Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mary on the Half Shell

For some reason, I have this sudden desire to put a Bathtub Virgin Mary in a part of my garden.

I grew up Roman Catholic, no longer practicing, but I have faith. While we had no religious artifacts around our home, there is something pretty tacky and all sorts of awesome about this particular display of adoration.
I think I would want mine to look a little more Day of the Dead-ish.

Or maybe it is better to stick with tradition.

So much to ponder.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

May The Links Be With You

Since I am hard pressed for time most days, unless my darling boy is napping like he is now, I breeze through various blogs that I love to keep abreast of the latest and greatest in the world. It is the new discoveries I enjoy best. So with that I will share today's goodies with you all while the sound of the boy's swing is bliss.

I love anatomy. I am also a repressed nurse/doctor. I Heart Guts sells plush organs. This is now my crack. LUNGS!!!

I would have made a great Southern Gal. The food blog Ezra Pound Cake, seriously BEST NAME EVER, has a delish recipe for Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie with Bourbon Sauce. Someone pinch me.

These wonderful suggestions about what to bring as a hostess gift would be most welcome in my home. Food wins every single time people, take note.

While I am mastering the art of shoveling food in my mouth faster then the competitor's for the Nathans' Hot Dog barf fest, this book could come in handy.

All artsy and fun things Buddha at Buddha Groove.

I have always loved Rhonda's posts at Down To Earth about her simple living and how it is attainable for most folks. One day I may start canning, but for now I read what delicious things people like Rhonda and Marisa from the blog Food In Jars are putting up.

Sticking with my sweet tooth, I present to you all these beautiful Boston Cream Cupcakes. Just gaze at them with me.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Good Morning

The fun thing about having a three month old is they change their schedules quite frequently. So when they get up at 6am a few days in a row, you do a small jig in the praise of sleep. Of course, once you realize that is part of the growth spurt and the 4-4:30am feedings are back, you soldier on while cursing God for this small design flaw in the growth spurt. At least I do. Sure God has heard it all before, but just in case, I wanted to make myself heard.
Anyway, one of the more impressive, or is it miraculous?, things of late is I am on a writing bender. I declared myself no longer a slave to being a brilliant story teller. Not that I am looking to be mediocre, I just need to stop focusing on every piece of minutiae. Seriously, it got to a point where every description, every line of dialogue was critical. Instead I have decided to refer back to one of my favorite films, "Bullets Over Broadway" where Chazz Palminteri's character says to John Cusack's, "Your problem is you don't write like people talk."
That was me! I had lost the rhythm of conversation between my characters. Their voices become jumbled, erratic, monotone. They were no longer people I invented, but robots going through motions I plugged in with a few words. Now, with my new attitude, they are alive and kicking individuals and I am liberated. Funny how a simple declaration to write "trash" freed me. Again, trash to me is a quick ride of a novel that is fun, but in no way will garner a Pulitzer. My thesaurus will still be in use even though I am not destined to be Shakespeare or Joyce Carol Oates.
What has also happened is that my pitch for a query letter has started to come easier too. I am still not one hundred percent sure I am going to go for an agent. I may stills elf publish, but this time I figure, give the new vibe a shot. So I will reach out to a few agents and if no bites, move on to Amazon.

A totally different scene here from the one I mentioned in Bullets Over Broadway, but Diane Wiest was GENIUS.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Speak Softly

My husband got a book from the library a few weeks ago that addresses being an introvert in a very extroverted world. Can you guess who is the introvert in our family? :) Anyway, the book is called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  I have been picking it up and leafing through it and it is quite eye opening. I see myself in some of the people discussed and my husband in others. I also found it insulting that shyness/introversion is so looked down upon. I never once have thought of someone as stupid or weak for not screaming like a Housewife of NJ. If you must know, I am a little jealous of those who are soft spoken can can make their point without booming. Let me put it this way, Gordon Ramsay and I would never, ever get along. You do not get to scream I am an idiot or throw things at me. Sorry, that is not a motivator. 
When I watched the documentary about Vidal Sassoon, a colleague of his told a story of how Vidal would fire you. He would never yell or scream. He would speak in a low voice as if you were just having a simple conversation and say   "You do not really belong here."  That would have a much more serious impact to me then have you take my scissor and combs and toss them on the street screaming I was a failure. I am not saying Vidal never screamed, he may have, but the approach that was brought up seems much more effective.
Not to be a total slag on Gordon Ramsay, here he is, being humbled and funny on one of my favorite, favorite shows, The Graham Norton Show. 


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

And Scene

This is one of the most amusing covers I have ever seen for a romance novel.

The first few pages of dialogue is where they address the cute, yet oddly photoshopped looking cow. I am sure this book might be a fun read. Though the excerpt I read did nothing for me personally. I believe this book may fall under the "write what sells" category which is exactly what I was talking about yesterday.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Let's Talk Trash

In a somewhat joking fashion I said to my husband, "I have decided I am going to start writing crap because crap sells."
In a somewhat serious fashion he answered me, "You should."
Last week a friend mentioned the book that no one seems to stop talking about, '50 Shades of Grey'. He said, "Why don't you write some trashy garbage like that and make some money?"
I know why.
I have an ego. I want Charlie Rose to want to interview me and Neil Gaiman to consider me a colleague. I want to be considered a literary great like Virginia Woolf or William Faulkner not Nicholas Sparks or Stephenie Meyer. Yeah I know, she gets put down all the time, but too bad. I do not care that she is published and rich and successful, because when you write like someone who has never spoken the English language, you deserve to get some backlash. There are authors out there like Joey W. Hill that should be getting recognition for her BDSM novels over this other crap everyone is talking about. Okay, let me not digress. The other bee in my bonnet is there is enough bad literature out there, so why should I contribute to the pile? Yesterday, it hit me. Why shouldn't I contribute to the pile? I can follow every formula laid out by various genre novelists since they pretty much stay consistent. My voice would still be my voice except it may be in a genre I did not think I would get locked into, but at this point, who cares? If people want "light" reading, hell I can give them that. Does it matter if my Magnum Opus was titled "Skylar's Heart" or "Wicked Ways They Come"? They could either be about BDSM or global warming or both. No one would really care as long as there was a happy ending or sex or something that takes them out of the doldrums in the story. I have heard people gush over pure trash so often that I wonder why I bother using a thesaurus. If all anyone cares about is if Edward and Bella are going to get it on or if some character is going to get a spanking in the boudoir, why am I banging my head against a wall trying to create something with teeth??
You would say, "It should not be about the money."
Hey, I am too old to play the starving artist. Been there, done that. And no, I do not want it to be only about money. I want substance and life and legacy. I know what you are all thinking, "If your stuff is good enough MissFifi, you will get an agent, it will get picked up and be made into a movie or a best seller." Okay, but let us be honest here, good enough these days in this country is spelled c-r-a-p. All you need to do is throw a Kardashian in the mix and Bravo would be banging down my door.
This is not easy. I am a little confused and bitter and still trying to accept that I am thinking of attempting to go the route of "bandwagon". But I have to live with it and adjust to it and no, I am not accepting sympathy cards at this time.
I am trying to approach it like it is a business decision. Create "To Kill A Mockingbird", which would be a tremendous feat and accomplishment if I even came close, or do I come up with something like the "In Death" series by Nora Roberts? I think we all know which has the prestige and which makes the bank.

So now I must eschew my serious persona and buckle down to take one of my novels in progress and turn into something that will sell. I do not imagine it will be a cake walk so please, in the meantime, wish me luck.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Pass the Jell-o Past Me Please

I was in the hospital a lot as a kid and the one "food" that darkened my life was Jell-O.

I hate the stuff with a passion.

The consistency, the taste, so foul. Even if I was not a pesceterian, don't you love all the sub versions of how people eat??? hahah, I would never put that wretched, jiggling mass on my plate.
Regardless if I would consume the stuff or not, it does have any interesting history which is documented on The Apron Revolution. She writes how the old gelatin was made of collagen and the new more from scraps used in making leather. How gross.

Gelatin is also used in a surprising number of things. My husband adored this frosted shredded wheat cereal at Trader Joe's until one day I read the box and saw one of the ingredients was gelatin. We know stick with Wegman's or Trader Joe's Frosted Flakes. That's right, only non-sugared healthy cereal in this house! ;-) Of course gelatin is used in vitamins and one of my favorite desserts, panna cotta. Alas, no more panna cotta for me, but if you want to make some, here is a recipe from Giada.

Now, the absolute idea of aspic makes me want to hurl. But again, food history is fascinating and it seems this little diddy came about around in the Middle Ages. Wow.

That is not pretty to me at all, but out there, somewhere, somebody loves this dish.

What is incredibly fascinating is that people thought to use the hooves not just to eat but to melt down and create gelatin. What brought it about? Sort of like, who picked up an oyster and thought, "Hmmm, I should try and eat this." I need to get my hands on The Cambridge World History Of Food and see if I can get some answers and more information on what brought about some of today's "delicacies".

And that my dears, is that. Happy Monday!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

100 Best First Lines from Novels

This totally required a second post today. I have not read all these books, but this may encourage me to pick up one or two or more of these. Here is a list of the 100 best first lines from novels, as decided by the American Book Review, a nonprofit journal published at the Unit for Contemporary Literature at Illinois State University:

100 Best First Lines


The Cult of Personality

How did Bravo become straight up Reality TV? And how did I get sucked into some of the crap they air? I will blame my beautiful son since it during his feeds that I will put a movie on Netflix or we listen to music. Other times I will watch shows like 'MIllion Dollar Listing', there is now a NYC one, or something completely cheesy like 'Mob Wives'. I do love Big Ang, she is the bomb. God Bless.
What baffles me mostly when watching this crap, let us be honest, most of it is out and out crap, is that the general public loves these shows. The Bachelor, Jersey Shore, All the Housewives...My mom-in-law digs the Housewives of NJ and was begging us to take her to Franklin Lakes so she could check it out. No, we did not oblige her. What I would like to see is something like Housewives of Omaha. Now THAT would be much more interesting. And I mean real Housewives, none of this nouveau riche bull.
I find the matchmaking shows even more horrifying. What makes me wonder is why would anyone want to be on camera and pretty much be made to look like a jackass. I have yet to see a snippet of the matchmaking shows where it does not feel scripted or pathetic. Patti Stanger will straight up tell women if she thinks they are fat or ugly or too young looking and not in a nice, helpful way. Now, to be catty, she is no looker so to have someone who could use serious tips on how to dress themselves tells you that you are ugly is pretty screwy.
These shows clearly have an audience because as one who hates the type of stuff has sat through them at some point. Right now I am watching Lori Zaslow have her stylist wax some guy's chest before they match him with a young lady. Granted the man signed a release, but why oh why would anyone want to be told on TV they are crap until these women mold them into generic models of males.
Do most of the people that watch this know that it is scripted and that most of these folks are not really wealthy or are jokes in their towns? Do they care? I know we have talked about mindless literature as escapism so I guess this type of programming serves the same purpose. Harmless fun as long as it does not become all consuming.

And on a lighter note, I really like this house tour big time because the owner commented on each picture and I loved that.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Been Caught Stealing

When I was a kid we lived in a two family house on the second floor and we were broken into twice and had our cars stolen. There is such a creepy feeling knowing that strangers tore through your stuff and took things that may have had some sentimental value. I certainly have no desire to relieve that awful violation and  fear, especially now with a child. I would not think twice about clocking someone out who comes into my home uninvited.
This brings me to my present home town where there have been a rash of robberies for the last few months. The consensus is that it's mostly people on drugs who need cash to get a fix.
My town is not the type of town one should wander into thinking "Hey, rich folks."
First off, any town will have haves and have nots. Some areas have multi million haves and million have nots, but you get what I mean. My area is nice, but it is not hoarding the likes of Bel Air money. I am also aware that the economy is making people do things they shouldn't. So let us pretend these people doing the burglaries are desperate for stuff to sell to make ends meet. Here is why you should NOT be in my area.
A decent amount of people work from home, are retired or are stay at home moms. My street pretty much has someone in every house at various times. An odd car rolls down, we all know about it.
Security wise people have dogs and systems like ADT or Slomins, but in truth, it seem a lot of folks out here pack heat. (I love semi-rural living!) This will not bode well for some fool.
 I always thought it took a lot of balls to walk into someones house to take what you have not earned and have no right to take. You have no idea how insane the homeowner nor do you know if Walther PPK  is a darn good friend. Now, granted, if you are as high as high could  be, you believe your are superman and will kill to get your fix of Oxycontin. One woman got beat up as she walked in on two guys robbing the house and while I would be so pissed ad scared, I think the two morons that did it were even more afraid.
A good burglar cases the area and steal without leaving a trace. You might not even know anything is gone right away. The people coming here to steal are currently using a young 19-20 year old girl to knock on doors like she is going to her friends house. Asks if friend is home and then when she is told wrong house she moves along. Her partners in crime wait at the end of the street. And scene.

What will happen if these absolute idiots come across someone who has no issues using their shotgun? How sad that one of these "burglars" are going to lose their life or take one all for what? Drugs? A medical bill? A car payment? Rent? Is this how beaten down our society is now? Would distributing illegal drugs as legal stop this type of neanderthal behavior? I am not sure. Bad seeds are bad seeds, but if theses jerks needed a fix and could go get one with their insurance, would it stop them from casing neighborhoods and stealing valuables? I would love a trial test of this. Crime is crime, but there has to be a way to help people feel safe as well as prevent anyone from getting hurt.

As an homage to my title, here is Jane's Addiction., "Been Caught Stealing"


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

I am feeling a little kooky. Yeah, that's right. No rhyme or reason here in Casa Fifi today. Maybe it is the fact that the weather has been so choice and will be even warmer tomorrow. Whee!
Our little one just got 4 vaccinations. Ouch! And we have the oil folks here doing the yearly maintenance to the furnace. Aren't contracts fun??
Because of all this, I am just going to post a bunch of things that have caught my eye and no, I am not going to discuss the topic du jour, the book 50 Shades of Grey. Boo yah!

Mike Joos has created these fun and interesting prints and I think I want one or two. Look at Salvador Dali, how cool!!

This place is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too small man.

I love hand stamped jewelry and perhaps, one day, I can get a cool one with my little bundle of joy's name or initial. Cause that would be how I roll ;-)

Fun bohemian space!

Even though Neil Gaiman and I have the same views on how writing makes us feel, let us remember that has his won places to write in seclusion, meets Stephen King and makes the big bucks. One day Mr. Gaiman, I too shall be the bomb.

I like the doors. They have a cool Moroccan vibe.

Portobello Street makes these unusual refrigerators that look like furniture with a retro vibe. I dig.

These fridges by Meneghini just blow my mind.

Curd falls under jam for me, I do not make it, but I will eat it if someone else does. This Ginger Grapefruit curd looks delicious.

Have a fabulous day.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Documentary Day

The weather was very dreary yesterday with a few flurries and rain. I started my day doing laundry and a few other house things then after activity time with the boy and a feed or two I decided to put on a movie. Sometimes the little man likes to be rocked and fall asleep and since he can't be spoiled just yet, I enjoy that bonding time. Lucky for me I chose two excellent documentaries. The first was Bill Cunninghma New York  which was all about the man who has been the eyes behind the "On The Street" and "Evening Hours" layouts in the NY Times. It was incredibly fascinating and is something I would even watch again.

The second documentary was The September Issue which shows how one of the biggest issues of Vogue Magazine comes together over time. There was an incredible amount of intensity and creativity throughout the documentary along with lots of personality. Anna Wintour does not come across as icy as everyone seems to make her. I became a HUGE fan of Grace Coddington, Creative Director, because she shots from the hip and has an incredible eye for design and layouts.

Today's weather is icky as well and I have gotten sucked into Bravo's Million Dollar Listing - Los Angeles and I have to say it is pretty amusing how impressed these realtors, buyers and sellers are with themselves. Sure if I was making close to a $500K commission I would be pretty cocky, but I am not sure even then it would be warranted. Granted A LOT of money gets tossed around, where the hell is it coming from is beyond me, but come on now. Who the heck needs a 20,000 square foot house with two, yes two, master bedrooms?? I guess when you have that kind of money you can spend it anyway you want on anything you want. Such is life.