Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Different Kind of Day

Sunlight

It’s been a different kind of day for me today. As much as I’ve resisted the need, I went into town for the second time this week. My friend Mary and I have a standing Tuesday-like-clockwork lunch date which forces me to leave the comfy confines of my cave and venture out into the sunlight–or more accurately, the rain–one day a week, at least for the 90 minutes it takes me to drive into town, wolf down lunch, and zip home, stopping off for groceries or dog food if necessary.

 Yikes!

Today, though, was a shopping day (Yikes!) and as much as I dreaded doing it, I changed up my routine: Coffee, smoothie, email, internet news, and then (gulp), I got dressed and left the house. On a Thursday. At nine o’clock in the morning. Me out in the real world. (Did I say Yikes!?)

My daughter’s birthday is coming up soon and this year, I want to do something a little different. Like me, my daughter doesn’t like surprises, but it’s so much fun plotting and planning and keeping secrets. I usually buy her a book (or send her one for her Kindle); sometimes I visit and we go out to dinner or to a movie if there happens to be a good zombie thriller she wants to see. (I’m thinking World War Z but I won’t be with her opening weekend and I seriously doubt she’ll wait for me.)

 The Eyes Have It

This year will be different. I’ve recently discovered the joys (as opposed to the usual curses) of Photoshop Elements. It’s been trial and error, with a heavy emphasis on error, since I downloaded the program several months ago. I’m finally getting the hang of it, though, and I can proudly say that as of this afternoon, there is not a single photo in my picture files that hasn’t been tweaked in some small way. My kids might not think that’s such a good thing, but I happen to be very happy with the sparkling eyes and superimposed backdrops that I’ve learned how to create. So, my daughter is a getting a photo montage of her family–but only the eyes, black and white, of course, with black matting in black frames. Actually, it looks pretty cool.

Braes eyes

It was worth the trip out to the crafts store, the meandering around the aisles looking for exactly what I needed. It was actually almost fun shopping for a beach bag, towel, sun hat, and insulated drink cup to be raffled off with signed copies of my three novels at a cancer benefit next week. I made it home in record time, too, just before the afternoon storm rolled in with a timpani of thunder. And then I settled into my cave, ignored my email and the chime of my phone, and framed my prints. Present complete.

And I now have coffee. Did I mention I was out of coffee? If you want to know the truth, that’s the real reason I ventured out. But we’ll tell my daughter it was for her present. Shhh. Secrets.

Just for fun!

Leap of Faith

 

 

I am Driftwood…

It’s not often that I feel totally cut off from the world or really mind if I am. But there are times when it’s quite disconcerting to find myself adrift in a quiet world.

Lightning

Thunder storms are common this time of year in Florida. Lightning struck last night wiping out cable, wifi, and telephone service. Although I still had lights, I found myself without my normal means of connection to the outside world. Cell service was still up and running and I suppose I could have reached out through my limited and precious 3G data plan, but after making the rounds again and again, confirming that, yes, the cable was still out, I finally settled down with a glass of wine and an old familiar friend: William Gibson.

So, what to do when there’s nothing to do? Read, read, read!

It’s a sad state of affairs in my cave that I have read every book I own at least once and in some cases, many times more than once. It is also sad that when I pulled Spook Country off the shelf, I couldn’t immediately remember the plot which made it a good choice for a rainy night alone but a sad choice because I can clearly remember the story lines of Neuromancer, Count Zero, Burning Chrome, Mona Lisa Overdrive. I wasn’t sure if this was a statement about my functional memory or the book itself.  Twenty minutes later, I decided it had to do with the book as my mind wandered away from the story and back to the video I had been working on when lightning struck.

My mind was still on angels and healing and the power we each hold within ourselves. The video is a very short introduction to A Gathering of Angels. I was in the process of posting it on YouTube when my computer freaked out and I suddenly lost all control. I couldn’t move forward, I couldn’t shut down, I couldn’t refresh or even minimize. I sat waiting for a resurge of energy to kick start my programs but nothing happened.

I sat bobbing in the water, waiting for another wave to carry me to shore. I am driftwoodWashed upon the shore. Once a lover of the tides but I don’t think I can take that anymore. I am becalmed by too many years of dissonance and solitude, but harmony and love can move my soul. It moves my soul. (Paul Williams, of course. If you haven’t heard Driftwood, find it if you can. I hesitate to point you to a download site that may or may not be a bootleg.)

So, I’m back at work this morning after a very quiet night, connected, becalmed, harmonious. My wine glass, still full, was sitting on the table with my unread book this morning. I went to bed early, a rare event for me.

I am still adrift in my thoughts today, wondering if I should attempt, once again, to upload that video. For now, I’ll post it on this page and see where we go from here.  A Gathering of Angels

Just for Fun.

elephant and kitten

When you find yourself in a river of doubt, help can show up in the most unexpected ways.

A Gathering of Angels

Angle with black wings

Angels have been hovering lately. I know, I know, it sounds silly. But it’s true.

I have a friend, a Cave Dweller like me, whose sister has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She’s going through chemo with no insurance, no backup plan, a million questions, and a shaky resolve, surrounded by friends and family. People are coming out of the woodwork to help in any way they can which strengthens my faith in human kindness and my belief in angels.

A call went out a few weeks ago, a call for a gathering of angels:

There comes a time in our lives when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. Cancer sneaks in on silent feet, takes up residence, and clips our wings. We fight, we flutter, we do our best to just keep flying–and then we have to ask for help, from our friends, from our family, from our loved ones near and far. We’re asking for a gathering of angels . . .

birds in cage and flying

And they came.

It seems everywhere I turn, lately, I find a pair of wings: dragonflies, finches, cardinals, hawks. I often see birds in the empty lot next door, keeping a safe distance from three barking dogs, but they’ve taken up residence in the jasmine vines that cover the pergola on my back patio. As I sat reading last night, I heard a soft tapping on the window behind me. A huge pale white moth, attracted by the light, fluttered its wings at me and then flew away.

Red with broom

If you want to fly, let go.

My Facebook page is overflowing with images of angels, wings, and various suggestions of flight. Even a figure in a long red cloak carrying a broom evokes angelic peace rather than wicked fear. People are gathering in support and love for a sister, a friend, a woman in need.

I believe we get what we asked for and we asked for a gathering of angels.

They’re here.

Links to photos: Source of the Earth, Everything Under the Moon, My Own Path

Making a Good Thing Better

Book

What is it with movie and television writers and producers that in the quest to satisfy some strange idea of what the audience wants, they feel compelled–if not justified–to change what is good–and sometimes great–to schlock?

I’m talking about books and movies and books made into movies or television series here. How does a book we love become something else entirely when adapted to the screen–both big and small?

When a story is massive (such as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series), leaving out the details and changing the sequence of events, merging characters or killing them off altogether, sometimes makes sense. But only a little. Frankly, I’d much rather have 20 in-depth chapters of a series done well (in other words, a continuation of GOT) than 10 mutilated blood-drenched sex romps that have absolutely nothing to do with the original books from whence they came. I’m thinking of True Blood here, a ridiculous perversion of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels.

Harris’ stories are funny, inventive, and original. HBO’s version is anything but. Yet it persists, fulfilling some dark, bloody fantasy that seems to have little to do in the way of story-telling and makes much ado about nothing much besides blood and sex. Is this what we’ve come to in our society? The Red Wedding of GOT pretty much followed the storyline of the books.  But with TB, we just get the red without the satisfying story-telling accompaniment.

To my mind, if a book is good enough for someone to want to make a movie featuring it’s characters and story, why is it necessary to then chop it into little bloody bits and refashion it into something that is pretty much unrecognizable? Why change it? Why reconfigure it to fit a time frame that is unrealistic? If you want to do a book justice, give it the time it needs to unfold and develop. If you want to cut it down to size, at least keep the story true to the original. I’m not saying that every book should become a franchise of sequel after sequel, spreading the story thin to make more money. But if you take on the challenge of a seven book series, be realistic about what you’re tackling.

book on fire

Popular thinking, however, seems to be this: if a book has a good following, it can be made even better! Change the characters, add blood and frontal nudity, forget the plot, and voila! An even bigger audience! Why? It seems the message we are sending as an audience is that we won’t watch unless all our baser senses are titillated. And that bothers me. Life is light and dark, clothed and unclothed. I’m all for a balanced story. But tell the story as it is, warts and wars and all without second-guessing the author’s original intent. A good story is a good story. I say just leave it alone. Setting it on fire won’t make it better.

What do you think? Are we suckers for a cheap thrill or does the perversion of good stories bother you, too?

Running Late–But Running

I didn’t think there was anything that would keep me from finding my way to the back row of the Cineplex for today’s first showing of Man of Steel. I was ready! All I needed was one more cup of coffee and a quick shower and then Woo Hoo! Off to the movies.

The-Newsroom

I was wrong. I didn’t count on a power outage that lasted long enough to throw me off schedule (two hours!) or HBO’s rebroadcast of The Newsroom. (When the power finally came back on, I flipped on the TV just to make sure we weren’t in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and it was tuned to HBO.) Damn! Double Damn! There is someone I love more than a hunk in a cape and a tight fitting body suit–even with a stylized S. His name is Will McAvoy! Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I am enamored of Aaron Sorkin since he is the creator of The Newsroom and it’s inhabitants and I am intrigued with the entire cast to some degree but, nah, it’s McAvoy. I get sucked in every time!  

So, I made it to the 5:30 and walked out of the theater at dusk, more than a little perplexed.

 ALERT! ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

I’ll try not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen Man of Steel. This is one of those movies you have to see for yourself. I will say that I am not a fan of the retelling. I love Superman: the epic, mythical story-line, the romance between Lois and Clark, even the silliness of a bumbling Clark Kent’s ability to hide his true identity behind a simple pair of horn-rimmed glasses. Unfortunately, those elements were missing. Actually, this felt more like Man of Steel III: The Big Reveal rather than the first, base story that gets the audience hooked on the characters and sets the stage for future chapters/movies. 

As you might expect, there are fights and fights and more fights and explosions and massive destruction. Overall, the movie seemed more an excuse to produce 3-D pyrotechnics than to tell a compelling story. I expected a climactic battle, but this was overkill, going on and on until I just wanted it to be over. Here’s the plot: Birth, battle, escape, rescue, rescue, battle, battle, battle, death, battle, rescue. Battle, battle, battle, kiss, battle to the death.  I kept waiting for the shocking twist that would make it worth so much destruction but nope. No twist. Well, there is one but not in a good way.

Man of steel 02

This poster is a pretty good representation of the movie: dark.

I love movies. I love good movies and I’ve been looking forward to seeing Man of Steel. The cast is a good one (Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Henry Cavill), the story doesn’t really need much tweaking, and the big scenes were just waiting to be shot in glorious, full-color 3-D. But the story’s still hanging out there somewhere, I can feel it, floating among the debris of Krypton, coalescing into something much more substantial. Maybe that was the plan. Get the battle scenes out of the way and then do a prequel. That seems to be the way to make movies nowadays.

Let me know what you think of Man of Steel. I’d love to hear from you.

Social Paradigms: An Ever Evolving Dilemma

love letter

A long, long time ago, way back in the 90s, I attended a seminar on the evolution of technology in our modern, high tech world. The phrase used to explain how human beings respond to our ever expanding technical world at the time was “high tech/high touch” and not, coincidentally, the name of the seminar.   Supposedly, the more high tech we become, the more necessary it is that we experience high touch. The presenter, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, posited the idea that the more email we send (high tech), the more desirous we become to write long letters using pen and paper (high touch). The more dependent on technology we become to assist in our work, the more touch-y we would become in our personal lives.

There was life before smart stuff.

Even before the advent of smart phones, the IPad, and various other tablet conveniences, I scoffed at the idea that we (meaning I) would revert to the long-handed version of communicating via snail mail rather than the almost instantaneous gratification of email. Yes, there is something to be said for flowery, perfumed stationary, but if push comes to shove, I’m afraid I would have to say that email is pretty much here to stay. (Notice the rather long-winded and round-about way I said that? I believe that is the high tech version of high touch.) In other words, the more remote we become through technology, the more necessary it will be to connect with our fellow humans, to reach out and touch someone–and not just over the phone.

Cable was already a part of our lives in the 90s. We’d already become inured to the idea that we could stay at home to watch a movie rather than go out; date night could be accomplished with a bowl of popcorn in front of the TV, a small TV, granted, but nonetheless a TV. (I’m not even going to go there with the high tech/high touch in front of the TV. My point is inside, not outside. . . Oh, forget it!)

avatar-tv

Now, here we are in 2013, and I believe we are decidedly more high tech than high touch. We can do almost anything remotely–and I do mean anything. It is not only possible to carry on a relationship long distance and virtually, but for some of us, it is preferable.  Skype and FaceTime make it very easy to carry on a face-to-face conversation, to interact with our friends and loved ones in a very meaningful way regardless of the miles, or the rooms, that separate us. We can be on Mars (it could happen!) or in the next room and not have to suffer from high touch deprivation. High tech gives us the sense of high touch.

Life is constantly changing right along with technology, because of it and in spite of it. The ease with which we carry on our daily lives enables us to experience more free time. For some of us, that free time might be spent out and about with other humans (high touch?). For others, that free time gives us a chance to do even more fun things on the internet (more high tech? Or is that high touch with the things that bring us joy?). Technology gives me the freedom to exist in a very happy and meaningful way from within my comfy cave. I don’t feel strapped to my desk and my computer, I feel blissfully joined. I have a pretty cool life right at my fingertips. Hey, maybe that’s what she meant after all: fingers to keyboard. High touch/high tech.

Just for fun!

George Lucas and Steven Speilberg are, apparently, predicting the implosion of the movie industry. Here is the link–just in case you missed the short article at Speakeasy.

Today’s Friday! Have a great weekend and if I don’t see you until Monday, have fun seeing Man of Steel! Don’t forget to take today’s poll. And leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

 

Time on My Hands

Whaterver Clock with hand 01

This is strange for a weekday, for a Thursday. Today, I have a little time on my hands. Not a lot, but enough to feel like I can actually take a breath without feeling guilty. 

Most days, I have a million things on my to-do list. Granted, my list is self-imposed, but I try very hard to stay on task, to accomplish enough that at the end of the day, I can say to myself, “Good job! You had a productive day!” Most days, I’m working on several projects at once, mostly books in various stages of production: writing, editing, proofing, formatting, marketing, crying, sobbing, pulling out my hair–not in any particular order.

Coffee!

Today, I’m taking a break from the usual whip-cracking pace I set for myself. Today, I’m walking casually from my office to the coffee pot in the kitchen, savoring the aroma of the coffee as I fill my cup. I may even take a moment to gaze out into the backyard at the freshly mown lawn before heading back to my desk. I may even eat breakfast sitting down rather than hunched over a bowl of Rice Chex at the kitchen counter. Make that lunch. I’ve already skipped right through breakfast as I’ve contemplated what to do with my day.

Stay away from Pinterest!

Of course I could always spend my time backlogging blogs or cruising for media. Or visit Twitterland and see what my writer buddies are up to.  I would say I could visit Pinterest to see if there are any cool pins but there’s a yellow post-it on my monitor reminding me to stay away. (I got caught in a time warp in the Geek section of Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and lost two whole hours! That place is addictive!)

living_alone_comic_dallion_0061

In my ramblings around the internet at 6 this morning, I found this cartoon. I swear, this looks like my living room, dumbbells, books and all. This is pretty much how I feel at the moment, too, wondering what to do with myself now that I feel caught up and I’m between crises.

Well, I think my free time is about up. It’s been a quiet day so far. No major breaking news stories, no urgent messages from family or friends. I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and enjoy these last few minutes before I head back into my day. I hope you’re having a quiet, pleasant Thursday.  Thanks for stopping by. And don’t forget to take today’s poll!