Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The holidays make people strange

Strange...that's a nice way of putting it. I did a Twitter book give away which went well. Now there are a few more people sharing The Wormhole with a few more young people. I may give some away at the hospital this year. Heaven knows they need something to get their minds off of their circumstances. I think I shall stay away from the shops now that people are desperate for gifts. I've done my shopping and am quite pleased with myself. I stopped at a store yesterday and looked at an item on the shelf. I went to pick it up and someone reached in front of me and grabbed it. I think they thought I was going to get the last "something". I moved along and saw another item in a different department. The same scenario replayed itself. People think that everything is the last thing. People tend to want things that other people want. Don't get me started on the way people are driving. Too much money and stress are put into ONE day. As a result, the day after is such a let down. If only we could honor every single day as the special day it is. Laugh, live and love.....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Interesting tale

The author Shaun Tan has provided a nice illustrated short story for the UK's Guardian. His story telling is somewhat unusual, yet heart warming. I found the story of "Eric" quite charming. Some authors, especially children's authors, find that pictures can tell a story as well as the words. For Tan, the pictures make the story what it is. His books can appeal to young and old alike. They are simple narratives with an underlying significance. His illustrations speak more clearly than the words that accompany them. He is a visual story teller with a talent for dark and unique imagery. He may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I find such stories delightfully strange.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This is funny on so many levels.


A Massachusetts high school principal has banned the word "meep" What in the world is "meep" you may ask. It is a nonsense word made popular by the muppet Beaker. You know, the victimized lab assistant to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. Since Beaker had a speech impediment, most everything he said came out as "meep". Sure, the good doctor could understand him but no one else could. The rest of us had to rely on poor Beaker's body language and verbal tones. It wasn't too difficult, though, since Beaker tended to be blown up, caught on fire or suffered from many other various, experiments gone wrong, situations.
Now we understand the word and its origins. So why would a school ban this? Well, it seems a senior on facebook organized the student body together and planned a mass "meeping" or something like that. First off, how did the principal know this? Apparently, there was a double spy on facebook. Let this be a lesson learned. Be careful who you accept as a friend on facebook. Like, don't befriend the principal's daughter, son, brown noser, etc. If you want to know more details and we know you do, look here and here and maybe here The principal is just trying to keep order. However, it seems more like a challenge. What's to stop the students from using another nonsense word? Eventually, in theory, all nonsense words could be banned. Where will it end? This is why the freedom of speech is so important in the good 'ol U.S. of A. Shouldn't the kids be happy, thus more open to learning? If it isn't fun then it becomes a chore and everyone loses. OK. I understand that the kids can't go around disrupting class. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. Nonetheless, I would rather see the kids uttering "meep" in the halls than a string of foul words I won't repeat here. Don't get me started on the dehumanizing lyrics of some of the gangsta rap. Lighten up, Mr. Principal. Have a sit down with the ring leaders and discuss their motivations and why you lack a sense of humor. We know, you're just trying to do your job and keep order among the ranks. Maybe a compromise could be reached. Allow the meeps in between classes only. Keep the meeps away from specific offended teachers. As with all things, these kids would have eventually become bored with this and moved on to something else. Now, well, now they have been challenged, thus bringing the whole meeping thing to a level they had never expected. Thanks Mr. Principal, now my kid can't go to school and say meep. Where will it end?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Artists Unite!

An artist is asking for help.
This artist is being sued by a manufacturer. The manufacturer is seeking to overturn the artist's copyrights. They want the artist's original designs all for themselves. This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Those with big money recognize an idea, concept or cool product that will make them more money. They know that if they drag the creator through the legal process they can eventually bankrupt the artist and win the money making art all for themselves. Art comes in all forms, be it paintings, designs, the written word, architectural, etc There comes a time when someone has to stop the Walmarts, marketers, etc from stealing from the creative individuals. It would seem simple enough for the manufacturer to simply license the design from its creator. The manufacturer, however, doesn't want any part of the artist. They don't want a future where the artist might actually ask for more money. They don't want to deal with the middle man. The bottom line is that they are greedy and will stop at nothing to corner the market on whatever it is that they think is a money magnet. Creative people must do whatever is in their power to change the laws that allow such a practice. There is the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund which was created in order to help graphic novelists and comic book artists protect themselves in a court of law. It does a brisk business helping the creators of some very fine work. Every area of creativity is at risk from Big Money and needs like minded individuals to band together in order to retain the wonderful art with its creators. Copyrights, trademarks and patents do not necessarily protect an artist. Patents expire and there are numerous loop holes in the laws. You can spread the word and let the world know that the little guys are the ones with the creative ideas. Corporations do not posses the creative mind. They must be held up to a higher standard.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plagiarism software finds Shakespeare

THE 400-year-old mystery of whether William Shakespeare was the author of an unattributed play about Edward III may have been solved by a computer program designed to detect plagiarism. Software such as this is normally used to catch cheating college students. However, it has come in handy as a tool for scholars looking to research historical texts.
Sir Brian Vickers, an authority on Shakespeare at the Institute of English Studies at the University of London, believes that a comparison of phrases used in The Reign of King Edward III with Shakespeare's early works proves conclusively that the Bard wrote the play in collaboration with Thomas Kyd, one of the most popular playwrights of his day.
The professor used software called Pl@giarism, developed by the University of Maastricht to detect cheating students, to compare language used in Edward III - published anonymously in 1596, when Shakespeare was 32 - with other plays of the period.
It is interesting to note that software like this is readily available to professors and publishers alike. It can save an author and publisher future legal problems.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Should some books be removed from libraries?

This is a question that has circulated for as long as I can remember. Here is a link to a well thought out response to this question.
A woman strongly opposes a book which is shelved in the children's section of the library. It deals with gay marriage. The response covers all bases of the woman's concerns. I have to agree that if you do not like a subject, it does not mean it should be removed. Should we homogenize our books stores and libraries? I understand that adult information should be kept from children. I mean who wants our children exposed to x rated material? Common sense should prevail when categorizing such material. The subject matter at the center of this particular complaint covers gay marriage which, like it or not, is part of today's society. If a child is removed from such controversial realities, is it a good idea? The child will grow up totally ignorant of such things. When they become independent adults they are in for quite a shock. If the mother strongly disagrees (or agrees) with something, then discuss the topic with the child instead of hiding it. Give the child intelligent facts on the subject. This way the child is equipped with valuable information in order to deal with the world. Otherwise, the child will eventually go out in the world totally unprepared to deal with life's nuances.

Monday, September 28, 2009

National Book Festival

Once again authors and readers descended upon Washington D. C. The Washington Post put up a nice video of the various authors who talked about their craft and the books they love to read.

Also, on You Tube there is an amateur video of children's author Judy Blume talking about her childhood. If you love to read, book festivals of this caliber are a wonderful place to be. An array of books from all genres are laid out with the author there to chat with. Having done smaller book festivals, I know how much the authors enjoy this as much as the readers. Even the more popular authors have stated that it is a wonderful way to meet their readers and learn something about their fan base. Even if they do get writer's cramp signing so many books, they still love positive feedback from someone who truly gets where they're coming from.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How to write a great query letter.


It's easy to get lost in the world of publishing. Everyone needs help occasionally. A literary agent has decided to make his and writer's lives a bit easier by offering a free download of his query letter tips. For the agent, it relieves them of the trouble of sorting through pointless and confusing query letters. For the writer, it gives great ideas and tips for writing a query letter that just might get noticed. Go ahead and have a look. Then, write your query with the agent in mind.
From the free download site: New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, has represented multiple bestsellers, winners of the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award, National Book Award Finalists, and has written three critically-acclaimed books on the craft of writing New York Times The First Five Pages, The Plot Thickens, and A Dash of Style). During his last 13 years as a literary agent he has read thousands of query letters and now, for the first time, he offers his insights on the query letter, sharing an insider's perspective, giving insights and practical tips about what works and what doesn’t.
HOW TO WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER:INSIDER TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SUCCESS is a must-read for any writer serious about being published.Designed for writers of fiction and non-fiction, for screenwriters and poets, it speaks to a broad range of authors, offering principles that will help lead to success no matter what your craft.Practical, engaging, filled with exercises, anecdotes and sidebars, this 80 page e-book takes you on a journey, will transform your query letter from a document that could be rejected to a document that will make agents take you seriously.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Space Invaders

No, I am not talking about an ancient video game or Sci-Fi novel. I'm talking about individuals, who, for some reason, gravitate towards lonely people. These are gregarious, talkative, social people who honestly feel that if you are sitting alone, you are lonely. They assume that any right minded person craves social interaction. They see the poor pitiful soul sitting there all alone and they decide, right then and there, that they shall brighten up your world. They volunteer their presence so you will not feel like an out cast. To be fair, they crave the interaction as much as they think you do. They have plenty to say and it would be just plain weird to say it to no one. So, here you are. You found that perfect spot, away from the crowds, where you intend to sit. You may be waiting for someone or just killing time. You purposely chose this spot because of its seclusion. You may be at an amusement park waiting for your family to get off a ride. You may be on a lunch break. Oh the sweet serenity where you can gather your thoughts. You may be getting ready to pull out that book you've been reading. You've waited all day to get back to it. You silently congratulate yourself for finding a fine spot in which to exist, if only for a little while. As an added bonus you find a spot near a tree or better yet, a wall. One less personal access point, you sigh contentedly. You note that there are plenty of places for newcomers to sit, away from you. Since most people do not usually like to sit in too close proximity to someone else, you're pretty much guaranteed solitude.
Then it happens. You notice out of the corner of your eye that someone is looking in your direction. Then, they start walking toward you. You make a point to look at your phone or bag, anything to avoid eye contact. Then, oh dear lord, no! They sit right next to you despite the sea of unoccupied spaces far away from you. You mentally go over a list of inconspicuous exits you can make without insulting the intruder. For the love of god, you were just about to grab your book. You were so close. Now it would look like you obviously were trying to avoid this person. So? Does it matter you ask yourself? Noooooo, you wasted too much time thinking...Now the invader speaks to you! I know, I'll feign deafness. No, that would be too obvious. OK, I'll answer their question to be polite and then act like I have to go.
"Yes, it sure is nice weather", you respond. Nooooo, another question!
"I have a dog." You silently berate yourself for not saying that you hate animals or that you are allergic to them or anything that would cause this person to get up and leave. Too late, you're engaged in conversation! You pray for a cell phone call, an alien abduction or your family to return, anything but this time wasting conversation. Its not like you're anti-social or anything. You just looked so forward to this personal time out.
I searched a bit on the topic. To my horrors I discovered that those who are advisers are telling people to invade other people's space! They mean well, really they do. But, they fail to take into account that its OK to be alone sometimes. It doesn't necessarily mean anything negative. Why do the occasional loners get singled out as sad, pathetic people in need of companionship? Sometimes they are labeled as shy or worse yet, stuck up. When seeking a place to wait, size up the situation for yourself. Don't always do what other people tell you. You might just pick out some crazy person to sit next to. I won't go into the many scenarios that could ensue there. To be fair, there are those who want companionship in open spaces. The shy ones who seek companionship usually send out clear signals. They have no book to read, they make eye contact (even if they do look down immediately) or they sit rather close to occupied spaces. Even loners know that in a group situation like a sporting event or school activity, sitting alone is not usually an option. The loners know this and accept it. No one wants to be alone 100% of the time. OK, some do but they tend to be in a whole category by themselves.
Remember, people, when you are approaching a potential seat, don't pick out the person who obviously chose a seat way away from the crowd. They aren't necessarily lonely. In fact, their seat choice may be strategic. If there are many people around, yet this one person sits alone, there's a reason for this! Be kind and take pity on the, not necessarily lonely individual by choosing your own idealistic spot, way away from the loner. Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Flying Snakes, Who Knew?

Just when you think you've cornered the market on innovation, you find out that someone already did it. There was a cartoonist who drew a strip with flying snakes. He smugly went where no other cartoonist had gone. He created a niche. He was quite proud of his unique character that he created out of his own imagination. His strips were mildly funny. It was the concept of the flying snake that made it silly. I gave this cartoonist silent accolades for his original, witty theme. Come to find out, flying snakes do exist in nature. (check out the videos) One can almost hear the snakes go "wheeeeeee" as they fly from one place to another. Not only do they fly, they do so in a floppy, comical kind of way. These snakes, in real life, are way more funny than the cartoonist's strips. OK, they don't actually fly like a bird but they do flee. Even though they are technically jumping in a wiggly sort of way, they are still called flying snakes. Flying snakes, you say, well that cartoonist honestly had no idea. Does it matter? It didn't seem to matter to the person who created Rocky the flying squirrel from the Bullwinkle cartoons. Everyone knew that flying squirrels existed and it didn't matter. So, should you spend your life trying to find a void in the creative world in order to be the "only one"?
I read that many of the new inventions being patented today are just remakes of old, expired patents. Sure they're modernized, but they aren't necessarily original. Try watching the old black and white sitcoms from early TV. You will see how many of those original ideas have been recycled by today's TV writers. Even those original shows "borrowed" from vaudeville and ancient comedians. Surely, after Socrates died from drinking Hemlock, some Greek comedian said, in his monologue before the gladiator festivities, "Hemlock! why didn't someone tell me Hemlock was poisonous?" when making a joke about the philosopher's demise.
The bottom line is, be creative. Follow that inner voice that tells you something is right. If you write, then write and finish things. Then, do it all over again. If you paint then paint...and so on. If it is your passion, follow it. Does it matter if flying snakes really exist? No, but it makes the world that much more fun.
Oh yes, as a side note, the aforementioned cartoonist did not use a flying snake as his hero due to its uniqueness. No, he admitted to using a snake because that was all he could draw accurately.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Those who live in glass houses...

...build sliding walls! The Sliding House was built by an innovative architectural firm. They specialize in bizarre and unique buildings designed to be functional as well as aesthetic. Making designs that stand out and cause people to pause is no easy feat. This site, which focuses on unique architecture goes into more detail along with a video. Creating functional art is a noble cause. Too many things are boring because it is cheaper to mass produce straight lines and average products. Homes are no exception. I've checked out many homes over the years and have not been impressed. Many of the big, expensive homes in the great neighborhoods have very little design in them. They leave it up to the resident to add design via interior decoration. Rarely do I see a grand Victorian fireplace complete with dark carved wood mantles and marble inlay. I am told it is too expensive to do. Yet, I know there are cheaper ways to reproduce such aesthetic designs. Faux marble and molded statuary aren't as good as the real thing, but at least it is an attempt at design. Walls with real wood instead of dry wall are another design element that has been lost. I don't mean the ugly wood paneling from the 60's through the 70's either. Architecture, like literature is an art form that begs for new innovative ideas from unique, talented individuals.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why computers are important.


The following video illustrates a point. Outside of the obvious inspirational aspect of this amazing team, it also show just how important computers can be. Since supporting computers is part of my livelihood, I hear many comments of how computers are monopolizing everyone's time. Maybe, but they are a valid tool for so many things. In medicine, communication and so much more, computers are just now embarking on an amazing frontier. Its hard to imagine life before them. Like TV, computers do take up a lot of the average persons time. However, what matters is what you do with it. The technology isn't the culprit. The user can make productive choices with what they do. Here's to the amazing communication devices which open up the world to people who depend on them. Caring, thinking, intelligent individuals who, without the aid of the computer, would otherwise not be able to communicate.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Find your inner artist,

Need a Snow Day?

Do you feel like you're in a slump? Are your creative juices drying up? Then go to the above site and create a snowflake. Anything that promotes creativity can be productive. Start with a snowflake and move on to bigger and better things. Once you get the creative ball rolling who knows where it will take you? To make a camp fire you must start with a spark. Go ahead, construct and add your snowflake to the creative blizzard. Maybe, just maybe, it will ignite your own inner genius.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

You CAN overcome anything!



This video illustrates a very good point. No matter what your circumstances, you can find ways to reach your goals. This boy never gave in and never gave up. He used the tools he had and refused to focus on what he didn't have.Attitude, ability and focus are the operative words. First you have to decide what it is that you don't want. Then, let it go. Next, decide exactly what you do want. Take a few moments each and every day to go through your list of wants. Visualize them as if you already had them. Experience how it feels to have what you want. As time goes by you will adjust or modify your wants. Life is always a work in progress. Never compare yourself to someone else. Do not worry if someone else is better or worse. They have their path and you have yours. There is nothing more self defeating than trying to measure up to someone else's standards. Always follow your emotional well being. If you feel positive about something, explore it. Negative emotions aren't always bad either. For example, if you find you are jealous of someone, ask yourself why? Sometimes jealousy can be a signal showing you where you want to be. If you are jealous of a coworker who just sold a painting, then maybe your soul is telling you that art is where your heart is. The bottom line is, don't give up on the dream, no matter what it is. If you do, you not only will hurt yourself but you just might deprive society of something wonderful which you could have contributed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Library refuses to censor


A library in Effingham, Illinois voted to deny a request to remove Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott from the teen section's shelf. Amy Hibdon requested the book be removed due to the physical and sexual abuse the character is subjected to in the book. Her 15 yr old daughter checked the book out and was upset by the content according to Hibdon. She feels the book is too graphic for teens. The book is written from the perspective of a 15 yr old who is kidnapped and imprisoned at the age of 10.

“This is the first formal censorship request that has reached this point in the past eight years, according to Library Directory Jeannie May,” reports the Effingham Daily News. (the article contains a spoiler for the book, it gives away the ending) May told the board any decision made would set a precedence for the future. “I’m opposed to censorship,” said board member John Latta. “It is up to parents to censor the material they are reading, not the library.”

Is is right for libraries and book stores to deny access to material that is deemed controversial by conservative groups and parents? Should the parents, themselves, take the role of censor when it comes to their children's reading material? Many parents and groups are afraid that if some material is made accessible their innocent children will be exposed to bad information without the parents even knowing about it. Even worse, their children could be traumatized. This is why they advocate a form of censorship. They want to protect today's youths from graphic, controversial and corrupt text. On the other side of the coin, there are parents who want their kids to be well informed. How can they make educated decisions if they do not have exposure to both sides to an issue? Should there be warning labels or a form of ratings for books like music albums? Bad things happen, looking the other way isn't the answer. Exposing the bad issue can be the first step to creating an awareness and possibly even stopping it. Should it be left to the adults? Maybe, but one thing is for sure, kids will become informed one way or another whether you want them to or not. Should we not make sure the information they get is accurate?

There is one author I've spoken to who is related to a family who overly protected their kids. "I've seen what can happen to children who are protected too much. They become naive and gullible adults who lack a true ability to function in the tumultuous real world. My cousin grew up without any exposure to bad things. He was unable to get and hold a job because the world scared him too much. He was scared of everything because he was always taught that the world is bad and can hurt you. His family never allowed him to read or watch anything remotely negative. Now, as an adult, he still lives at home afraid to leave. His parents simpy write it off as autism, which, I know he is not because he has never been diagnosed. I know why he is the way he is."

This, of course, is an extreme example. However, the issue of censorship is as old as time and won't be going away any time soon.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fahrenheit 451 gets a new look

The Ray Bradbury novel, Fahrenheit 451, which was publish in 1953, is now being released in a graphic novel format.
The artist who adapted the novel, Tim Hamilton, says he initially found the idea of taking on such a well-known book, intimidating. Hamilton did not collaborate with Bradbury, but he did get some sense of what the author thought the book should look like. Bradbury supports this interpretation of his story as he did the movie in 1966. In fact, he has given his full backing to the graphic adaptation. For Bradbury, a comic book collector since age 9, the idea is exciting.
"Buck Rogers came into my life in October of 1929," he says. "So you see, I have a strong interest in illustration, and a graphic novel is part of my life."
Bradbury was inspired to write Fahrenheit 451 after, at the age of 15, he saw images of books being burned in Hitler's Germany.
"It killed my heart and killed my soul," he says, "and the memory of Hitler burning the books caused me to sit down and write Fahrenheit 451."
With the latest book regulations, the idea of book burning isn't impossible to imagine. Bringing the story to a new medium will also attract a new generation of readers. Being politically, socially and actively aware of what is going on in the world is waning in much of today's youth. Bringing back the "good fight" and sparking a social conscious is an admirable thing to do. There are many such books awaiting to be resurrected in this and many other new forms today. Reading for pleasure is great. When the written word causes the reader to pause, if only for a moment, and think about a social injustice or new idea, then something wonderful has happened.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

You're never too old or too young

I hear people say "I'm too old [young] to do..... People limit themselves by self established rules based on miscellaneous guidelines by unknown masses. When these same people see someone succeed they rationalize. "They're lucky, rich, talented, etc." What drives anyone to do anything? It all comes down to motivation and perseverance. The really successful ones have passion. A passion goes way beyond motivation. It is what drives someone to do something that they love. They do it for love and no other reason. Success tends to happen on its own. Children are taught to use their imaginations when they are very young. As they begin to grow, they are taught to use their intellect. A well rounded person uses both. Modern public education tends to stifle the natural creative side of a student. Art is considered an expendable subject when budgets are being made. Its no wonder that today's society is full of disgruntled people. The Tony Award winning actress Carol Channing set up a foundation to preserve the arts in the schools. As a senior citizen, she is very active with her work. She knows, personally, how important artistic release is to a young mind. She refuses to let age hinder her passion.
Then there's Alexa Kitchen. She has been drawing comic books and graphic novels since she was five. Actually, as soon as she was old enough to hold a crayon she was creating. Her parents recognized her passion and actively supported it. She had enough material for a book by the age of six. She has since been published with her latest book "Grownups are Dumb" out next month.
Alexa is now ten years old and shows no sign of stopping. What's the difference between her and other talented kids out there? Well, she was never told she was too young or that she couldn't do it.
There are so many "dream stoppers" out there that it boggles the mind. A dream stopper is someone who tells you to get your head out of the clouds, face reality and loves to use the word "can't". Too many people listen to them and too many people are them.
Like our current President of the U.S. , anyone can be anything they choose to be if they set their minds to it. If they have a passion for something good, they should follow it. No one can tell you who you are, only you can do that. So here's to dreams in all their lovely, creative forms.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Burning?

In this day and age you would think that the subject of book burning wouldn't be in the headlines. The Milwaukee branch of the Christian Civil Liberties Union and three plaintiffs are seeking the right “to publicly burn or destroy by other means” Baby Be-Bop, a book on the coming out of a gay teen by Francesca Lia Block. They are asking for $120,000 in damages after being “exposed” to it in a library display. The row over Be-bop, described by CCLU plaintiffs as “explicitly vulgar, racial and anti-Christian” blew up in April. Four members of the library board were suspended for refusing to remove the book and two others from the young adult section of the West Bend Community Memorial Library prior to the books being formally reviewed. The plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was impaired by seeing the book on display. One has to wonder if these people actually read the book.
In the book, "Dirk is beaten by gay bashers but steadfastly clings to the possibility of finding love," notes Salon. The book also uses "offensive" words... n*gg** and f*gg*t (I wouldn't want to be banned by spelling them out.) To a group calling themselves the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries, that's enough to harm children. Of course, Mark Twain used the first word in his (sometimes banned) books. When the library ignored the original request for removal, the CCLU came in with the lawsuit. They say it uses racist and explicit terms and promotes discrimination. In fact, the book uses the terms to expose such things. It attributes the "bad words" to the antagonists in the book in order to illustrate how wrong such irrational bias is. The American Library Association addresses the issue here.
Book-burning didn't go out with the Inquisition. It was practiced as recently as WWII by another belief-system, Nazism - i.e. the belief in world domination by a master Aryan "race". There will always be those who want to "protect" the world from "bad things" and those who fight to preserve free speech. Sure, there are really bad things out there which a civilized world does not need, like murder, racism, oppression, etc. However, if there are no laws being broken and no harm being done to others, where do you draw the line? Sometimes you have to expose the "bad" in order to fight against it. Fortunately, so far, the library is winning the fight. Unfortunately, it is a huge expense that didn't need to be taken on right now. The money could have been used for new books and library updates instead of fighting a nuisance suit which, if won, will not make the library "pure" by the CCLU's standards anyway.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time stands still for no man

Getting back to my normal routine isn't easy after a vacation of spontaneous gadding about. Waking up very early is the hardest part. I came across some interesting alarm clocks which, I thought, might make my getting up a little easier, or at the very least more interesting. My favorite was the polite alarm clock. The Polite Speaking Alarm Clock "reproduces the subtle wit employed by P. G. Wodehouse's most famous character, the valet Reginald Jeeves." In fact, it plays back 126 wake-up messages in the voice of Stephen Fry, such as "Excuse me sir, I'm so sorry to disturb you, but it appears to be morning... very inconvenient, I agree... I believe it is the rotation of the Earth that is to blame, sir." At $99.95, it is a bit pricey, but unique nonetheless.
Then there's the vibrating pillow that does what you’d expect, it vibrates. It not only works for the hearing impaired but also for the couple who wake up at different times in the morning. With this handy gadget, the one who gets to sleep in a bit later doesn't have to be disturbed by the partner's alarm. It is also a less shocking way to wake up. So is the Wind Chime clock which wakes you up to soothing chimes. If that isn't good enough, try waking yourself up. There's the alarm clock which allows you to record your own voice.
My son has an alarm clock that employs a whirligig which is ejected into the air when the alarm goes off. The sleeper must retrieve the flying wheel in order to stop the alarm. This works on the same principle as the Puzzle Alarm clock which ejects 4 puzzle pieces into the air when it goes off. It's guaranteed to get you out of bed. Not surprisingly, this alarm isn't used too often.
There is a website dedicated to clocks as entertainment. Albert Einstein said that time is an illusion, why not measure it creatively? Illusion is just another form of reality since we all have our own perspective to reality. Our senses perceive the world around us. Then our brains interpret the stimuli. I may look at a garden and see the beautiful flowers whereas another person may see the green grass or the weeds which long to be pulled. Yet another may see the sprinklers which are begging to be ran through. Time is the same way. Waking up time is way different than evening time. I like gadgets that entertain as well as perform a useful function.
Waking up with ease helps you start the day with a smile, or at the very least, without the normal aggravation. This eliminates the usual stress involved in waking up. Then, you can start your day with a clear, creative mind.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Travels

I'm off to NYC, the city that never sleeps, or, as the song says "a city so nice, they named it twice." Having been there many times, I marvel at how such a small geographic area can fit over 8 million people without sinking. Nonetheless, it does, and does so quite nicely. I intend to hit Broadway. There are several plays that look interesting. Rock Of Ages is full of 80's rock, how can you go wrong there? 39 Steps is a mystery and The Philanthropist seems like it might be amusing. On Tuesday I shall be in the audience at the David Letterman show. Those tickets were free (right up my alley) but I had to answer a trivia question to get them. I lucked out when I knew who Rupert the deli guy next door to the show was. My brother, who is a musician, has invited us to be at his "live recording" concert his band is having. I love the MET and the Museum of Natural History. It would be even better if the Night At The Museum was real and the exhibits came to life. Regardless, it is a fine museum in its own right. Central Park is all abloom. I've seen NYC late at night and won't tarnish its lovely reputation by going into the unique ambiance of a NYC subway station in the wee hours of the morning. (Its not for the faint of heart) Everyone should have an adventure like that before they die, assuming it in itself doesn't kill you. I shall return in a week and a half to continue life where I left off. In the meantime, keep reading, writing and doing whatever it is you love to do.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The thin line of free speech

Recently there has been an obscenity case against a specific comic book owner. Christopher Handley owned Manga books. He was an average individual who ordered some comics from Japan. When the package went into the postal system, the postmaster decided there were questionable images in them. He permitted Handley to pick up the package only to have him pulled over by the police en route to his home. See the background on this here. The images were drawings and not photographs. There were specific drawings the authorities deemed as obscene.
Manga is a Japanese form of comic covering a wide range of subjects. See here. However, Manga has also veered into the more mature themes of entertainment.
I am not into this form of entertainment personally, yet I know those who are. However, the results of this type of restriction has far deeper implications. How is it that the countless forms of pornography is able to be bought and sold in this country? Obviously child pornography is illegal, as it should be. Was the Manga in question in this category? The Comic Book Defense Fund doesn't think so. Handley has given into pressure by pleading guilty. He wants this all to go away and is doing what he believes will do just that. What's to become of those naive individuals who have questionable Manga tattoos? Will our own personal libraries be safe? Why are booksellers still allowed to sell Manga? It comes down to images and what the governing bodies deem as inappropriate. This case sets a precedence. It will surely be challenged in the future as more cases come to light. How many artists throughout history have painted nudes, nude babies and cherubs. Under the guidelines of these certain governing bodies, those paintings would be considered inappropriate.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When there's no one else to talk to, talk to yourself.

Then, write it down. This advice came from a commercially successful writer. He writes fantasy type stories. He was alone. He had no family, none at all. He had no friends, not really. Readers and fans showed up later. His advice was strange and borderline schizophrenic. Being weird actually paid off, for him. I won't go into which successful author he was because it might take away from his advice. A person might say that it has to be good. Well, yes it does. The thing is, what is good to one isn't necessarily good to another. You have to find your market. If you can get your work out there, then, your market will find you. Remember, someone was paid for those cartoons you read. What on Earth will you do with a bunch of random thoughts. You can stow them away somewhere. Then, someday, once you're gone, someone can find them. Then, they can assemble the writings and make them into a book. Then, this individual can profit from your life's work. Nothing wrong with that. At least someone is able to benefit from you having been born. And, hey, if you have no living relatives, then who cares. right? Then again, why not benefit from your over worked brain yourself? Why not piece together your writings, artwork, or some other creative outlet yourself? Benefit from your own life. Don't leave it for someone else to do it. Don't think about what your talent is. Just do something. Eventually you'll know what it is you enjoy doing. Do it without any particular goal in mind. Then, someday, when you're bored and sitting around staring out the window you can get all that creative stuff out. Piece it together and post it online, find a publisher, sell it yourself...and, if you're lucky, you can be successful. Success to one isn't necessarily success to another. And, here we go again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

In honor of a beautiful soul.

My niece and, overall, wonderful person, left this world on Mother's day. I guess, in a way, it was fitting that, she, a mother and daughter herself, would cross over on a day which honors mothers. Most people I have lost in my life have left on or near significant days. I think it is a way to let those left behind understand that it was their time to pass. The significant day should be special and a day for remembrance. An extraordinary day to remember the life that meant so much. It has been said "Don't take life too seriously, you won't get out alive. "
No one likes to think about the end but it will arrive sooner or later. That is why it is so important to pursue your dreams, live life to the fullest and have fun. As long as you treat others well, the rest will fall into place. What we focus on is what we become. We have a duty to ourselves and those around us to make our reality the best it can be. We cannot truly love another if we cannot love ourselves. It is imperative that we live with purpose and joy. In honor of my niece, I intend to do just that. Those who loved her must live the life she wasn't given a chance to finish. Life doesn't have to be grandiose or like what other's think it should be. Life just has to be lived to the best of your ability. Don't be afraid to try. In fact, fear is the great inhibitor and is best left alone.
My niece lived, loved and had many pleasures. Her family came first in all she did. She loved to read and was intently curious about life. She enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy shows as well as thrillers and movies with a point. She was a deep thinker who loved to analyze situations. Her innate intelligence sometimes left her on the outside looking in. She loved all kinds of music. She had her favorites. She enjoyed writing poetry and had a poetic outlook to life. Her life took a tragic turn and should be an example to the rest of us. Don't allow grief to consume you. Recognize it, feel it and release it. That goes for any problem that may overwhelm you. It isn't always easy to do but those who love you depend on you to come back to them. Sometimes, there are people who care, and you don't even realize it. The bottom line is that you just never know what tomorrow may bring. Become the author of your life. Make it a good one.

Quotes:
How transient is life!
Every minute is to be grasped.
Time waits for nobody.
Inscription on a Zen Gong

Death lies on her, like an untimely frost Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.- William Shakespeare

Life is forever. Death is only a temporary abridgment. It is just a state of transition where you will move from one world into another. You will move from the physical to the causal, from matter into pure energy
-Rama
Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive, you were only waiting for this moment to be free. - The Beatles, Blackbird

-In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. -The Beatles

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blooming thoughts

Since life is fleeting, its important where you put your focus. I've learned that life reflects your mindset. Spring is in full force and I hear so many people sneezing, complaining about allergies, etc. Where I live, pollen rules. In fact, the area I live in is considered the allergy capital of the world. I've been victim to the sneezing, etc. I noticed my car was covered in the dusty pollen. Instead of fretting over this, I've decide to change my focus. I looked up from my car to see my azalea bushes blooming in beautiful pink and white flowers. Instead of sneezing, I was in awe. I felt grateful for the magnificent floral display. Conversely, I work with a woman who sees life on the dark side. She cannot see the flowers because the pollen would have consumed her. It doesn't matter what the subject is, she only sees the dark implications from it. As a result, she is sick quite often. She suffers from depression more often than not and is generally unhappy. She tends to have way more bad luck than I do. I don't believe any of this is coincidence. I used to be like that. When I walked on the dark side, I suffered more illness than I care to relate. When I say dark side, I don't mean the love of scary movies or spooky stories. I mean the love of seeing every glass as half empty. The love of listening and telling all the negative gossip you can find. When you put yourself into a negative mindset, you tend to set yourself up for a fall. The negative coworker just found out that she has an ulcer. When you suffer chronic illnesses, many times its your body giving you a wake up call. Even Edgar Allen Poe, who used the dark recesses of his mind, suffered from depression and persistent health issues. Is it possible to create such dark creative prose without a dark mindset? I think so. If you do your best to find the laughter and lightness of life, it fuels the creative juices. I've enjoyed writing dark humor over the years. At the same time, I love the lighter side of creativity too. There's no denying that a dark mind can produce intense dark literature. However, if a writer wants to channel that part of himself, it would do him good to shake it off after he's completed his work. Go to the theater, watch a comedy or just take a walk in a beautiful garden. Your body, mind and soul will greatly appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today is a gift

My 40 yr old niece had heart failure and is now in a coma. Yesterday she was taken off life support. She is now breathing on her own and we wait. She became a widow three years ago when her husband fell asleep at the wheel, driving home from work. The stress from all of that didn't help her. Her heart failure really came as a surprise to us. Also, her young adult daughter, who was married last year, is three months pregnant. The daughter has to make life and death decisions concerning her mother. My sister has to watch her daughter in a coma. I am really appreciating my family each day.
I know how fragile life is. I've lost both of my parents to heart disease. I do everything in my power to make good life choices so I'll be around a long time for my children. I think this not only includes diet and exercise, but also meditation or some sort of stress release. Life is meant to be fun. Laughter has been proven to be very healing. Music is also food for the soul. I try to limit myself from focusing on all the bad news, etc. As it is, stress sometimes throws itself at you whether you like it or not. The key is how you deal with it. My sister was telling us how she wanted to donate her skeleton to a med school. I added that it might be interesting to do the same but before that I wanted my skeleton to be tied up to strings like a marionette's puppet and danced around. Sure that's crazy talk but it did lighten the moment for my great-niece who has been suffering for a week now since her mother has been in a coma.
Situations like this really bring home the fact that life is a gift. I see life as a string of pearls. It is one long string of beautiful shiny todays.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The world of big business

The Amazon controversy continues for some. This author says that she's been censored by Amazon and isn't happy. Anytime a company is massive, like Amazon or Walmart, they have dominance. Naturally, they will use their size as a powerful marketing tool. They are able to buy in bulk and pass the savings along to the consumer. They are able to have the upper hand in negotiating with their suppliers. If a supplier wants to have their product available to millions, they are forced to play by their rules. Sometimes a few toes are stepped on in the process. For example, Walmart has strict cost guidelines which force many manufactures to cut corners with their products in order to stay within the Walmart pricing strategy. Sometimes this isn't always good for the consumer when a product isn't up to its usual standards or packaged in a smaller size. As far as Amazon is concerned, they are able to manipulate what they sell as well. They will favor the big publishers because that's where the money is. In the process, sometimes the smaller guys are shuffled around in a way that may not be fair. That is the way business is conducted, it isn't always fair. However, when Facebook decided to make some very unpopular changes, their users raised a protest. As a result, they decided to lean in favor of their users. They know where their numbers come from and how competetive internet business is. Amazon has listened to their customers to some extent. Amazon knows how to create a profitable business, which isn't easy in times like these. Nevertheless, they don't always play fair. It would be naive to think that big business is always on the up and up with its consumers. They wouldn't be on top of the heap if they didn't know how to play the game. Its up to each individual to decide what they want to do. Do they want to fight for the rights of a few? Its important to keep an eye on situations like this in case it starts to snowball into something big. Nothing big ever started out that way. It always starts out one step at a time. Walmart started with just one store. Amazon was a start up internet business once upon a time. That is why there are government and business watch dog groups, to keep the massive powers in check. Its the Democratic way.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon does it again

Amazon has been in several controversial marketing ploys and apparently they aren't going to change any time soon. Previously, Amazon had decided to quit carrying POD (print on demand) books on their site. After sorting through all the reasons behind the decision, one remained clear, they wanted to create a market for their own CreateSpace POD publishing sector. They figured that they would be cutting into their own POD sales by selling competing POD books. They loosely categorized many publishers into the POD category, even if they weren't strictly POD books. This raised an uproar in the publishing community. Now that time has passed, Amazon has started allowing select books, which they previously restricted, back into their warehouse. I'm not sure if they are using sales rank as an indicator or not.
This brings us to their new decision. They have decided to remove the sales rankings from all books which contain homosexual or adult content. The result of this decision would mean that these books would not come up on their search engine, since it uses sales ranks as part of its process. The literary community has been in an uproar over this latest decision by Amazon. It also seems that romance books are being selectively included in this removal. If a book has adult content, then label it as such, but don't remove it. Amazon's filtering is also removing books without adult content.
Now they are responding that this was a glitch.
Of course, they won't fix this overnight but at least there is progress. Never doubt what a large group of individuals can do when banded together for a common cause.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mental Blocks

What do you do when you've reached a creativity block? It doesn't matter if you're an artist, writer or just about any career that requires creativity. Slumps happen! So, what do you do? First off, don't fight it. Just continue to breath, move, watch, listen and live. Sometimes inspiration can come in the least expected ways. Relax and follow other creative people. More than likely, they had their own slumps.
My son had a notebook. It was blank and we were traveling in the car. My husband was driving. I decided to have a writing game. My mother used to do similar games when I was a kid. I wrote the beginning of a story and handed it to him. He was to write a few paragraphs and hand it back to me. I added to that. We went back and forth until we felt it was time to end it. We wrote off the top of our heads with no particular idea in mind. We ended up coming up with some very funny and creative stories. My mother did a similar game except it was a group participation story. About four+ people sat at a table and wrote the opening lines to a story. Then they folded the paper over, covering what they wrote except for the ending line or ending words. It was the job of the next person to finish the sentence or thought and continue with their own story lines. The papers went around the table until the paper was filled up. At that point, whatever paper you had in front of you, you concluded. The results were very funny and insightful short stories. These are a few ways to get your creative juices flowing.
The bottom line is to follow your passion. Do what strikes your fancy and see where it leads. Behind it all, know what you want. Its good to occasionally make a list of what you want. It gives you something to focus on. Your list will change as you do. Remember if you stare too much at the closed door, you won't see the open one. Live each day with purpose. Its OK to stop and smell the flowers. All work and no play makes for a very unhappy individual. Find what makes you happy and enjoy it. Eventually, creativity will follow. Don't spend too much time on the "hows". If you know what you want and do what makes you happy, things will fall into place. I've asked "successful" people (writers, actors, etc) how they did it. Generally they tell me that they never gave up and just did what they loved. They said that when they worried or stressed over it, they stalled. It was when they stopped all that they started to succeed. The author Neil Gaiman once said that when it starts to become "work" and stops being fun, he'll stop. Until then, he said he'll write as inspiration dictates.
Don't restrict yourself either. If you're a writer, its OK to write within different genres. You don't have to stick within your chosen field if you don't want to. You're the creator of your life. You can take advice or leave it. Its entirely up to you. Here's to your dreams, may they all come true!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Confusing Words

Confusing words in the English language have always been a pet peeve for those who strive to promote good grammar, correct spelling and all around great prose. There is a nice site which offers assistance to those who need help with confusing words.
Everyone needs help now and then. There are other sites intended to help with confusing words.
Good English is based on meanings, pronunciations, and spelling of words. The study of Semantics is important in order to write an intelligent discourse and have it understood correctly. Knowing the meanings and/or multiple meanings of words can greatly improve your writing. It is so easy to be misunderstood by a genre of readers who may see a word in one way when you meant it in another way. Avoiding a double entendre, which is French for "double meaning" can be invaluable. A double entedre usually implies a slip of the word which could have embarrassing implications.
The English language has evolved many times over the centuries. Today, there is UK English and American English. Even so, with the internet and movies, the language is blending more and more everyday. Nonetheless, there are pioneers in the development of language. None greater than those who write the guidebooks on language. The dictionary is the word bible for writers and speakers. In the United States, the great pioneer in making dictionaries was Noah Webster. His first work, which was published in 1806, advocated spelling head as hed and thumb as thum; but his efforts at spelling reform were generally rejected by the public. In other respects, however, his work was widely accepted; and in 1828, his well-known An American Dictionary of the English language began to exert its lasting influence on English in this country. Lexicographers since Webster have been somewhat more reliable than he is reporting actual usage but they, too, have had to report spelling as it is found in printed sources. Thus, spelling has become fixed and largely unchangeable, although it frequently does not represent actual pronunciation and often departs from common sense.
Here's to the evolution of language. Every writer has a part in this process. For example, Shakespeare wrote at a time when English was not a standard being taught to the general populace. As a result, he invented new words and grammar rules which were later followed. Shakespeare's plays became popular in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century and they helped contribute to the standardization of the English language


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Disclaimers for books

In this day and age everything has a disclaimer. As every lawyer knows, disclaimers do not protect you from lawsuits. However ,we use them in order to discourage the protesters. I found this group of book disclaimers quite interesting and humorous. There is a collection of real textbook disclaimers as well humorous ones to protest the original disclaimers. This site is geared toward science textbooks.
Some of the population is at odds with science when they feel it contradicts their stance on creationism. The groups who take the bible literally are actively fighting against evolution being taught to young impressionable minds, among other things. You can see their institute here. You decide for yourself. I believe in many things you cannot see, but I also believe in science too. I don't see why the two should be at odds with each other. Their latest discourse on flight evolution was especially, uh, interesting, yeah that's it. I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't rant against or for something if you haven't read both sides of the argument. I did my research and I feel my opinion is based on intelligent research, facts, etc.
In order to look at the other side to this coin, check out The Bad Astronomy Blog Phil Plait's blog from Discover, rants on this very subject, among other things. There are always shades of gray in any subject. No one group should force their opinion onto others, no matter how good they think it is. We were created with thinking minds, use them, don't limit them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Write your Congressman

Remember the controversy about old children's books being destroyed due to a misinterpretation of a new law? Well, here is a link about it. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was intended to protect children from children's products that contain lead. Older books, do contain minute traces of lead. I grew up reading these books as did my parents and their parents. We suffered no ill effects from reading these books. I understand the intention behind this law. It makes sense in what it is trying to do. However, there must be some guidelines and exceptions. It is sad to see the old Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books being destroyed for future generations to enjoy. Sure, these titles can be bought in newer versions, but some titles can't. I still have some of my old favorites and passed them down to my children.
U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) recently introduced legislation to amend the CPSIA to exempt ordinary books from the lead limits within the bill. This legislation specifically exempts books and would ensure that children continue to have access to safe, educational and entertaining reading materials. You need to write your congressman in order to let them know that this legislation needs to pass.
Here is a link to the text of the amendment proposed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Books that become phenomenons.

There are some books out there which are every bit as good as the so-called phenomenons. So, what is the difference between them? The popular books, of course, have to be good. If they weren't it wouldn't matter who pushed them. The readership would revolt. Second, there has to be publicity. There have been some self published books which became phenomenons, like The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield or Embraced By The Light by Bettie Jean Eadie. Those books are the exception. It takes some major self promotion and capital to be able to pull this off. The bottom line is that a great book still needs financial backing. When a major publisher backs an author's book, magic happens. Suddenly it is listed on all the literary lists. It becomes nominated for awards and the author hits the road on a major publicity tour. Even couch potatoes know about the book via the television. Then, it becomes a movie. At this point the world knows about it. If the author is lucky, the movie is a hit or at the very least recoups it's investment capital.
Back in the 60's, Richard Bach wrote and published, Jonathon Livingston Seagull. He was a pilot who wrote. He kept to himself and rarely checked in with his publisher. Imagine his surprise, when, one day he stopped at a diner and decided to call his publisher. He was traveling around offering airplane rides for money. His editor told him that she had been trying to track him down because the media wanted to interview him. She told him to check his bank account, which he did. To his amazement, his account was in the six figure category. He only drew what he needed for the week and never bothered to check his balance. Of course, his life changed drastically after that. His book became a movie and he married a movie star and wrote more books.
The lesson here is to show writers to relax. Follow your heart, write with passion and never give up. Some people spend a lot of time looking for Mr. or Ms Right. Eventually they may find their soul mate. The same holds true in other relationships. If a writer is passionate about their work and keeps focused, he just may find his soul agent.
*spoiler alert* if you click on the Twilight cartoon above, there are some major book spoilers. Be forewarned.*

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Write a Screenplay

If you've ever felt the desire to write a screenplay and don't know where to start, check this out.
This site has listed many screenplays which can be viewed and picked apart in order to study the screenplay writing process. It can be very useful to the new screenplay writer. There is a market for screenplays and you can actually turn your own book or story into one, just in case. Here's another great screenplay site. You key in the elements and it does the rest.
If poetry is your thing, here's a site that helps with that process.
If you want more help for poetry, here is a site that gives a list of words that can be used in a poem, then puts it altogether. Here's an interesting poem generator that just needs the first line to create a rhyme. We're all in this together and every little bit helps.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Freedom of Speech

There are so many banned books over the years, that it took a whole website dedicated to them. The amazing part is that some of them were only recently banned. You would think that the whole Fahrenheit 451 thing would not exist in the modern, right thinking world. Wrong. There are conservative Evangelists who, right now, dedicate themselves to keeping the wrong kind of material from seeing the light of day. And..if it does see the light of day, they are there to stop, inhibit or blast it with their right thinking views. They do this in order to protect the general populous from anarchy or something like that. Like I said before, I'm all for keeping the adult oriented material away from minors. That being said, we must, as a society, open our minds to views of all types. How can we have an educated opinion on a subject if we don't know the other side? When opposing something, it is important to be well acquainted with that which you oppose. Here's an example of a book being read by its opposition. Would the author of the "proof of God" book read an atheist's "no proof of God" book? Probably not.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How can anyone throw away books?


The new law went into effect banning children's books which were printed before 1985. Why? Because there might be a trace of lead in them. The law, which is to make everything for children safe, fails to take into account books. So many wonderful, out of print books have been discarded by book shops in order to keep in line with the law. Its a very wrong thing to do, in my opinion. It reminds me of the book and movie Fahrenheit 451, where all books were banned. People had to memorize books and pass them down for future generations. Sure, this isn't the same thing but its a step in the wrong direction. We can't make blanket laws without considering all of the implications of it. I've been an insatiable reader for as long as I can remember. I'm middle age now and am quite healthy, according to my doctor. The minute amount of lead in my books and toys hasn't seemed to cause me any problems that I know of. I am all for protecting children from dangerous toys. Too many products produced in China have had an unhealthy level of toxins in them, all to save money. We need to promote a "buy American" slogan, where we can buy safe products and save jobs. However, the great historic literature from long ago days should be protected. This is our heritage and as such, deserves to be exempted form annihilation. Just think, all of those wonderful hardback editions of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys would be a thing of the past. Is that what we really want?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Generator


This Random Generator does the thinking for you. Great for writer's blocks, writing reports or just sending a letter. I tried out the "interesting site generator" It came up with "Fang Royal Castle" which sounds interesting enough. The generators can be used for just about anything. Also, you can create your own generators. How cool is that? Sure, writers want to come up with stuff that is completely their own creation...plagiarism you know. However, the generators can get the creative juices flowing. Also, the site gives permission for the results to be used in any way you please. Nevertheless, we must be unique in our creativity. No one says you can't kick start your creativity every now and then. So, try it out and see what it does for you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Twitter

Ok, there are too many social sites. Many of them are open to predators and spammers. There isn't enough time in the day to be creative and sift through all the online social networks screaming for attention. However, Twitter seems to be gaining quite a bit of attention. I visited, I stalked around and now I'm there. The good thing about Twitter is that it doesn't demand much of your time. It limits you to only 140 characters at a time. I am able to follow some of my favorite authors, film makers, odd sorts, etc. You can write via the computer or phone. Its a place where someone can have an "Aha" moment and twitter it for all to see. Actually, it helps the individual mentally bookmark their thoughts for no one in particular. Don't be afraid to join and just be a voyeur. Here's a nice synopsis on Twitter from Jon Stewart. There are even sites that list the top Twitters.
There are even sites with Twitter tools.
I'm not a top user or even an average one. I do find it interesting and have even had real Twitter conversations with some of my favorite authors and film makers. Actually, they were some that I've had discussions with before. Regardless, it's an interesting and apparently popular way to network with the stars. Who knows, you could connect with that one person who just might be your rung on the ladder to success.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Philip José Farmer, Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 91

'Philip José Farmer, unconventional Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 91" He lived in Peoria, Ill. His official Web site, pjfarmer.com, announced his death, saying he had “passed away peacefully in his sleep.”

Mr. Farmer’s blend of intellectual and pulp-fiction prose found a worldwide audience. His more than 75 books have been translated into 22 languages and published in more than 40 countries. Though he wrote many short stories, he was best known for his many series of multiple novels. These sprawling, episodic works gave him room to explore the nuances of a provocative premise while indulging his taste for lurid, violent action.

In his Riverworld series Mr. Farmer imagined a river millions of miles long on a distant planet where virtually everyone who has died on Earth is physically reborn, strong and vital, and given a second chance to make something of life.

In the first of the series, “To Your Scattered Bodies Go,” a reborn character discovers that his “skin was smooth, and the muscles of his belly were ridged, and his thighs were packed with strong young muscles.”

“He no longer had the body of the enfeebled and sick 69-year-old man who had been dying only a moment ago. And the hundred or so scars were gone.”

In his Dayworld series, an overpopulation crisis on Earth has been relieved by a technical fix: each person spends one day a week awake and the other six days in suspended animation. In his World of Tiers series, mad demigods create pocket universes for their own amusement, only to face rebellion from their putative creatures.

In a genre known for prolific writers, Mr. Farmer’s output was famously prodigious. At one point in the 1970s he had 11 different series in various stages of completion. Even some of his admirers said he wrote too much too fast. The critic Leslie Fiedler said that his work was sometimes sloppily written but added that was a small price to pay for the breadth of Mr. Farmer’s imagination.

Mr. Farmer made no apologies for his excesses. “Imagination,” he said, “is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.”

Philip José Farmer was born Jan. 26, 1918, in North Terre Haute, Ind. He grew up in Peoria, where his father, a civil engineer, was a supervisor for the power company. A voracious reader as a boy, Mr. Farmer said he resolved to become a writer in the fourth grade. After washing out of flight training in World War II, he went to work in a steel mill while attending Bradley University in Peoria at night and writing in his spare time.

His first success came in 1952 with a story called “The Lovers,” about a man seduced by an alien with an unusual reproductive system. The story was rejected by the two leading science fiction editors; both said that its graphic description of interspecies sex made them physically ill. Published in a pulp magazine called Startling Stories, the story won Mr. Farmer his first Hugo as “most promising new writer.”

Emboldened, he quit his job to become a full-time writer. Entering a publisher’s contest, he won the $4,000 first prize for a novel that held the germ of his Riverworld series. But an unscrupulous editor failed to deliver the money, and the manuscript was lost. Struggling financially, Mr. Farmer left Peoria in 1956 to become a technical writer. He spent the next 14 years working for defense contractors, from Syracuse, N.Y., to Los Angeles, while continuing to write science fiction on the side.

With the loosening of social taboos in the 1960s, Mr. Farmer emerged as a major force in the genre. In a 1966 story set on Riverworld, one of the resurrected is a resentful Jesus, angry that he had been deceived about the nature of the afterlife.

Mr. Farmer won a Hugo for his 1967 novella “Riders of the Purple Wage,” a satire on a cradle-to-grave welfare state, written as an exuberant pastiche of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” His 1971 novel “To Your Scattered Bodies Go” also won the Hugo.

After moving back to Peoria in 1970, Mr. Farmer published 25 new works over the next decade. A 1975 novel, “Venus on the Half-Shell,” created a stir beyond the genre. The jacket and title page identified the author only as Kilgore Trout, a fictional character who appears as an unappreciated science fiction writer in several of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels. Although Mr. Farmer claimed he had permission for this playful hoax, Vonnegut was not amused to learn that some reviewers not only concluded that he had written “Venus on the Half-Shell” but that it was a worthy addition to the Vonnegut canon.

Mr. Farmer also wrote full-length, mock-scholarly “biographies” of Tarzan and Doc Savage, two of the pulp heroes whose stories had inspired him to become a writer.

Mr. Farmer had his detractors. “A humdrum toiler in the fields of science fiction,” Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in The New York Times in 1972. But Mr. Fiedler saw in Mr. Farmer’s approach to storytelling a “gargantuan lust to swallow down the whole cosmos, past, present and to come, and to spew it out again.”

In the Riverworld series, for example, Mr. Farmer resurrected not just historical personages like Samuel Clemens and the explorer Richard Francis Burton but legendary figures like Odysseus and Gilgamesh.

He is survived by his wife, Bette, his son, Philip, his daughter, Kristen, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.