A cup of coffee or a work of art?

Indie AuthorshipI ran across this image a few weeks ago, and won’t lie the impact was remarkable. Maybe it’s my frame of mind, as I am about to endeavor into the unknown abyss of indie authorship,or maybe it is the sinking realization that I, as an author, am awful at supporting my fellow authors, either way I find myself pondering how I spend my money.

Everyday I  piddle away tiny amounts of change, a candy bar at the store or an ugly blazer at Goodwill, that I’m pretty sure I have to have…but what does it really buy me? Bigger hips and less space in my closet.

And yet, when I explore my Nook,  I find a book that I want to buy, but talk myself out of it because I don’t need to waste the money…..

Imagine, instead if I bought a book for my Nook. I buy (hopefully) hours of entertainment and further support the artistic community.

Try itemizing what you spend a week. I bet you’d be surprised how many tiny purchases you actually make, and for what you make them on.

Now imagine just eliminating one or two of those purchases and instead buying that book or E-book you have been eying.

How would the world be different?

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Who needs money as a payoff?

One lost day of wages (vacation day taken)….-$80-120

Snacks and gas to drive to Peoria (an hour away)….-$20

The chance to teach 100 plus kids about being a playwright….priceless

….well maybe not priceless but at least worth the 120 bucks.

Today was the day! I taught four hour-long workshops on play-writing for kids (k-10th grade) for Cornstock theatre.

I was a hobbit of sorts, a misplaced author in a dank and dreary basement (the storage room for the theatre’s props).

Armed with my crude notes, nerves, paper and pens, I prepared to take on one of the greatest challenges of my life… teaching 30+ children……

I’d be lying if I said I was able to hold all of the children’s attention for the entire hour, but overall, the day went pretty well.

A quick introduction from myself and a lecture on the basics of play-writing and the kids were off….

 

The kids spent twenty minutes writing a short play. Noisy chaos ensured.

(Side note: I was surprised how many of the children, especially the older grades had little to no experience with creative writing, only a handful had ever written a play. If you are an artist, please take it upon yourself to educate our youth, it’s the only way they will be exposed to art….)

After they finished, the kids had the chance to act each others’ plays out.Acting 

And then it was light’s out.

Hopefully, this experience will inspire at least a few of them to take up this art! This was one of the best experiences of my life, hopefully I will have many more opportunities to teach our future.

Drunk on children’s lit

Children’s and YA books are just plain strange. I was reminded of that this week, when I saw that Johnny Depp will be starring in a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, a movie I will not be seeing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Johnny Depp. He is a beautiful and talented piece of “man-candy,” and I even devoted most of my highschool free time (cuz my friends and I were the cool kids…) to watching every movie Johnny Depp ever starred in. FIY: He’s been in a lot of movies, and half of them are god-awful. Image

However, as I said, I won’t be seeing this movie. Not because my love of Johnny has waned or that I think the movie will be awful, but rather, because Alice in Wonderland scares the living daylights out of me. Or rather should I say scares the living-nights of out me.

This trippy, old foray into children’s literature, has since age 9, given me the same horrifyingly odd recurring nightmare (Involving Santa getting kidnapped, an evil replacement and bombs at my grade school, amongst other things.) Reading the book. Seeing a movie version. Doesn’t matter. Any in-depth mention of the story, triggers this nightmare.

I think, sometimes, for as protective as people are of children that certain books have slipped through the cracks to become classics and become a standard for children even if the story is horrifying. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just funny, considering how hard many people have tried to clean-up children’s stories. (Oh Grimm’s and Hans Christian Andersen sadly, most of your stories didn’t make the cut, but, of course, in the end, most of us find out Ariel offs herself and Cinderella’s step sister’s get their eyes pecked out by birds….).

Which is why, this week, on the news of this movie, I found this article from Barnes N Nobles especially amusing, 5 children books that makes me feel that I’m drunk. Alice in Wonderland is my drunk book, an odd, trippy sort of story which upon reflection, almost seems unwarranted for children but has still become a favorite. (My runner up is Cat in the Hat.)

What your favorite trippy children’s story?

Best opening line of a book?

The opening line of a book can make or break a work in my opinion. The following 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 (Go redbirds!)

booksMy equation for you,, what opening lines did they overlook? What should and shouldn’t be on the list?

One I think should be added to the list: “The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.” The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

 The list

1. Call me Ishmael. – Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. – Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. – Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. – James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?Do-you-need-advice?Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. – Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

12. You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell)

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. – James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. – Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. – Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759n1767)

20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)

21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. – James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. – Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. – Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)

24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. – Paul Auster, City of Glass (1985)

25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. – William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)

26. 124 was spiteful. – Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

28. Mother died today. – Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942; trans. Stuart Gilbert)

29. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. – Ha Jin, Waiting (1999)

30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. – William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground (1864; trans. Michael R. Katz)

32. Where now? Who now? When now? – Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable (1953; trans. Patrick Bowles)

33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.” – Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

34. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner. – John Barth, The End of the Road (1958)

35. It was like so, but wasn’t. – Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995)

36. Money . . . in a voice that rustled. – William Gaddis, J R (1975)

37. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. – Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

38. All this happened, more or less. – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

39. They shoot the white girl first. – Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998)

40. For a long time, I went to bed early. – Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (1913; trans. Lydia Davis)

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in. – Felipe Alfau, Chromos (1990)

42. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature. – Anita Brookner, The Debut (1981)

43. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane; – Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)

44. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. – Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation. – Walter Abish, Alphabetical Africa (1974)

47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. – C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

48. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. – Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

49. It was the day my grandmother exploded. – Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)

50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. – Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

51. Elmer Gantry was drunk. – Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (1927)

52. We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall. – Louise Erdrich, Tracks (1988)

53. It was a pleasure to burn. – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. – Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)

55. Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes’ chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. – Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)

56. I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho’ not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call’d me. – Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)

57. In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street. – David Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress (1988)

58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. – George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)

59. It was love at first sight. – Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

60. What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings? – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things (1971)

61. I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. – W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge (1944)

62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. – Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001)

63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. – G. K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

64. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

65. You better not never tell nobody but God. – Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

66. “To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die.” – Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)

67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. – David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System (1987)

69. If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog. – Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964)

70. Francis Marion Tarwater’s uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up. – Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear it Away (1960)

71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. – Gnter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959; trans. Ralph Manheim)

72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson. – Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show (1971)

73. Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World. – Robert Coover, The Origin of the Brunists (1966)

74. She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. – Henry James, The Wings of the Dove (1902)

75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

76. “Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. – Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond (1956)

77. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. – Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900)

78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. – L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

79. On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. – Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

80. Justice? – You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. – William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own (1994)

81. Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash. – J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973)

82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. – Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

83. “When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.” – Katherine Dunn, Geek Love (1983)

84. In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point. – John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor (1960)

85. When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. – James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss (1978)

86. It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man. – William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust (1948)

87. I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled. – Robert Graves, I, Claudius (1934)

88. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women. – Charles Johnson, Middle Passage (1990)

89. I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that somber city and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. – Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March (1953)

90. The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods. – Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922)

91. I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl’s underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self. – John Hawkes, Second Skin (1964)

92. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. – Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)

93. Psychics can see the color of time it’s blue. – Ronald Sukenick, Blown Away (1986)

94. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. – Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)

95. Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another persona shy young man about of 19 years oldwho, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his unclea journalist, fluent in five languageswho himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young mana long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in schoolthat his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen. – Raymond Federman, Double or Nothing (1971)

96. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. – Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye (1988)

97. He – for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it – was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. – Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)

98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. – David Lodge, Changing Places (1975)

99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. – Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. – Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)

The epicness of literture: a hodgepodge Tuesday

Today is a mash-up day for me.  I just finished work (at my “real job” ), now it’s time to squeeze in a quick blog then off to workout, write and study for my GRE (for my pursuit of my Doctorate’s).

Inspired by this, I thought I’d share a collection of english/literature related links I’ve found over the last few weeks, including a shakespearian take on Star Wars and a giant, albeit slightly creepy statue of Mr. Darcy.

1) Mr. Darcy has surfaced in Hyde Park.

creepy_darcy

In an effort to drum up interest in a new TV channel called “Drama”, this statue of Mr. Darcy has appeared in Hyde Park before finding a permanent home in Lyme Park (where the scene it depicts was film.) Personally, I would rather the statue resembles Matthew Macfadyen, but still a 12 statue of Mr. Darcy is pretty darn impressive and it is a great photo opportunity, especially for those like me who love vacations to see road-side, or in this case, lake-side attractions.

2) What can you do with library books? Why dominoes of-course! And that’s just what one library did, constructing a world record domino chain of books. This is every 5 year olds dream. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m 27, and this would be dream come true for me as well:

 

3) Every had a bad flight? I haven’t personally. I’m still a plane virgin and unnatural terrified of the air (looking at you Twilight Zone and William Shanter)…..But for those who have sat hours in a cramped metal tin calledan airplane with crappy movies and oddly microwaved objects, people swear to you is food,  this letter  is for you.

And last but not least.

4) Sometimes two things come together, so unnaturally, like the shy, nerdy boy in high school,  who musters his will to perform a techno dance on stage during the annual Christmas, but forgets his glow sticks, leading to 8 minutes of him whirling his barren hands in the air to a bad beat, that you are entranced. Even if you wanted to look away, you couldn’t.  So it is with a Shakespearean take on Star Wars.

Two things which never should go together, yet, Ian Doescher found a way to combine them, rewriting A New Hope in iambic pentameter . I’m undecided if the work translates to a train-wreck or pure brilliance but either way I can’t look away. His book is available through Quirk Books.

A guest post :The worst is yet to come

A while ago, a fellow blogger of mine,  Eric Keys and I started a weekly prompt writing session. A simple, fun, shared exercise. One week, he gives me a prompt and I write on it, and the next week, we revise.  Last week my story appeared on his blog, this week, I’m happy to share his.  I look forward to sharing the fruits of our labors with you all.

The Worst is Yet to Come

Slogging through paperwork was not what I signed-on for, she thought as she worked her way through the in-box. If Joe is Pastor Jack’s “Armor Bearer” then I’m his piss girl. It was the typical story. Joe was overwhelmed trying to balance his job as a youth pastor and being assistant manager at the auto parts store and all his little projects designed to keep him in touch with the youth or get him ahead in his career. But Pastor Jack – Joe’s boss – was overwhelmed, too. He fired most of his staff over the years – not an easy man to work for, thought Danni – and so a lot of clerical work slipped through the cracks. Till Jack found Joe. And Joe passed it all along to Danni. In fact, pretty much every job that Joe didn’t like got passed along to her.

“The work of a pastor’s wife is never finished,” she said aloud to no one. At least, she hoped it was to no one. “Maybe tonight it will end, though.”

She heard the sound of Joe letting himself into the house. She looked him over in his store uniform. He still had quite the physique despite the stress and lack of time to exercise. She would miss him.

“Honey,” she said, “we need to talk.”

Joe plopped down on the couch. “You didn’t finish those HR forms? Is that it? Jack’s going to be pissed, but I think it won’t be so bad,” Joe said.

“No Honey,” she turned toward him and gave him her “it’s serious” look. “I’ve been having sex with someone else.” And not just sex, she thought. Mind-blowing stuff that I never imagined was even possible, that is beyond any definition or idea I’ve ever had about sex.

Joe stared at her for a moment, jaw slack. “What?”

“Yes, I think you heard me. Don’t make me say it again.”

Joe walked behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. “Oh, Sweetie,” he said and paused before continuing. “I have a confession, too. I’ve slept around a bit.”

Danni resisted the urge to say: well, duh! Joe so often smelled or tasted of other women that Danni had offend wondered if he wanted to get caught.

He continued, “But this is good. We’ll clear the air and we’ll go see Pastor Jack for counseling.” He kissed her on the head and gave her a big smile. “We’ll work through this and be better for having done it. The worst really is over,” he said.

You have no idea, thought Danni. “There’s one other thing you should know, Joe. The person I’ve been sleeping with, I don’t think he’s human.”

Joe blinked at her a couple of times and then his cell phone began to ring. Danni recognized it as the ring tone Joe had set to go off when Pastor Jack called. It was some pop song that Danni was vaguely familiar with. She was pretty sure that Joe had spent hours meditating on the lyrics of various pop songs until he found one with several suitably ironic layers of meaning to associate with Pastor Jack.

“I’m sorry Honey, it’s Pastor Jack. He wouldn’t call this late unless someone was dying or something,” said Joe as he put the phone to his ear. “Joe here. Right. Yes. OK.”

Well, at least the worst is over, thought Danni.

Joe pushed the office chair Danni was sitting in aside and started logging into his email. “I’m in now, I’m opening your email,” said Joe into the phone.

The attachment preview started churning away and Joe and Danni watched as one by one pictures of Danni having sex with someone other than her husband manifested on the screen.

That’s when Danni heard David’s voice. It boomed in her ears but she knew Joe could not hear it. “No, sweet Danni. The worst is yet to come.” Now she knew he was here, doing some trick to keep from being seen. She could sense him – her body reacting to that voice that had teased her and toyed with her since she was a girl. The voice that her parents, teachers and pastors had all told her to ignore or repress or repent of having imagined. The voice that she had tried to squelch but always came back. She could smell him now, too, all his lust and hate and it took her breath away, like it always did.

You can find the next installment in the series here

Once upon a time, I came to hate Disney

I’ve never much been a fan of Disney, I’ll admit it, even as a kid, I’d rather play sky-diving Barbies than sit down and watch a Disney movie. I never wanted to be a Disney princess, except maybe for Belle, and that was only because of the awesome library.  It just wasn’t my thing.  So it wasn’t until later, when I was much older, that I actually watched the Disney cannon and realized the movies had awful moral values until…..

Hope.

Disney decided to create a female character that bucked the overwhelming trends of their franchise series, choosing to pursue her dreams rather than pursue a husband. Applauded for this incredibly late foray into the twenty-first century, quickly Disney had to shoot itself in the foot.

When Braves strong female lead, Merida, was introduced inMay as an official Disney princess, she was a starkly different character than then one appearing in the movie. Gone were the lose fitting clothes, replaced a with form-hugging dress hugging her newly spouted bountiful curves. Gone was her bow, an instrument of her power and independence leaving us with the quintessential over-feminized, helpless Princesses that Disney is so accustomed to producing.

The indignity in Disney’s decision to make Merida more marketable by striping her of any individuality perhaps shouldn’t be shocking considering the ranks she’s join.

We have Belle, a princess who started out a poor provincial girl with dreams of seeing the world and asserting her independence. Upon her imprisonment with her verbal abusive and borderline physically abusive captor, she quickly starts to fall for him when he shows a slight glint of humanity. Gone are her dreams and goals, replaced with the reward of a title and a husband who has changed overnight with no counseling.

Then there’s our little stalker Ariel. Our lovely aquarium-friend falls in love with a man she has never talked to. Taking her stalking and obsession to the extreme, she give up all of her talents, chucks her family and culture aside, and reinvents herself as a different person, who ironically enough lacks a voice. Her stalking is rewarded with his eventual love, solely based on a girl completely different from Ariel. And they live happily ever after.

There are other examples, other princesses with similar stories of weak-willed, love obsessed powerless women who flounder without a male presence or catalyst.  Perhaps, retrospectively views through the cultural standards of the time, the older tales and stories could be dismissed as reflective of the time though this of course makes them no more innocuous than their modern counterparts. But the insistence of Disney to shun any of the inroads made in the last fifty years of feminism simply is unacceptable.

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Disney caved over the pressure  from parents’ outrage, pulling the design and branding it as a “one time make over.” But even the creators of the movies doubt that she won’t be re-branded eventually. Let’s face it, a non-glamorous, strong lead doesn’t really fit in with their cannon.

The problem is, as Kurt Vonnegut once said, “we are what we pretend to be so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” We need to reexamine the stories we are telling our children.  The morals and lessons engrained in them, stated or not, seep into our minds, shaping us in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.

The world doesn’t need another curvy, innocuous perpetuation of feminine ideals. It doesn’t need another princess and all the class associations that title brings with it.  We need a pimply, chunky punk, a blue hair, pierced, Marxist rebel who tells society to shove it in pursuit of her dream.  Someone who inspires little girls to pursue their dreams no matter what they are.

And in the absence of Disney’s willingness to step outside its trite limited view of women, it’s time for us as artists to step into the void.

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Happy Fourth of July

To all those like me, states side, happy fourth of July! I don’t always agree with the actions of my country or lawmakers, but i am thankful to live in a world were I can write without fear of retribution!
Be safe, enjoy the day! And to the rest of the world, happy it’s almost Friday-day. 🙂