Judiang Versus the Terrible Time

A week has lapsed since I last blogged. The best intentions, right?  The reason is I’ve been working full tilt on a segment of my Sooper Seekrit Projekt. This project requires a lot of learning on the fly – A LOT, – watching instructional videos, and simply doing by trial and error.  And it has led me back to my ongoing battle with time.

Hourglass on laptopSince it’s only February, I imagine Father Time (why not Mother Time?)  is still a tot stumbling around crying for attention and structure.  I want to make him behave but I’m not good with children, especially the toddler variety. Time isn’t exactly my nemesis but I struggle to keep him to a schedule.  Because of this project, I’ve gone from long naps in the afternoon to staying up until the wee hours primarily because there is so much preparation to finish before I can even start.   I wake feeling harried and tired. Before I can put my feet on the floor, Little Time is up and off to the races again.

I’ve been instructed by well meaning types (who are just naturally organized) to create a set schedule and stick to it.  But Time cries so to watch that extra video, spruce up this blog post one more time, or figure out just what a “headline analyzer” and a “AISEO” are blinking on my WordPress dashboard.  (It just turned green! Is that…good?)  Before I know it, my carefully crafted schedule goes from late to ruined.  And there’s the matter of my creative processes. Ideas and sentences must percolate before I write them.  Even Toddler Time beating on a pan with his spoon can’t rush it.  So whether it’s by allotting bigger time blocks in my schedule, or buying more hours in a day, I’ve got to get a better grip on time management.

So Dear Reader, what do you do to manage your time?

 

I’m Baaaaaaaack! (Once Again)

After not blogging for 3 1/2 years and not having the blog online for 2 1/2 years, I’m back again.  The blog disappeared in August 2018 when I changed web hosts.  Migrating a WordPress blog from one web host to another is NOT as easy as hosts say and I consider myself tech savvy. Just back up the WP site and database, download to a local computer, upload them to the new web host, install, and presto, they said.  Simple, right? WRONG.

I perused the literature, looked at my 3 gigabyte WP directory and opted for the techs to handle it.  Several times the old techs failed in giving me uncorrected files or even all of the files for the new techs to install.  Several fruitless attempts and much aggravation later, I became discouraged and gave up, thinking that I’d probably lost seven years worth of blogging.   Winston, that damn dog also got in the way.  Then I embarked on a Sooper Seekrit Projekt (which I’ll talk about in a later post).  Suddenly I needed my blog online and working.  Oh dear me.  I started again.  However this time some cosmic deity and the planets and sun must have been aligned because techs on both ends finally got the blog online intact.  Things are a mess behind the scenes; the layout is old and dated but the blog is back. Over time you will see changes to make it better – and different.  How so?  Stay tuned.

Since this blog started as a Richard Armitage appreciation site, I’ll leave this picture of him here looking older, wiser and doing his best to weather this pandemic lock down.

Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage courtesy of Gratiana Lovelace’s archives (via @MsSarahLena)

April 9th through the History of Confessions of A Watcher

Fellow bloggers Herba, Servetus, Perry, and Guylty have been posting about today through the history of their blogs.  (Let’s pretend I’m not a day late.)  So I took a look in my archives and discovered I’m not a good April blogger.  In some years I didn’t blog at all following meager posts in March.  I think the strain of stoically marking off another birthday in April contributed to the silence.  The years also reflect the trajectory of my fangurling, slowly starting out, steadily building to a flurry of writing, then leveling off to an intermittent trickle.  Such has been my life in any fandom.

2011 oversaw a steady increase in posts.  April 9th was a Saturday which meant the usual Surreal Saturday posts dedicated to the weird, the usual and the downright scary.  That day I showcased the parody group Lonely Island and their dance video The Creep.

2012 was my heyday in fandom with posts galore.  Oddly, April 9th showed a blank spot on that date between The Four Tops singing Reach Out on Serene Sunday feature and a popular Foolish Friday entry My Gal Marian.

2013 showed my fascination starting to ebb with nothing written in April between some March and May posts.  2014 to 2016 had very few posts with due to ongoing personal issues coming to the forefront.   Had I bottomed out?  I don’t know.  But I continue to post. 

Confessions of a Watcher marches on.

 

Here’s a Retweet You Need to Delete #Richard Armitage

I haven’t figured out how to embed Keke Palmer’s dumb tweet and Richard Armitage’s dumber retweet of it into my blog.  But then I’m too annoyed to work on it.  If you really want to see it, look here and here.   Here’s my imaginary message to his retweet:

Dear Rich,

What in the hell is wrong with you?  I know defenders will say “but he’s British!” and therefore doesn’t know but you’ve been in this country long enough.  Keke Palmer might think she’s hip and edgy using the N word but being black doesn’t make it any more acceptable.  It’s a derogatory term and no supposed “re-appropriating” of the word makes it any more palatable no matter the spelling.  It’s still a derogatory racist slave epithet and will always be one.  This is an ongoing big bone of contention in the African American community.  Personally I think it’s a hallmark of colossal ignorance.

And you, my white friend, don’t get to use it, retweet it or anything else.  Don’t add to the confusion and perpetuate the ignorance.

No Love,

Judiang

My Name is Geek

Pong, the first video game I ever saw. It was captivating.

Yes, I’m a geek from way back.  It started with a fascination of all things electronic beginning with my oldest brother’s reel to reel tape recorder. (Yes, I’m really dating myself.)   We all crowded around the first cassette tape deck recording silly voices and bad but funny singing.  No more bulky unspooling reels.

The golden age of arcades began.  It’s funny now but Pong was captivating back in the day.  Games changed to blazing color with the advent of color televisions.  Pac-Man debuted in 1980.  Video games entered its first golden age.  Soon I heard about the astonishing idea of playing games on monitors – at home instead of arcades! 

With breakthroughs in technology, these games entered my home and rested on a table next to a small television that we bought just for gaming.  Two televisions in the house!  That was incredible.  I could now play Bowling and Golf on a relatively compact home console (we sadly opted for Intellivision instead of Atari 2600 in the gaming wars.  However we chose VHS over Betamax in the videotape format war, so we scored there.)   Gaming continued to evolve as I grew up and away from it.  Life got in the way. 

Legend of Zelda. This was state of the art console gaming circa 1990.

Around 1991, my older brother introduced me to a new home console, the Nintendo NES and an amazing new game, The Legend of Zelda.  Instead of performing inane tasks like like chasing balls across a screen, I could follow a high-fantasy adventure story-line and solve puzzles in addition to fighting the usual baddies.  But I didn’t rush out and buy a Nintendo console. I’d fallen head over heels for another emerging high tech – personal computing.  In 1984, my parents gave me an IBM PCjr. (Yes, I again backed the wrong horse; others had gone over to Radio Shack’s TRS-80.)  In college, it was still the day of Fortran, punch cards and mainframes that were perpetually “down” and I was unable to complete my computing assignments.  This dissuaded me from a career in computer science.  The idea that I could now sit down and finagle programs on my own time blew my mind.  But I quickly learned that the PCjr wasn’t a “real” computer (by today’s standards), and cast it aside.  More adulting happened.   But Dear Reader, you know what happened next.  It was the early 1990’s.  I discovered THE INTERNET.  The World Wide Web opened to the public and I wanted in it.  

Thus began one of the most expensive hobbies outside of car collecting.

The PC that started it all for me – the Packard Bell 386.

Developers released software for word processing, data-basing, rudimentary graphics, as well as access to the internet through Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL.  I ran out and purchased a Packard Bell 386 (fondly known as Packard Hell) with a 120MB hard drive and 2MB RAM, and a 5.25 and 3.5 floppy drives.   I cruised the internet at a snail’s pace on a 24 baud modem. It was heaven.  When the 386 reached the end of it’s usefulness, I chucked it for the faster 486.  It too reached it’s upgrade cap (which occurred roughly every two years) so out it went.  Because it cost less to buy the parts than buy a complete computer, I started building my own.  On and on the cycle went of upgrading components and building or buying new computers.  I’ve happily remained on this wheel for over 25 years.  Since manufacturers have miniaturized chips so much and the speed of components have far exceeded the needs of the average user other than a gamer, graphics artist or architect, the turnover time for new computers is much longer. 

But I told you I was a gamer, right? 

The Nintendo Switch Zelda: BotW Edition. Because you can never spend too much money.

For the last month I’ve become enamored over a home console again, the brand spanking new Nintendo Switch and it’s pilot game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Yes, I’ve come full circle.  No, I don’t own it yet.  I’ve been watching other gamers play it on TwitchTV.  Yes, a gamer watching other people game is a thing.  Don’t laugh.  This looks awesome.  You can play it on a television then “switch” instantly to a portable hand held device without missing a step in the game.  Its manufacturer suggested price is $300 but retailers have hiked the price to over $400.  The game is $70.  So this new wave in gaming high tech is expensive which gives me pause. 

But it’s still my latest shiney.

The geek in me is still strong.

 

The Sound of Silence

Hearing aids circa 1990

Back in the Jurassic Age, I was a lawyer.  Courtrooms could be cavernous, swallowing up sound, so I plunked down money for state of the art hearing aids.  That meant that they were molded in one piece and fit in the ear.  I could control the volume on the piece and didn’t need a little black box that hung around the neck or fit in a pocket.  I loved them until I realized they magnified all the noises I could already hear and nothing else.  They drove me crazy.  Into a drawer they went and years later, out with the trash.

So 27 years after my first failed experience, I decided to try again.   Although I’ve been hearing impaired since birth (mostly deaf in the right, partially in the left), what remains has been gradually disappearing.   Friends told me that I heard less.  I found myself growing quieter and quieter in noisy social situations.  I’d become so accustomed to the sound of silence that I didn’t realize how bad things were until the audiology test.  To my dismay, the spikes and lines dipped much lower and the good ear had lost a great deal of word comprehension in noisy environments.  Literature lying around warned that increasing deafness carried a higher risk of dementia.  So I bought more state of the art digital hearing aids, fully programmable, and geared to amplifying the sounds I need.  My geeky soul was thrilled.  The audiologist stated he wouldn’t program the devices to full capacity so that the wall of noise wouldn’t knock me over. Instead he would increase the volume over a 45 day trial period which would allow my brain to adjust.  Even so, the variety and loudness of sounds have been startling.    Literally.  I’ve jumped at every odd noise since beginning this post.  Is the strangely loud washing really breaking down?  I have clue.

The new high tech. Starkey Halo 2 hearing aid

Naturally my high tech gear has not come without glitches.  The devices should be programmable with my iPhone allowing me to take calls and listen to music – that is if the damn phone will see them.  One hour with the audiologist and  two and half hours with Apple troubleshooting have yielded no fully functioning hearing aids.  There’s another audiological appointment on Friday. Apple swears they are working on their end, and I’m about to bring Starkey, the manufacturer, into this.  Needless to say, these iPhone friendly devices will be returned if they aren’t iPhone friendly soon.

All of this reminds me of another type of deafness which leaves people isolated in their personal bubble of silence.  Simon and Garfunkel sang about it in Sound of Silence.

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound Of Silence [HD]

No Description

Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017) SPOILERS

Just because you can remake a movie, doesn’t mean you have to.

Disney takes a second shot at its own 1991 classic animated film by the same name.  It offers what you would expect: big lavish production values, an array of stars, and a sense that this live action version must achieve parity or surpass the first mega-hit.  As I read in another review, Disney seemed to “ask themselves in every scene whether it met the original and the answer was no.” So they added new songs and subplots which served both to lengthen the story and, I suppose, justify the additional material.  Considering that Disney intends to remake its other classics like Little Mermaid in live action films, the stakes are very high. 

Unless you have never been the original, it’s impossible not to make comparisons.  In fact, several scenes are replicated line for line, frame by frame.  But there’s an inherent problem with comparing live actors to their animated counterparts.  Does Emma Watson look like Belle?  (No.)  Can you overlook it? (It depends.)  Is her voice good enough?  (That’s debatable.)  This running dialogue ran through my head all during the movie.  However, some actors rose above the chatter.  Luke Evans as Gaston has a good voice and Josh Gad is a wonderful DeFou. The scenery is beautiful.  The production is spectacular. The movie delivers on the extravaganza.  It even has some magical moments towards the end that pulled me in.

But Emma Thompson singing the title song isn’t Angela Lansbury.  Kevin Kline is miscast as Belle’s father.  Dan Stevens’s Beast needs to learn from Richard Armitage’s Thorin and use his eyes to convey emotion under all that fur.  The added songs and subplot are unnecessary and unmemorable.  The story-line changes in odd ways.  Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts lose their charming animated expressions of the original.  Even though the big razzle dazzle Big Our Guest seems to strain to be as Over the Top as OTP could ever be, there is something missing.  In sum despite all the lavishness, some essential charm has been lost. 

Audiences have apparently been coming in droves to see why Disney would want to risk remaking its own classic.  Well, it’s for the usual reason: to insure that these old classics continue to make money by retreading them every generation.  That’s not to say that this Beauty and the Beast is a waste of time.  I didn’t leave wanting my money back.  Those who have never seen the original should enjoy it.  It’s just that for old-timers like me, there is a reason why a film becomes a classic after all.

Foolish Friday: Moisturize Him!

Courtesy of I have no clue. Let me know.

Well, hello class!  Yes, AGAIN.  I know I’ve been away quite a few times actually but think of it as your teacher taking sabbaticals for her – mental health.  Please know that the blog will transition away from Richard Armitage as soon as I start cranking out original stuff – but not just yet.  There are still issues I need to address about him. Let’s get on with the foolishness, shall we?

I’m as shallow as I’ve always been.  I have the uncanny tendency to pick actors starting in their mid-30’s at the height of their masculine beauty then following them until their 40’s when they reach the cusp of youthfulness.  Then it’s downhill from there and I kick him to the curb.  Well, imagine my wistfulness when I beheld this picture from a last year’s photo shoot after being away for awhile.  (This is not a great one but my source of current photos seems to have tried up.)  At first glance, he’s quite the fit, handsome, dapper man.  But look closer.  Use a magnifying glass.  The lines are more pronounced.  The softness around the eyes is disappearing.  The lips are paler.  The jawline isn’t as firm.   Yes, our Richard is aging

Well, this may not be a shock to you, but it was to me after all this time.  Now this ordinarily would not be a big deal.  I’m sure many men would love looking like this at 45.  But RA is an actor who doesn’t move in ordinary circles.  His vocation idolizes youth and the ability to project youthfulness as long as possible. Here is he is just finally achieving wide success and The Powers That Be ordain that men his age should either move on from lead roles to action parts or secondary characters.  He has reached the time when moisturizer is a given and dermabrasion is recommended.  Dare I mention a facelift on the horizon?  (Personally, male beauty care if fine, but I don’t like facelifts on men. It makes them look too artificial.)

What’s he to do class?

Class?

 

The Non-Joy of Photoshop

Program cover for the upcoming Music Inspires 2017 concert.

Unless you’ve been following me on Facebook, you may not know that I have become Girl Friday for a friend who is a fine arts chairman at posh college preparatory.  I point out the poshness because it’s the only way the school can afford the many concerts and productions it has a year.  Aside from assisting in musical production (such as Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables), I’ve taken over creating programs for her musical events. 

It’s not just a matter of slapping information on a flyer.   Oh no – you know me.  Each flyer must be a production in itself, a work of art, starting with the cover.  It must have acceptable graphics.  In the past, I was content to surf the internet looking for freebies.  But since the music department has upped the ante with lavish musicals, I realized that I needed to take the covers to the next level.  In other words, create my own graphics like the one in the picture on the left.  Looks pretty simple, right?

Let’s talk about Adobe Photoshop.  I used the program for years to perform simple sharpening, cropping, etc.  Then the program became increasing exorbitant and too rich for my blood.  Now Adobe allows users to pay a monthly subscription for the software that’s always kept updated via uploads.   Okay, I thought.  I can teach myself how to slap some elements together and voila, my vision will be realized.   I downloaded Photoshop CC 2017 and opened it. 

Let me say, right out of the box, the program isn’t the least bit intuitive.  Adobe prides itself on saying there are 10 different ways to do one thing.  I had trouble discovering one.  The software has become so bloated and involved.  The drill down menus have drill down menus.  I had to google how to turn off the splash screen.  The Adobe site had tutorials but not the ones I needed, of course.  So I visited PHLEARN.com for lessons.  What was I trying to do? The music bar in the picture did not have a transparent background which meant I had to cut it out or mask it.  Masking is an action Photoshop has always done and it even has magic masking that failed to work like magic despite control tweaking.  And – you know me again – I’d picked a graphic that required detailed painstaking masking around the bars, between the lines and notes and flowers.   Then I discovered that only keyboard commands worked some of the actions, so simple clicking would not do.  Fun. Fun. Fun.  By the time I realized properly adding text to the graphic wasn’t really intuitive either, I was ready toss everything out the window (but the desktop is expensive and really heavy).  Eventually I broke down and added the text using Microsoft Publisher.  And that was just over masking. There was still the zillion other things Photoshop could do chirps Adobe.

I may have to bring my visions down a notch.  Sheesh.

Searcharama

I’ve hardly been back any time and already weird searches are hitting my page stats.  Here are some head scratchers:

  • xxxvidoes – 5 visits – I have no idea what this even means.  And no, I have no XXX-rated videos on this blog; maybe a risque story, but nothing XXX-rated.  *Cough.* (Follow the bread crumbs, newcomers.)
  • (not provided) – 63 visits – So informative!  So many visits; I’m dying to know what this possibly could be.
  • klingon – 2 visits –  WTH?  The only time I ever mentioned the word was when…ohhhh…nevermind.

And my all time favorite:

  • how to get more beard – 1 visit – Now here’s a loaded search term if I ever I saw one.  I have some beardy posts during the Hobbit years but certainly nothing about how RA could get MORE.

Now I feel disappointed that some viewers are going away empty handed.  Hmmm.

 

About This Dude

Courtesy of richardarmitagenet.com

I glanced at my WordPress dashboard and saw that this blog made it over the 500 posts mark at last – not a big deal when considering that it took six years.  Analytics tell me that I posted in concentrated spurts the first few years, ramping up to the wild and crazy time from 2012-2014.  But there were long periods when I didn’t post at all.  

During those silent times, my fangirling evolved.  Let me explain.  Having spent over 25 years in various fandoms,  I’ve experienced them as a process of phases.  The first phase we all have experienced – the giddiness of discovering a new crush with the accompanying squeeing and desire to find like-minded souls.  Then the girlishness progresses to an avid following.  The infatuation stays strong but a bit of the breathlessness tapers off. Finally, there’s the third stage when the ardor wanes and heads down one of two roads.  The first path leads out of fandom and fangirling – full stop – with the crush kicked to the curb.  The second way continues to hold interest in the crush’s work, but the initial passion is gone.

After six years, I’ve hit the third phase.  Mind you, I’ve not been the typical Richard Armitage fan. In fact, the ongoing joke has been me as an anti-fangurl who is the first to scream the emperor has no clothes.  (And I’ve been a pretty fab anti-fangurl I might add).  But alas, I’ve come to that fork in the road where the thrill is gone and I have to decide what happens next.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still like RA and enjoy his work.  And he’s still easy on the eyes.   But the lack of keen interest has made it difficult to blog about him as in the past.   So should I close shop and move on?  Should I direct my focus away from him?  Can I write about him occasionally?  If I stop, will I have any readership left?  Can the blog survive a transition? 

Most importantly, what becomes of The Man?  I’m not being funny here.  I enjoyed writing the series; it exercised my writing muscle and entertained the fan readership at the same time.  However, the inspiration behind the series *cough* may have been a certain actor *cough*.  Can I find the MIA muse and bring it back?  Will the readership stick around for fiction having nothing to do with their crush?  At this point, I have no answer to any of these questions.  There’s just a persistent feeling that something has to give.

I welcome feedback here.  Please let me know what you think or if there’s a happy compromise.

 

On Missing Muses

I imitated one of my fictional stories and joined a writers’ group at the nearby library last November.  The group is fluid, consisting of about five older regulars and a revolving number of newcomers (to me).  They meet the second and fourth Monday on the month to read our stuff and have it critiqued. 

My attendance had been interrupted by first by the holidays, then visitors and finally an unshakable writing paralysis.  I’d submitted an old ghost story for the group to review and happily survived the process. Nobody skewered me; they’d enjoyed the story (although it needed a few tweaks) and looked forward to seeing more of my work. 

But my muse was missing in action.  How could I critique others’ work when I had nothing really to offer up?  Many in the group were working on novels and bringing in chapters.  I hadn’t written anything for quite some time and felt like a fraud. Walking past the library to the local cantina, I remembered that it was again the fourth Monday of the month.  I mulled over a rather delicious strawberry margarita. Should I go?  Sure, said the margarita.  There will be other muses there.  Maybe you’ll catch one!  Making a mental note not to order a big drink next time,  I rushed to the meeting, hoping to catch a muse that was non-alcoholic. 

The regulars greeted me as if I’d never been away but no muse jumped me at the door.  The usual suspects pulled out their book chapters.  Wait, I blurted out.  Does anybody have writer’s block?   One man raised his hand.  We exchanged battle weary sighs.  You just have to write, said the novelists.  You just have to sit down and do it.  Don’t wait for a muse.  Try to write a sentence differently.  Write nonsense.  But you just have to write and the rest will come.   The facilitator asked who would submit a story for next time?  Well, I had a short story.  It’s old, I added as if an apology.  We wouldn’t have known that until you told us, they said.  It doesn’t matter.  Then they bowed their heads and began critiquing. 

I looked around the room at the writers laboring over their literary children.  Some were inspired, some weren’t.  Then I recalled that the man with his writer’s block had yet to submit a completed story while I was there, but he never missed a meeting.  That’s tenacity.

Even though I already intellectually knew their advice, there’s nothing like a group of writers poring over their work, saying it aloud that puts things in perspective.

Oscar Thought Smörgåsbord

Warning: stream of consciousness and possible movie spoilers ahead.

I watched some of the Oscars last night. Frankly I didn’t care enough because many of the film scripts seemed to be written as a How Not to Write One.  I know script writing is different from crafting novels but aren’t stories supposed to have a payoff at the end to reward us for watching?  Manchester by the Sea is one example.  The protagonist Lee, well played by Casey Affleck, is a sad, sad sack with serious issues stemming from a tragedy that left him stunted.  We watch him flailing through life hoping that he might learn something by the end and then – that’s it.  There’s no payoff for sitting through this two hour sad, sad drama, unless Lee’s inability to deal was the point.  Such an ending might suffice in a book but it made for an unsatisfying ending for a film.

Manchester by the Sea won for Best Script which goes to show either I don’t know what I’m talking about or the Oscars are too highbrow for me.

I used to enjoy gown watching.  Now I don’t even know who most of the actresses are (and actors for that matter).  Must be getting old.

I heard Justin Timberlake instead of Jimmy Kimmel did the opening number.  Is that legal?  Aren’t hosts supposed to sing?

…..

La La Land was the victim of its own hype.  After garnering 14 nominations, I expected Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone to knock my socks off.  While they did credible jobs, neither are singers or dancers (although Ryan did amazing key work) and I believe the awesome cinematography and retro-musical feel unfortunately highlighted this problem.  Plus the songs didn’t leave me humming anything afterwards.  I really wanted to like this movie, but it was Ho Hum Land for me.

La La Land won 6 Oscars.  I just don’t get it.

Denzel Washington was robbed.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty did a Steve Harvey. *snicker*

Maybe my tastes are becoming too provincial and pedestrian.

 

NaNoWriMo 2016 is Starting!

nanowrimo_desktop_by_hermiejr157National Novel Writing Month 2016 is here!  If you’ve been itching to write that Great Novel then this is the month to do it.  You know you want to.  Just sit down and pound out 1,667 words and you’re on your way.  Don’t have an outline? Don’t worry.  Be a pantser and make it up as you go.  Spontaneity is good too.  Check out the website or writing.com inspiration or support.  Everything is at your fingertips there.

Leave me a comment if you’re getting started.  Maybe this can become a mega-thread for participants.

Happy Halloween!

halloweenI’d planned to have another spooky story ready but sadly that’s not the case.  It’s not a lack of motivation but problems with sparking something good enough to post.  Where’s my muse when I need him!

Anyway this marks the day when I indulge in too much candy while awaiting little trick 0’treaters at the door. This will take place at my friends’ house since condo building living is not Halloween friendly.  They just moved and have no idea how many children to expect in the new neighborhood.  Considering that the area is a little woodsy, probably not that many.  More candy for me!

Have a Happy Halloween folks.

On Quitting Whining

QWSW postcard

QWSW postcard

Continuing from yesterday’s missive, I really needed a shot in the arm. A friend told said there was a writer’s conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan the first week in October and did I want to come?  Well, the name intrigued me: Quit Whining, Start Writing.  It was direct, blunt, and what I needed to hear.  It would be my first writer’s conference. I was game.

We arrived late Friday afternoon at Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Airport, a supposedly upscale but slightly seedy hotel that was neither near the airport nor particularly well managed.  We felt like Goldilocks with that being too this or this being not enough that.  But the place was priced more reasonably than downtown hotels and we had a car, so things balanced out.  We opted to skip the opening dinner that evening and freeze in the too cold pool and nearly pass out in the too steaming hot tub.

We arrived at the college building downtown near the river bright and early at 8:00AM.  I don’t know if this is usually the case but the conference consisted of five one hour long section divided by 30 minute breaks to talk to the speakers/vendors.  Each section had three sessions from which to choose.  Choices ranged from copyright law to illustrating book covers to marketing.  My schedule included Your Story Needs A Skeleton, Writing Mysteriously, Why Social Media Never Works Out the Way You Planned, and Writing About Place. The sessions were interesting but only so much material could be covered in an hour.

Writing Mysteriously (surprise surprise) was my favorite.  Finally I would learn how to outline a mystery.  Well, not exactly.  I learned there is no one way to do anything.  In fact, some teachers contradicted what I’d just heard in the previous session.  This wasn’t a revelation – I’d read many differing books on writing – but somehow being in a room with baby writers like me who aspired to be *Authors*  like the speakers seemed to make it more real for me.  The possibility was real.  So while I failed to come away with a mythical blueprint, I felt inspired -which is why I attended the conference – to start writing again.  And here I am, back to blogging.

More tomorrow.

The Big Sleep; or Slipping Back

Sleep

“Sleep” by Salvatore Dali

It’s been almost a year and a half since my last post – way too long.

When I left off in August 2015, things were Not Good ™.  I languished in a cramped suburban apartment across the lane from a pile driving construction zone basically cut off from an accessible train and a close living hub when I could not overcome driving anxiety or afford an expensive $20 plus cab ride one way.  Friends did what they could.  The long battle with Winston, the black dog of depression left me in financial shambles.  I had to weather a waiting game while my credit healed.  Meanwhile I entered like an emotional Big Sleep where everything felt temporary and unimportant. Since I would restart my life when I finally found a place to land, why bother with anything while in a holding pattern?  Needless to say, motivation and I were estranged.  Everything took a nosedive except for knitting, a hobby I took up as a mental  distraction and life line.  Except for last year’s aborted attempts, I did not write.  There was no there there.

I drifted along this way for 18 months.

Then four month ago, the credit gods smiled and I found a condo downtown in a leafy little village, two blocks from the train and no more than four blocks from shops, doctors, the movie theater and anything else I regularly need.  The grocery is only a six block drive down side streets.  As I cheered over this, a spectacular streak of bad luck brought me up short with a day in the hospital (mine), eye surgery (mine), another hospital stay (Patty the Pomeranian), another dental surgery (mine), and yet more future bills, courtesy of Patty.  Really wish I knew which Fates I offended; I could knit them a conciliatory sweater for Christmas.

Anyway now it’s time to slip back into the stream of things, rejoin life and start writing again.

So, as chef Justin Wilson used to say in his best corny Cajun accent: How y’all are?

 

I’m Baaaaaack!

grand openingAs you might have noticed, my blog has been down since March.  My site was hacked and infected with nasty malware.  The web host therefore took the site down until I did something about it, never mind that it was on their server.  They gave me a list of 91 infected files and left me to it.  Needless to say, the development didn’t help my shaky mood so I let the whole mess languish… and languish… and languish.  I could have erased everything and started fresh but didn’t want to lose all my posts.  A computer friend looked at it and said I was pretty much screwed unless I had a clean backup (nope) or somehow puzzled through the server language to do a clean sweep.  OR the web host could do it for me- for a one time hefty fee.  Lovely.  So I bit the bullet and forked over the cash. I’m now back in service.

So a lot has happened in six months, although poor The Man is still stuck in London playing in The Crucible.  Will have to rectify that.  Stay tuned!

 

Serene Sunday: Winter Wonderland

Happy New Year all!  Hope you enjoyed your holidays.  Mine was festive and filling – very filling – which leads me to one of two resolutions I made.  Usually I resolve to not make resolutions because I’ll be sure to keep that one.  But this year I really need to accomplish two things.  The second is to lose the all the weight gained during my dark period.  I’ve done it before and will do it again.

The first is to WRITE.  Dr. G. mandated that I park my butt and put fingers to the keyboard.  Every day.  One story.  One paragraph.  One word.  It doesn’t matter what about what as long as I discipline myself to get the words out and over the dreaded Writer’s Block.  I’d love to talk about whatshisname, that Armitage dude, but first I need to examine what’s obstructing the flow.   Then I’ll tackle The Crucible, RA’s surprising effect on me, the Marlise Boland debacle, my final opinion on Thorin, a certain blog nomination, and my place in fandom now.

So this is me, writing.  You, Dear Reader, will keep me honest.  Go ahead.  Hold my feet to the fire.  This is important.

In honor of the fresh snow on the ground, the oncoming winter storm, and my love of the fluffy stuff, I present a favorite song probably posted already, but hey, this is a new January.  So here is Winter Wonderland sung by Johnny Mathis.

Winter Wonderland sung by Johnny Mathis

♪ Make sure to see the new wide screen version; a link is below and also in the video responses. Winter Wonderland ~ Sung by Johnny Mathis ~ No copy infraction intended on my videos. ~ Dedicated to the romantic Christmas heart that beats in each of us.