Saturday, August 19, 2017

Can You Name This Film?

Guilty Pleasures and a Geeky Moment

My modern life is a bit archaic. I don’t carry a smart phone. Our only television is an ancient, ridiculously heavy flat screen. And until we upgrade to a high definition TV, we don’t subscribe to Netflix. We still rent DVD’s out of the Redbox, in fact.

Our last two rentals were the John Wick movies. I enjoyed them. The fact Keanu Reeves isn’t a spoiled jerk of a celebrity doesn’t hurt any. Last night we watched ‘Chapter Two’.

From the start we enjoyed little inside jokes from the first film. One is brief mention of a fight scene we never see in either flick, sort of folklore among Russian mobsters. The allegation is that John Wick once killed three men in a bar using a pencil.

Well, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I turned to my partner and said, “Yeah. But was it a number two pencil?”

The immediate response (and reason I adore this person): “That’s right. Number one lead is much harder.”

We had to stop the movie. It took several minutes for me to stop laughing.

Here are some little known facts about the film if you’re interested. I sure hope future plans pan out.

Have you seen the John Wick films?


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Write, Therefore I Am

Yesterday my partner told my father in a text message that I sleep in like a teenager. Sleeping until 7:30 or even 8 am doesn’t seem that bad to me, especially compared to my late teenaged habits.

At first intending to defend myself, I decided not to waste the time. After all, I had better things to do. 

That’s when it hit me. I don’t act like a teenager. I’m acting like a writer.

Occasionally I Write Here
I spend nearly every waking moment possible at the keyboard either polishing a tale or storytelling anew. How many folks forget to eat on a semi regular basis until nauseating hunger strikes?

(Okay, I skipped many meals as a self absorbed teen, as well. But some of that was to save lunch money for buying books.)

This is Where I'm Typing This Blog Post
Anyway, I would say that easily a third of my overall sustenance is devoured out of a sandwich bag so dining doesn’t impinge upon writing time more than necessary. Just yesterday I gulped a piece of fruit out of a bag while standing in the kitchen so as not to waste precious seconds cutting my peach into a bowl. The same can be said for those microwaveable burritos that hooked me for a while.

(Who needs a fork?)

Wanted to Write Here (Lacked the Time and it was HOT)
As for those in my family who do rise at 5am (for no good reason, I might add), it’s guaranteed not a single soul stayed up the night before until two o’clock trying to get one more paragraph perfected before succumbing to exhaustion. My partner will admit to seldom spending more than five minutes reading an online article.

Of course videos are a different story. In fact I’m hearing a string of them play in the next room while I type. Meanwhile, I’ve often polished a ten thousand plus word short story in one sleepless stretch.

The View from My Dining Table/ Frequent Desk

Yeah. Don’t wake me before six am unless you’re taking me fishing. Sad to say that hasn’t happened in years. ~sigh~ Oh, well. Maybe one of these days…

What pleasant obsession is occupying your August?


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Disco Demolition

It’s obvious to the most casual acquaintance that I like music, and my tastes gravitate toward rock and roll. Heck, I was raised on it alongside a sprinkling of Dad’s preferred Johnny Cash or The Oak Ridge Boys, some of Mom’s golden oldies thrown in for good measure. Hearing The Man in Black covering a Nine Inch Nails tune still makes me delirious with joy.

Disco, on the other hand, curdles my blood. Always has. I don’t denigrate the talent of its performers, but please do not make me listen. When my favorite podcasters Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant covered the topic on Stuff You Should Know I struggled a little not to shut it off when they sampled the music. And my eyes glazed over hearing the litany of mostly unfamiliar artists’ names (not a good thing when you’re driving, I might add).

I did learn some interesting facts, of course, about the history and whatnot. For example, during that era the number of disparate artists across vastly different genres trying their hand at the campy style blew my mind.

Really, Dolly? How could you?

My favorite part was learning about the so-called death of disco in Chicago, Illinois. I was ten years old at the time and never heard a peep. You can bet I would have cheered at that tender age had I known. However, flinging vinyl at peoples’ heads and tearing up a baseball field were egregious acts.

You can watch the clip if you’re interested. It’s not terribly long and quite fascinating.

Had you heard about this raucous event in 1979? Would you have attended?


Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Book Review of Black and White by Nick Wilford

Let me start by saying that my book allowance has dropped considerably in the wake of blessed early retirement. So imagine my delight when author and fellow blogger Nick Wilford offered followers an advanced read copy of his book ‘Black and White’, the first in his YA trilogy.

I first found the writer/editor and his story through the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. Every day’s entry introduced readers to either characters or aspects of the ‘Black and White’ universe. I found it all quite intriguing.

And the book itself did not disappoint. I wanted more, but that’s a good sign for a series. As a youth I would have found Nick’s world provided welcome escapism. This adult found the book’s editing impeccable, one of the finest examples I can point to these days (good promotion for his freelance editing services, if you ask me!).

Even having a good notion of the plot beforehand I found myself surprised by some of its aspects. Help and hindrance to the main characters did not always come from the expected directions. I enjoyed getting to know Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerrelda Dontible (great names, no?), too.

At $1.99 (US), ‘Black & White’ is a bargain. You can pre-order on Amazon here (for the United States) and here (in the UK). I hope you’ll give this new twist on dystopia a chance.

Be sure to check back next month for Nick Wilford’s guest post! So, what are you reading this summer?


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

And Now for Something Completely Different

No, this isn’t about Monty Python, though I adore their comedy. This is all about the music, baby, another thing I geek over. Check out Avenged Sevenfold’s rhythm guitarist taking over vocals for a punk rock version of ‘Runaway’ with Warren Fitzgerald’s amazing contribution.

I’m sharing this every which way I can imagine. Enjoy!


Here's Del Shannon and company's great original:

Do you like remakes?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ex-ing Exposition

Opening a story yesterday afternoon provided quite a surprise. For some reason, I noticed for the first time after several passes that the opening included a straight five hundred forty-two words of exposition. Whew! Not good.

It certainly gave me a goal. And I’m pleased to say that before evening arrived the important bits became part of a much more interesting telephone conversation between the narrator and her father. That dialog already existed, just in a shorter format with less tension.

They were disagreeing, after all. So the rewrite makes me feel better on many levels. Meanwhile, father and daughter are working things out. ~grin~ The widower dotes on her.

I also made sure not to delete the original exposition, saving it in a different file. As fellow writers say (or lament) again and again, never toss out anything you've written.

What little achievement made your weekend?


Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Blast from the Past

Every now and then I find myself missing the refreshing taste of Zima. First marketed in 1994, the malt liquor held immense appeal to this Gen X gal.

Production ended in 2008 yet I still recall the crisp citrus kick. Imagine my surprise when a stroll into a local wine and beer vendor displayed a stack of Zima six packs standing just shy of my five foot two inch frame.

My partner and I brought one home. The taste remained excellent. We treasured each bottle, limiting ourselves to one each per day.

Today we tried to get more at a different store and learned they were cleaned out with no more expected. I picked up the phone and called the place we found it first. The gal told me they had a few six packs left. She laughed when I said we were on our way.

We cleaned them out.

Crisp Ambrosia
Did you ever drink Zima back in the day?


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Day Two Without Mom

It seems Mom sent me a comforting dream. ~grin~ It went back twenty-five years, our whole clan celebrating Christmas in the old house. I sat talking to my five-year-old nephew who now has a military career and four kids. His father (ever the clown) modeled a coat decorated to make him look like a Christmas tree (didn't happen but made my dream self laugh). My currently estranged brother and his now ex-wife arrived late on a wave of good cheer.

All those hugs felt so real. Crazy stuff, but left me feeling good.

So did Dad's email response to my obituary. He wrote, “Perfectly done, that's what writers are good at.” His certainty could not be more heartwarming.

Rest in Peace, Mom
On a random fun note, via Instagram I learned another rocker celebrated a birthday yesterday. So Happy Belated Birthday to M. Shadows, lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold!

Rock On, My Lovely
I’m slowly dipping more toes into the social media pool. Do you have an Instagram account?


Monday, July 31, 2017

A Sad Bit of Irony

After I posted about the birthday of favored guitarist John 5 my big brother called with difficult news. Our mother, who endured a long battle with sickening health and declining cognitive faculties, did not survive her latest surgery repairing a PICC line insertion.

This is almost a relief, I’m blessed to say. I can’t remember when she felt well. She is survived by her husband and four kids, as well as more loving friends than I dare name.

I even heard from an old acquaintance I couldn’t resist contacting. My first love seemed deserving of the knowledge and sent email lavishing her with praise.

Thank you, Dad, for doing the best you could. And to all those who provided therapy, care, and support – bless you.


Happy Birthday, John 5

I’ve been fortunate to live in a part of the United States loaded with great concert venues. I can’t begin to list all the shows I’ve gotten to see. But seeing Rob Zombie on tour stands out in mind as the incredible guitarist John 5 celebrates his birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Dude!

During one unforgettable solo he actually played guitar with his face. How cool is that? John 5 has done amazing work with Marilyn Manson, too, which is where I first heard his playing. I learned of his birthday thanks to Rob Zombie’s Instagram page.

Rob Z and John 5 Tearing Up the Stage
Keep rockin’, Rob and John. You guys are awesome. Here you can read a short interview with the down-to-earth musician from 2014.

Have you heard of John 5? His styles range far outside heavy metal. Having read the article above I may have to buy at least one of his solo releases.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fonts Matter – Part Two

Yesterday’s humorous discovery led to another great tell about how lettering makes a difference. Check this out and tell me you don’t get a different vibe between the two.

Did you ‘hear’ the two notes read with a different internal voice?


Friday, July 28, 2017

Fonts Matter

My partner found something amusing today. I just had to share.

What’s you favorite type of humor?


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why I Hate Heroin and Love the Nineties

I have a tendency toward falling into adoration for great television shows about to be canceled and, worse, talented people after they have passed beyond the mortal coil. Fitting examples include Japanese drummer Kami of Malice Mizer and the wonderful comedian Mitch Hedburg.

Today I wish to honor the latter with a brief early video. Enjoy.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day of the Dog

I grew up calling the hottest days of the year the ‘dog days of summer’, which I thought simply referenced those smart pets lying low to keep cool. The story is much more interesting.

Forget the Heat, We're Rockin' in the A/C

Our term derives from the Latin dies caniculares, or ‘puppy days’, referencing the rising of the dog star Sirius alongside the sun. I thank Wikipedia for that information, including the cool word ‘heliacal’ meaning ‘related to or near the sun’.

The ‘Blood Moon’ novelette series I’m working on includes a tale called The Dog Days of Summer. I find it rather fitting as the Greeks and Romans associated this period of the year with lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. My characters sure endure plenty of that last.

In a converse bit of good luck the weather on my back porch today is quite temperate. I plan to enjoy writing out here as long as it stays cool. It will be nice when autumn lowers the heat index. My backyard is nothing special but does provide a secluded and overall peaceful place to write.

What’s your favorite way to spend a nice day?


Monday, July 24, 2017

Dream a Little Dream of Me

Thinking of a fabulous experience the other night I couldn’t resist referencing the classic tune, a favorite by sixties group The Mamas and The Papas. That aside, what I want to share is that I’m often blessed by fantastic dreams. More than one has turned into a short story.

Science fiction or fantasy, every now and then delving into world history, the scenarios sometimes play out like a movie. Thursday night I had one so intense that my dream self stood crying in the midst of watching (reading?) a tragic romance.

That one begged to be written. As of now I’m up to chapter three and on the cusp of making the main character’s life change for the better.

It’s been really fun, as well as emotionally moving at times, fleshing out the details. Yesterday I researched what one should do upon finding a suicide survivor bleeding out from slit wrists. Yeah. It’s intense.

I’m thankful to have never been on either side of such tragedy. But my character Tyler has, and is about to find a reason to live again. I can hardly wait to keep going. For now I decided to go back to polishing my fantasy series, letting ideas percolate on where to take ‘Submerged’ next. It’s a working title I may keep as Tyler is a former competitive swimmer forced to quit after a debilitating accident.

And that’s not even what brought him so low! The loss of his spouse to cancer undermined his will, so I guess I shouldn’t let him languish too long. ~grin~ Better get back to writing!

Any new projects have you excited?


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

News on the Feline Front

We got official word back from the veterinarian. Tilly has a bladder infection. I’m actually relieved considering the possibilities.

Apparently it’s bacterial, meaning I’ll be giving her a liquid antibiotic for the next two weeks. We’ll see how that goes. Then she goes back for another urinalysis. Wish us luck.

I was going to post a picture of the sweet, silly cat. But Blogger seems to be having technical issues. At least my kitty should recover. Maybe the messy water play will end, too.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Fungus Among Us

I want to give a shout-out to The Squirrel Nutwork blog in Reston, Virgina (USA) for introducing me to an amazing fungus. I have never seen this aptly named coral fungus before in my life.

Photo Credit to Nutmeg and Co. of The Squirrel Nutwork
Isn’t it the stuff of fantasy? I wouldn’t want to leave if I found it sprouted somewhere in hopes fairies, a unicorn, or perhaps some fanciful flying fish might appear.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Update on Tilly

Early this morning a veterinarian got a blood sample from Tilly but, bladder infection being one concern, could not retrieve any urine. Now we need to either get a sample sometime Sunday night to bring in early Monday or drop her off for however many hours it takes for them to get a sample.

I foresee her taking another trip. Poor kitty.

Tilly's Big Paws Absorb an Amazing Amount of Water
We were given a product meant to simulate litter without absorbing the liquid. But they gave us so little that I doubt Tilly would use a box with a scattering of this stuff.

Having two cats makes it that much more difficult. And I’m not about to stress Jezebel over the matter. She isn’t much younger and I don’t want to disrupt her good litter box behavior.

Meanwhile I had to clean and refill both water bowls this morning. It’s amazing how fast the water gets filthy. My socks got wet, too, and the linoleum is starting to look like the road next to a construction sight with wet clay tracked everywhere.

So, what do you have planned for the weekend?


Friday, July 14, 2017

Antics of an Aging Cat

I don’t know what has gotten into our ‘Silly’ Tilly lately. She’s acting sillier than usual splashing water all around. Having hyperthyroidism and taking twice daily pills for the condition, she may need a trip to the vet. It wouldn’t hurt to check her thyroid levels and kidney condition.

In the meantime, I am trying to solve the issue of filthy water bowls and wet flooring as she continues dunking paws in the drinking water put out for her and Jezebel. Thinking the taller bowls we’ve used for years might be irritating her whiskers I found the shallowest thing possible.

I put out a serving tray centered on a storage bin lid to prevent spills leaking into the basement. As you can see, the results are underwhelming.

This is a Foot Bath, Right?
She really got into paddling away a moment later, too. At least the lid contained the water.


Do any of you fellow cat caregivers have any suggestions as to why this behavior would appear overnight? In the meantime, I guess I’ll call my local veterinarian’s office.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Rose By Any Other Name...

I opened correspondence from our health insurer yesterday and decided to share something fascinating. On the back of the last page was a set of instructions in eighteen different languages.

Eighteen! Sure there are almost seven thousand living languages known worldwide. But still...

They're Listed in English Alphabetical Order;
How Thoughtful
For That Matter, Why Even List the Languages in English?
How did someone choose which dialects to include? And why isn’t 'French (France)' represented?


Monday, July 10, 2017

Less Than Twelve Hours to Go!

I’ve been waiting for tonight’s Avenged Sevenfold concert for several months and can hardly believe the time approaches. I’m blessed to have attended many good shows over the years but it’s been a while. This should be fun.

Seeing as it’s such a special occasion I did some shopping. I bought new cosmetics, for one thing. The products look, feel, and hold up great. It’s been ages since I’ve bothered wearing any because my cheap stuff couldn’t withstand a minor sweat. So that proved a good investment for day-to-day use.

I also bought a new purse because my daily use one is super small. The last thing I want is to have belongings fall out while I’m buying a concert shirt. ~grin~ And the animal print matches the grey and black outfit I intend to wear.

On that note a new bolero style sweater should be comfortable over my tank top, and preferable to exposing lots of skin to the sun. I am taking sunscreen, however. I learned that lesson after an Anarchy ‘A’ pendant reverse branded my chest with sunburn. ~shakes head~ That made for interesting office conversation back in the day.

Last but not least is an older investment. Tired of feeling frumpy, I heard about a company called Orchard Corsets thanks to Josh Clark on the podcast Stuff You Should Know. Here’s the cool galaxy print one and tank top I intend to wear tonight.

That's an Oregami Crane Print Top
Oh, and I’m taking ear plugs in case the sound threatens to blow out my ear drums. Now, I’m off to get my hair styled. In the meantime, you can enjoy a song I expect to hear live, 'The Stage'.

Do you have anything fun planned this week?


Friday, July 7, 2017

Men and Their Hair: One Woman’s Opinion

I have liked long hair on guys for as long as I can remember. Blame the eighties rock and roll scene if you want. I still like the look if pulled off properly.

Australian Artist Gotye
How Adorable is This Guy?
Lately I keep hearing haters disparage the ‘man bun’. Personally, it doesn’t bother me. People should be able to wear their hair however they want. Would you begrudge a samurai from the Edo Period his chonmage?

Topknots Helped Keep a Helmet in Place
Jared Leto Rocking a Chonmage
And for these styles in particular I approve for two simple reasons. For one, alternatives on how to wear long hair means more men might do so.

No Complaints Here
Also, you know the old saying, ‘let your hair down’? Yeah. I want to be there when some of these guys do that. And I’m talking to you hot dudes at my gym.

To Quote Joe Cocker, You Can Leave Your Hat On
Just don't do comb-overs, fellows, please. At that point let. It. Go. Or if you can't, and I understand, just don't expect to be taken as seriously as this guy:

Captain's Uniform Optional
 What’s your opinion? Long? Short? Up? Down? Do you care?


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Darla’s Tips and Tricks: A Failsafe for the Digital Age

A common mistake many people make with modern technology is instilling too much trust. Every day someone learns once it’s too late that a computer crash can take all your data along for the ride. Knowing some dear folks who have suffered this, I’d like to share a simple idea.

While I own a solid state external hard drive I don’t use it on a frequent basis. For one thing, that hardware is as susceptible to failure as any other. But safeguarding my fiction, especially in the process of intensive rewrites, is important to me.

So I discovered an alternative. Rather than trust disks, hard drives, or Internet 'cloud' storage, I email documents to myself.

Having two separate email addresses using different platforms provides an added layer of protection. One email saves a copy in the ‘sent’ folder while the other's ‘in’ box (I hope) preserves the same information. The process is quick, easy, and the document can even remain open.

Do you back up your data? If so, what’s your method of preference?


Monday, July 3, 2017

Monroe's On the Lake

Last week my partner and I went on a whirlwind tour of the southern United States to visit parents, my mother in hospital. After five straight days of travel and a different motel every night, I am very happy to be home and can happily say my parents are doing well as can be expected.

My favorite stay was at Monroe’s On the Lake. In fact, due to the busy nature of our trip I took more pictures there than anywhere. It’s an older facility but nicely appointed with cool furniture.

Love the Dresser
Continuing the Spanish Feel
Super Cool Chair
Lake Monroe and the Pool I Never Got to Use
The best part of travel is coming home. Don’t you agree?


Friday, June 30, 2017

Tips and Tricks – Consequences of Credit Card Fraud

If you have ever found fraudulent purchases on your credit card I hope you are like my father. He not only acted quickly, so did the issuing bank, canceling the card without question.

The next step required contacting several institutions automatically billing that credit card for repeat services. They all needed updated information, a tedious endeavor.

While only diligence will protect our finances, my father thinks he found a fix for the ensuing hassle. Once again he dedicated a single credit card to monthly online bill pay. This time he is keeping that card out of his wallet and (he hopes) safe at home.

It seemed a good idea, though I intend to simply maintain my old habits. A few minutes each morning allow me to confirm the integrity of my credit line and bank accounts. So far, I’ve seen no illicit activity.

What safeguard do you take? Do you check your credit card and bank statements daily?