Monday, September 26, 2011

Sandman

Neil Gaiman is one of the few authors that if I ever met him, I may gush and scream in his face. How 14 of me and how scary that would be for Mr. Gaiman.
All that silliness aside, my first exposure to him was when I picked up the first issue of the iconic graphic novel, Sandman, many moons ago. For whatever reason, I never stayed with the series, but it had made quite an impression.
Now, a few decades later, I have begun to read the series in its entity and may I say I am blown away. Thanks to my lovely local library, I am able to get the The Sandman Library which has all ten collections of the run. Yes I would love to purchase it, but it is a little out of our price range at the moment. Regardless, last night I finished reading The Dolls' House and may I say it was the creepiest, most offensive and repulsive thing I ever read. yes, it was sheer awesomeness. A whole section about serial killers at a convention of their own kind was too unbelievable. His imagination spans realms that I never thought possible. I am not a big fantasy reader because I am particular about ho much disbelief I can suspend, but with his works, I am easily lead into the world of the Endless, the Graveyard and London Below.
One of the other interesting things about The Sandman is seeing the basis for American Gods peeking through. Like I have said before, I will not read that book yet for fear of having it influence me too much. All I would need is to read it, then discover we have similar characters. That would suck something awful. And, of course, the more of his work I read, they more it influences my own writing. What I try to take away is not his style or voice, but the structuring. The way his plots can lack restraints and how he weaves in a myriad of characters throughout a story. I use him as a teacher of sorts even though there is no classroom or Q&A. Can you imagine? The man would run from me because I would pick his brain to no end. Actually, I am sure there are worse fans then me out there. Ha ha!
My writing has had its up and downs, but The Sandman has begun helping me alter my perception of what a story should be or how it can be told. This greatly assists me as I write my Angels story. I can break away even further from conventional theories that we, and most religions have, of angels and heaven and hell. Not that I have not been rebelling on my own as I write their stories, but it gives me an extra push and washes away any lack of fear to let my characters go where they want. Sometimes it is off course, but I think one needs to allow these mistakes and detours to improve one's writing.
Maybe one day I can thank Mr. Gaiman for his influence and for writing such fantastical stories. And I promise not to squeal like a school girl...maybe. ;-)

Cheers!
MissFifi







Thursday, September 22, 2011

Crumblin' Down

John Mellencamp sang it best, "When the walls come tumblin' down"

10 Things You Should Know This Morning on Business Insider is what preempted me to think of the song. We can only hope things will get better, but it is touch. I was listening to NPR yesterday and the ex-Governor of Michigan made a great point. She said, not verbatim, "We cannot solve 21st century problems with 20th century solutions. We need structural change to function in this global economy." I agree. This problem needs to be approached in an entirely different way then it has been. But we o have brats on both sides in Washington DC so this will be a long haul indeed.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fabulous Documentaries

I have been on a serious documentary kick of late. One that got me going was called The Art of the Steal and let it be said that when it is all over, you will have a very different view of Philadelphia, The Annenberg Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust and those that broke the Last Will and Testament of Dr. Barnes. The art collection Dr. Branes had amassed shows what vision he had regarding who and when he purchased it all.

Now I am sitting through a very disturbing documentary about true white trash: The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. I am just speechless to be honest. Family member Jesco White is a famous American mountain dancer who has battled drugs and depression for a long time without much success. The rest of his clan also represent everything that goes wrong when you are uneducated, drug addled and believe might makes right. I cannot fathom where their moral compasses are set since none have an issue snorting coke in front of Grandma or stabbing spouses/boyfriends. The fact that they get government assistance even though they deal drugs and do nothing to better themselves baffles they hell out of me. Apparently most of West Virginia is none too proud that this family is so well known. Not just by law enforcement, but by the general populace. Truly an eye opening and repulsive documentary at the same time. Enjoy the trailer.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forensic Pathology

This is a field I love and if I could turn back time, cue Cher, I would work towards becoming a Chief Medical Examiner.

Marcella Fiero was interviewed in the Frontline documentary Post Mortem. I think she is brilliant and I love how her and some of her colleagues want to implement serious and necessary changes within the medical examiner system.
What pissed me off was the amount of incompetence shown throughout parts of the United States. New Orleans was particularly aggravating. The coroner is a former ob/gyn with a team of forensic pathologists working under him. Coroners are the ones who get the final say in how someone passed away. Some of his cases seemed to err in favor of the police. Unfortunately, New Orleans law enforcement has always had a sketchy existence and the story did not make it much better.
What also floored me was how if a pathologist screwed up in one state, he would just move to another and get a new job. There are no federal mandates or funding. Of course there are a few private forensic groups, but one of them in Northern California had an inept pathologist working for them who had screwed up in several other states.
By not having much funding, there is poorly functioning equipment, some offices even lack x ray machines. There is also no way to set up a proper database to see if a pathologist/medical examiner has have ever been arrested or lost their medical license. This might help to prevent future misdiagnosis of deaths. They also have no set accreditation for medical examiner offices and their staff which is also ludicrous. Yes there are lots of problems going on in the US right now, but let's be dramatic. If your loved one was murdered, wouldn't you want the person doing the autopsy to be fully educated in a properly equipped facility?

Cheers!
MissFifi





Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Economist Article: Mass-market retailing changed publishing before the e-book

Last night I came across an interesting article in The Economist which was how publishing has changed. I found this timely considering what I posted about yesterday. A lot of the article is right in line with what Editor X had discussed during the Q&A about big names get churned out to keep the publishing house in cash to then fund unknowns to an extent.
It does make me ponder if self publishing will be the way I have to go since the death knell of many booksellers are ringing throughout the land. The more that happens, the harder it will be for the Big 6 publishers to push the little guy. Makes one think of how the music industry almost imploded when people took to making and distributing music on their own terms. Perhaps the publishers need to think about that or else they too will feel the heat. Considering the amount of self published works selling on Amazon already though, they may be a little late to the game.

"Few people will mourn publishers’ losses from increased price competition and new technology like e-readers. The question is whether these trends undermine the quality of books which are being published, by breaking a business model that has let firms focus on variety and range. Publishers have good reason to shiver at the decline of traditional bookshops. To fund the discovery and promotion of new authors, they have relied on books that sell steadily over a number of years. Yet mass retailers stock a few hundred new blockbusters."

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Who Needs Editors?

The Smart Bitches blog did a two part series called "Ask The Editor". May I say my ire rose quite a few times in response to the editor's answers on certain questions. Let me share just a few things that made me want to scream. You learn why authors such as James Patterson and Nora Roberts can publish a few bad books and keep going. Hell, they are the money makers and as such get massive passes. They feed the machine and let the publishing house pick up an unknown here and there thanks to the big bucks crankers. I have no problem with that. I have a problem when the big money makers can get away with filling in the blanks and it is considered good to publish because it is by "So and so".
You also find out if you are trying to break into the business, your manuscript better be as close to perfect as possible. I am doing my best to create and send in something that could pretty much just be put out to the public, but I do not like that big names can phone it in and are given a pass. Yes, I sound embittered and I am. I find this to be unfair and even though it is how the world works it puts a huge ass bee in my bonnet.
There was also the point of there are no fact checkers really so it is left entirely up to the author to do their homework. I have no problem doing the leg work, last night I had the pleasure of researching surfing and deaths caused during surfing, good times, but it would be helpful to have someone with a more educated eye make sure I got the scene right or notice a glaring error.
Needless to say, I ended up pissed off and commented on both posts. I am sure I am seen as a bratty, unpublished shrew, so be it. Some of the answers from Editor X made me realize why so many up and comers are going the self publishing route. Based on sheer frustration some authors are willing to undertake all the insane busy work like editing, jacket design, promotion, etc. Then again, if you can handle all of that, what purpose do the editors and publishers serve anymore? Makes one really think that is for sure.

Read part one and part two yourselves and take away from it what you will.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Sunny Friday

Today is sunny and it makes one want to skip around in the grass with joy. Not that it means places are not still flooded or filled with stagnant water. All it really means is that there is finally a reprieve from all the downpours we have endured day after day. Hurricane season, in a word, sucks. And not just for coastal cities anymore it seems. Myself, I would have liked to have been able to store this water and send it to Texas to give them a hand with their drought. Alas, it was not to be.

Due to the impending arrival of a bundle of joy in the next few months, we have had to move rooms and possessions around to accommodate. What I have discovered is that not only is my husband a whirlwind when he gets going on a serious project, but that moving the office to the room off the kitchen was actually a fantastic idea. I am happy to sit here at the desk and write/knit/sew with complete abandon. My husband likes it because he is just in the living room and we are on the same floor so he can pop in just to chat. Not that walking upstairs was a pain, but it is just easier.
What is most surprising is that I really, really like the set up in this bright green room. There's a good vibe which is making me work much better. Changes have had to happen, yet again, but they are flowing better. I feel more in tune with the story and with y inner muse. Too bad it could not be an outer muse that looked like Richard Armitage or Hugh Jackman, but that is just me.
Someone suggested I watch the what sounded heinous reality show Dance Moms. As someone who hates reality tv, I gave this a go and within one minute I knew it was not for me. I am all for teaching children what healthy competition is and that not everyone is a winner, but when you speak to them and say, "I can make you or break you." Hell no. Plus it takes place in Pittsburgh. Let me be a regional NYC snob for a moment and ask you to name a famous dancer out of Pittsburgh. Now I will blow your mind. Ready? The fabulous Martha Graham is one. Gene Kelly is another. Who knew?? Here is a list of famous people who were born or have lived in Pittsburgh at one time or another. See? You learn something new everyday :)

Cheers!
MissFifi


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Post-It Wars

These are just way too cool. As someone who was a thrilled kid to play "Pong" and the first Atari, I love the Space Invaders window.


Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, September 1, 2011

American Hollow

Way back when, 1999 to be exact, I had seen a documentary by Rory Kennedy called American Hollow. I was blown away by the standard of living the family has pretty much stayed in for about 100 years. If I recall correctly, one of the family members had "escaped" and came back to try and get one of the young men to go with him, back to Ohio I think, but the kid could not hack it.
Having just come back from North Carolina and Appalachian country, it made me think of this documentary again and I found it on You Tube. Unless someone from the area was to tell me different, I would say it is pretty accurate in showing how welfare can be detrimental to a rural family. Instead of offering them job training or help to get out. Then again, this LA Times article puts a different spin to it:

Why, despite more education, more opportunities, and more exposure to the outside world, do so many younger men and women--including all of Iree's children--venture out to more prosperous regions, live and work there a while, and then return to the hollow, to lives of welfare dependency and disappointment?

The question is sensitive because it suggests the plight of Appalachia's poor, and perhaps the poor in other places, is not entirely a matter of innocent individuals crushed by social injustice and uncaring outside forces. It suggests an element of personal choice.


So seven generations have stayed where they are, content to just be. In a way they are survivalists and impressive ones. Living off the land, canning, hunting, practicing skills from days gone by, but they could not survive without the welfare checks. Makes me wonder how they are all doing now considering the economy is pretty much in the tank.

Cheers!
MissFifi