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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

  
I feel useless tonight

A confection that’s stale and might

Break a tooth if indulgence succumbed 

Better to leave me alone
I feel horny tonight

Anxious and longing cause the moment is right

Driven from terrors of quieted rage

Trapped inside a locked cage
I was searching

I was searching for my soul

Cause I was sent here

I was sent to rock and roll
Someone save me tonight

There’s no reason, no wrongs and no rights

Just a sad lonely ghost

Trying to make the most
Someone save me tonight

I’m a little boy lost to the night

With no light source no one for a guide

Someone save me tonight
I was searching

I was searching for my soul

Cause I was sent here

I was sent to rock and roll
Someone save me tonight

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     There’s been a problem recently at work. A few months ago the company revamped the bathroom. Nothing huge, just a change.
Before, the urinals were automated. They had switched to the hands free model in an effort to save water as most people apparently needed to double flush their frothy brew and the company wanted to save money. So, the automated flushers were installed to deliver the exact amount of fresh water needed to eliminate the urine as well as refill the receptacle with water you would consider drinking during the apocalypse. The problem with the automated urinals was the sensors. They would go off when people hadn’t stepped away or even if they stood in front of it at a ten foot distance. I don’t know about my coworkers but I couldn’t deliver a ten foot stream on my best day. Maybe if I had a step stool and a steep drop in front of me…
   So with all that extra unsanctioned flushing, the urinals would overflow and make a mess in an already dirty as hell bathroom. The company was once again losing that sweet water profit while gaining a certain musty smell as urine soaked into the cracks of the tile floor. Needless to say, they switched back to the manual flushers.
    Now here’s where it gets gross. Imagine stepping up to one of these receptacles and instead of seeing a pleasant dollop of neutral water, there is a bubbling witch’s brew of steaming urine to gaze at. If you’re into that kind of thing, good on you, but for me and at least a few others I know, we find it disgusting. And try peeing in that without getting pee-body splash-back. 
    Why are we seeing this split pee soup? There’s some speculation that these non-flushers haven’t realized that the urinals are no longer automated but I doubt that. No one is blind. Some people just don’t want to flush because they don’t want to touch the germ invested handle.
    Look, I get it. Touching something in the bathroom that everyone has laid wiener covered hands on can be mildly disturbing if you think about it. Just thinking about the six degrees of penile contact brings to mind some people I would rather not have anything to do with. But leaving your waste water for the next person who needs to relieve themselves is selfish. It’s annoying. And gross. And after a few hours of stagnation, the smell is vomit inducing.
    I appreciate the fact that bathrooms are gross and touching anything in them can be creepier than anything in a David Lynch film but let’s work together on this. No one wants to see, smell, or feel another person’s piss water. So for the sake of all of us, take the half second to flush. All those germs will be gone from your person anyway because you’ll be washing your hands afterwards anyway right? Right? Blaaaaaaaaaaagggghh!!

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  Still standing after nearly three hundred years, The Alamo is an experience to walk into. Having known very little about The Alamo other than there is NO basement (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure anyone?), I enjoyed standing in a building that played such an important part in the history of the United States. That being said, there wasn’t much to look at. Much of it was closed off although the previous day I had seen a line going into the back so maybe we went at the wrong time. What I really enjoyed about the building is that it is nearly three hundred years old and standing downtown amidst hotels and malls containing Taco Bells and Hooters. I may be wrong but I don’t think the history of Hooters is quite as grand as The Alamo. The juxtaposition of the different eras is something I don’t get to see often so it stood out to me. I’m from Seattle. There is very little that is three hundred years old downtown. 

 Around the corner from our hotel stood La Villita, a small village of local artist’s shops. Several were closed, or closing when we got there. It was late in the afternoon so we were prepared for some of the closures. Even so, we were able to see lovely art and craftwork that, had we the money, we would have cleared out half the stores. Even though we didn’t have the money, we had a fun time walking the village and seeing everything. 

 The Historic Market Square stands in the heart of downtown and takes up half a city block. Within its walls awaits a series of small shops, many with similar inventories but unique treasures can also be found if one looks hard enough. Fedoras of different colors, small musical instruments, stone carvings, artwork and sculptures, hot sauces and seasonings, knick-knacks, magnets, and other souvenirs can all be acquired. But look sharp! Items can vary in price from store to store so a thorough search is needed to obtain the best deals. For example, I wanted a small guitar to take back home. The price between the various shops ranged from $10 to $16 – not a small difference and well worth the extra time it took to check out every option.  

    
 The Briscoe Western Art museum is a three story museum containing artifacts and relics from the old west that stands just off the Riverwalk. With its air conditioning, it was a great place to take refuge from the Texas heat. Within its walls were displayed weapons used in the Battle of the Alamo, every kind of spur throughout history, and authentic artifacts from hundreds of years ago. These included old banjos, uniforms, and saddles. I had no idea how adorned some of these artifacts were but seeing them in person, I really saw that the art of pimping one’s ride was around looong before the MTV show. For those that need a little more description about the specifics of the actually Battle of the Alamo, check out the scale model. It shows in detail where Texas’s favorite heroes, as well as villains, were positioned in the battle, as well as Calvary placement, cannon placement, and attack and defense patterns. The last thing I’ll mention about the museum is that it was free! Between 4pm and 7pm on Tuesdays the museum is free to attend. One only needs to sign in at the front desk. You can’t beat that! 

   
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts about my few days in San Antonio. I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted but I’m glad for the things I did. Please leave a comment if you are so inclined. Thanks! 

 

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I’m approaching 20k words on my novel and it’s going pretty smooth. I have a good momentum and even being in the midst of a few projects and family visits, I have a clear view of where I’m going. Of course there are blurry spots. I’ve even written through a few.

But as I near one of my word count goals, the subject of editing has been whispering louder and louder in my ear. I know it’s a vital part of the writing process and very important if I ever want to have my novel published, or even read.

But when do I edit? Like I wrote, I have some momentum in developing the plot, characters and theme and would like to keep that going. It feels like beginning to edit at this point would be a huge wall to the momentum I’ve gained and I’m afraid of losing it permanently.

I’ve heard Stephen King finishes a complete manuscript and even moves on to something else before he begins to edit. I’ve heard others edit as they go. I’ve also heard people going back to edit every fifty thousand words, or twenty thousand words, or even every chapter.

All of these seem legit and workable depending on how the author works so I was wondering what fellow writers do, when they edit and any tricks or tips when they finally do edit.

Have any advice? Have any comments? I’d love to hear about it.

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Now that it’s almost Christmas, I can start to relax and think about the things I love about Christmas. Although my lovely girlfriend and I won’t be able to be together on Christmas day, I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and friends, Cinnabon on Christmas morning, and movie theater popcorn later that day.

I’m also looking forward to watching a movie that I watch every year called The Snowman. Based on the Raymond Briggs picture book of the same name, The Snowman follows a young boy who makes a snowman that magically comes to life and takes him to the north pole to meet Santa Claus.

Released in 1982, the animation is rudimentary by today’s standards but there is warmth and heart in the images. Every pencil line seems to have a life of its own and even in the “static” scenes, the background is alive and moving. Like reliving a memory from childhood, the images are not clear or even well defined in places but there is just enough balance of open space and detail that activates the imagination that newer, digitally animated films have a difficult time delivering. This ascetic gives the film a surreal, dream-like quality which is perfect for the story being told. Despite this, or maybe because of it, there is a coziness throughout the film. Whether the scenes are inside or out, the lack of dialogue coupled with the soft visual style lends itself to easy watching.

Except for a brief, live-action intro and sung lyrics in one of the songs, there are no words spoken for the duration of the animated story and I love that. Every emotion, joke, and nuance is expressed through the pencil drawn animation and a Peter and the Wolf-like score. Childish excitement is accompanied by string flourishes, surprises are accentuated with trumpet blasts, and so-on. Both visuals and musical score could work on their own but together they provide a wonderful yet melancholic tone.

The tension between the mediums is best represented during the flight sequence. Here is a scene that is full of excitement and wonder. The Snowman takes the boy’s hand and begins running through the snow. Suddenly, they take off, their feet leaving the ground and the houses and fields grow smaller and smaller beneath them. Visually, this scene is one full of excitement but the tone is anything but. While the two are flying hand in hand, the song “Walking in the Air” plays. It is a wonderful song but is so melancholic that it twists the scene into something else. It’s no longer a simple, fun journey. There is gravitas. There is substance and depth. The journey is no longer just exciting – it’s important and a moment in time that will change the young boy forever. Moments like these happen rarely in film, let alone animated film, which is why it’s stayed with me so long.

It’s this aspect that keeps it from being in the same zeitgeist as more popular holiday fare like A Christmas Carol or Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. It’s not a feel good movie. It doesn’t end with shouts of joy down main street or a bunch of kids singing around a christmas tree. This isn’t Frosty the Snowman. The ending is very real and logical and doesn’t hold back in order to get a cheap “everything will be okay” feeling.

This film doesn’t just celebrate the Christmas spirit – it celebrates experience and life and the fleeting moments that make life worth living. It’s beautiful and tragic and one of my favorite Christmas films of all time.

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I never used to take medicine when I had a cold. I’m a firm believer in letting a cold run its course and dealing with the effects by trying to ignore them. Whether it was painful to swallow or if I was hacking up thick globs of mucus, I took nothing. The only remedies I would try would be drinking lots of water and eating lots of garlic and soups…not necessarily together.

Now that I’m trying to make my way in the music business and singing in front of people, I’ve turned to all kinds of natural cures. I take NyQuil to sleep because I’m congested and having to breath out my mouth is not a great way to catch a few z’s. Besides that, everything else I take or try is pretty natural.

Here’s a list of my sickness remedies:

  1. Emergency-C three times a day
  2. gargling salt water once an hour
  3. hot tea throughout the day – alternating Throat Coat and Gypsy Cold Care
  4. pho or other kind of broth-y soup when I can
  5. throat drops when I’m not doing these other things

There are other things I’ve had recommended to me that I haven’t tried such as using a neti pot once a day and drinking non-alcoholic hot toddies. The strangest one I’ve heard is in case of chronic cough, use Vapor Rub on the soles of your feet, under your socks for three days. Now there are pressure points in the feet that are connected to various parts of the body so this COULD be something but I haven’t suspended my disbelief enough to try it. Mostly because the cough drops have been doing the trick so far and my cough has been mild at that. But maybe if my cough gets worse you’ll be hearing about my socks smelling like menthol.

I’m always on the look out for more cold remedies (as I’m sure more people are now). Have any good ones? If so, share the love!

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I didn’t know Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska was rated R, before or after watching and I was flabbergasted when I found out. Even writing the title of this post I mixed up the rating before realizing and correcting it. It didn’t seem plausible that an intimate look at a father/son relationship would be rated more harshly than a revenge action film. Looking at the rating on IMDB, I found the reasons why. Here is the page:

NEBRASKA

Sex & Nudity

EditHistory

NOTE: The *only* reason this film is rated R is because there are two uses of the f-word.

Sex & Nudity: 4/10

There are some innuendos and sexual jokes, along with mild crude terms and slangs (“screwing”, “run the bases”).

Violence & Gore

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Violence & Gore: 2/10

An elderly man falls in the dark and his son finds him on the floor with a large gash on his forehead. He is then shown getting stitches. (The entire film is in black and white, so it isn’t explicit.)

Two men get into a very brief and comical slap fight.

Characters argue and yell at each other.

A man punches another man in the face, causing him to fall down. He is later shown with a black eye.

Profanity

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Profanity: 3/10

Two f-words and a few mild obscenities.

Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking

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Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking: 3/10

Some casual drinking. A main character used to be an alcoholic and is shown drinking beer in a few scenes.

Frightening/Intense Scenes

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Frightening/Intense Scenes: 3/10

There are some dramatic moments towards the beginning and end, and some brief conversations regarding death.

Total explicit content estimation: 15/50

*****
Stupid bullshit right? By contrast, here is the MPAA rating for Taken, which is rated PG-13:
*****

TAKEN

Sex & Nudity

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4/10

Throughout the movie you will hear about and see prostitutes. However, the scenes are not too uncomfortable to watch with children, although they may sound so in the description below.

A man walks through an area where curtains are strung up creating rooms where young women lie in cots (most are unconscious from drugs) and men have sex with them (not shown on screen but implied); we see a man in a room with one young woman kissing the back of her neck.

A man talks to a woman, asking how much she charges and what the fee includes (she is a prostitute).

A young woman says, “I’m going to sleep with him… I hear French guys are amazing in bed.”

A young woman is described as a virgin and that she is worth more at auction.

A man talks about another man’s wife being sexually aroused, using a crude term.

A man talks about a man “hitting on rich widows.”

A man makes a comment to another man about being competitive, using a crude anatomical reference.

There is a scene when young women have to dance naked for money.

Many young woman are dressed in little more than bikini underwear throughout the movie.

There is a scene whereby Liam Neeson’s daughter and one other prostitute is being auctioned on a boat wearing only her lingerie.

Violence & Gore

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7/10

A man is strapped into a chair, and a nail is then stabbed into each thigh. Liam Neeson then straps electrical cables to the nails and tortures the victim for information. Several jolts of electricity are sent through the cables and the man yells and twitches; the switch is flipped one last time and the man is left to die (we hear him screaming).

A man shoots a innocent woman in the arm, she falls off her chair (we see a bit of blood on her shirt) and the man threatens to shoot her in the head.

A man shoots another man in the leg and the arm and then shoots him dead (we see blood).

A man shoots another man in the stomach, and then strikes him and the man falls to the floor motionless (we see blood).

Men shoot at each other, and we see bullet holes opening in walls and furnishings.

A man holds a knife to a young woman’s throat, another man shoots him in the head and he falls back dead.

A man is chained by the hands over a pipe, another man wraps a strap around his throat and begins to strangle him, but the pipe breaks striking one man in the head and spraying another man in the face with steam (we see his face becomes charred).

A man jumps off a bridge and onto a moving boat below, he strangles a man on board, kicks and punches another one and throws him overboard.

A man shoves a young man into a taxi, punches him repeatedly in the ribs, another man pulls the man out and he lands hard on the ground; they fight briefly and one man’s head is slammed into the car knocking him unconscious.

Two men fight with punches and kicks, one man pulls a knife, they continue fighting, one man strikes the other with a bottle and one man is stabbed and falls to the floor motionless.

A man fights several men: he stabs several (there’s blood on wounds and shirts) and then shoots several others (we hear groans and see them flinch, but there’s no blood).

A man fights with several men punching and kicking them, and shoots one man (he falls back and onto the ground), but he is shot at by several men as he speeds away in a car and there’s a large explosion and fire.

A man holds a gun on another man, pushes him into an elevator and punches him (he falls unconscious).

A man in a car chases a young man through traffic, and the young man jumps from an overpass onto a truck below and then to the street where he is struck by a car (we see the body being struck and hear a thud).

A man with a knife lunges at a woman, another man fights him off with punches and kicks and the man and woman drive away in a car.

Cars with men shooting guns chase another man in another car: one car is pushed over a hill and rolls over and another car drives into a bulldozer shovel that cuts the top of the car off.

A young woman hiding under a bed is pulled out by her feet by a man, and we hear her screaming and we hear glass breaking as she is taken away.

Two men grab a young woman by the arms and legs and carry her out of an apartment (we hear her screaming and see her struggling).

We see two young women being kidnapped by several men.

We see a young woman dead presumably from a drug overdose (her lips and skin are tinged- blue).

Profanity

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4/10

Some language, nothing too bad.

One finger gesture.

Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking

EditHistory

5/10

We see in two scenes numerous prostitutes with scarred arms by injections. Likely from heroin.

We see a young woman dead presumably from a drug overdose.

After being rescued from captivity, a young woman is seen being detoxed from presumably being forced to take heroin.

People drink alcohol at a party.

A man holds a beer bottle.

Another man drinks from a beer bottle.

A woman pours three glasses of wine at a dinner table.

Three men carrying beer arrive at another man’s house.

Several men sit at a table with beer bottles.

A man puts a cigarette in his mouth but does not light it.

No actual use of drugs is shown

Frightening/Intense Scenes

EditHistory

7/10

Some people may find the theme and some scenes disturbing or upsetting.

The scene in which the kidnapping takes place is very realistic and may disturb viewers. This scene is hard to watch and happens all of a sudden. The idea of having a loved one lost in another country may itself upset viewers as it is very easy to feel empathy towards the main character and his situation.

*****
So…how the fuck does that work? Taken‘s list of offensive material is twice as long as Nebraska‘s but because they don’t say ‘fuck’, it’s suitable for a younger age group. Then, we are so appalled by mass shootings in our schools and things like the knockout game. There’s something wrong with society when we judge language more harshly than physical violence. By setting Nebraska‘s rating at a harsher point, less people are able to see such a touching story about people trying to understand each other. Instead, the film with multiple murders and several acts of violence and mentions of rape is much more accessible. Good on you MPAA.
If you haven’t seen it, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut does a marvelous job of sending up such a backwards and flawed system. In it, Kyle’s mother Sheila, starts a war with Canada over the potty language in one of their movies. It’s so ridiculous and most people dismiss it because it’s A) a cartoon and B) contains some crude humor. Dismissing it on these merits alone is small minded and just because it’s mixed in with some questionable material doesn’t make it all worthless.
It’s a shame that such well-intentioned people such as the MPAA have their priorities so backward because they can be helpful. They’re just not in this case. While Taken might be a more exciting film to watch, Nebraska will teach you about life and that’s something we can all use a little more of.

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