Monday, August 31, 2009

"Lulu & Sandra Made Salad"

Exercise #40 : "Lulu & Sandra Make Salad"

Lulu and Sandra are sisters. Lulu is jealous of Sandra. Sandra thinks Lulu is bossy. They are in Lulu's kitchen preparing a salad. Write the scene with dialogue.

5 minutes start.

"Get that bowl for me, would you?" asked Lulu. She was busy slicing a cucumber, its watery juice spattering on the cutting board.

Sandra rolled her eyes. "Fine," she said.

Sensing her sister's annoyance, Lulu looked up from the cucumber to peer at Sandra who was stretching her arm toward her, bowl in her hand. Sandra was looking at the perfectly manicured fingernails on her other hand, inspecting them for cracking paint.

"Thank you," she said. "Can you just put it down there?" But Sandra did not respond. Her attention was completely devoted to her hand.

"Sandra?" Lulu said.

"Hmm? Oh. Here." She dropped the plastic mixing bowl next to Lulu.

"You know," Lulu said, "you could help make this salad instead of picking at your nails all day."

Sandra gave her sister a look of disgusted shock. "I'm not picking at my nails," she said. "I'm maintaining."

"Either way, I could use your help. We have to get this salad ready so we can start setting up the decorations. The roast is almost done, and the rest of the stuff is in the warmer." said Lulu. She stopped cutting the cucumber and went to grab the lettuce.

"When is this thing supposed to start anyway?"

"Are you serious?" Lulu put the crisp, green lettuce into the mixing bowl and added the cucumbers. Sandra was beautiful, but sometimes she was surprisingly dense.

"Yeah, I'm serious," she said, her right eyebrow raised.

5 minutes up.

Wahooooo! 1 down, 325 to go... Aiya!

Come back a little later today for my review of District 9. It's going to be the bomb diggety, yo.

Man alive, I'm a dork.

Peace.
Stef.

Honest Scrap Award


A big thanks to Laura Eno over at A Shift in Dimentions for thinking of me when choosing the 7 bloggers to which she would extend this award after receiving it herself. I'm very excited!

The award is meant to be passed on to bloggers who post from the heart. The rules are simple: pass the award on to seven worthy blogs and list ten honest things about yourself.

The 7 bloggers to receive this award from me are as follows:
Congrats to all of you! I love these blogs, and the writers' honesty is a lot of the reason why they're so great.

Once again, thanks go to Laura Eno for bestowing this award on yours truly. I feel very special and honored. :)

Peace.
Stef.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lily, My Sister's Cat

I was supposed to do this yesterday. Whoops! I'm sure none of you noticed, and if you did, I'm sure you weren't too chapped about it. :)

Meet Lily, also known (to me) as Lilliput. She's the sweetest of our clan and will never fail to get excited when you come home. A high-pitched "Meowwwwww" will reach your ear the second you open the door. She's also prone to attacking hands in order to pin them down and bathe them. Now, if any of you have had cats, you know that they have rough tongues, and Lily will hold you down until she deems you clean. When she's in the mood, there is no chance of escape, and you will most likely end up with a raw patch of skin on your hand or arm (possibly even your face). But she's still cute as a button, so the offense is forgivable.

Her meow, as I mentioned earlier, is very high-pitched, and I originally thought it was just because she was still in kitten mode and hadn't quite grown into her adult voice, but she's over a year old now and it's still this pathetic little mew. It just adds to the cute factor, honestly.

Anyways, she's my sister's cat. I'm taking care of her because my sister is currently living with my parents due to a 6-month streak of unemployment (She is now employed by the government. Yay, Jennifer!) which sucked her dry of all of her funds. Three cheers for the economy!

The reason my sister had to find a foster home for Lily was because my parents aren't exactly what you would call "cat people" and requested that my sister find somewhere to ke
ep her while she stayed at their house. Jenn knew that I have a really soft heart when it comes to animals, so she asked me to take her, and I accepted. Once she pays off some of her debts, she is going to move out of my parents' house and into an apartment or house close to her job (which should be in around 6-ish months, I think...), and when she does that she'll be taking Lily with her. I must admit that I'm going to be sad when she goes. She's been my little sleeping buddy, cuddling next to my side at night or keeping my feet warm.

She is also the most prone to craziness when introduced to catnip. Of course, Kitty Kitty goes crazy as well, but not nearly as crazypants as Lily. Kitty Kitty will just writhe around in the catnip on the floor for a while, but when Lily smells catnip (or hears the bag crinkling, even) she goes berzerk. First she eats all of it. After a few min
utes, little streaks of black and white fur can be seen darting about the room, and, every so often, she'll stop in a corner to regroup. These recharges are brief and uncommon, but the whole process is hilarious. Oh, catnip, how entertaining thou art.

That's it for this week's installment of "Meet the cats that live in my house." I should probably come up with a better name for that, but seeing as I only have 1 more cat to do, there's not really much of a point, is there?

Next Saturday, Charlamagne, the upstairs cat.

Peace.
Stef.

"Significant Someone"

Exercise #39 : "Significant Someone"

Today's exercise is courtesy of Sheila Bender, a poet and writer and on-line writing magazine editor.

Write about a time you met someone now significant in your life.

Beep. Timer started.

Her features were striking. Large, full lips dominated her face, brown hair flowed down her back in thick waves, and she was laughing, throwing her head back, eyes sparkling. I didn't know her then.

We went to school for a while before we actually spent time with one another. We were in different classes and associated with different groups of people, so our paths rarely crossed. It wasn't until our second semester at The American Musical & Dramatic Academy (AMDA) that we actually met one another.

"My name's Sylvia," she said, extending her hand.

"Stefanie," I said as I grasped her hand with my own in a firm handshake. Oh, good, I thought. She has a strong handshake.

Sylvia was a very talented actress, and she came to AMDA to hone her skills not only in acting but in dancing and singing as well. Little did I know that our meeting would result in a strong friendship that lasted even through the trials of long distances.

5 minutes up.

This one was very difficult for me. For all of you that know me personally, you all know that I'm flighty as hell. I can't remember what happened this morning much less what happened several years ago. I try to, really. I just have a horrible memory. To be completely honest, I can't really remember when Sylvia and I met. I know that it was in 2005, and we were at AMDA. I don't even know if we officially introduced ourselves. I'm sure we just started talking while waiting for class to start one day... But I can't remember. See? Pathetic.

My mother always says to me, "You have a selective memory," which I guess is partly true... What I've figured, though, is that I can remember all of my blocking from shows I've been in. I can remember all of the lines, all of the music, all of the cues... Everything. It seems that I've stored all of the information from shows in my long-term memory, and apparently I've run out of room. Does anyone have a mind-eraser? I don't want my entire brain emptied... Just the supercilious stuff that I don't need to know. Or maybe I can carry around an extra brain with me like an external hard drive. That would be nice.

If anyone knows anything about that sort of technology, let me know. I'm desperate. :)

Peace.
Stef.

So Sunday's Blog Post...

... is going to be late. I just realized that I haven't done it, and I have work tomorrow from early in the morning until around noon. I'll probably do it by 1pm, but I don't know how that will pan out.

Either way, it'll happen; I'm just not sure when.

Peace.
Stef.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

There Is No Pot of Gold at the End of the Reading Rainbow

The recession has claimed another victim: Reading Rainbow hosted by LeVar Burton. After 26 years of sparking a love of books in children across the country, the last show aired on PBS yesterday (Friday) due to "contract expiration," though John Grant, who is in charge of content at WNED Radio Buffalo (Reading Rainbow's home station), stated that "the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming."

What a bunch of bunk. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act we are now going to focus on the mechanics of reading, not the enjoyment of it. Great. Maybe it's just because I was (and still) am such a voracious reader when I was little that I'm so affected by this. Not only that, but I watched every single episode of Reading Rainbow and practically grew up with it. Sure, I'm being nostalgic, but it was a great show, and I feel like our youth is further doomed than I stated in an earlier post.

Why do I feel like reading is on its way out?

For the Reading Rainbow enthusiast:

video

We'll see you next time.


"Repair / Service"

Exercise #38 - "Repair / Service"

Make a quick list of the major items in a typical house that might need professional repair or service --- everything from the piano to the dishwasher (Take no more than 2 minutes.). Then, next to each item, jot down one or two things that could go wrong / get broken, etc (e.g., loud, clanging noise; dishes come out dirty). Then using no more than 5 words (That's right, only 5 words.), describe each repair or service person who would come to the house.

Ok, friends. 5 minutes start........ now.
  • refrigerator - The light comes on when the door is opened, but there's no cooling. (Or) when trying to cool itself, it makes a God-awful noise that could be likened to the sound of an irate t-rex. : Duke almost always wins.
  • dishwasher - It breaks nearly every single dish that's put into it. : Beautiful Emily shouldn't fix dishwashers.
  • plumbing - Nothing is draining properly. Sinks, tubs, toilets all back up frequently. : Eric alwys cracks a smile (teeheeeee).
  • roofing - The center of the roof has started to sag inward. : Gina - tougher than most guys.
  • foundation - The house is on a slight tilt. : Mark charges excessive amounts.
  • baby grand piano (sigh... Why can't I be rich enough to have one of these?) - Due to age, several of the keys "stick." : Lucian loves his musical work.
  • electrical system - Some lights spark a little when turned on. Some switches don't work at all. : Fred always has a plan. : Sam is a pyromaniac.
  • television - When turned on, it plays for a minute but then retreats into the blue screen of death before going caput. : Margaret doesn't watch television.
5 minutes up.

So today's post is an hour late. Whoops. I accidentally slept a little longer than I had wanted, and by the time I realized this, it was too late. So I started working on it, and voila! We have a new blog. Part of it was also that I was mourning the loss of one of my favorite childhood shows: Reading Rainbow.

Expect a post later on today (probably around 4pm) in honor of Lavar Burton and this great show.

Peace.
Stef.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Review of Batman: Arkham Asylum

Let me first explain to all of you that I am not a gamer. A good game, to me, is one that simply entertains. Of course, one might argue that all of the blood and gore is entertainment, but not for me. I have an extremely active imagination, and even though I can handle a good bit of violence I get really into it. In the end, really scary / gory movies or games get into my head, and I can rarely escape from them, especially in my sleep which, in turn, becomes impossible to do.

But that's beside the point. On to my review...

The game is engrossing, to say the least. I know that I'm fully entangled in the story, even though I'm not playing. Who would have thought? A video game with a great storyline. Huh. The premise is as follows:

While being transported to a high security area of Arkham Asylum, the elusive Joker escapes from the watch of Bat
man and the guards and holes up in Arkham itself, attacking its workers and taking the Warden and Commissioner Gordon captive. He also releases all of the crazies within the place in order to make Batman's trip inside the depths of just that much harder. The baddies that the Joker releases included but are not limited to Poison Ivy, the Croc, the Riddler, and Scarecrow. Batman's mission, should he accept it, is to infiltrate the asylum and stop the Joker from absolutely ruining the facility... Well, and to keep him from killing people. That's kind of important, too.

First off, props to Mark Hamill. His Joker has always been my favorite, and I'm pleased that they let him reprise his role for the game. There's just something about his voice that perfectly encompasses the mad hatter vibe along with the volatile,
criminal insanity. It's all in the laugh, I think. The cackle turns your blood to ice and makes you want to run home to mommy, no exaggerations. It also doesn't help that he looks creepier than Freddy Kreuger. I will say, however, that I was quite happy with the fact that, while the Joker is an incredibly deranged character, they took some time to lighten it up with nonsensical dialogue at which you cannot help but to chuckle. Two thumbs up for this character.

And now for the downside of their character development...

I'm all for stro
ng women. They're great. But I hate it when you can tell that a game has been written by a man, and this game was definitely concocted by the masculine mind. Wanna know how I know? 2 characters: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. HQ wasn't as bad as PI, but they were both overly-sexualized, and, even though I could see it for myself, it was made all the more apparent by my roommate's obvious lust.

"Oh, that is so hot," he says, drool dripping down his chin as HQ traipses across the screen saying, "Do you like my outfit? Hot, ain't it?" I won't eve
n go into Poison Ivy's wardrobe... Oy.

Sure, these are comic book characters, and, as such, they are going to be
on the sexual side simply because of the nature of comic books. I guess I can put that aside in an attempt to be fair.

Moving on...

As I was saying earlier, the plotline is great. As an onlooker, it doesn't even feel like I'm watching a game. Of course, there are repetitive gameplay issues that appear throughout. For example, whenever battling a boss, it's all about the pattern. I mean, isn't that usually the case? Boss attacks, leaves himself open for a split second, you let loose your fury for that briefest of seconds and harm the boss marginally. Then they unleash a few attacks while keeping themselves guarded, but after around 3 of these attacks they resume to the vulnerable but powerful attack, leaving them open for another response from you. It goes this way until you whittle down the boss's health until they're dead. Wahoo.

The graphics weren't absolutely stunning, but they were good enough to where I wasn't thinking about them constantly. I actually kind of liked how they didn't make it appear to be real life. There was a sort of comic book feel to it which I felt was ingenious and very skillfully done.

That's all I can think of for now. If I think of something else, I'll just post a review Part Deux. :)

Peace.
Stef.

"Gobbledyghuk"

Exercise #37 - "Gobbledyghuk"

This is an exercise to explore the pure sound and rhythm of language. Ideally, the music of language reinforces its meaning. You are a translator of Gobbledyghuk, which you speak perfectly. Your task is to translate the following lines.

"Philadelphia, I was told in New York, was so slow that it was safe for people to fall out windows-- they just wafted down like gossamer..."*

"There he is, in all his glory, Brad Pitt, that beautiful, chiseled chunk of celebrity manhood."**

"Mrs Tittlemouse was a most terrible tidy particular little mouse, always sweeping and dusting the soft sandy floors. Sometimes a beetle lost its way in the passages. "Shuh! Shuh! Little dirty feet!" said Mrs Tittlemouse, clattering her dust-pan.***

* P. Gibbs, People of Destiny
**Desson Howe, The Washington Post 10/1999
*** Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse

Ok... I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to do with this one. Am I supposed to translate into Gobbledyghuk? And if so, what is this business about the rhythm of language? Is it supposed to sound kind of like the English language in its meter? I'm really confused. An example would have been nice, methinks.

So... What to do?

Wait, didn't I already do an exercise nearly exactly like this?

Uh... Ok.

As a result, I will take this day off from the writing exercises. hehe To make up for it, however, I think I'll post a review of the new game, Batman: Arkham Asylum. I personally have not played it (to be explained in my post), but I've watched nearly 100% of the gameplay while my roommate, Andy, made his way through the puzzles and brawls. Anyways, expect that around 2pm. It will be a doozy. :)

Peace.
Stef.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Name, Jewelry, Adjective" - Take Two

Exercise #36 - "Name, Jewelry, Adjective"

List 15 names (e.g., Lisa, Jane, Humbert, etc.)
For each name, assign one piece of jewelry (e.g., pearls, wedding ring, etc)
Then for each assign an adjective (e.g., enthusiastic)
You will then have 15 sets, e.g.,
Jane, wedding ring, enthusiastic
John, class ring, doubtful
After you do 15 sets, circle the one you find least interesting. Then notate the one you find most amusing.
  1. Georgia, tennis bracelet, romantic
  2. William, gold MD ring, accomplished
  3. Maria, sterling silver promise ring, confident
  4. Philbert, gold chain, pimpin'
  5. Bruce, blinged out pinky ring, mob-ish
  6. Ethel, freshwater pearl necklace, overwhelmed
  7. Irene, nose ring, rebellious
  8. Natalie, silver chain, grateful
  9. Mina, gold bindi, proud
  10. Amos, Bvlgari watch, shocked
  11. Andrew, eyebrow ring, unique
  12. Michael, family heirloom pocket watch, nostalgic
  13. Rachael, wedding ring, doubtful
  14. Erin, wedding ring, ecstatic
  15. Marlene, anklet, suspicious
Oh, my favorite is definitely Philbert's new sense of pimpage with his gold, Mr. T chain. I laughed out loud when I finished up with that one. I mean, just picture Philbert, whoever your mind conjures up when the name is presented to you. Now add a big ass gold chain hanging around his neck. Hilarious.

I'm also a fan of mob-ish Bruce with his blinged-out pinky ring. I'm sure he started working on his patronly jowls and Italian accent the second he put it on.

In other news, school started today. Blahhhhhhh... I've never been one for school. Don't get me wrong; I love learning. There's nothing I like more than to sit in a comfy chair and read a history book, but I absolutely hate being tested on anything that I am supposed to have learned. I'm not what you would call a good test-taker, but ask me to write an essay or have a conversation about the things I've learned then I'll stun you with what I've absorbed. It's always been an annoying trait, but I've learned to live with it.

Either way, school has started, and there's nothing I can do about it. Oh, well.

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. I had to re-do this one. It seems my blog template was being douche-y, so I have fixed the css formatting and reposted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Foxy Redhead Award

A big thank you to Anton Gully over at The Black Dogs of Despair Ate My Novel for bestowing his newly created Foxy Redhead Award upon yours truly. Apparently, being a foxy redhead is grounds for an award. Awesome, says I. I have that quality totally in the bag. Thanks, henna!!

Alright. This is what Anton Gully said on his blog about the rules:

Should you choose to accept this award, the rules are as follows.

1.(a) No using the award for any form of unsanctioned commercial gain.
(b) No bringing the award into disrepute(unless it's funny and you catch it on video)
2 You agree to pass the award on to one other blogger who is:
(I) Foxy - ie cunning, wily or sly
(II) A redhead, or has been a redhead. Wigs do not count(unless it's a really funny wig, and there are pictures.)

Without further ado, I select (drumroll please...):

My sister via her blog We Can All Use a Little More Juju!! Congrats!! Hand clapping and ecstatic high fives all around! Wahoo!

She sadly has taken a break from readheaded-dom, but she was a fire-head until very recently. Either way, check out her blog. She's pretty foxy and cunning, as the award suggests.

Once again, thanks a bunch to Anton for creating an awesome award. Redheads everywhere unite!

Peace.
Stef.

"Falling Mattresses"

Exercise #35 - "Falling Mattresses"

"They had been waiting, umbrellas up, for the falling mattresses."
Take this as the first line of your story and start writing.

5 minutes start........ now.

They had been waiting, umbrellas up, for the falling mattresses. That, of course, was figuratively speaking. It was an old family saying, "to wait for the falling mattresses." I guess one could liken it to the "the shit's about to hit the fan" or something similar.

The tension in the living room was palpable. Her mother sat, her legs crossed elegantly, next to her father who was wringing his hands nervously.

"So," said her mother. "Chicago?"

"Yes," said Julia. "Chicago."

"But why?" her father interjected. "Why Chicago?" The worry in his eyes pulled at her heartstrings, but she had made her choice.

"Because it's where I need to be, Dad."

"And why is that?" said her mother. "Why is it where you need to be?" She stared at her daughter coldly, calculating just how far she could push her.

"Because it's like New York gone through a Brita filter," Julia explained.

Her father stopped wringing his hands and peered at her, curious. "What do you mean?" he said.

"I mean, it's still a city," Julia said, "but it's not nearly as gross as New York. And it's far enough to the south that it has some nice people."

"That is no reason to go to school so far away," her mother barked. She was a fright to confront, but Julia figured it had to be done. Otherwise, she would never get to go where she felt she needed to go.

5 minutes up.

You know, I'm ok with how I handled this one. It took me a good minute to figure out what I was going to do with such a bizarre beginning sentence. I mean, come on. Falling mattresses? hah Either way, I'm ok with how it turned out. I'm still not exactly sure why Julia wanted to go to Chicago so badly. It probably had something to do with the performing arts. Oh well.

What would you guys have done with that sentence? I'm interested in hearing how you would have handled it.

Peace.
Stef.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Your Mom at Five"

Exercise #34 - "Your Mom at Five"

Today's exercise is courtesy of Leslie Pietrzyk, a novelist and short story writer who lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Imagine you are your mother. You're five years old. What are you seeing / thinking / doing?

What?? I mean... WHAT? I can't even wrap my mind around this one. To me, it seems like I would have to know an in-depth knowledge of my mother's childhood which, I hate to say, I do not. I know a little bit, but I can't even begin to start this exercise. I'm a big proponent of "Write what you know," and... I just don't know this. Not only that, but me and kids... Well, we're not exactly on good terms. I don't understand them and have no idea how they think. Sure, I was a kid at one point in time (and still am, really...), but who remembers anything from when they're 5 years old?

But then again, it's a writing exercise, so it doesn't really matter all that much in the end. I guess I'll give it a fighting try? Wish me luck...

Disclaimer: Mom, I have no idea where you were living when you were 5, but I remember you talking about Mississippi... So that's where you're going to be in this exercise. Forgive me for the historically incorrect lies I am about to weave.

5 minutes start ... now.

It is a warm spring day in Mississippi, and I am outside playing with my pet turtle. I've named him Chuckles, because he looks like he's smiling. My brothers, Wayne and Eric, are playing catch over by the clothesline. Mommy and Daddy are inside, but Daddy keeps coming out to check on us. I think they're reading inside or something.

5 minutes up............

That was an utter FAIL. Maybe it was laziness or an unwillingness to delve into what I perceive to be my mother's childhood, but I'm going to say that I was completely blank. I tried, really I did... But when I tried to think of something that could have possibly happened, I got absolutely nothing. Sorry, Mom. I love you. I just don't know anything about where you grew up.

I do know, however, that when she was a baby she tried to climb out of the window of her house. In fact, I think she succeeded and was hanging out on the roof right below the window when her Dad came to get her.

I also know that when her younger brother, Jeff, was born, she and her brothers used to tell him that he was adopted and called him Fluffy. I think that's right.

Oy. This was kind of a worthless post. I'll have to post something later on today that actually has some literary merit... or a topic. A topic would be good.

Once again, I beg your forgiveness. haha

I guess I shouldn't be begging forgiveness, because I am also of the belief that one should never apologize for their writing. So... I'm not sorry, damn it! hah

Anyways, that's all for this post. Check back later to see if I've posted something else.

Peace.
Stef.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"OCD" in Honor of "A Really Bad Case of the Mondays"

Exercise #33 - "OCD"

Your character is obsessive compulsive. Describe his or her morning. Do not use the words "obsessive compulsive" (Show, don't tell.).

Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz. My hand shoots out from beneath my covers to slam on top of the alarm clock that has disturbed my slumber. Monday.

After spending a few minutes debating whether or not I should call in sick to work, I push the covers off my body and sit up on the side of my bed. My clean, blue, terrycloth slippers sit exactly perpendicular to my bed so that when I sit up I can slip my feet in and out of them easily. In and out, in and out, in and out, in and out. 1, 2, 3, 4.

I get up and walk to my bathroom to take a shower, and on my way there I stop by my linen closet to grab a towel. I close the door and force myself forward to my bathroom, but I can't do it. I hurry back to the closet and open and close the door 10 times. If I didn't, the day would have been a complete disaster. I would have thought about it every single second.

Shamefacedly, I move to the bathroom and proceed to do the same ritual with the bathroom door. Finally, some peace. The bathroom is a safe zone for me. There's nothing to straighten, nothing to open and close time and time again. It's just a small room with shower / tub combination, a toilet, and a sink. Simple, yet elegant.

5 minutes up.

This is actually a topic about which I know quite a bit. I've always been fascinated by obsessive-compulsive disorder not only because it honestly is quite interesting to study but also because I'm mildly afflicted by it. Don't get me wrong. I'm no "Monk," but there are little things that I do that are just irrational.

For example, when I eat I have to eat in even numbers. M&M's, Reese's Pieces, Junior Mints... They all have to be consumed in a symmetrical fashion. And don't even get me started on the mental wars involving colored food. This counting phenomenon doesn't just apply to finger food, though. The umbrella covers all food. Take a steak, for example. I have to cut the steak into equal, even-numbered portions. If, for some reason, I can't do that, I simply won't eat the offensive odd numbered left over. It's a horrible waste, but I just can't do it.

How about you? Do you have any OCD tendencies? I've heard it said that "Everyone is a little OCD."

Peace.
Stef.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

I saw Inglourious Basterds with my sister yesterday evening (the 10:15pm show that ended around 1am), and I must say that I will be buying this movie.

I'd like to stress the fact, however, that I am not a fan of Quentin Tarantino's work. I don't hate it, but I don't go all crazy for his next movie. This may be blasphemous to some, but I did not enjoy "Pulp Fiction." Of course, I haven't watched it in a long time, so maybe another foray into that territory will end with a different result. But for right now, meh...

The main thing that gets me with Tarantino movies is the gore. Some might say that the amount of blood is comical, but I just can't handle it (As I type that, I can't help but giggle. One of my favorite trilogies is Evil Dead.). That's my first opinion for this movie. It wasn't a gore-fest. There were, of course, points at which I closed my eyes and covered my face until the squishing or slashing sounds dissipated, but in a normal Tarantino film, this would have happened numerous times. I would have probably missed 50% of the movie. It's one of the reasons that I don't really watch scary movies, either. Give me a rom-com with a happy ending, thank you.

Ok. So we've decided that the gore factor was acceptable. What else?

The characters created for this film were brilliant, and I very rarely say statements like that. Brad Pitt's character alone would get me to see this movie again. It wasn't only him, though. The whole cast was great, and they performed so very, very well. On top of that, they were given exemplary dialogue and plot devices. I don't want to ruin it for anyone that sees it, but I'd like to say "bonjorno" to all of the people who have seen it.

If you don't want to spoil the movie, do not read any further. I am going to talk pretty in-depth about the storyline and whatnot, so run away quickly if you want to enter into the movie completely ignorant to its contents.


Ok. Moving forward.

I will say that I was kind of frustrated when Tarantino killed off Hugo Stiglitz. He was an awesome character, and the minute we get to know him, bang. He's gone. Of course, he dies in pretty amazing scene, but I wanted to keep him around for longer, because he was just a total badass. I mean, seriously. The badassery was palpable. It was a shame to see him go, and in honor of his departure, I'd like to put down a series of quotes from the movie:

[Maj. Hellstrom aims his Walther at Lt. Hicox's genitals under a table.]
Maj. Dieter Hellstrom: That was the sound of my Walther pointed right at your testicles.
[Lt. Hicox quietly aims his.]
Lt. Archie Hicox: That makes two of us.
[Sgt. Stiglitz comes up behind Maj. Hellstrom and aggressively forces his gun into Maj. Hellstrom's crotch.]
Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz: That makes three of us.

Absolutely wonderful.

Another great thing about this movie is that it took historical fact and threw it completely out of the window. Instead of killing himself in a bunker, Hitler is shot to death by two of the Inglourious Basterds with dynamite strapped to their ankles. This dynamite, of course, goes off soon after in a fantastic display of special effects. And we all know we love to see a movie theater blown to bits. Well, we love to see anything blown to bits, really.

All in all, this was a great movie, and I highly recommend it. Two thumbs way, way up, Ebert and Roeper!

That's all for this review. I'll leave you with a final series of quotes from the movie...

Lt. Aldo Raine: I need to know about Germans hiding in trees. And you need to tell me right now.
Sgt. Werner Rachtman: I respectfully refuse, sir.
Lt. Aldo Raine: Actually, Werner, we're all tickled to hear you say that. Quite frankly, watching Donny beat Nazi's to death is the closest we ever get to going to the movies.
[shouts offscren] Donny!
Sgt. Donny Donowitz (also known as The Bear Jew): [from offscreen] Yeah?
Lt. Aldo Raine: Got us a German here wants to die for country. Oblige him.

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. Go see the movie.

"Giant Golden Buddha"

Exercise #32 - "Giant Golden Buddha"

In San Francisco there was a townhouse with a second story picture window - the living room, apparently - completely filled by a giant golden Buddha. This seated Buddha, which must have been at least six feet high, faced out, serenely overlooking the marina. The exercise is this: Robert has been invited for cocktails. He enters this living room from the hallway. From Robert's point of view, this large statue blocks what must be a magnificent view. What does he think about that? Write the scene and include some dialogue with the host and Robert's unspoken thoughts.

5 minutes begin ........... now.

As Robert walked up to the house, he couldn't help but notice the gigantic Buddha staring down at him from the picture window above him on the second floor. He took a step back. Did I really just see that? Apparently, he had, because a second look proved that the Buddha was there, glistening in the bright summer moonlight. Holy crap.

It had been over a year since he had seen the Denton's, and when he last spoke with them they had been die-hard, evangelizing Christians. What had happened?

Robert knocked hesitantly on the door. Maybe they forgot and are out to see a movie. He had never disliked the Denton's, but he had never been close with them, either. They were what you would call friends of a friend, acquaintances. Imagine his surprise when he received a formal invitation for a cocktail party on the date of July 21st. Unable to say no, he accepted the offer in a formal letter of response and expressed his excitement at seeing them again after such a long time. Lies.

The Denton's were home, to Robert's chagrin. Joe Denton opened the door, smiling broadly, his teeth whiter than Robert had previously thought possible. They practically blinded him in the moonlight.

"Robert!" he said, his toothy grin glowing from behind his lips. "So good to see you! Come on in!"

"Hey, Joe," he said. "How goes it?"

"Quite wonderfully, thank you." Joe took his coat and hung it in the closet next to the door. The foyer was compact and a little claustrophobic, with a set of stairs leading upward. "Come on upstairs. Everyone's in the living room."

Following Joe's example, Robert made his way up the precariously steep steps, clinging to the railing. He felt like he was mountain climbing.

As the two of them neared the summit, Joe called out to his wife.

"Annie!" he yelled. "Guess who's here?"

From the living room, Robert heard Annie squeal.

"Oh, Joe!" she said. "Is it Robert?"

Joe had already made his way into the living room by the time Robert had reached the top of the stairs, panting. I need to get in shape. Before he could recover, Annie threw herself at him in one of the most invasive hugs he had ever witnessed, much less been a part of.

"A-Annie," he choked out. "How are ya?"

"Oh, Robert! You look marvelous!" Annie stepped away from him, her hands on either side of his shoulders, surveying him. Her blue eyes glittered excitedly in the lamplight as she smiled. Suddenly, she frowned.

"Would you look at me!" she said. "Fawning all over you when I have other guests to introduce you to!"

Grabbing Robert's arm, Annie pulled him towards the small group of people sitting on their oversized, leather couches. He would have looked at him, but his gaze was attracted to the large, gold Buddha statue directly behind them. The statue was facing the street outside, so all he could see was a massive, gilded back.

"Everyone," Annie said, "this is Robert."

5 minutes up.

I liked this one. Sadly, though, I didn't get to find out why they had a huge, golden Buddha in their living room, but... it's whatever. I'll leave that up to you to figure out.

What do you think? Why did these once Bible thumpers change their religion to Buddhism? Or did they change their religion at all? Maybe they just like the statue. Maybe someone gave it to them, and they feel bad for not displaying it in their home despite their obvious problems with the iconic figure.

Not only that, but why are they so excited to see this man that they hardly know? I have absolutely no idea.

What do you think?

Peace.
Stef.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I've Decided That It's Time...

... you met the kitties in my life. Currently, there are 3. 1 of them is all mine, 1 of them is my sister's, and the other is owned by my upstairs roommate, Jessica.

Today's post is going to be about my cat. Yay!

This is Kitty Kitty, my beautiful baby girl. I helped raise her from the time she was born, and she is just all sorts of wonderful. Of course, being a cat, she can be aloof and mean from time to time if I push her buttons. Thankfully, I know all of those buttons and steer clear of them... unless I want to practice my cat yodeling skills, that is.

All in all, she's pretty great, and I'm lucky to have her.

I guess I should explain the name. Well, my sister and I used to live together, and my sister's cat at the time, Dyna, escaped one night and came back knocked up. Awesome. Jenn should have gotten the cat spayed in the first place, but what's done is done. Either way, Kitty Kitty was the fruit of those labors and was actually the only kitten of the pregnancy. Not as in the other kittens died. Kitty Kitty was it. She came out - pop - and... nothing else. Done. I guess that is one of the reasons she thinks she's such a special little fart now. hah Well, being that the kitten came of my sister's cat, Jenn named her "Penelo" (any Final Fantasy fans out there?? chirp chirp).

Now, I will say this until I'm blue in the face, but I think that Penelo is one of the stupidest names I've ever heard. Jenn, you know I love you, but really?? Ok. Now that I've allowed myself that moment, let's move on, shall we?

My sister moved out of our house and got her own place, but I had grown fond of Penelo over the few months that she had been alive. In the end, Jenn let me keep her when she moved out. All of this time, I had refused to call her Penelo, but being that she already had a name (no matter how much I hated it) I didn't feel the need to rename her. So instead of an actual name, I called her Kitty Kitty. When Jenn left, the name stuck, and voila! Kitty Kitty it is!

She's a cuddlebug at night and likes nothing more than for me to rub her face and her little butt button (You know, that place on a cat's haunches that, when touched, makes the cat's back arch, etc... Yeah, that place.). As I said, she can have her mean moments, but they're mostly justified by rude behavior either on my part or my roommates. It's funny, though. She doesn't really lash out at me, but when I put her down on the floor after an unwanted cuddle session, she immediately makes a beeline for the closest cat and attacks him or her with a vengeance unparalleled by even the most fearsome predators. It's pretty hilarious.

Kitty Kitty also wakes me up in the morning around 5am because she's hungry. This video actually covers it pretty well. Except it's not just her. It's all 3 cats, jumping on my bed and rubbing themselves on me. "Wake up!!" they meow mournfully. "We're hungry!" So begrudgingly, I get up and appease them. Then I go back to bed.

Well, that's Kitty Kitty. Next Saturday you'll meet Lily, my sister's cat. She's pretty friggin' adorable.

"Kinesthesia"

Exercise #31: "Kinesthesia"
The use of specific details that appeal to the senses - sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch - makes writing vivid. Kinesthesia is often overlooked as it overlaps with the others, in particular, touch. The dictionary defines kinesthesia as "a sense mediated by end organs located in muscles, tendons, and joints and stimulated by bodily movements and tensions."
Some examples of kinesthesia:
  • climbing stairs
  • reaching deep into a drawer and feeling around for a small coin
  • doing jumping jacks
  • sitting in the shade and slowly turning the pages of a newspaper
  • pushing into a crowded subway car
  • standing on one leg with your hands on your hips while singing the Star Spangled Banner
  • etc...
Make your list. Come up with as many as you can.
  • singing a high C while standing on a stage - Believe me. A LOT harder than it seems it should be.
  • along the same lines, singing anything above a high G while laying down (Thanks, Mimi from La Boheme... Oy.)
  • crouching down with a flashlight to peer once again into the abyss under our couch for the remote...
  • doing a tap dance while smiling the whole time - Once again, you're going to have to take my word for it. Not easy.
  • leaning off the edge of a staircase with your hand holding onto the railing to see if anyone is downstairs because you're too lazy to actually walk down the stairs
  • laughing so hard that you start crying uncontrollably
  • getting in and out of my car
  • driving, pedal to the metal
  • sneezing
  • stretching in my bed when I first wake up in the morning
  • uh...
I can't think of anything else.

I have a little confession to make. My mind was totally not in this exercise. "Blast From the Past" is playing on my TV, and I just can't tear myself away from Brendan Fraser. It's a weakness of mine. Well, I guess I should have waited until the movie was over, because in between each example I kept getting distracted. I'm sorry. Put any form of Brendan Fraser in front of me, and I am transfixed. It also doesn't help that his character is, by far, the absolute cutest person in the world. He's just so innocent, it makes me giddy. "I'm watching television, in color." I mean, really... Lovely.

This moves me onto another topic. I have this list, see, that consists of around 11-12 males who are all actors, I believe. These men, were they to proposition me for sex at any point in time by some bizarre twist of fate, would have no problem getting a "Hell, yes! Your place or mine??" from me.

Let's get to crackin' on that list, shall we?

  • Brendan Fraser
  • Christian Bale
  • Colin Firth (He has to play the part of Mr. Darcy from either Pride & Prejudice or Bridget Jones.)
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Luke and/or Owen Wilson
  • Harrison Ford
  • Sean Connery
  • Joaquin Pheonix
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • Mark Wahlberg
That's most of them. I can't think of any others, at any rate. My boyfriend is completely aware of this list (He has one as well.), and is totally fine with it. I mean, think about it. What are the chances of my ever meeting any of them? Slim to none. So it's harmless, says I. I get to have my little fantasy, and nobody is any the wiser.

Do any of you have lists like this? If so, who's on it? If not, why not?

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. This blog commemorates 1 month finished of my writing exercises. Congrats to me! Wahoo.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Movies Between 10 and 15"

Exercise #30: "Movies Between 10 and 15"
In a 1974 interview with Gerald Clarke for The Paris Review, Gore Vidal said, "Every writer of my generation has been influenced by films... Find out the movies a man saw between 10 and 15, which ones he liked, disliked, and you would have a pretty good idea of what sort of mind and temperament he has." Either for yourself or for one of your characters, list the movies you (he / she) can recall having seen between 10 and 15.

The characters I'm currently working on haven't seen a movie as they don't really exist in their time, so I'll be filling this one out from my personal life. Wahooey.

Except... Now that I think of it... I can't remember what movies I saw between the ages of 10 and 15. So what to do? Make up a character on the spot?

Heck yes, I do!

Meet Alfred, "Al" for short. He's a slightly pudgy, balding man who works as an accountant in Chicago, IL. His hobbies include model airplanes and trains, sudoku, and base jumping among other various activities. He is unmarried but happy with that status; his lifestyle simply doesn't cater to married life, and he's ok with that. He does, however, have a three-legged dog - Bob - that started following him around in the park one sunny, summer day 2 years ago.

Al is a quiet man which makes some people think that he's either stupid or stuck up, but, in truth, he's a thinker. He hashes things out in his mind before saying them and loves philosophy-based circular arguments. He is a kind soul with hopeless romantic tendencies (that he sometimes tries to cover up with cynicism) but tends to be a bit sensitive about things that, for normal people, would have been forgotten after a simple shrug of the shoulders. He is prone to angry tirades, however, if the subject of animal abuse is brought up. Otherwise, he's very gentle.

Ok. Enough setup. I've used nearly all of my 5 minutes to describe aa character. I guess it was for the best, though. I mean, I just met him, too.

Movies Al Saw Between the Ages of 10 and 15:
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • The Thrill Seekers (His mom was an old movie buff.)
  • The Avengers
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Batman
  • 5 Steps to Danger
  • Trouble in Paradise
  • Snow White
Ok. 5 (more like 7 or 8) minutes up.

Man, it's a good thing that I'm a movie buff (like Al's mama), because I definitely had to reach pretty deeply into my memory banks to pull out some of those titles.

I guess it was my musical theatre obsession that set fire to my love of classic movies. Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra... just to name a few of the greats. I remember watching all of those old movies and singing along with them, dancing (as best I could) like they were, and laughing at all of the corny jokes. Those were the good days.

But I digress...

What movies have you seen that had an effect on who you are today? Why did they effect you so profoundly?

Can't wait to hear from you.

Peace.
Stef.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"The Five Dollar Bill"

Exercise #29: "The Five Dollar Bill"
A five dollar bill changes hands five times in one day. Make a list of where, when, who hands it over, and for what. For example:
  • Where: Starbucks, NJ Turnpike
  • When: 7:30am
  • Who: Bob, a truck driver
  • What: a cup of coffee (black) and a bean burrito
If you can complete this exercise in less than 5 minutes, go back and add more detail to describe the places and the people.

1. Where: Kroger
When: 11:45pm
Who: Me
What: Purity's Peanut Butter Fudge ice cream (I had a sudden craving, ok?)

2. Where: CVS
When: 9am
Who: Nancy Durham, the woman who paid for a pack of gum with a $20 bill at Kroger (ugh)
What: a pack of gum

3. Where: Wok City
When: 12pm
Who: Daniel Covra
What: a small order of fried wontons (mm... yummy)

4. Where: YMCA
When: 3:35pm
Who: Holly Demitas
What: exchanged for 5 $1 bills in order to buy an Aquafina from the vending machine

5. Where: Macy's
When: 4:53pm
Who: David Morgan
What: a new outfit for his date with Holly Demitas tomorrow. You see, they really hit it off while exchanging bills, and they ended up exchanging digits as well. Unfortunately for Holly, David is a complete tool with a frat boy mentality. All of that = an awesome date (Please, note the sarcasm.).

hehe That was fun. My favorite was most definitely the little repartee between Holly and David, which reminds me...

I could have sworn that my sister posted on her blog about a really annoying date that she had a little while ago (We Can All Use a Little More Juju), but when I went back to her site to link it, I couldn't find it. I probably just overlooked it.

Jenn, if you're reading this and have a link to said blog post, leave a comment here. Or... just text me, and I'll edit the post. heh Whichever.

Either way, I would much rather have you read the story in her own words because she tells it so well, but I'll have to do my best to relay the info.

Jenn had been talking to this guy via facebook or myspace or summat, and she dug him. He was interesting, intelligent, funny... He seemed like the perfect guy, so when he asked her out on the date she said 'sure.' Oh, poor, poor Jennifer. How wrong you were.

From what I remember, they first went to eat somewhere (I can't remember where...), and Jennifer pretty much knew from the moment she met him in person that this was going to be a real stinker.

He was a frat boy.

You all know the type:
Urban dictionary defines him as "any college age, needle-d***, weed-smoking a**hole who attends college only to party and flunk out. [He] may use roofies to rape women, and finds destroying the property of others an enjoyable pastime. He is recognized by the following:

1) caucasian ethinicity
2) sleeveless t-shirts
3) inane, misogynistic babble
4) the ginormous SUVs (usually F-150s or Suburbans) with jacked-up wheels they drive, especially with stereos blaring rap or metal
5) visors, especially if worn upside-down, backwards, or a savory combination of the two
6) excessive use of the word "faggot"
7) possession of 40 oz beers, cigarettes, marijuana, and/or beer kegs (full-size or pony), especially alcohol stolen from the local grocery store
8) membership in a fraternity (optional)"

Yep. That sounds about right.

Already regretting her choice to go out with this guy, she orders her food (What was it that you ordered, Jenn?) sans cheese. My sister is lactose intolerant, so she absolutely cannot eat food with dairy in it. If she does, she very much regrets it later as she will probably be sitting on that oh-so-special throne in the bathroom for a good long while. Upon hearing this, the guy starts making fun of her. "Oh, hi, I'm Jenn, and I can't eat dairy. Boo hoo hoo." ... ... ... Yes. This guy is a complete and utter douche. Make fun of someone for a genetic, untreatable malady. Classy.

But it gets worse.

When her food arrives, it has cheese on it, but rather than send it back for a cheese free meal, she soldiers through it. There's no way she's going to spend more time with him than she absolutely has to. Meanwhile, he's still making fun of her. "Oh, boo hoo hoo, Jenn. No dairy for you." Jerk. Aside from the taunting, he has no ability to carry on a conversation. Jennifer is quite a gifted gabber (All of the ladies in our family are. Thanks, mom.) and can hold her own when talking to someone else, but there were minutes of silence. Chirp chirp. Chirp chirp. I'm glad I didn't have to go through that.

After the dinner (and more make-fun-of-Jenn-for-her-lactose-intolerance time), they go to see a movie (Once again, my memory fails me as it so often does, and I cannot remember what movie they saw.). Jennifer thinks that she'll finally get a respite from this obnoxious turd in the dark movie theater, but no! He wants to chat. Not only that, but for some reason he feels he is deserving of a high five. When Jennifer respond with a winning smile and an equally enthusiastic high five, he begins to smash his hand against her face in an attempt to get her attention.

When is this ever appropriate behavior when you're trying to woo a girl? It makes me think that he just wanted to get into her pants and didn't really care how he treated her. Either that or he was friggin' stupid and completely clueless about dating etiquette.

The movie ends, and they leave. When they part ways, Jenn says aloud, "Won't be seeing you again." That's one of the great things about my sister: she's never afraid to say what's on her mind.

Have any of you been on horror dates? Do you know a frat boy? Tell me about it! I'd love to hear your stories.

That's all for this post.

Peace.
Stef.

ADDENDUM: Jenn has now posted her retelling of the story on her blog (We Can All Use a Little More Juju), and it's hilarious. Go read it; you won't regret it.

Picture care of an article by PinkStar21 via the College OTR's Duke-specific website. The article is pretty hilarious. You should read it.

Hit & Run with a Side of Thunderstorm

Humans suck.

That is all.

No, not really. I'm just kidding... about that being all, that is.

This ---------------->
is my Dad's car. Well, it's a car that's like my Dad's anyway. His has a removable top. But that's just semantics. It's a nice car; that's the point here.

This evening my family (sans me, because I was working) went to Calhoun's to obtain some grub, and as they were leaving they were approached by a Calhoun's manager. Apparently, while they were eating some douchebag hit their car and fled the scene. Awesome.

Thankfully, someone witnessed the hit & run and was able to jot down the license numbers, and said witness gave it to the manager to give it to the owner of the damaged car. So now my dad has everything he needs to find this asshole (Excuse the French, but there is no better word.). Glorious.

The funny thing is if the person had just come in and fessed up, then my dad probably would have said, "It's ok. Thanks for telling me," and that would have been that. Instead, they ran off, and unleashed my dad's wrath. Not good for them. In his words (paraphrased slightly but generally on par with what he actually said), "I have friends in the police force. I want to scare the crap out of this person." hehe I love my dad.

Moving on.

We had a thunder / lightning storm this evening in Nashville, and it was beautiful. I had the misfortune of having to drive in it, but it gave me a chance to sit on the side of the road in awe for a little while.

At first, the lightning was hidden by clouds, and whenever there was a spark, the whole sky would brighten as if it were day, the light reflecting off of the clouds for the briefest of seconds. After a little while, little bolts peppered the skyline every 10 seconds or so, and echoes of rolling thunder rumbled through the air. There were even some close enough to shake my car a little. In fact, when I saw a lightning bolt that I thought was particularly close, I closed my eyes and started counting. One, one thousand... BOOM!! Less than a mile away. Brilliant. Absolutely, gloriously brilliant.

I've always loved the rain, and nothing lulls me to sleep more quickly than a rolling thunderstorm. It's always been a complete mystery to me why people fear a little rain, but I guess it's because I've never experienced the ill effects of this particular sort of natural phenomenon. I see lightning bolts as gorgeous and exciting (See left: Obviously, God doesn't like the Hilton building in downtown Nashville. Can you blame Him?), and, while they are extremely destructive, I can't help but revel in the awesomeness of it all. The power located in that single tendril of life is just... wow. Nature is so COOL.

Ok. Geek-out moment complete. I just felt the need to express my love of storms. :)

Because of this post, I was a bit remiss in doing today's writing exercise. Whoops. Expect it to be posted around 2pm.

Today's writing exercise: The Whos and Whats of a well-used $5 bill.


Come back at 2pm to check it out! :)

Peace.
Stef.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Purple Things"

Exercise #28: "Purple Things"
What things are purple? Make a list.

  • Eggplants
  • One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying, Purple People Eater (see below)
  • Bruises (sometimes)
  • a REALLY beautiful sunset
  • Elizabeth Taylor's eyes (does violet count?)
  • Barney (I love you, you love me...)
  • Grapes
  • Lavendar
  • Orchids
  • Amethyst
  • Cabbage (sometimes)
  • Lots of different birds
  • Plums
  • Violets
  • Onions
  • ROYGBIV
That's all I can think of. You know, you don't really notice it, but purple appears quite frequently in nature. When I think nature, my mind immediately imagines greens, browns, and generally all kinds of neutral colors, but purple is everywhere. It's pretty awesome.

Without further ado, the One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying, Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley:

video

Great, huh? I don't remember when I was first introduced to this all-sorts-of-wonderful song, but I'm pretty sure it was care of my Mom. She definitely has provided quite a bit of the humor in my life, and I'm sure she's one of the big reasons why I have such a quick wit today. Props to Mom, says I.

Speaking of my Mom, I'd like to give her a special thanks today for encouraging me to read and write when I was little. Both of my parents valued literature while I was growing up (They still do.), and I was always encouraged to express myself in writing via journals and reading as many books as I could get my hands on.

I actually had a talk with my Mom about this the other day, and she brought up a good point. She was very active in our language growth by taking us to the library and giving us books and journals (I have around 20 journals, ranging from 7th grade to present times.), and my Dad was our example to follow. He's a voracious reader, and seeing him practically devour books while I was growing up definitely had an effect on what I read and how much.

I guess I shouldn't leave out my sister, either. She's an awesome writer (much more advanced than my little ditties here on this blog) and has some blogs of her own (see below), but as a kid I watched her sit for hours and write stories and ideas down on paper. She would never let me read them, of course, but I sneaked a peak every once in a while.

Every young girl (if she has one) strives to emulate her sister's example, and I was no exception. To me, my sister was really cool, and the things she did were really cool. And I wanted to be cool. So I started writing. And here I am.

To my family: Thanks. You're all pretty awesome people.

Well, that's enough of the mushy stuff.

Today I have 2 showcase blogs to visit (I just couldn't decide between the 2...).
  • The first is Juniper Trela's blog, A Million More to Go. She is currently working on a science fiction / fantasy collection of short stories, and the blog is quite new, but it's definitely really well written. She has been compiling her work, so the posts have been spanning a couple of weeks, but I've talked to her, and she said that from now on we can expect to see daily posts from her. I'm so excited! I'd follow along with her, because her name is going to be gracing the covers of books soon.
  • The second is my sister's (Jennifer) personal blog, We Can All Use a Little More Juju. She says, "I write when I'm angry, when I'm sad, when I'm happy. I tell stupid little stories... with no real meaning." It's a great read, because she's super snarky and is sure to make you laugh.
Well, what are you waiting for! Go visit them, already! You won't be disappointed!

Peace.
Stef.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Flying a Kite"

Exercise #27: "Flying a Kite"
Describe a person flying a kite.

Jeanette pedaled her legs as fast as she could through the grassy field, her breathing heavy. Her heart raced as her blond curls whipped in the wind, her mouth wide open in a subconscious attempt to get more oxygen into her system.

Cheering erupted from behind her, and she stopped running and looked up. Where was it? The sun was in her eyes, making the sky appear blanched and empty. Shielding her eyes with her left hand, she peered further into the expanse of sky. A red diamond was bobbing and weaving several feet above her, and soon she could see the string leading down to the plastic handle in her right hand.

"Jeanette," her mother said as she was running up to her. "Why don't you try steering it?"

For a moment, Jeanette was entranced. The kite was dancing wildly in the air's current, and she stared at it blissfully as she held the handle tightly.

"Jeanette?" he mother repeated.

"Huh?" she said.

"Steering it. Why don't you try?" her mother said, imitating the pull and turning of kite guidance with her hands.

She looked at the handle. Steer it? "But I don't know how."

"It's easy!" Her mother knelt behind her and wrapped her arms around her body, placing her hands on either side of her own.

5 minutes up.

I was never really a kite flyer as a kid. My sister and I had a couple of kites, but I think we flew them... a few times? Not really worth the purchase. I do vaguely remember one of them breaking, though, but it was not because of severe kite usage. I believe it was just a poorly constructed P.O.S.

Strangely, however, I find myself being drawn to kite-flying. For example, it's August. Fall is right around the corner, and one of the things that I'm most looking forward to (besides the fact that autumn is my favorite season, and it won't be sweltering summer anymore) is the windy weather. There's nothing better than standing in the middle of a field with your arms spread wide as a strong breeze whooshes by you, making your hair (if it's down and long, of course) ripple in waves. Sighhhh...

Also, there's this:

Yes, please.

Like I said, it's my favorite season. Gorgeous on oh-so-many levels.

That's all for this post, but before I leave, I've added this for your viewing (and possibly singing) pleasure.

video

Peace.
~Stef

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Dream Solution" & Writer's Block Ideas

Exercise #26: "Dream Solution"
Your character has a nightmare. But in the middle of it, he or she creatively solves the problem. For example, Ted dreams that he is being backed to the edge of a cliff by someone coming at him with a saber. All of a sudden, Ted realizes that the saber is made out of the same tin foil his wife used to wrap up the peanut butter cookie dough for the freezer, and so, he sits down and starts playing the kazoo.
Hey, have fun! What's your character's nightmare, and what is his or her "dream solution?" List as many as you can think of in 5 minutes.

We'll see how this one goes. Dreams and I aren't well-acquainted... Not in the wakened world, at any rate. If I have dreams, I don't remember them except for a few very rare occasions. I've heard some pretty bizarre stories from my roommate and a few others, however, so I think I'll be able to merge their experiences with my own and have a go at it. The great thing about the dream world is that anything is possible. Completely unrestricted. Glorious.

Begin...

Dina is getting married in 2 days, and she has cold feet. Her nightmare is monotonous. She sits at a desk and sharpens pencils all day long. When she goes home, she lays in her bed for hours, not sleeping, not thinking, just laying. In an euphoric realization, she finally understands her dilemma. She breaks the pencil and goes home to have a really nice, long nap.

Joey is a successful restaurant owner and is about to turn his single restaurant into a chain, buying a building across town. Joey's nightmare involves the immense success of this purchase. His restaurant becomes a living, breathing thing and goes traipsing around town, destroying every other restaurant in town. On a whim, Joey walks up to his restaurant which is right in the middle of pushing a McDonalds off of its foundation and yells "SIT!" The restaurant obeys and sits in the middle of the road, wagging its back door.

End of 5 minutes...

hah I liked that: "wagging its back door." The picture I have in my mind is incredibly amusing amusing. I wish I could have come up more, but I spent more time on both of those than I intended and whoops. There went my time. The important thing is that I had fun... right? hah I'm ok with it.

In other news, I was "twittering" (Oh, gosh, that sounds even worse when put into words than I had thought it would.) earlier today when I posed a question to the #writechat discussion: What are your best writer's block busters? Simple question, yes? Apparently not. I was immediately barraged with responses such as "There is NO such thing as writer's block!" When I queried as to what they meant, they brought up some interesting points.

They said that writers block was an excuse. It was laziness, an unwillingness to delve further, to really put in the effort.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. In theory, it makes sense. I don't think I would go so far as to say it's laziness or unwillingness. Maybe indecisiveness... Yeah. I think I'd go with that. Indecisiveness. Maybe you have so many ideas that you simply cannot decide which way to go. They're all good choices at this juncture. Or maybe your brain is just not generating a single idea. What does one do with that? Or maybe you're sitting at your desk, jotting down a scene when poof. Words will not come. You know what you want to say, but you are at a complete loss as to how you might word it.

That's where these writing exercises come in. If you're having a mental block, jog your mind a little bit. Well, actually, scratch that. First things first, you check to see how long you've been writing in the first place. Do you need to take a break? I find that in my case that's usually the reason my ability to use the English language deteriorates. If you've already taken a break, then why not try an exercise or two, just to get the juices flowing?

While on that same discussion on Twitter, one of the people who believed in the elusive writer's block had this to say - "Make yourself not write for a fortnight. NOT A WORD" (@agnieszkasshoes). An interesting idea, but I don't know if I'd be able to practice that much will power. hah Of course, I would store up a lot of ideas, but the shame is that I would forget a lot of them, too, being that my head is like a sieve.

How about you guys? Do you believe in writer's block? Why not? If you do, what do you do to make it run away crying?

That's all for now.

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. If anyone wants to read Agnieszkas Shoes's writing, click HERE to visit his blog. He most recently posted an interview with Hatastic!, a website which sells an "eclectic range of unique handmade hats and fascinators inspired by the beautiful bits and bobs sourced from remnant boxes and junk shops." It's a great site, and I love visiting it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kindle vs. the Book

I'm not really helping the age of paper by having a blog, but I can't help but be mildly disgusted by the lack of reading people are doing this day and age. Our society is quickly making its way towards one that is image-based, and, while that is visually appealing, the written word is, I believe, on its way out.
With grammatical travesties such as text speak and so on, I am increasingly alarmed by the youth's blatant disregard for the English language. For example, I was browsing Yahoo Answers the other day and was simply appalled by nearly 75% of the questions as well as their responses. On many, there was no punctuation. Periods, apostrophes, commas... All thrown out the window. Subject / verb agreement was atrocious. These are simple grammar rules that I was taught in elementary school, and young people around the ages of 15 and 16 (Let's face it; the majority of the people on Yahoo Answers aren't above the age of 18.) haven't yet grasped these concepts. This is what we are making out of our future: a society that can neither read nor write. Awesome.

What is wrong with us?

Now that I've had my little rant, let's talk about the Kindle. It's an interesting idea, and several of the features are quite helpful. I was looking at one of these (or an off-brand of one of these... I can't remember) at Target a few weeks ago, and I was surprised by the quality of the picture. One of the things that I hate about reading on the internet is that, after a while, it hurts my eyes and gives me a headache. I guess that's a good thing, because it gets me off the computer for a little bit. I was expecting the same thing from the Kindle, but it actually has a book-like appearance, making it easy to read for long periods of time. It can hold over 1,500 books at $10 a pop and boasts a 3G network to download entire e-books in as little as 1 minute.

In theory, this sounds like a good idea. A multitude of books at my disposal? Yes, please. The more I think about it, however, I grow more and more wary of it.

I love the library. This may seem off-topic, but bear with me. Walking through the aisles, browsing its shelves for a cover that looks interesting, a book by your favorite author that you've never read, a literary classic, etc. It's calming for me, a place where I feel safe and protected. Even the smell of a library book is cause for euphoria in my little library-infused world. I remember going to my local library when I was little and walking through the fiction aisle just smelling. Musty old books that have been in the hands of God knows how many people. To some germophobes, that might be disgusting, but I think it's wonderful. Those books brought joy to bibliophiles just like me at some point or another, and, in a way, that bonds us, whoever they were / are.

But I've ranted enough.

What do you think about this technological boom? Everything is compact, right at our fingertips, and computerized. Talk amongst yourselves, please. :)

"Permutation"

Exercise #25: "Permutation"
Take a particularly vivid and rhythmic sentence or two from someone else's book or story, and then exchange the verbs and/or adjectives and/or adverbs and/or whatever to make it your own. For example, while reading Conversations with Gore Vidal (edited by Richard Peabody and Lucinda Ebersole), I came across this vignette in the piece by Larry Kramer, "The Sadness of Gore Vidal":
"He is very fat. His face is lined. His hair, all of which he still has, looks like it's in the end stages of a coloring job. He says he has to worry about his health. He orders a steak."
Here is my permutation on that:
"She is very thin. Her face is smooth as a child's. Her hair, which is sparce and frizzed, reminds me of what might be a fried mermaid's. She says she is ravenous. She orders the sardine sandwich, sans bread."
Hey, I'm having fun, so here's another:
"He is huge. His face appears to have been inflated. His hair has been slicked back with a strong-smelling lotion. He says he hasn't time for more than a quick bite. He orders the rack of lamb."
Do as many permutations as you can on this, or on another selection. No rules.

BEGIN

My quote is a bit long, but it's one of my favorite Dumas passages (from The Three Musketeers, Ch. 8). It is as follows:
He was thinking alone, and seriously racking his brain to find a direction for this single force four times multiplied, with which he did not doubt, as with the lever for which Archimedes sought, they should succeed in moving the world, when some one tapped gently at his door.
As I said, long. But all sorts of wonderful writing in there...

Deep breath...

And permutate away. heh

1. They were thinking together and desperately searching the deepest confines of their minds to solve the problem of where they were, of which they had no clue, by observing their desolate surroundings, when a wizard, all of the sudden, appeared in front of them with an owl perched on his shoulder.

I think I'll do a permutation on the above sentence instead of referring to the Dumas sentence. It will be interesting to see where the structure goes, I think, if I just alter the most recently "permutated" sentence.

2. The little boy was playing with his friend and joyfully jumping up and down on the trampoline as high as he could just for the fun of it - because it was so very diverting - by "double jumping" whenever possible when his friend, Jill, tumbled off the side of the trampoline, scraping her arm.

3. Christoff had just entered the forest, bravely venturing toward the glen where so many had lost their lives simply for the bragging rights which he felt he needed in order to survive in his small town, when an unseen vulture squawked ominously from a tree branch somewhere above his head.

5 minutes up.

That one was harder than I thought it would be. You're free to talk about whatever you want, but you're still confined within the grammatical structure of the sentence. I wobbled on that line pretty precariously, but I think I did ok. As is the case with most of these writing exercises, you feel like you could have done better if only you'd had just a little bit longer than 5 minutes. Oh well. I guess that's the point. Quick thinking = easier, better writing. I'm all for that.

3 cheers for better writing!

A few days ago, I stumbled across a blog called La Belette Rouge (French for "red weasel"). I was looking for blogs by aspiring / published writers, and I'm so happy that I came across this one. Her use of the English language is so evocative, and you practically see everything she describes. Either way, go give her a read. I very highly recommend it.

That's all for today's Exercise.

Peace.
Stef.

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