Countryside Recreation Center) as well as the installation of Clearwater Library's Maker Space (a multi-floor project for techies, crafters, history buffs and artists). However, this month, she is closing the book. Pickell, who came to Clearwater in 2005 from the Fairfield County District Library System in Ohio, is retiring....

    Barbara Pickell is retiring as Clearwater's director of library services.
  5. What's Susan Wolf Johnson reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Susan Wolf Johnson

    Wolf Johnson, 62, first watched the Gasparilla festivities as a new resident of Tampa more than 20 years ago. "Gasparilla was held on a Monday back then, and since all the schools were closed, we took the kids to see it. I was so fascinated with the pageantry of the entire event," she said. A few years later, as she worked on her master's in creative writing at Vermont College, she said, "The character, King Daniel, just showed up in my narrative. He pulled up a chair and started telling me his story." ...

    Susan Wolf Johnson, author of “King Daniel: Gasparilla King of the Pirates.”
  6. Largo business conducts presidential cookie poll: The treats have Hillary by 180 cookies

    Blog

       Frida Alipour's presidential cookie poll has successfully predicted the outcome of the election ever since Alipour started it at Frida's, her bakery in Largo, back in  2004. She conducts the poll by keeping track of the number of cookies sold with either Trump or Clinton decorated on top, When we checked in about two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were neck and neck....

  7. What's Craig Pittman reading?

    Books

    Craig Pittman

    Pittman, 55, will be one of the featured authors at the Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12 with his newest book, Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country. It is a peculiar history book on the Sunshine State, including such true-life tales as the one about the woman whose career goal was mermaid and whose tail caused friction with her homeowners association when she violated the "no fins" pool policy. A Pensacola native, Pittman is the environmental reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, and the author of Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid, Manatee Insanity (named by the Florida Humanities Council one of the 21 "essential'' books for Floridians) and Paving Paradise, co-written with Matthew Waite. Pittman and his wife have two sons and live in St. Petersburg....

    How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country Book written by Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times staff writer.
  8. Oldsmar's Woodlands Square hints at Earth Fare store

    Retail

    OLDSMAR— The secret is out, sort of. Officials will not give it a public confirmation, however, signs are pointing to Earth Fare, an Asheville, N.C.-based organic supermarket chain as the next, big tenant at Woodlands Square Shopping Plaza, widely known for AMC Woodlands 20.

    At a recent city council meeting, as the city and RAM Realty Services discussed the development agreement and plans for the 30-year-old center, a sketch of the plaza with a marquee touting "Earth Fare'' was displayed. "Oh, look at that. It's in print,'' said Mayor Doug Bevis, of the nod toward Earth Fare, whose first Tampa Bay location opened in September in at the new Seminole City Center....

  9. What's Rosemary Yvonne Borel reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Rosemary Yvonne Borel

    Borel's book, Thriving in the Care of Many Mothers, is a testament to how family is more than being related by blood. The author's mother was a hard-working single parent forced to rely on friends and relatives to raise Borel so she could manage a hotel in Jamaica, a job requiring the pair to often live apart. On Nov. 12 at the Times Festival of Reading, Borel, a graduate of the University of Leeds in England and a Carnegie Fellow who served at the Jamaican Mission to the United Nations, will discuss the memoir, her adventurous childhood in Jamaica and her years as a young wife and mother in Trinidad and Tobago. Borel, 76, is the mother of two adult children, Denise and Julian. She lives in Wesley Chapel with her husband, Charles Hull....

    Rosemary Yvonne Borel will be at the Times Festival of Reading.
  10. Trump, Clinton supporters state their loyalties in cookies

    Elections

    LARGO — Just west of the cannolies, Donald Trump and HiIllary Clinton can be spotted smiling, side-by-side, at least ontop of the cookies, that is. For the fourth presidential election in a row, Frida's Bakery on Ulmerton Road, is the site of an ongoing political poll. It is unofficial, of course, but tasty. The data: cookies. Customers purchase sugar cookies, $1.99 each, with either Clinton or Trump's photo on edible paper, on top. The cashier logs the vote. "Sales had Donald Trump ahead for a long time, but now it's close. Hillary fans have been worried. You could see it,'' Frida Alipour, the business owner, said. "Everytime we have done this, we seem to have same results as what happens nationally, but of course, we are selling cookies. You never really know.''...

    Clinton and Trump cookies are neck and neck at Frida's Cafe in Largo. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  11. What's Kristy Woodson Harvey reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Kristy Woodson Harvey

    In her latest novel, Lies and Other Acts of Love, Harvey opens with a hurricane and a grandmother named Lovey who believes there are two types of people, those who flee and those who wait it out, "hovering over their possessions as if their fragile lives offer any protection against a natural mother that can take them out of the world as quickly as she brought them into it.'' Although the characters, members of a tight-knit family in North Carolina, are fictional, the author admitted that her own family has a few women like Lovey, perhaps not stubborn but at the very least "headstrong and self-assured.'' Harvey, whose book Dear Carolina was longlisted for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, will be a featured author at the Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12....

    Kristy Woodson Harvey
  12. What's Kelli Stuart reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Kelli Stuart

    Stuart, who lived for a short time in Kiev, wrote her book Like a River From Its Course after meeting Maria Ivanovna, a survivor of a Nazi slave labor camp, while she was on a trip in Ukraine. "I heard her story, and her father's, who survived the massacre at Babi Yar, and I realized I wanted to fictionalize the story,'' she said. For 10 years, Stuart, 38, gathered research, including interviewing more than 100 veterans, and in June, the author saw the release of her historical novel based on the real-life stories. An Odessa resident, Stuart holds a degree in English and a minor in Russian literature from Baylor University. On Nov. 12 she will discuss Like a River From Its Course, and the people who inspired it, at the Times Festival of Reading as a featured author....

    Kelli Stuart
  13. What's Shana Smith reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Shana Smith

    Smith is best known as Florida singer Shana Banana, a guitar-toting, ABC-wielding nature mom, but she is also a marine biologist-yogi who co-directs the Gainesville Retreat Center with her husband, Dan Smith. In the introduction of her new book, Meditation for Moms and Dads: 108 Tips for Mindful Parents and Caregivers, Smith stressed that while mindfulness, achieved through meditation, can help us "fulfill our ultimate job as parents and effect compassion, peace and loving kindness,'' meditation and spiritual focus "just don't synch" at times when you are caught up in what she calls "the householder scenario.'' ...

    Shana Smith is best known as Florida singer Shana Banana. Her new book is “Meditation for Moms and Dads: 108 Tips for Mindful Parents and Caregivers.”
  14. J Balvin, Wisin and Gilberto Santa Rosa headline Sunday's Hispanic Heritage Concert at Coachman Park

    Music & Concerts

    CLEARWATER

    As the scents of mojo and sofrito float through the air and percussions echo over Clearwater Bay, no doubt concertgoers will be dancing to a "threefer."

    Concierto Herencia Hispana 2016, Clearwater's annual Hispanic Heritage Concert, will take place Sunday in Coachman Park. The lineup includes three headliners — reggaeton artists J Balvin of Colombia (Best Urban Song at the 2015 Latin Grammy Awards) and Wisin of Puerto Rico (part of the duo Wisin and Yandel), and Gilberto Santa Rosa (nicknamed Puerto Rico's Gentleman of Salsa)....

    J Balvin
  15. What's Dawn Maslar reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Dawn Maslar

    Maslar, who built her career as "the love scientist,'' is seeing the release of her book Men Chase, Women Choose: The Neuroscience of Meeting, Dating, Losing Your Mind, and Finding True Love this week. The book studies the four phases of love: the norepinephrine-charged meeting phase, the dopamine dating phase, the insane falling-for phase and the safe, long-term phase. Maslar, 51, has been featured in TEDxED talks and on NPR and Daytime TV, and on Nov. 12, she brings her research (and tips) to the Times Festival of Reading at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg as a featured author....

    Dawn Maslar