Monday, December 31, 2012

Outlandish goals for 2013...

It's New Year's Eve and I've taken about five days off from writing (I'm not sure I can count two of them as I don't often write on the weekends anyway). I plan to get back to it today, however.

So very pleased with myself.
photo by puamelia via flickr

On the day after Christmas, I finished the penultimate draft of THE WRETCHED, book two of THE KELL STONE PROPHECY series. It was a wonderful feeling and brought me a bit of surprise. 2012 wasn't even finished yet, and I'd already completed an enormous chunk of next year's work. It makes my goal of publishing four books next year seem very doable. I might even be able to do five--and I'm not even counting this little bit of nothing book I'm working on.

The KELL STONE series of books is easy, I have to admit. Most of the story is complete already. I only have to add Leah Hallowsing's story line, beef up Lucas Foster's story line, change a few quirks and plot points, and voila, they'll be ready.

The first, and titular, book in THE STORY RUNNER series is nearly complete as well and CAMELIA is at least in progress. The only book I haven't actually begun is the next D.D. Charles book about ghosts. But I've been jotting down snippets of dialogue that come to mind and I'll find a moment to work out something more of a plot soon. At least I know what its basic structure will be.

All in all, I've done wonderful things with 2012 and am ready for 2013.

How about you?

Resolutions are bunkum for the most part. We say we're going to do things we know we ought to do, usually knowing full well we'll have forgotten about them by February. Lose weight. Eat better. Exercise more.

Or we say we'll do things we hope we'll do, but knowing full well we have no control over them. Find love. Get married. Win the lottery.

Goals, on the other hand, have nothing to do with a change in the calendar and can be made any time. Goals are part of how you live your life--they're extentions of what you're already working toward. They're not pie in the sky; they're real, accessible, possible, and concrete. You WILL succeed to some point with them.

Some say you should sit down and plan out your time minute by minute and set realistic goals. But I read somewhere recently that it's actually better to make impossible goals.

Reach for the stars.

As long as you understand that almost attaining your goal is success, why not set yourself up for something brilliant? Something fantastic? Go for it!

So, five books next year it is! I bet I can do it. And if I don't, I know I'll have at least three, maybe four, books published. The only way I can fail is to stop what I'm doing right now.

And I have no intention of doing that.

Let's hear it for outlandish goal-setting!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

That's not art...and I know it when I see it...

What To Do When The Bus Doesn't Come And You Want To Scream. An Experiment

Apparently, Fra.Biancoshock, a "conceptual artist," decided to put sheets of bubble wrap at bus stops and call it "Antistress for free."

This is a wonderful joke to play on people; it would be a wonderful investment for a bus line. But it's not art.

Art is when you draw or paint a picture, or sculpt a statue, or maybe even dance, or sing. Taking beautiful pictures can be art.

Art requires something we like to call talent. But maybe we don't like to say that art takes talent anymore. Because if art takes talent, then maybe not everyone could be an artist. And that just wouldn't be fair.

Everyone should get to call himself an artist if he wants to...apparently. Even Fra.Biancoshock who doesn't even have a real name.

You can call the "let-me-just-do-this-stupid-thing-and-call-it-art" art if you want.

But the reality of it is, and always will be, that art is absolutely not putting sheets of bubble wrap at the bus stop and then taking pictures of people using it.

Art is not sending models running through a museum. Art is not lights going off and on in an empty room. And art is not a banana rotting on a window sill.

It's not art. Get over yourselves.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Waiting in line for a lesson on human nature

Once, a very long time ago, not on Black Friday, but that's not important, I decided to wait in a line to get the newest video game system that everyone just had to have. It may have been Christmas Eve. And it was at a store in the mall.

photo by Tom Taker via flickr

I'm not the type of person who would get up early and go stand in a line for hours for something that I could probably just order online, or pick up after Christmas. But I thought I had an advantage and I thought it might be fun.

I used to work in the mall. And I knew that there was a special, hidden door that I could use to get in before the mall opened. So, I got up at the crack of dawn--okay--maybe earlier. And I snuck into the mall--it was deadly quiet.

I found my way to the store and voila, I was first in line. I waited several hours there, like an idiot. At one point, the night security guard saw me and gave me a knowing smile when I told him what I was doing.

Gradually other people joined me. The first was a lady who said that another store in the mall down the way was open early, so she thought, sort of as an aside, that she might as well come down here have a try at a whatchit.

When there were about seven of us, the anchor, JC Penny, must have opened its outer doors, because there were people gathering at its mall door looking at us enviously.

We were the first ones in line! We were a definite in on the goods.

The lights came on in the little electronics store and we saw movement. The manager was preparing his till. Then he came to the gate and told us how this was going to go down. We were so excited.

Then the security guard opened the nearest, outside mall door and all hell broke loose.

I heard a woman screaming, "They're already in line! They're already in line!" A group of people carrying pillows and wearing bunny slippers came running around the corner protesting and calling for security--literally shrieking like madmen--or people who had slept on concrete.

Apparently, these people had been waiting all night outside. And apparently the security guard who smiled at me approvingly had been the one to make them wait outside instead of sneaking into the mall like I had.

There were twelve of them. And what do you know? Twelve was the exact number of whatever the watchit was that I was waiting for.

The man in the electronics store told them he'd called security to haul their screaming, protesting, obnixious asses away. This made the woman in line behind me very happy. And, like a petulant child, he threatened to not sell any whatchits at all if everyone didn't just calm down.

Finally, the interlopers or true-in-liners, depending on whose side you're on, quieted down and waited for more security, but refused to move from in front of our line. They had pieces of paper that they'd already used to number themselves in order of who showed up first.

So, the lady in line behind me somehow managed to get her own little pieces of paper and wrote out numbers for our order in line. She gave me number one. There was no way, in her mind, that these barbarians were going to get her whatchit. She was never going to shop at that little store again if she was cheated out of her whatchit. (This is the same lady who was only in line as an afterthought.)

Understand, I was waiting to see if, hope beyond hope, electronics-store dude might just have thirteen instead of twelve. Because clearly these people, rude and insane as they were behaving, were first in line.

Anyway, security arrived, the mess was sorted and the people who'd been outside all night were allowed to enter the store and make their purchases. They waited for each other to finish, eyeing us suspiciously, as if we were planning to jump them on their way out, and left together.

I got my name on a waiting list, went home, enjoyed Christmas, went out a couple of days later and got one of the prized possessions at Best Buy. No scramble, no line, no waiting. Pretty as you please.

This episode has so many life lessons contained in it, I'm not sure I learned them all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Zales sees women as prostitutes

Check out the Zales commercial I've been seeing on television lately.

The camera pans along the floor. We see a jewelry gift box and clothes strewn all about. Then a leggy woman closes the bedroom door.
"The only thing better than giving her a diamond, is surprising her with one."

Why? Because she'll have sex with you, that's why.

So, basically Zales is telling you that women will prostitute themselves for gifts. If you just give her some diamonds, you'll get some sex. But if you surprise her with diamonds, you're going to get some RIGHT FRIGGIN' NOW.

This is the same shot they used last year, but this time with the full voice over instead of a song. In last year's, the voice over says at the end, "This is your moment."

Because you gave her diamonds. So now she'll have sex with you.

In Zales' world--and unfortunately they're playing into the mindset of too many men--women don't have sex with you because they want to or because they love you. They have sex with you because you give them things. You take them to dinner; you buy them little gifts, send them flowers and chocolates. Want really great sex? Well, you have to give her a really great gift.

Zales knows that all women get really, really turned on by diamonds. Women are essentially prostitutes.

So, if you want sex, give your girl some ice.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Allstate Insurance thinks women are stupid

Allstate insurance thinks woman are incapable of reasoning. How else to explain this Allstate Bonus Check ad.

Interior. Cafe. Man and woman at a table having lunch.

Pert little woman: Remember when you said men are superior drivers?
Young, confused-looking man: Yeah.
Woman: Yeah, then, how did I get this--
Booming Allstate dude voice: --ALLSTATE BONUS CHECK--
Little woman: So weird, right?

[At this point, confused guy ought to say, "hell yeah, that was weird. Where did that freaky voice come from?" But instead he just looks more confused.]

She explains that her agent told her that "only Allstate sends a bonus check for every six months you're accident free."

Perky little woman in sarcastic tone: But I'm a woman. Maybe it's a misprint. Does it look like a misprint?

She pushes the check in confused dude's face and when he tries to explain that her being accident free for six months in no way proves that men are not superior drivers to women, she barks at him.

Little woman: Silence.

And the dude shuts up--like all television men are supposed to do when television women speak.

So, in essence, perky little sarcastic woman has only proven two things. One, she can't reason logically. And two, she treats her boyfriend like a child.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A wonderful weekend with local authors

I had such a wonderful time at the Meet the Authors event. I sold a few books and bought a few--and two authors gave me a copy of theirs. The time went by rather quickly and for that I was glad, because it wasn't as great as a garage sale where you can go inside and grab a bite to eat whenever you want. My husband came along, though, so I had someone at my table when I needed a break--and he brought me lunch!

My two favorite sales were an older lady and a young girl.

I was over at John Ryan's table; he was telling me some of his history, when my husband pulled me away. One of the organizers was looking for me--she said there was a woman out in the lobby that wanted to meet me, so I followed her out there. An attractive, gray-haired, well-dressed lady was sitting on a bench outside, with a cane, and she had clipping of the Hometown News article that featured me and my books with her.

She'd come all that way just to get a copy of each of my books for her grandsons! But she'd recently developed vertigo, she said, and she just didn't think she could make it through the room to my table. What an awesome lady! I felt so honored--and not unlike a celebrity.

But I suppose my most favorite sale was the twin! Adorable teenaged twins were at my table while their father hovered around. One was very interested in Children of Path, while the other was not. The one looking at my book told me her sister could read a book in just a few hours. This avid reader then told me how she had read many series of books in a day, and the entire Harry Potter series in a week!

Anyway, the one looking at my book read the front, then the back; she asked about the picture of the panther on the cover, were there panthers in the story? Then she opened it up in the middle and read, then went to the first page and started reading. Her sister said, "What are you doing?" Impatient girl! Her twin said, "I'm reading this book!" Like, duh. Then the reader abruptly put the book down and went to her father and said, "I want that book."

She told her dad she had money for it at home and would pay him back. He made her promise. Then he made both girls say pretty please. And while getting out his money, he made them both call him "most awesome dad." And they did!

I loved this sale because I felt like my book was connecting with that young woman--in the way it connects with me. It was a wonderful feeling and I hope the book doesn't disappoint her.

At the book fair, I purchased Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings by Kip Taylor. This is a series book about a boy who dies, becomes an angel, then joins a league of young angels to save the world. At least that's what Taylor's rep told me. The cover picture is cool (I met the illustrator there and she signed the book for me) and I found the story idea intriguing.

I also purchased The Zen of Max by Lou Belcher. I'd heard about Lou's book subtitled "a memoir of great wisdom and many naps" and about her late cat Max some time ago and was glad to finally be able to get a copy.

Across from my table was Charles Nothe with his massive tome Proscriptii, historical fiction set in ancient Rome. I really wanted the book because I like really big books. But I knew that wasn't a good reason to spend $20 on a book and, after all, my husband was with me to remind me to be more frugal.

Unfortunately, when I went to speak with Nothe, I told him my dilemma and his response was to give me a copy of the book. Part of me understands why he did it. It was clear in talking with him that he and I were both passionate about history and historical fiction--he much more so than I because he actually researched and wrote, whereas I have only read and enjoyed, the subject (except for that little BA degree, of course). But, like with that young twin, when you find someone who clearly wants to read your book--you want them to read it!

Well, my husband refused the offer and insisted I pay, an idea I had no qualms with. But when I tried to give Nothe money he absolutely refused. So we decided upon an exchange. I gave him a copy of Zombie Revolution for a son or nephew, I can't exactly recall. I really don't think it was a fair exchange and depending on who you ask (me or hubs) one of us got the better deal. (Hubs isn't all that fond of heavy tomes of history.)

In fact, hubs later looked at me with a smile and said, I read the first sentence and almost put the book down, but it was okay after that. And he had me read the first sentence of Proscriptii. It was a long, complicated, glorious sentence and I told him, "I'm going to love this book!" We shared a good laugh at our differences.

I shared a table with Stanton Bronstein who writes under the name S.N. Bronstein. He turned out to be a fabulous table mate! Great sense of humor, great attitude--I think he and I and hubs all shared a basic outlook or worldview. I mean, imagine us sharing a table with Debra John who apparently brought along a psychic! (Don't get me wrong, Debra was a lovely person...but if you know know what I mean.)

Stanton was much more of a pitchman than I could ever be. People were first drawn to his table by the covers of his detective book series--photos of places in Miami. He only had to give them his spiel and then turn to the children's book at the end of the table with its picture of a way-cool black cat and they were sold--if not on the adult series, then definitely on the kids book. He outsold me by a large margin.

And I am now intimately familiar with his books; if he had left for a while, by Sunday, I could have given shoppers the entire spiel in his stead.

When he was packing up, Stanton gave me a copy of the kids book, Private Eye Cats Book One: The Case of the Neighborhood Burglars. I was grateful. I didn't insist on paying Stanton, mostly because I hadn't slobbered all over the book practically asking for it. He shouldn't have given it to me though. But I'll definitely enjoy the read so I'm really thankful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A day at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival aka Boston Market

(Oh, my friggin' god there was another roach in the house, on his back, just trying to fool me!!!!! I swatted him a few times to make him good and dead before scooping him up and tossing him out for the ants. He had to be three inches long! Calculating out the Fear Exaggeration Index, that makes him just over one inch, I think. I HATE Florida!)

Arienne McCracken's mashed potatoes which I'm sure are very good
Photo by said McCracken via flickr

Where was I? Oh, yes, Epcot. Food. I now have to talk about food. [shudder]

Yesterday, we spent the better part of the day at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival. We go for the food. I can't understand people who start sampling beers and wines before noon. And after a few, it's all got to taste the same, right? And I can't understand people who go to Epcot during the festival and eat at the restaurants. With all of that luscious, semi-foreign food available, you go eat one monotone meal in Germany or Italy? Makes no sense.

The first booth we came upon is brand new this year: Terra. Sounds fishy, doesn't it? It is, let me tell you. Not fishy, exactly, but chick'n-y. It's for chickens, all right.

Terra's main offering is "Trick'n Chick'n Curry with Basmati Rice featuring Gardein Chick'n Breast."
Ah, yes, that was the curry. Someone asked me if I'd tried any curry and I said, "Well, I remember there was curry there somewhere but I didn't have any, it must have been in blue."

In blue. Let me explain.

Before I go to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, I formulate a plan. This year was the first year my plan actually worked, ie I came home feeling like I sampled everything I wanted to. I printed out the list of vendors and their food and then highlighted in yellow all of the samples I just had to have. The ones I thought I might like to try were in blue. Many were not highlighted at all. There are just some things you try once and swear never again. And then, there are those things you just know to stay away from.

Like the "Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream" in Belgium. (That is not my capitalization, mind you, it's Epcot's.) Anything that said "berry" or "berries" had to be passed on, because George is certain, after his many years of disappointing food experiences that "berry" is code-word for raspberry. And we do not do raspberry. I could do raspberry; I don't have a problem with them. But George is staunchly anti-raspberry.

So, the Terra "chick'n" curry was not eaten, and, as it turns out, not in blue either. Why? Because I'm a skeptic that's why and I was immediately suspicious of "Gardein Chick'n Breast."

Sounds fake to me. Sounds like fake, wannabe, vegetarian wool and someone is attempting to pull it over my eyes. No thank you.

Why do vegetarians have to try to eat meat that isn't meat? If you want meat, eat some dang meat. If you don't want to eat meat, eat your beans and stop trying to make meat "healthy." It doesn't work. It is not as good as real meat, stop trying to tell us it is.

Fake chocolate is not as good as real chocolate and Snackwells cookies aren't just as good as Oreos. They are not. So just stop with it.

So, do you think for one second that I partook of Terra's "Chocolate Cake with Passion Fruit Sorbet and Coconut Foam." Right. Like chocolate cake made by people who eat fake "chick'n" is going to be good. No thank you.

So, we passed on the new fancy schmancy fake Terra. Terra my buttocks. Terra could have been a rich, bountiful harvest of wonderful non-meat samples. Instead it was a sad advertisement for fake food. Terra. Sheesh.

We started in Argentina with a beef empanada (always a yum) and a grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato puree. George was very put off by the boniato puree, which he called Boston Market mashed potatoes. Mashed white potatoes loaded with real butter. Probably the way Paula Dean would make mashed potatoes, yau'll.

"But it's not mashed potatoes," I told him. "It's boniato puree!"

Well, I looked up boniato puree and it's mashed Caribbean sweet potatoes. I'm sorry, hon. But those were not sweet potatoes, they were buttery, bland white potatoes. This is the theme that colored our entire trip. While I liked them somewhat (I could do without the taste of real butter), Geroge couldn't stop tasting them in everything he ate.

We had steamed mussels in Belgium. Well...George had one, which he called wet and rubbery with very little flavor. He is, of course, insane. He must be missing the "rich soul of the sea" bud on his tongue because I thought they were heavenly.

In Canada, I ate the chicken (real) chipotle sausage with sweet corn polenta, which George swore smelled like Boston Market mashed potatoes. It was nothing like mashed potatoes. That was probably the best sausage I had. Better than Germany's bratwurst (an eight-inch skinny sausage on a two-inch pretzel bun--cute as a button) and Poland's kielbasa (hard to beat!).

Yes, I ate all the sausage. I had to. George is also anti-sausage.

We ate a wonderful filet mignon with truffle butter sauce, that reminded George of Boston Market mashed potatoes, in Canada; Mongolian beef in a strange steamed bun and pork pot stickers in China--good but not wow inducing; a lobster seafood fisherman's pie in Ireland that can only be described as a mistake; raw tasteless tuna in Hawaii served to us by a guy named Chad who kept speaking to us in Hawaiian; and a four-by-four-inch ravioli from Italy that tasted like Chef Boyardee (not that there's anything wrong with that) and, to George only, Boston Market mashed potatoes.

"Can't you smell that?" He says, breathing in enormous-ravioli aroma. Smelled like cheese to me.

They also had a new Florida booth this year. I was born and raised in Florida. I know my Florida. So I expected shrimp and crab, corn bread, grits, oranges, that sort of thing. But they offered us white corn arepa with Mangalitsa pork rillette and Zellwood sweet corn salad.

Okay. Huh? Arepa is from Columbia and Venezuala. It's not Floridian. The Mangalitsa pig is not from Florida. What gives? You think you can toss in some Zellwood corn and call it Florida? I think not, my friend.

They also had Florida shrimp ceviche with fried plantains. We don't eat our shrimp ceviched in Florida. We eat it fried, steamed, or grilled. And plantains are not a typical Florida food. They're Latino food. So, big fail all around on Florida.

In Ireland, I had a "Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Bailey's Ganache," like always. It's heaven. Ooey, gooey, chocolate heaven. And at the "Desserts & Champagne" booth we had a "Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Caramel." It was smooth, creamy, chocolate pudding with a punch in the throat at the end.

I think the chili at the bottom would certainly keep me from overindulging. I should have chilis in all my chocolate...not.

And, of course, I came home with a box of truffles from Belgium. I'll eat them at my leisure.

I was stuffed. And happy. And my feet hurt. So, you know it was a good day. Boston Market mashed potatoes and all.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The funniest family on tv...

It's another crazy commercial roundup!

First, somebody please stop those "Boots for Fall" commercials. Their spokeswoman has the most annoying, whiny, nasal voice I've ever heard and I can't stand it anymore.  (You can see one with a little bit of the whine here, but it's nothing next to the latest, "boots, boots, and more boots.") I'm to the point where I have to mute the television when I see the ad start.

What were they thinking? Please make it stop!

Next we have Subaru's Take Your Daughter to Work ad. I know they didn't mean to imply that mom's little helper was not her daughter at all, but her Subaru. But that's pretty much what the commercial says. Every time I hear the mom's voice over, "Every mom needs a little helper, that's why I got a Subaru," I think of the little girl in the back seat and say, "Oh, snap!"

And finally, it's the Sprint "Say no to Sharing" ad with the funniest family in television. I'd like to see a full-length feature film starring this family! Somebody make it happen.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oh, evolve already...

So, last week, I wrote about Brave and how some silly man, Adam Markovitz, claimed that because Merida rejected the traditional female role, she might be gay.

Photo by Ralf Skjeming via flickr
I'm still pissed off over that. The traditional female role, according to Markovitz is to fawn over boys and want to get married and be just like Mom. Isn't it high time that notion was booted to the bin of history? If a girl wants to get married, fine. But not wanting marriage or children or a life of making sandwiches doesn't make a girl a lesbian--it makes her independent.
And this week we have Neanderthal Doug Giles over at Townhall offering up the Ten Commandments of dating his daughter.
Commandment I. Thou shall understand that your presence doesn't make me happy. And know this: I've got a PI doing a background check on you at this moment.
Right off the bat...any young man dating his daughter makes him unhappy. And he wants it clear that his daughter is not a good judge of character, so the background check is running.
Commandment III. Thou shall not touch my daughter. If you do, I'll smash your hands and your mommy will have to help you gel your Justin Bieber haircut.
It's not his daughter's choice to be touched or not. It's his. He owns her. He makes the decisions about who holds her hand, who kisses her, and who has sex with her. And if any young man disobeys, he will resort to violence.
Commandment VI. Thou shall know that our family is old school. Do not even think about approaching me with liberal, hippie, agnostic, atheistic, anti-American or tree-humping bull crap.
Giles' daughter does not have a mind of her own. She is not allowed to date hippies, liberals, or atheists, because her master says so.
Commandment VII. Thou shall know that I like cool and expensive gifts. You'd be shrewd to approach me like the three wise men did Baby Jesus, namely with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
His daughter is property to be rented out, bought and paid for. Perhaps if a young man offered Giles enough in expensive gifts, he'd be allowed to touch the girl.

Commandment VIII. Thou shall understand that if you're dumb enough to tell me a dirty joke, I'm comfortable enough with kicking your ass.
And again, Giles makes it clear that he is all-too willing to resort to violence over any slight done him by any young man his daughter might want to date--because she's not an independent woman with a mind of her own whose dating choices ought to be respected.

Giles offers print copies of his Ten Commandments for purchase over at the Patriot Depot (because every true patriot enslaves his women). The print has an icon for each commandment. The icons are...can you guess? Weapons. A gun, a fist, an ax, a baseball bat. Nice touch.

Giles is a real man. He owns his females. He makes their choices for them. And he will kick your ass.

Now, I know that this is Townhall, and what you find there is often ridiculously conservative, hysterical, and backward. And I know that Giles thinks he's funny. But you and I both know that behind Giles' over-the-top man rant lies the truth that he believes his daughter is his property.

Anytime you hear men jokingly talk about kicking the asses of their daughters' would-be suitors, this is at the heart of it: their precious girls belong to them and they don't want them defiled.

It's fine, if not expected, that their sons will enjoy a few slutty escapades. Boy sluts are real men--virile and healthy.

But girls? Oh, no. Girls may not enjoy any sluttery. Girl sluts are shameful and diseased.

Too many men can't figure out that loving women doesn't equal making their choices for them and beating up rivals. But I suppose if you're a proud Neanderthal grunt, who tries to control with dictates and threats of violence (even in your humor....or especially in your humor) you're not man enough (or is it smart enough?) to know how to respect women.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make your own damn sandwich...

I went to see Brave last week and had a roaring good time. From the opening scene and music, to my first view of Merida, all the way through the fabulous, funny, and poignant story, to wonderful and fit ending, I was smiling. Well written, well told, tight and meaningful, Disney has once again made magic.

Photo by JeraSue via Flickr
And Merida is a character women everywhere can, and frankly ought to, embrace. She's her own girl. She's not a pawn to be handed over in marriage for political gain or appeasement. She needn't get married at all. She has no time for the formalities and lessons of being the pigeonholed "princess" which means all the things you might think it means: no fighting, no rough-housing, no shooting, no riding hard and fast on your horse, no running, no jumping.

Merida won't be forced into a role she doesn't want, namely the role of a dutiful, dainty, obeisant woman who marries and tends house and children. She wants to be outside. She wants to shoot arrows and climb mountains.

So what? Well, so, according to Adam Markovitz, at Entertainment Weekly, all these things mean Merida could be gay. Because she "bristles at the traditional gender roles that she’s expected to play," she could be gay. Because "she hates the prospect of marriage" so much she runs away from home and seeks a spell to change her mother, she might be gay. Because "she's not a swooning, boy-crazy Disney princess like The Little Mermaid’s Ariel or Snow White," she might want to sleep with girls.

So, let's all get this straight.

First, as we all know, any woman who is hard and firm and tells it like it is and takes no crap from men, is a bitch.

And now, any girl who doesn't constantly obsess over boys and wants to climb mountains is gay.

Thank you Adam Markovitz for this new way women can't be whoever they damn well please without fitting into some you're-not-acting-the-way-we-like man box.

Yes, gay girls need role models, and maybe Merida could be one. But all girls, ever more clearly now, need role models like Merida.

We don't have to be what men want us to be anymore. We can fight, be expert markswomen, climb mountains, shun marriage, be brave, and live our lives with adventure and passion and still just be girls.

We don't have to be bitches, or man haters, or frigid, or gay, or any other way men might want to portray us because we don't act like the most important thing in our lives is to find one, have sex with it, marry it, have its children, and make its damn sandwiches.

Maybe it's time men made their own damn sandwiches.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The roaches may one day have their vengeance...

Photo by Michael Cote' via Flickr  

What's with roaches, anyway?

I came out into the kitchen yesterday morning to find one on its back on the floor. Its legs were moving just a bit and that made me much more cautious than usual. Of course, the mere fact that it was in the middle of the floor and not in some obscure corner covered in dust put me on edge.

Roaches have this uncanny way of playing dead and waiting for unsuspecting Diannas to come around and try to sweep them into a dustpan. As soon as the broom touches them, they bounce themselves back onto their creepy little legs and start running. Ugh. I'm shivering just writing about it. My hands are weak, my fingers shaky. I hate roaches.

If they scurry off toward the wall, you know they have a lot of life left in them. You have to smack them with something a few times to do them in. Or drown them in bug spray. But if they run around in circles, it's usually just a matter of sweeping them back onto their backs. At which point they spin around with their awful legs twitching wildly.

I never pick up roaches with a paper towel, like my husband does. That's the most disgusting thing ever. I did it once, many years ago, and I could feel its horrid little legs wriggling against the towel. It was traumatizing.

I sweep them up and put them in the trash. And then I spend the rest of the day worrying that they've managed to climb out. I wouldn't mind so much if they climbed out and went away. But the thought that I might try to change out the bag and end up with a roach on me is too much to bear.

If I find the roach in the bathroom, I sweep it up and dump it into the toilet. I have to flush it immediately. There's no way I'm sitting my bottom onto that seat when there's a roach swimming around below. I don't know how it could manage to climb out and get onto my bum, but I have little doubt it could if it was so inclined.

And don't let them fool you by floating around like they're dead. The only certainly dead roach is the one that's so squashed its pus-yellow insides are smashed out. All others should be considered active, creepy legged, and dangerous.

Do they ever die?

The one I found in the kitchen was an American Roach. Freaky creature with large wings. The experts say they prefer not to fly, but we don't believe them. We've run screaming from the room when one of them started dive bombing. And trust me, I know from experience, those freakish spiny legs feel just like they look when one of these gross bugs decides to land on you.

In the bath tub this morning was a half-dead Florida Woods Roach. Half dead. He was the type who turned over and limped in a circle before I swept him up and into the toilet. He's into the sewer system now...but is he dead?

Can you drown a roach? The Mythbusters say no. "They're like little zombies." But they used German cockroaches in their experiment, not the typical Florida Palmetto bug. We can only hope the chemicals at the water treatment plant do the final job.

Then again, maybe not. Apparently roaches might even survive the nuclear holocaust. Which just goes to prove my point. Just because you water them down with Raid and toss them in the trash or toilet does not, by any stretch of your morbid imagination, mean that they are dead. They're not.

So, it's possible that all the roaches I've tossed into the trash, dazed and confused, could be gathered at a meeting at the landfill right now. Sentries could be exchanging messages with the group stationed just outside the sewage treatment plant. They could be communicating with the roaches I've swept, stiff and paralyzed, out the front door and down the driveway, who've rallied at the large oak out front. All planning, strategizing, waiting for their moment to invade and take their vengeance.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

This post has made me nauseated. And no, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the insecticide with which my husband is, at this very moment, hosing down the house.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beauty is only for pretty girls...we knew this all along...

For years, maybe since the dawn of time, we've come up with sayings to make ordinary (if not downright ugly) girls feel better about themselves.

"Beauty is only skin deep," we say. Which means of course that a girl can be pretty, but she could still be a horrible person. This saying was never more than an "also-ran" award. I mean, so what? She's still pretty and you're still ugly.

"You're beautiful on the inside." And that's supposed to make us feel better? Don't worry honey, you may be ugly as all get out on the outside, but it's the inside that really counts. Right. None of us really believe that one either.

Well, Bare Escentuals, maker of Bare Minerals make-up, has decided it's time we all abandon these ridiculous attempts at making the ordinary girls feel better about themselves. They're ugly and there's nothing they can do about that. They've decide to concentrate on the pretty ones.

"Pretty is what you are. Beauty is what you do with it."

That's right. Pretty girls are pretty on the outside. And they're beautiful when they use their pretty to do great things.

Keri stands there looking physically gorgeous and telling us that beauty is not about being prettier than someone else, it's about "being interested in the world, and people, and caring." Keri lives for thrills and getting out of her comfort zone. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Farsi. Good for her. But she's beautiful!

Lauren is stunning. And she's a firefighter, too. Is this supposed to make me forget she's beautiful? "Nothing that's considered physically beautiful is timeless," she says. "When people say beauty is timeless they're not talking about what's going on here," she motions to her face, "they're talking about a quality of an individual that transcends. Confidence, and wisdom, and somebody that's fun and funny, like, embraces all different people and makes people comfortable," she just goes on and on talking about what beauty is supposed to be. She's a beautiful woman trying to make us all feel better by insinuating that we could be as beautiful as she is, if we'd just be nicer to people.

Just once I'd like to see an ordinary or even societally-considered ugly girl on a commercial talking about beauty. Because that's what advertisers are usually pretending to say. They're pretending that they're telling us that beauty isn't about what you look like. They're lying.

But Bare Escentuals is now actually saying that, yes, to be beautiful, you also have to be pretty. "Pretty is what you are. Beauty is what you do with it."

Bare Escentuals claims they hired these spokeswomen blindly, without actually seeing them. Read the sneaky way writer Elizabeth Nolan Brown, at Blisstree, describes the process:

...they held a blind casting call for women ages 20 to 60. Models completed a questionnaire about themselves, and based on their answers, 78 women were brought in for interviews with casting agents, which was eventually narrowed down to five models. Bare Escentuals reps didn’t see the women who applied until they were selected for the campaign.

Did you catch that? A blind casting call...of models. They were models. Of course they were models. Like they were really going to let ordinary women do commercials for them.

Don't think that's true? Here's what the blind casting call was really all about:

Models and actresses get a bad rap - as just pretty faces. Having worked in the business, we were determined to find women who were much more to represent the campagin - women that were true forces of beauty.

We wanted to find the beauty in a sea of pretty.

To that end, we went about casting in a different way. So we started by creating a space where the women wouldn't feel pressured by being evaluated by the [way they] looked. And we weren't distracted by their looks. Hence, the blind casting idea was born. For three days, we just listened from behind a wall to over 78 women tell their stories. From those women, we booked 5 forces of beauty without every seeing their faces.

Sounds like such a hard job, trying to find beauty in a sea of merely pretty.

Beauty is what pretty girls do with their pretty. Thanks for reaffirming what we always knew, Bare Escentuals.

Yes, we all knew it all along. Nobody was fooling us. Finally someone has come out and admitted it.

*About the photo:
Anathea Utley took this photo. She titled it "beautiful"
She says, "I've never been able to apply society's version of 'beautiful' to myself, even though I tried and tried and distroyed [sic] myself over it for years. It's part of what the dreads are about, just departing from the weird vanity of our culture and doing something spiritual and truly beautiful and connected with the earth and something larger than myself. I don't want my girls to grow up [to] think that they have to compensate for our culture's beauty propaganda.
Because they don't have to.
Because they're already so much more beautiful than that.
And so are you."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's chick season...

On my way to lunch on Friday, I stopped off at the corner to take a picture of two Sand Hill Cranes and their chicks.

In another part of the neighborhood, a pair has two older chicks, already looking gray, but these are still fluffy and golden brown.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a beautiful day so we had the doors open. My husband and I noticed a crane in the back yard pecking at the empty bird feeder. I knew I needed to fill that thing up! I'd never seen a crane try to eat from it before.

So, I got the package of seed and took it outside. The bird stood a couple of feet from the feeder and watched me as I shook the bag (hoping he'd know what it was) exited the back porch, approached the feeder, and lifted the lid.

He lifted a wing slightly as if ready to defend himself, but he stood there and let me fill the feeder. And before I could back away, he was moving toward it. I watched from the porch as he pecked at the tray and managed to eat. He half emptied the feeder much like the squirrels do, but I think it was clumsiness, rather than a hunt for only the sunflower seeds.

Later that day, to my surprise and delight, the two parents showed up with their chicks and my husband caught a picture of them. I don't know if the first crane was one of the pair and went home to get the family or not, but I like to think so.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy cows...

Look what I just read:

Trolling Could Get You 25 Years in Jail in Arizona

All my talk about freedom of speech is just circling down the big, fat, toilet of America, isn't it...

Are you kidding me?

I talk to crazy people now and then. And you know how, when you do that, you sometimes pause, and you I the crazy one here? And sometimes you have to reread all of the conversation if you're lucky enough to have had it in writing. And most of the time, if not always, you accept the fact that you are not crazy. Anyway, I didn't even have to pause yesterday.

In a private forum, which will remain nameless because it just doesn't matter (and anyway they get all pissy when you diss their delusions of Zumba Love and Zumba Family), someone posted a complaint, and boy was he upset.

Rightfully so. He happened upon a conversation on Facebook (that bastion of moderation and maturity) in which certain persons were trashing him. Called him a wanker and a tosser. So right there you know they're British.

If someone called me a wanker and a tosser, I wouldn't know what they were saying so I wouldn't take it so hard. But this guy must have known that these words are very bad indeed. And he was upset. Unfortunately, for me, he mentioned that he thought this behavior on the part of the name-callers (assuming those were's British after all--a foreign language) might be illegal.

Well, wait up there a minute. You know I'm going to have to say something there, right?

So, all these people go on and on about how awful said Brits were, how immature, what middle-schoolers, clearly they are "haters," they're jealous, blah blah blah. All the psycho-analyzing that goes on when people act like people is laughable. And all the rationalization to make the hurt party feel superior: "You're just so much better than they are. That's undoubtedly why they think you're a wanker."

Right. Right. What's with that? It's almost as if we should never listen to anything remotely critical of ourselves. Not one person commented to the guy saying, well, yeah, you are something of a wanker. Or at least said, why don't you take this opportunity to examiner your behavior. Maybe the Brits are on to something, dude.

But no. Everybody jumps on the bandwagon to tell the little pisser he's gawd's gift to Zumba and the Brits are evil incarnate. I'm not saying he's a tosser mind you. I don't know the little guy.

The truth is people often talk trash about other people, especially when they don't like them. This doesn't make them immature, or jealous, or "haters." It makes them normal. Look at me. I'm talking trash right now, or fixing to. And I'm no hater. I just like talking trash. I don't do it to assuage my ego or make myself feel better. I do it because it needs to be done. If no one calls stupid stupid, not only does stupid think it's smart, but other people do too.

And hey, maybe wankers and tossers need to be pointed out. Maybe it's a sort of "don't let this happen to you" sort of thing. I'm just saying, if no one ever called anyone a wanker and a tosser, how would we know what one looks like?

Anyway, so I say, "dude, I'm sorry you're hurt and all, but people have the right to express their opinions of other people."

Okay, I didn't really say dude. But the second clause is exactly what I said. Then I said stuff I thought might be helpful. You know, like, get over it already. That kind of thing.

Anyway, this crazy woman named Annette had the gall to respond to me with this: "I so disagree with your comment that people have the right to express their opinions about other people. What right does a person have to hurt another person....publicly? I can't and won't even continue with this kind of discussion."

Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously? I swear to gawd I did not truly realize there were people this insane on the planet.

But it's all starting to make sense now. Some of the thread went toward calling the Brits bullies and their behavior bullying. I noted that, because the conversation wasn't sent to the complainer and the words weren't said to him and he wasn't meant to see them, it wasn't bullying.

Anyway, there's more to it. So, we all (me and my little family here, you know, the only people who understand me) got a laugh out of the way she said she wouldn't continue this kind of discussion when she started the discussion by responding to me.

So I wrote back with this: "Seriously, Annette? If we don't have the right to express our personal opinions about other people in public, what sort of criminal penalty do you propose? Sheesh... I have the right to say things that hurt you. Get over it."

To which she, the lady who believes we do not have the right to express our opinions about, or hurt, other people publicly, responded: "It is hard to have an intelligent discussion with a person who can't see past their own nose."

I should have responded with "you got that right." But the problem with stupid people is that they don't know they're stupid and well, they're stupid. So they don't get sarcastic jokes at all.

She also said something completely insane: "Do you really have to have a criminal penalty imposed to treat someone with compassion? I'm out of here....not worth my time or energy."

And I'm like, what the fuck? What? Clearly the woman is an idiot, incapable of having a conversation at all.
I'm still so baffled by this experience it's silly.

But as I was saying, this is actually part of what the whole anti-bullying crusade is all about. There are, apparently, people who believe we need laws to ensure that we are all nice to each other in public. Nothing may be said on Faceobook or any public forum, including the in-person public forums, that is hurtful.

Because gawd forbid, someone could get their feelings hurt. And when that happens, sometimes people kill themselves. So we must stop it at all costs.

I have to admit I was suspicious that the anti-bullying thing was going that far, but I tried not to believe it. Now I'm going to be ever more vigilant. I'll stick my nose around and see what other lunatics are out there claiming we don't have the right to say hurtful things about people.

Insane. Completly, fucking insane.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I have a good subconscious mind at least...

I've been tossing and turning a lot lately and it's driving me crazy. I'm in bed plenty of hours but the sleep I'm getting is short and disturbed.

Last night my foot hurt (I had to get up and take some Advil) and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I had to keep taking in big gulps of air. It felt like stress. And this morning I have a twitch in my left index finger. It's annoying.

I can't tell if my stress last night was from my mother (egad) or something else...or just imagined...or if it was the chorus of this Zumba song that kept running through my head over and over and over again. And the song, in my chaotic, disjointed dreams, had something to do with the police. (I probably watch too much Cold Case Files and The First 48.)

What I find odd is that when I woke up, I knew the title of the song. At least I thought I knew. I went to itunes and checked my new song file and sure enough, I was plagued all night with the chorus of Quiere Mas.

You might not think that's odd. But it is. Trust me. It's very strange.

Almost all of my Zumba songs are in Spanish and I remember very few of the titles, especially of those not currently in my class playlist. And Quiere Mas was way down the list of the new songs I was considering using. I hadn't heard it or noticed the title of it in quite some time.

If you'd sung the chorus to me yesterday and asked me the title I'd have had no clue...well, okay, strike that. If you'd sung the chorus correctly I guess I might have guessed it. But in my dream it was all a bunch of mush, at least the way I remembered it the next morning. All I was hearing in my dream, as far as I recall, is, "gibberish oh oh oh oh..."

But this morning I immediately thought of the title and then realized that the title is what was in my dream. "Quiere ma ah ah as...something oh oh oh oh."

The brain is an amazing thing. Now, if I can only figure out how to make it go to sleep.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The best commercials ever...

Of course, the best commercials on television right now are two series: Mayhem, and the Swiffer commercials.

The best of the Swiffer commericals are Dust Dude (adorable), Nerdy Girls, Film Star, and Dirt Loves Swiffer.

But Allstate's Mayhem ads have to be the best commercials ever made. I love Mayhem; he's so cute! My favorite would have to be "I'm a teenage girl." "I'm all, OMG, Becky's not even hot!" LOL.

Here's a Mayhem montage.