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Showing posts from August, 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 mak…

Honest Scrap Award

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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:
JujuJuniper of We Can All Use a Little More JujuBelette Rouge and her guest posters from La Belette RougeJoseph at The National Affairs DeskLisa Gurney from My Life as a DaughterAnton Gully of The Black Dogs of Despair Ate My NovelDavid Hunter at The Writer's Den
Monda over at No Telling
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.

Lily, My Sister's Cat

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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…

"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…

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.

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

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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…

"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 …

Review of Batman: Arkham Asylum

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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 Batman and the guards and holes up in Arkham itself, attacking its workers and taking the Warden and Commissioner Gordon captive. He also rel…

"Gobbledyghuk"

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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 sup…

"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.
Georgia, tennis bracelet, romantic
William, gold MD ring, accomplished
Maria, sterling silver promise ring, confident
Philbert, gold chain, pimpin'
Bruce, blinged out pinky ring, mob-ish
Ethel, freshwater pearl necklace, overwhelmed
Irene, nose ring, rebellious
Natalie, silver chain, grateful
Mina, gold bindi, proud
Amos, Bvlgari watch, shocked
Andrew, eyebrow ring, unique
Michael, family heirloom pocket watch, nostalgic
Rachael, wedding ring, doubtful
Erin, wedding ring, ecstatic
Marlene, anklet, suspicious
Oh, my favorite is definitely Philbert's new sense of pimpage with…

The Foxy Redhead Award

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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 re…

"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. "…

"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&…

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

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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 …

Inglourious Basterds

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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…

"Giant Golden Buddha"

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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 h…

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

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... 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 pregnanc…

"Kinesthesia"

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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 stairsreaching deep into a drawer and feeling around for a small coindoing jumping jackssitting in the shade and slowly turning the pages of a newspaperpushing into a crowded subway carstanding on one leg with your hands on your hips while singing the Star Spangled Banneretc...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…

"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 …

"The Five Dollar Bill"

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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 TurnpikeWhen: 7:30amWho: Bob, a truck driverWhat: a cup of coffee (black) and a bean burritoIf 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…

Hit & Run with a Side of Thunderstorm

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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 tel…

"Purple Things"

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Exercise #28: "Purple Things"
What things are purple? Make a list.
EggplantsOne-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying, Purple People Eater (see below)Bruises (sometimes)a REALLY beautiful sunsetElizabeth Taylor's eyes (does violet count?)Barney (I love you, you love me...)GrapesLavendarOrchidsAmethystCabbage (sometimes)Lots of different birdsPlumsVioletsOnionsROYGBIVThat'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:



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…

"Flying a Kite"

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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.

&…

"Dream Solution" & Writer's Block Ideas

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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 t…

Kindle vs. the Book

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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. Thi…

"Permutation"

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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…

Ponyo - Utterly Adorable, Not Miyazaki's Best

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I think the title says it all, don't ya think?

Ok. So, the movie was ok. I'm a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki's body of work, and I was really excited about seeing this movie. I am sad to say that I was a bit disappointed.

I sat through the whole thing comparing it to his previous movies (i.e. Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, etc...), and I think that was a bad idea. Those movies were wonderful, and the artistry was simply gorgeous. But in comparison... Well, let's face it. This movie didn't even compare to those.

First, Noah Cyrus's (Miley's younger sister) voice was cute for most of the movie, but near the end it just got grating. Of course, that's in the style of anime: the cuter the character, the more squeaky the voice gets. That grievance is forgiveable.

Secondly, I don't know what Miyazaki's point was in altering his art style, but for some reason he reverted to 70's-style anime where everything looked real…