Thursday, May 31, 2012

This is a Political Post

I do not discuss politics for a myriad of reasons. No need to isolate readers and while I have varying views, I do not see my blog as that forum. But today something happened that made me think about politics and I decided I need to put it out there. I am going to make no sense as I am just going to write as I think and so bear with me.
I found out the local gym I have been going to is closing on June 30. This sucks big time. I have enjoyed my time there, made some friends, it is a nice community. Why are they closing? Well, it seems the owner's franchise agreement expired and while she did not want to extend it for a year, the company would not allow her to extend for just 6 months. Then the landlord of the strip mall where my gym is would not negotiate on the lease. As we discussed all this while working out this am, it came to light that a few other businesses in the area: other gyms and tennis clubs, are hurting big time. now, the town where I work out is called Chester, yes I am throwing this town under the bus for good reason. Chester will not allow any business to advertise with signs. Yes, you read that correctly. You can be in a strip mall, but there is not sign by the road to let people know you are there. There is an upscale shopping area called The Streets of Chester, but you have no idea what stores are present unless you pull in. This is downright asinine. If you put up a sandwich board sign to alert customers to a sale, you will get fined. Yes, fined. Cause this is what cops should really be concerning themselves with.
A local business owner is suing the town, good for him, because of their asinine anti-business stance. And that is what it is plain and simple. In this economy, wouldn't you want people to come to your town to shop and to spend? Instead they shoot themselves in the foot by fining those that put a sign up outside in front of their store to alert customers of sales, etc.
This then made me think about how Obama and Romney talk about jobs and small businesses. Sure we all want and need them, but when bureaucracy of a local town gets in the way or a greedy landlord kicks out a tenant like Carter's so they can bring in Country Curtains, I get really pissed. Just who is being helped here? Who wins? In the end it is all about making a bigger buck. Not about community, not about small business owners and certainly not about you. The people in charge, with political clout and cash are the ones who have the say and it is beyond aggravating. The Fed is far from innocent in our current state of economic disarray, but it is not the Fed destroying the local economy, it is the local people who live in and run the towns that are doing damage. Now is not the time to want to be all Beverly Hills with a mini-Rodeo Drive. People want certain stores, so give the people what they want. Most of us want a Trader Joe's or Wegmans in the empty A&P, but nothing has taken its place in over a year. We rooted for a Home Goods and got a Marshall's, which incidentally out of all the TJ Maxx family, sucks. A new yogurt place moved next door to Starbucks. Really? You take away the awesome Carter's store by upping the rent but bring in a yogurt store?
I am no business person, but I do not understand these current business moves being done in Chester at all. Upping the rents in the strip malls does not guarantee a tenant and it seems they would rather have the mall sit half empty then negotiate with the businesses that have been there awhile. These empty store fronts look just awful and sad. Even Main Street in Chester is hurting, but God Forbid they amend some ridiculous piece of local legislation about letting stores not just have a sign on their store, but advertise elsewhere. Come one, why can't someone put out a chalkboard saying SALE? You really think it makes the town look shabby? Jackasses.
And let me add that I do not care how pissed Shop Rite gets if a Trader Joe's comes over, just get them here. Then again, how would anyone know they were here if they can't advertise?


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Neil Gaiman Keynote Address

As always, anything and everything Neil is awesome to me. One post he had done on his blog a wile ago was about making mistakes and it is not just the best advice for artists, but for everyone in general. No matter what you do, mistakes will happen and that is alright and good. He incorporates this point of view as he delivers the keynote to the students at The University of the Arts. Enjoy!

Keynote Address


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Character Descriptions

I am one of those readers who does not want every single little detail given to me about the character in a story. I hate when I read something like the following: "He had cat like eyes that shimmered gold and were flecked with blue which were accented by his wavy, pale blond hair. His tan, taut abdomen glistened as he walked towards her. All six foot five of him." Lame sentence, but you get where I am going.
The real writing faux pas that puts a serious bee in my bonnet is when a writer uses a famous person to describe their character.
It gives mama a twitch like you cannot believe.
I recently read an excerpt of a book where the author used 6, yes 6, tv/movie actors/characters to describe her main antagonist. Seriously? I sat there trying to imagine this amalgamation and realized I couldn't because the characters I did know, I already had a specific attachment to them as they were, and the ones I did not know where useless to me. I get she had a vision of this guy in her head, but do me and everyone else a favor, describe him as you see him and let us go from there.  I may think of Hugh Jackman in parts when I write, but I would never say, "He resembled Hugh Jackman in X-Men." To me, it is being damn lazy doing that. How many of us walk around, see someone good looking and say, "Gee, he carries himself like Ryan Gosling in Drive, but smiles like Damon in The Vampire Diaries."

Side note: Watched "Drive" this weekend and we LOVED it.

I just do not understand an author's lack of understanding that using Johnny Depp or Cameron Diaz as a describer can ruin a read for some folks. Let me add to this peeve by saying it also bugs me when in the story the character(s) might be watching "Sons of Anarchy" or reading "People" magazine. Silly? Maybe, but it is distracting as all hell. Especially when it adds nothing to the story. It is useful if the character watches the show all the time and likes to emulate a favorite person on the show or maybe the mom in the story loves celebrity gossip and is always seen holding a "People" mag in her hands. Then yes, that helps add insight and builds the character. A random mention? Annoying.

I get some authors may do this to try and connect with their readers, but I get disconnected. I love me some Joe Manganiello from True Blood, but if that is who my character resembles, I am not going to say that. I will do my best to give you that idea, but in the end, as the reader, the character looks how you envision it by what I have given you.

Bonus Pix ;-)


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kale in Bloom

When one lets their kale over winter, you have delicious tender new leaves to eat come spring. Then, they go to seed and they look remarkable as they head down this new path of their life. Kale rates as one of our favorite vegetables.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Busy? Me? Yes.

The weekend was a whirlwind. Food shopping, yard work, chores around the house, going to buy plants for vegetable garden, my brother and husband ripping out the faux fireplace in our living room which apparently was put up in 1947. They found a time capsule of sorts from the folks that put the fireplace together and were drinking as they did it. Very entertaining. I could not get the veggies planted because I was with the little guy, it was a nice first Mother's Day :), so they have to wait until today. The bok choy went in this morning and throughout the day I hope to get the rest in as he naps or I will just bring him with.
We are trying a few new veggies this year: red cabbage, eggplants, bok choy, garlic and collards. I have the usual basil, tomatoes and kale of course. I got some sage and lemon balm to put on this one mound in our yard that has some nice stuff already. I did not have success with cabbage last year so we shall see if it grows this year. I am hoping it does as we really love cabbage.
I got dianthus for our pot in the rock garden. They look stunning in the turquoise pot as the flowers are a deep fuchsia.
We still need some hanging plants and place we bought the plants did not have ones we wanted and they also did not have cucumbers or zucchini which I also wanted to grow.

We have been watching Breaking Bad. Season 1 is taking us forever because most nights I am wiped, but the show is incredible. Bryan Cranston is amazing as Walter White and the rest of the cast is superb as well.

I have been watching season 2 of Luther as the boy naps. I was watching it as I fed him, but I felt like the violence was a bit much considering he enjoys watching what is on. No baby Einstein for my child! LOL But in truth, it is one of the best crime dramas I have ever seen. Sometimes I feel like the UK gets it better then the Americans. Americans are all about screaming and big drama. My prior rant on the show 24 went through all that. I prefer the subtly of the British shows. Not that there is not a time or place to be a freaking out, screaming lunatic, but I think we miss it sometimes.

Off I must go to try and finish a short story I want to enter into a contest with Glimmer Train Press. I have until the end of the month, but the way things are at hectic house here, I have to take any free time I can get to try and get it done.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shaun Tan

Thanks to the wonderful blog, Dinner, A Love Story, I now know Shaun Tan.

Post: Reading List: Shaun Tan

How the heck have I not seen this man's work???

I must get a hold of these books. I really must. As one who loves people who can stretch their imagination beyond normal boundaries, I am very impressed by what I have seen. I want to frame these pieces of art, like right now.

I am jealous of this kind of talent. To be able to put to paper what is in your mind is not easy for most of us and I like his mind.

Maybe in my next life I can come back as an awesome illustrator.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fluffy Eggless Pancakes

Random post here, but I have to say these pancakes are pretty awesome. In our house we love chocolate so I added chocolate chips. Yummy, yum, yum.

Fluffy Eggless Pancakes


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Savages by Don Winslow

I loved this book.

I loved it so much that I am actually pissed that I did not write the damn thing. What drew me right in was that the first chapter has just one line which pretty much sets the tone of the novel.

One line. Two words. Just so awesome.

Fast paced with an Elmore Leonardish-vibe, I could not put it down. Sure there were moments where I had to suspend my disbelief, but it was not so far fetched for me that it made it difficult. The oddest thing was my perception of the character of O (Ophelia). She is described as a blond OC chick, but I saw her more as a brunette or Asian. Throughout the whole novel I could not shake how I saw her. In the movie trailer, Blake Lively plays her which matches the authors description, but I still don't see it.
Regardless, the book was great. I loved the whole idea of an ex-Navy SEAL and his best friend, a laid back hippie type creating some of the best weed, both of them cool that they share their best friend O,  and getting muscled by a major cartel. One of my favorite things was how the book would shift into a screenplay. Yes, the actual formatting would change. I had never seen anything like that before. To me it was fearless writing. The author tossed everything we think about how a book should be set up right out the window. I felt like the guy had so much fun writing it and that was very inspiring.

So if you are looking for a wild ride with edginess and all kinds of crazy, this is a book to read.