Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's With One Hour Photo and My Date With Drew

This is probably my least favorite holiday of the year. I don't know why, but it is. I'm spending it by myself. Did a little cleaning, but not much. Working on my juice video right now, and watching One Hour Photo. It's a much better movie than the one I watched before, called My Date With Drew. The premise seemed interesting: an ordinary guy who has had a crush on Drew Barrymore since he was six or so decided to try and get a date with her and to film the experience. He gets a camera from Circuit City (and has to return it in 30 days) and sets out to make a film.

I guess I wasn't sure what to expect. He lives in Los Angeles, so he's actually close by to her. He takes the six degrees approach, and starts searching by who knows Drew's people: publicist, facialist, etc. He only has $1,100 to spend on the film, so he tries to get free stuff when he can. Some guy put together a website for him. He gets an interview on some radio station, and five minutes later, the server for the web page goes down.

He also gets into the Charlie's Angel's premiere party (with counterfeit passes) and is literally feet away from Barrymore, but just can't ask her for the date. He walks out, recreating the scene for his buddies, who of course couldn't go into the party filming it.

Not all is lost though. The website goes back up, and people are taking a look at it and word eventually gets back to Barrymore. A date is finally arranged in New York, at some place called the Miracle Cafe. He gets her a Snoopy Sno cone machine, and she buys him a video camera.

Maybe I'm hard-hearted, but I just couldn't find anything compelling about this film. It was okay. But will I watch it again? Probably not.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sweet Home Fresno--Another Guest Post By Elaine!

Elaine has written about where she lives; I wrote about Fort Wayne for her blog.




I'm not from Fresno. Really. I grew up in Southern California, and it's still home.

However, I've lived in and near Fresno for longer than I've lived anywhere else. A  lot longer. And, even before that, I spent several summers in the area when I was a kid and my dad was a produce inspector and got sent here to inspect the grapes and cataloupes.

I've always found Fresno to be...odd. It's a big city (over 500,000 population in the city limits as of last year), but in a lot of ways it seems like - and is run like - a small town. It's a very conservative place, both politically and religiously. Not so much as it was fifteen or twenty  years ago, but official Fresno still hasn't quite figure out that it's the 21st century as far as I can see.

Despite all that, Fresno is very diverse culturally. Last time I looked there were over 100 languages spoken by students in the local school district. The city has long had a large Armenian population, it has the second-largest Hmong population in the United States, and a growing Asian population. There are parts of town when more of the billboards are in Spanish than in English. All this diversity has enriched the city a lot.

All the diversity also means that although Fresno is the buckle of the California Bible Belt, there are significant Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and Sikh communities. Not that this necessarily sets well with some of the more conservative Christians in the area, but they are the type of people who don't really like anything or anyone different from themselves. And you find them everywhere, not just in Fresno.

I suspect that part of the reason that Fresno has remained so conservative politically has to do with the fact that it is right in the middle of the number one agricultural county in the United States, with its crops worth $5.3 billion dollars in 2007, the latest figures I could find. That's a lot of grapes (and raisins - Fresno County is the home of Sun-Maid raisins), stone fruit (things like peaches, nectarines, and plums), citrus (primarily oranges and lemons), almonds and walnuts, not to mention cotton, dairy products, and cattle. And those are only some of the biggest crops produced around the county. There's at least one advantage to living in an area with such a diverse agricultural economy - the Farmer's Markets here are fantastic.

The surrounding area probably has more to see and do than Fresno itself. Yosemite National Park is 60 miles pretty much due north of Fresno. El Capitan; Half Dome and Sentinel Dome; Yosemite Falls and Vernal Falls, among others; the three groves of Giant Sequoia trees - pretty much everyone knows about Yosemite, so I won't elaborate here. We've also got two other national parks, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, Kings Canyon about 60 miles east of Fresno and Sequoia just south of Kings Canyon and about 75 miles from Fresno. Sequoia is the home of of the General Sherman tree, which is the largest currently living tree by volume in the world. It's not the tallest tree, or the largest, or the oldest, but there is more of it overall. It is between 2,300 and 2,700 years old, 275 feet tall and has a circumfrence of 102.6 feet at ground level. Meanwhile, the third largest tree in the world, the General Grant tree, also known as the nation's Christmas Tree, so proclaimed in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge. Later on, in 1956, the General Grant tree was proclaimed a national shrine to the nation's war dead by President Dwight Eisenhower. It is the only living thing to be declared a national shrine.

Inside the city limits of Fresno, we don't have that much in the way of tourist attractions. We do have the old Fresno Water Tower, which is downtown and kind of neat. In the county, but just about 7 miles from downtown, there is Sierra Sky Park, which was built in 1946 and was the first community in the United States where you can fly your plane in and then drive it to your house. Inside the city limits, there is Forestiere Underground Gardens, built - or rather dug out - over 40 years (1906 - 1946) by Baldasare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant who was looking for a way to avoid the hot summers here in Fresno. He not only dug out rooms but planted trees throught the dwelling and tress and vines above ground. It's really something to see.

We do have culture in Frenso, with a few theater companies, a couple of ballet companies - for a number of years, I was the props handler for Central California Ballet - and an opera company. There are more big-name concerts that come to town now that the Save Mart Center arean was built on the campus of California State University, Fresno in 2003. My favorite venue in town, though, is the Tower Theater. The Tower opened as a first-run movie theater in 1939, spent the 1980s as a repertory theater, showing old classic and new art films, and then, after a rennovation, reopened as the Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts. Most of the ballet productions I worked on were held in the Tower, and I love working there, despite the almost nonexistent wings and tiny dressing rooms.

Fresno has produced some famous people. Perhaps the most famous is William Saroyan, who was both born and died here. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Academy Award (for Best Story, for his adaptation of his novel "The Human Comedy"). And, he co wrote one song (that I know of) - "Come On-a My House", which was a hit for Rosemary Clooney in 1951. Saroyan wrote the song with his cousin, Ross Bagdasarian, Sr, also a Fresno native. Bagdasarian was also an actor, with probably his most noted role as the songwriter/piano player in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window". You might know Bagdasarian better as David Seville, under which name he created Alvin and the Chipmunks. Bagdasarian won two Grammy awards for "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" in 1959.

Film director Sam Peckinpah was also a Fresno native. He graduated from Fresno High School and Fresno State and went on to a successful, if quite controversial, career in film. He directed "The Wild Bunch" in 1969, which caused a huge stir for the amount and depiction of violence. He also directed such films as "Ride the High Country" (1962) and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973). My favorite of his films is "Junior Bonner" (1972). It was probably his most unsuccessful film, and also likely his least violent. It follows the return home of an veteran rodeo rider (played by Steve McQueen) to ride in a rodeo there and to try to reconnect with his family, from which he has been estragnged for years. It's a good movie; you should see it if you get the chance.

More recently, singer and actress Audra McDonald grew up in Fresno. McDonald holds, along with Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury - the record for most Tony Awards won by any actor for their Broadway work. She has won five of the awards. She is also a recording artist and has done a good deal of film and television work. Another non-native but long time resident of Fresno is poet and professor Philip Levine, who taught at Fresno State for more than 30 years and was named Poet Laureate of the United States for 2010 - 2011.

Fresno and the surrounding area has produced a number of professional athletes, too many to list, but outstanding  is Fresno native and baseball pitcuer Tom Seaver. He was active from 1967 through 1986 and pitched for several major league teams but is best known for his time with the New York Mets. Seaver was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992, elected by the highest percent of votes of any member of the Hall, with 98.84 percent fo the votes. He is considered by many experts to be one of the best starting pitchers in the history of the sport.

Another Fresno native of slightly less importance but some fame is Kevin Federaline, a dancer who was married for a time to Britney Spears (which is probably the main reason for his fame). I think it is interesting that while he has gotten so much bad press, I know some people in the local dance community who know him, and none of them has a bad word to say about him. There have been other famous folks who have spent some time in Fresno before moving on to other, bigger things. These include Cher and Warren Zevon.

Fresno is a more interesting place to live than it used to be. It's still not my favorite place in the world, but it's less expensive to live here than in most of California's big cities. The worst part of it right now is the unemployment rate, which is still significantly above the national average. That, and the weather, which is abysmal most of the year - too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Which would be fine if those seasons lasted the usual amount of time each year. However, here in Fresno, we have about two weeks of spring and two weeks of autumn - if we're lucky - and the rest is either summer or winter. I still haven't figured out how that works.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve, 2013

So here it is, Christmas Eve. I checked the mail and found out two books I ordered from Amazon came. That makes three total. All of them are books that I remember from childhood that were thrown away, or disappeared for some reason.

I think I'm getting sick. I woke up yesterday with a cough. My throat feels scratchy. Usually colds start in my throat, which becomes sore. This time, I'm coughing. So I spent the entire day in bed, almost. I got up at 7 p.m. or so to feed my pets and to get something for myself. I bought a ton of food the other night, so I'm good for a while. I really didn't need to go anywhere today anyway. I could have gone and got some toothpaste, and some cleaning supplies, but a couple days won't matter. I have enough to brush my teeth, and I have enough Pine Sol Sparkling Wave to mop if I feel like it.

But I do feel a bit under the weather. I will probably read my books and watch movies and daydream. I have nowhere I have to be and no one to see. It's an odd way to spend Christmas, but if my parents hadn't died, I wouldn't have this problem.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Stay safe.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Going Five Below at The Container Store During My Juice Fast

Holy shit, what an awesome day. A Facebook friend asked me for coffee. I am on the sixth day of a seven day juice fast (I've lost a little over 10 pounds) so I had hot chocolate. The friend wanted to go to Indy, and I said we should sometime, and she said, "today?" And I said, "why not?" I didn't have to work, I had some money, and we were off.

Discovered a great store in Castleton called Five Below. It's like a dollar store, except some of the stuff is nicer and well worth it, for $5. I spent $62 there. I even found some retro toys I've had back in the day, got pet beds, a couple of cool tin boxes, headphones, and a few cellphone cases.

Eighty-second street was bumper-to-bumper, but we persevered and found The Container Store. I'd never been to this place either, and I just about fainted. Lots of boxes and cool gadgets and shelf organizers and shelves and geez Louise. LOVE it. Also loved Five Below, and both stores need to open up in Fort Wayne, along with a Dave and Busters.


And what about my juice fast? I've lost a little over 10 pounds in six days. I didn't cave in at the dinner I went to Friday night at Flanagan's (although the garlic bread smelled fantastic) and I didn't cave while in Indy. This is part of my journal entry from Monday, and this is the scale from when I got home from my road trip. I couldn't believe it. I weighed myself five times, because I couldn't believe the scale. Yeah, baby!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Juice Fast (Thank You, Joe Cross)

After seeing Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead about a dozen times, I decided to get a juicer and start juicing. I had my heart set on a Breville juicer, but the one I wanted cost $300. I gave it some thought, and realized if Joe Cross could talk to me, I think he'd say, "doesn't matter what kind of juicer you get, mate, just start juicing!" I started out juicing every other day, then decided to juice every day. Now, I'm on day two of a seven-day juice fast.

For the most part, the juices I've been making taste really good. Even the "mean green," which is what Cross drank a lot of in the movie, isn't too bad. I've mainly been using Granny Smith apples and Clementines as a base, then throwing in whatever else I had. Cranberries, celery, cherries, carrots, even cucumber. I can't even taste the cucumber when I put it in the juice.

The juice I made this evening though, was a bit of a disappointment. It consisted of carrots, red kale, celery, cranberries, and cherries. I thought pure peppermint extract might help, but it didn't. I think I used too much. Then, I put three Clementines in. That helped a little, but I put in some Stevia to sweeten it up. It's still not very good. I'm determined to gulp it down though.

The fast isn't bad, so far. I figure if few foods sound good, I might as well go on a juice fast anyway, right? Because I veer back and forth between veggies and junk food. I don't know why that is, but that's what's been going on. I barely eat, then when I do eat, sometimes it's not very healthy.

Now, to ramp up the exercising. I can't seem to get eating right and exercising coordinated. Hopefully, my schedule for the next few months will allow for more exercising.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fuck the Snow, I Went Shopping

I was born in northern Indiana, and this is the only place I've ever lived. We have the four seasons here. We have snow. People who live here, and who were born here, should realize this.

Why people totally fucking freak out when we get a MILD snowstorm, is beyond me. A prediction of five to eight inches of snow has people panicking. They stock up on Doritos, soda, beer, wings, pizza, and other kinds of crap in the case they get snowed in for oh, a whole whopping 24 hours. Then, we end up with three inches of snow. Ha ha, joke's on you.

I've driven semi-trucks in really bad winter weather. I've lived through the Blizzard of 1978. So dire predictions of snowstorms really don't scare me. And it pisses me off how everyone is terrified of a few inches of snow. It's INCHES, not feet.

So I went out shopping. Hyde Bros. had a thing last night. Shopping from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., and I went to it. By myself. I had to work, so I was out anyway, and book shopping after work sounded totally excellent. I bought over $40 worth of books. I got some guilty pleasures. I stayed for a couple of hours, then went home.

The next day, I felt in the mood to shop. I actually had money and motivation, so I went out in the snow (OMG!) and hit up a couple of thrift stores. Goodwill had the temerity to close at four, because of the "weather." What.Fucking.Ever. I didn't spend as much as I thought, because I didn't have time to go to any more thrift stores, except for The Salvation Army on Lima Road. Didn't find anything that I liked there. Before that, I went to Target and picked up some stuff that I wanted. I felt really, really good about getting out there.

But jeez Louise. We've become such pussies. Thank God I still have my balls.
Hyde Bros., about 1:20 a.m.

Yours for only 95 cents at the Lima Road Salvation Army.

Brewers Art Supply, Wells Street. With my cameraphone set on green point. Taken approximately 1:20 a.m.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy 91st Birthday, Dad

My dad would have been 91 years old today. I wonder what he would think of all that has happened in his lifetime, if he'd still been alive. He would probably marvel at smartphones, and he'd probably get a kick out of looking up facts. Maybe he'd be on YouTube, seeing who has uploaded big band music, or his favorite Latin performers from the early 1950s. They're up there, dad. Back when music was good, LOL.

Maybe he'd be making his own music. He might have a music editing program and be messing around with it.

Who knows where I'd be if he were still alive. Probably here in this house. I miss him. There are so many things I wish I could ask him. Like what scared him the most? How did he get through it? What could he change if he could? And did he ever regret not moving back to Puerto Rico?

We make choices in life, and hope that things turn out for the best. Because time can't be rewound. Some things cannot be undone. And I hope there's a Heaven. And I hope my dad is happy there. I love you dad.

Dad and Mom at my brother's house. Probably sometime in the 1990s.


Dad and I at my brother's wedding. August 24, 1984.


Dad in one of his sillier moments. There's some sort of vibrating toy he stuck under his shirt.


Dad always had plenty of jokes, but usually looked very serious.


Of course he was a Yankees fan!


Dad and I at the Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne. Probably late 1980s/1990s.


Another silly shot of dad at Fox Island, sometime in the 1980s.


Dad was a hipster! Who knew?


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Today, at The Bookmark ...

I will be signing books and chatting about my new projects from 2 to 5 p.m. The Bookmark is at 3420 North Anthony Boulevard in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I just checked the stats for my erotic fiction, and I'm at over 97,000 views on www.short-fiction.co.uk. I will be giving away FREE samples of the erotic romance I'm working on. It's three chapters of hot goodness, so come and check it out. I also have other projects I'm working on, and I hope to make headway on those during the Christmas break.

P.S. My pen name for the erotic fiction is Janell Elizabeth Meyer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Six Degrees of Manson, Dahmer, Van Houten, Atkins and Wesson

Here is another guest post from Elaine of Littlemissattitude.blogspot.com. She's had some proximity to some famous killers. Whereas I've just worked with Ben Blauvelt, one of three men who murdered Chinese professor Maurice Lam at IPFW, Elaine has had invites to the Spahn Ranch and known people who've interacted with some notorious men. Enjoy!

I've always been fascinated by the whole Six Degrees of Separation phenomenon, ever since I first read about it back in, oh, must have been in the Eighties sometimes, in an article in the old Omni magazine (which I miss horribly, by the way).
I'm sure you're familiar with the idea, even if only through the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" meme, that any individual in the world can link to any other individual person in the world through six other people or less. It's an interesting idea, but one that I didn't believe when I first read about it. It just didn't seem a likely proposition. How would I link to someone in Africa, say, or Australia, or Asia? I couldn't think of anyone I knew who lived on any of those continents and didn't really expect that I ever would.
At any rate, I started thinking about this kind of linking, especially after I remembered that when we visited with my mother's cousins in Texas on a vacation one time, one of them mentioned that she lived down the street from John Young, who had walked on the moon as part of the crew of Apollo 16. Which meant that I knew someone who knew someone who had walked on the Moon. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, so that was pretty cool.
But still...
What about presidents? But that one was too easy. I only had to look as far as my friend Debbie's mother, who had hosted Ronald Reagan for a campaign event in her home when Reagan was first running for Governor of California. True, this had been before he  had actually been president, but nevertheless Debbie's mom had met him, and I certainly knew her.
Okay, then. Movie stars. And that wasn't a difficult lift either, since I had grown up in Southern California and lived across the road from a movie director (and a fairly famous one) until I was six and a half years old. I had talked to him, and he was friends with all sorts of old-Hollywood celebrities. Peope like Clark Gable and Errol Flynn. Not to mention the fact that there were a lot of old western stars who had settled around the area where I grew up, which was still semi-rural when I was growing up, and my dad knew most of them - people like Walter Brennan and Joel McCrea and James Arness.
One way and another, I realized, I didn't have to go anywhere near six links to connect to the greater part of Hollywood. I probably even have a Bacon number (look that up if you don't know what it is), although I've never bothered to figure out what it might be.
But that's all still mostly here in the US. What about connecting to folks around the rest of the world?
Turns out that despite my reservations when I first read about the Six Degrees game, it isn't all that difficult to link to people in other parts of the world, either. I've got friends, or at least acquaintances on most continents now, so even leaving out people I just know through the Internet (those folks my friend Jolene calls "Imaginary friends"), I don't find it out of the realm of possibility that I can connect with the greater part of the world within the six degrees of separation.
On the other hand, the whole idea of connecting fairly closely with any given individual can turn a bit creepy, something I realized when I figured out that I can connect with at least five mass or serial killers with just one intervening individual, and that the ones I can connect with are not just flash-in-the-pan killers. Most of them are ones you've probably heard of.
Take Charlie Manson, for example. I can connect with him through only one intervening individual two different ways. First of all, having lived near the Spahn Ranch when Charlie and his gang were doing the awful things they became so famous for, I had a friend (I was in junior high at the time) who went up there all the time to go horseback riding. She really liked the folks who lived up there and occasionally tried to talk me into going up there with her. I declined, of course, since everyone knew there were weird things going on up there. We just didn't know how weird. So, that's one connection, from when Charlie was still out and running around free. The other connection is an adopted cousin of mine who was (maybe still is; we've lost contact) a prison guard, and part of whose job was to guard Charlie.
I can also link to two of Charlie's followers in one link each, separate from the paths to Charlie himself. When I was still living in Southern California, I was taking a night class. One of the other students in the class was a deputy sheriff who worked in the county jail system. At the time, Leslie Van Houten was getting her retrial separate from Charlie, and the guy in my class was the one who was in charge of coordinating her transportation back and forth from jail to court every day. And then, a few years later I was taking some classes at another community college, and got to be friends with a woman in some of my classes who had done time with another of Charlie's pet killers, Susan Atkins.
So, that's three killers I can link to with just one intermediary. There are two more.
One, you might not have heard of, although his case did get some national attention at the time. This was the case of Marcus Wesson, who killed nine of his children and grandchildren (and some of them were both; it was an exceedingly creepy case) one day in Fresno. Although I know two people who were living in the neighborhood where this happened at the time it happened, those aren't the links. The link is that one of my instructors when I was learning to be a paralegal was the first lawyer Wesson hired after he was arrested for the killings.
That's four.
You've definitely heard of number five, Jeffrey Dahmer. It turns out that his mother lived in Fresno. A friend of mine's old roommate had lived next door to her, and had picutres of herself and Dahmer in her living room. I've seen the photos, so I know she wasn't making it up. She showed them to me one time when I was visiting my friend while they were roommates.

That makes five. You know, it really makes me wonder about the people I hang out with sometimes.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Night Before Thanksgiving (Fort Wayne)

I hadn't been down to the night before Thanksgiving lighting ceremonies in several years. I either had to work, or it didn't occur to me to go. But my friend Heidi asked me if I wanted to go, and since it would have been something to do AND I didn't have to work, I said yes.

Our plan was to meet at Coney Island, a restaurant that has been downtown for almost 100 years. The prices are amazing, and it's possible to have a meal for well under $10, including tip. I had a coney dog, a bag of chips and a little eight ounce bottle of Coke (they're so cute) for less than $4. The place has fun signs, like, "In 1897 in this spot, nothing happened here."



Well, the line was out the door. It was 4:30 p.m., and the place has always been a popular spot. With several thousand people gathered downtown, it makes total sense that it would be crowded. After about a half hour wait, we did get a place at the counter (they have wooden stools). We ate and chatted and I took a few pictures. It was too crowded for Heidi to go around the place and take pictures, because every single table was full.




It seemed bitterly cold, but we ventured out onto Main Street to see the first lighting of the Aunt Millie's bread building. We then walked east to see Santa and his reindeer lit. The lighting display has been around for a long time. It used to be hung from a department store called Wolf and Dessauer's. The store went out of business a long time ago, but the lighting display lives on.



We then turned a corner and followed the crowd down the street to the Wells Fargo building, and another lighting ceremony.





It was nice to see so many people downtown, and nice to see food and drink vendors along the sidewalk. It seemed very big city, and there were other things going on as well. Hollypop was a pop-up boutique highlighting small local businesses. An office space was open, and each individual office had a business located in it. I guess it was in it's second year, but I'd never heard of it. It was a great idea, however, as to get people downtown, they also need to have retail as well. It was a novelty to be downtown on a Wednesday night and see things to buy.

And this is a picture of "Mad" Anthony Wayne (the guy the city is named after) in front of the Christmas tree in Freimann Square.




Heidi has to work early in the morning and she was getting tired and left, but I went back to Hollypop and made a short video.

It was a nice way to spend an evening, and it was nice to see my hometown downtown area lit up and all those people walking around.

On Black Friday, I went back downtown and got some additional pictures, but I also drove by the University of Saint Francis and got this picture of the Bass Mansion, which used to be the school's library. It's a pretty awesome building on the inside too.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catching Fire--It Improves on the Book

So since I'm such a fangirl, I actually went to an 11 p.m. showing of Catching Fire. I wasn't really aware there was an 8 p.m. showing, but I went with two friends, and both had to work earlier. But there I was, in my "May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor" shirt that a friend got me for Christmas last year. The woman at the popcorn counter loved it and told me so.

But anyway, on to Catching Fire. The book goes into a good amount of detail before getting into the Quarter Quell. The movie is a bit more prompt. Katniss is in the woods with Gale, and she aims at a turkey. But it looks like a guy. To her, at least. She freaks out and Gale comforts her.

It's time for the Victory Tour, and that part is true to the book. Less than ten minutes in, the three finger salute goes up from District 11, Rue and Thresh's district. Before the tour, however, President Snow pays an unexpected visit before the tour, and tells Katniss that people throughout Panem aren't happy. The most unsettling part is Snow shows Katniss, via a hologram, a kiss that she and Gale shared. She's still supposed to be in love with Peeta, and Snow isn't quite convinced that Katniss is. He's also concerned about the threat of rebellion.

So the gang is back in District 11 for the tour, and an old man gives the three finger salute. Everyone else follows suit, and the old man is killed, execution-style.

Things don't get any better during the rest of the tour. Katniss has bad dreams: a little girl goes up to her and says someday she wants to volunteer to be a tribute.

 Then, when the Quarter Quell is announced, saying the victors will be reaped from the existing pool, Katniss runs off and sits in the woods. She talks to Haymitch, since he is the only other living victor, and says this time, they save Peeta. The reaping scene with the three of them is unintentionally funny, with one slip of paper in the bowl for Katniss, two slips of paper for Haymitch and Peeta. However, Effie Trinket is devastated. And the tributes show their anger during the interviews on stage with Caesar Flickerman. It gets worse when Peeta reveals that he and Katniss are married anyway, and that she is pregnant.

During Katniss's time on stage, she is forced to wear what would have been her wedding dress. She twirls, and it catches fire. When the flames go out, the dress has turned into a mockingjay outfit.

The Quarter Quell kicks off, only this time, the other tributes are seasoned veterans. Allies must be formed, and Katniss picks Wiress and Beetee. She's also teamed up with Peeta and Finnick, who has chosen Mags, a much older woman.

This time, the arena is in the tropics. There aren't as many touching scenes in this arena as there were in The Hunger Games. Mags sacrifices herself by running into a poisonous fog. Katniss and company struggle with dehydration and trying to figure out how to avoid the poison fog, angry monkeys, and the other tributes.

The movie pretty much follows the book, so if you've read the book, you know how the movie ends.

I'll be honest--the movie was great, but I really, really liked The Hunger Games the best, out of all the books. And of the movies, I still like The Hunger Games the best. There were more poignant moments in that movie. But this movie adaptation works. And I'll probably see it again.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Another Apology

Yeah, I said on Facebook that I would review Catching Fire for my Saturday post. I think I'm late with the Saturday post, and sorry, it's not about Catching Fire. I review books on Fiverr.com and I had an 811 page epic to review, and I didn't read as much per day as I should have. It didn't really hold my attention like the first book in the triology did. And I HAD to get it done. And thanks to my former computer guy, I no longer have Microsoft Word on my computer. And saving my Apache Open Office document as a Word file didn't work. And I had to put in an eight hour day at work...nine if you include the hour I took for lunch (where I read part of the book I was reviewing.)

I just got done cleaning up the tub where I puked. It was sudden, and fierce--like Linda Blair in The Exorcist vomiting. I don't know if it was the juice, or that Marie Callender's chicken pot pie. I made a really yummy juice out of red cabbage, apples, oranges, celery and frozen cherries, and it all went down great. But just about 20 minutes ago, I had an urge to go to the bathroom, which wasn't surprising, since I had just ingested probably 20 ounces worth of fruit juice. Well, I took a very runny dump, but I noticed I felt nauseated. I kept swallowing and swallowing, knowing I was going to puke anyway, and I did. I sincerely hope this was just a one-time thing; perhaps the fruit juice and the pot pie not mixing together. Or maybe I'm getting the flu; some idiot customer at work kept coughing and coughing around me. I really, really hope that I don't have something more serious wrong with me. My appetite is down again, and I'm veering back and forth between drinking my homemade fruit and veggie juices, and eating chocolate and other assorted junk food because nothing sounds good to me. At least the fruit juice is really good. But so was the pot pie. Let's hope this is it. I haven't thrown up in months, and Lord knows, I cannot afford another polyp or anything else serious.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's Another Installment of Where Do You Meet These People?!

I'm sitting here waiting for dinner to be done, and realizing I need to update the blogs. So here's another one of WDYMTP.

Subject: Female
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
How we met: Facebook friend suggested we friend each other
Relationship/friendship length: Nine months

So I write erotic fiction, and was lucky enough to realize that if Fifty Shades of Grey could be popular, I'd best be promoting my erotic fiction. So last summer, that's what I was doing. My ex-boyfriend suggested I friend one of his friends. She was a politician, and since she wasn't getting any coverage from the local news outlets, I offered to do a story on her. She was thankful. Then, a few months go by, and she contacts me, saying she has an opportunity for me.

That opportunity was getting into a local adult novelty store and selling my erotic fiction there. I accompany my friend and her assistant/friend to the bookstore, where my friend takes over and sets pricing. I'm broke, so the store gives me a check to buy copies of my book, especially after it's discovered that a small women's expo is going to be held in a couple weeks at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. My friend calls the event coordinator, and gets a deal for the novelty store owners, who are in over their heads, both financially and how should I say it: business-wise? Logic-wise? Common sense-wise? Picture your grandmother and grandfather running a store full of stripper shoes, spandex and lube, and you'll get the idea.

So the only problem is the fact they've guaranteed the event coordinators that they will have a REAL-LIVE author signing books at the booth. However, I work on the weekends, and in order for me to get time off, I have to ask for it 30 days in advance. This event is less than 30 days away. I thought I remembered asking my friend if I could be there from 10 a.m. to noon, since I had to work at 12:30 p.m., but she said no. Apparently, a radio station was doing a live feed, and it was going to be between noon and 2 p.m. THAT'S when I should be there, she said. It took me a few days to secure time off, because my department manager had to notify the zone manager, and the zone manager had to contact one of my co-workers to see if she would cover for me. While I'd love to have a wealthy husband to support me so I could do whatever I wanted 24/7, like my friend and her assistant can, I have to work for a living. So it took me a while to see what time off I could get. I could come in a bit later on Sunday, but Saturday, the high holy day of retail, was out.

I had the check from the store, but I put off depositing it because I was sick. I woke up on a Thursday, feeling kind of out of it. I went to the mall, since I didn't have internet at home anymore. While I was there, I had to go to the bathroom, and had a bloody bowel movement. Then, I had another one. I felt justified about staying home the next day. I slept most of the day, and didn't get the check cashed until Saturday. The friend's assistant came by Friday and offered to deposit the check, but I said don't worry about it.

So Saturday, I deposit the check, planning to order the books a few hours later. I called my friend, and she was very upset that I hadn't deposited the check. Apparently, a bloody bowel movement was NOT a good enough excuse for taking the day off and not cashing the check. I didn't see what the big deal was. I'd ordered books from Lulu.com before, and they worked weekends.

When I got my days off all straightened out, my friend was mad. She insisted I was incommunicado for a week while I was trying to get my time off figured out. It was more like three days. There was nothing to report: I was waiting for my department manager to talk to the zone manager, who was trying to contact my co-worker. Was I supposed to call and say, "hey, no news yet?"

I finally got the books on a Wednesday morning. I called my friend and said the books were in. She asked if I could deliver them to the store that day. I took them over there before my class started. I went upstairs to the the owner's office, where my friend showed me the pictures the store took, and what they were going to take to the women's show booth. My friend then said since I couldn't be at the book signing on Saturday, they found someone who looked like me, who had my build, who would sign my books for me.

And that's when I exploded. A fucking STUNT DOUBLE to sign my books? Oh, hell no. HELL NO. World War III erupted in front of the owner and his wife. My friend and I screamed at each other. I was absolutely furious that I'd brought the books, only to be told this. I had to go teach class, so I took off. I called a friend of mine, and told her what was going on. We discussed options. I didn't want the store to own my books.

I taught class, and went back for round two. I went back and demanded to buy back my books, at cost. My friend thought I'd lost my mind. We yelled again, this time, just in front of the store owner. His wife and her assistant were hiding in the dressing room. My friend said I'd left her with no choice to get a stand-in to sign my books. I told her that was like saying Brad Pitt was going to be at Glenbrook, then the day of the visit, show up with a Brad Pitt lookalike. She then said, "honey, you are NOT Brad Pitt." Okay, so I'm just some nobody writer, but I don't care. If Joe Blow is going to do a book signing, I want to see Joe Blow, not Joe Blow's brother, who looks a LOT like him, or Joe Blow's neighbor, or Joe Blow's cousin. Who wrote the fucking book? Who proofread, edited it, proofread it again and shot the front and back cover photos?  ME, that's who. And she had the gall to get a complete fucking stranger to sign MY books? So we yelled at each other again, and she gave me two choices. I can't remember what the other one was, but she said I could sign my books right then and there. So I did. She also said, "sign 'em pretty." I could have killed her.

The next day, we met for about three hours. I got to hear what an ungrateful bitch I was, and how I was passing up such a great opportunity, and why the hell wasn't I so excited about this? Well, because it's not Book Expo America, or even Tapestry, but a very small women's expo. And it's Fort Wayne. And, this store was not Barnes and Noble. Having my books at a tiny local adult novelty store was not going to change my life. THAT'S why I was not excited. I was smart enough to know this, and didn't want to waste valuable energy thinking that it would. My meltdown put them back 18 hours, according to my friend. I was asked time and again why I wasn't so totally, completely, wonderfully excited about this. I guess I should have told them flat-out they were making way more out of this than what it was.

But they went on. The store owner didn't want me to show up on Sunday. He wasn't even sure if he wanted to carry my books. Blah, blah, blah. The ironic part of all this was that my "friend" said I needed to gain more confidence and stand up for myself. She even suggested I put a really raunchy ad on Craigslist, in order to gain more fans on Facebook. She also said I should go out to bars as my alter ego (I write under a pen name). I said I wouldn't do that. The whole idea of a pen name is to create an identity that you can write under. People maybe wouldn't read erotic fiction written under my real name, but they might read it under another name. Having a pen name allows me to be more uninhibited, in a creative way. I couldn't make her understand that, so I basically sat there like a lump, listening to lies and half-truths from this woman. I realized this was another huge woman trying to make me feel like shit. I noticed the way she treated her husband and her friend. They seemed to be her assistants. And I wasn't about to become one of her servants. I was becoming more and more leery of morbidly obese women with attitudes.

So I show up Sunday, and I'm the first one there. I was told not to bring food, but they came in with candy. As an extra dose of humiliation, I had to write an apology letter to the store owner, and buy gift cards for the store owner's wife and her assistant. Yeah, I could barely afford gas, yet I had to shell out some MORE money. (I sent the letter to the owner, which pissed him off again, because I didn't seem sorry enough. I tried to explain myself, but that didn't work.) Getting back to the present, I get to the booth on time, and looked around at a booth packed full of spandex, candles, massage oil, paddles, stripper shoes and other accessories. We were about a hundred feet across the aisle from the main adult novelty store in town, which had previously been the only type of merchant of its kind at the show, until Grandma and Grandpa Naughty came in to spoil their show. But it was a joke. Yeah, our booth had the author (me) but our main competitor had a young, athletic girl working a stripper pole. Their booth wasn't crammed full of stuff and had a young, hip-looking guy running it. Our booth had five cows and a bull. The store owner's wife was wearing a dress they sold at the shop. The store owner's assistant was wearing a similar outfit. It was early March, and they were wearing spandex dresses they were too heavy for and no pantyhose. Their white, white legs were a contrast to the black and pink frocks. The store owner's wife looked like an aging hooker. And my "friend" was concerned about ME wearing the right outfit! I looked WAY better than any of them did. The store owner, since he wasn't allowed to bring in chairs from outside the Memorial Coliseum, parked himself in the back of a mini-van which was on display a few feet away from the booth. He and I never exchanged a word. I made nice, and talked to people, and was my best perky self. I talked about my book, but to no avail. No one bought a copy. My "stunt double" showed up. She gushed about the book and said they almost sold a copy on Saturday, but since the store wasn't able to accept credit cards at the show, they couldn't make the sale.

Now, if I'd shown up and rented a booth of my own and was unable to accept credit cards, my "friend" would have screamed at me. But because this was grandma and grandpa and they weren't experienced in these matters, it was okay. But I was furious. Why bring a shit-ton of crap to a trade show and NOT BE ABLE TO PROCESS A FUCKING CREDIT CARD? How much do those card readers cost? How much does a smart phone cost if you get a contract? Not very fucking much for either one. I left the show to go to my other job, with my "friend" and her assistant following me out of the Coliseum, no doubt to make sure I was actually GOING to my job.

Since then, I've not spoken to either one of them. For all I know, the store threw the books out. I know I'm never going to see a dime of profit from that place. I went to The Bookmark and asked them if they would carry my books, and they said yes. And the profit margin is much better there.

Here is a photo of the "stunt double author."



This is the photo of the store owner.

Please note: friends have looked at the stunt double, and say she looks NOTHING like me. And I do NOT have a tattoo over my left breast.

Aftermath: As a result, I'm very suspicious of morbidly obese women who want to control me. I'm also suspicious of people who want to "help" me.

P.S. That bloody bowel movement led to a colonoscopy which led to a right hemicolectomy. If I ever see that woman again, I'm telling her that the next time I feel ill, I'm taking time for myself, and everyone else can go to hell.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

So I Bought a Juicer ...

After watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead probably a dozen times, I finally went out and bought a juicer. I had my heart set on a Breville, the same kind that Joe Cross used in his documentary, but at $300, it wasn't in the budget. I'd set some money aside, but it seemed like there was always an emergency coming up, and I had to use the money for something else.

But I won a gift card for my cookies at work, and after buying Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead last week, and watching it twice in one night, I got a Bella juicer from Target. Because I had the gift card, it set me back less than $40. I stopped off at the store and bought some veggies and fruits, and I plan to try it tonight.

If you are interested in juicing, I highly suggest you rent this movie. It's a documentary, but very well done, and funny. And it makes sense. Find out more here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sorry.

It's 12:19 a.m. Wednesday. I was getting ready for class tomorrow and totally forgot about updating this blog. But at least I am ready for class. That's it for today.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's Another Guest Post From Elaine!

Wikipedia is Useful for at Least One Thing...

Some people go looking for blog prompts when they can't think of what to write about on their blog.

Not me.

I've tried that, and it hardly ever works. But, sometimes I just can't find any inspiration. Or, I've got plenty of inspiration, but I know if I write about what is inspiring me at the moment, I'll just end up ranting and sounding like a loon.

What do I do when that happens?

I click over to Wikipedia. Goodness knows, it needs to be good for something. And that's all the editorializing I'll do about the Wiki for today, because I'm really trying to avoid getting belligerent here right now. Maybe I'll write about it some other time, when I really feel like going full howl. But not now.

Anyway, as I write this, it just turned into October 28 in my time zone about 40 minutes ago. Which means that I should at least be trying to sleep. But, there's a storm coming in, I've got a headache, and I've been having some really strange dreams lately. Right now staying awake seems to be the better alternative.

And so, I'm looking at the Wikipedia page for October 28. Just, you know, to see what happened on this day in history. That's one of the things I'm really geeky about. I like knowing, on any given day, what has happened on that day in history. Or, depending on how far back we're talking, on approximately this day in history. You know, calendar changes and all that. Which is yet another topic for another time.

Anyway...

Now, I don't really trust that Wikipedia is completely correct in these entries for each day of the year. But I figure most of the dates are probably more or less in the ballpark. Close enough, at least, for government work, as my father used to say.

The first thing about October 28 that catches my eye is that it is a day for milestones related to universities. In 1538, so Wikipedia tells me, the first University in the western hemisphere was establised, the Universidad SantoTomas de Aquino. Clicking over to the wiki entry on the university, I discover that this was originally an Roman Catholic seminary run my the Dominican Order and was made an official university by a papal bull issued by Pope Paul III on this date in 1538.

And then, in 1636, the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay colony voted to establish the first college in what is today the United States. We know that school today as Harvard University, named after John Harvard.

October 28 is also, so Wiki tells me, a day of earthquakes, at least in Japan. On October 28, 1707, the Hoei earthquake hit the nation, causing over 5,000 deaths and perhaps the last eruption, 49 days later of Mount Fuji. The quake has been estimated to have been around magnitude 8.6. Then, on the same day in 1891, another quake, this one estimated to be about magnitude 8.0, hit Gifu Prefecture. It was the laragest quake ever recorded inland in Japan. This quake is known as the Mino-Owari earthquake.

A few years before the Mino-Owari quake, on October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty, on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. This was probably a much more popular thing than what happened on October 28, 1919, when the Senate followed the previous day's action by the House of Representatives in voting to override President Woodrow Wilson's veto of the Volstead Act, which established Prohibition the following January, making it illegal to use alcholic beverages for other than medicinal or industrial purposes. Prohibition was not repealed until 1933. The interesting thing about all of this is that when Prohibition went into effect on January 17, 1920, so the story goes, it took all of 59 minutes for the first known violation of the Act to occur. I think that should have been a hint that separating people from their alcoholic beverages was probably not going to work out all that well.

On October 28, 1958, John XXIII was elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. On the same day in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis ended with the world relieved that there was still a world in existence. And on October 28, 1965, construction on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was completed. Building of the arch had begun on February 12, 1963.

And those are just the things that strike me as interesting on a quick read-through of the list of events for October 28. Just in those things that interested me most, there are possibilities for at least 9 or 10 potential blog posts lurking, more than that if you consider side topics suggested by the different events. Side topics such as my own experiences in earthquakes (having lived pretty much all my life in California, I've had a few expereinces with quakes). Or the whole question, posed by Prohibition, of whether or not it is really possible to legislate moraltiy.

You get the idea. I could have chosen any day of the year. Wikipedia has an entry for each day of the year with events, birthdays of the famous and the not-necessarily-so-famous, and a list of those (theoretically) famous people who died on that day. Or, instead of a day of the month, I could have chosen to look at the page for a year. Or a year in movies, or in music, or in television. That is one thing about Wikipedia - there's a lot of information there if you're willing to fact check, and not take Wiki's word at face value. For example, if I were writing a serious piece on any of the topics I've named above, I would have made sure to fact check names, dates, and locations, at the very least.

There is more than one way to arrive at topics to blog about. But, as methods go, I like my Wikipedia method a lot more than going off in search of writing prompts that are all to often either silly or way too personal to write about on a blog that God and everybody can see if they want.

Not that I don't get personal in my blogging from time to time. But, you know, TMI is a real problem on the Internet, and in blogs, and some of the blog prompts I've seen can potentially send the writer places I'm really not willing to go in my blogging.

Which, I suppose, brings up another interesting topic for a blog, one that I might use one day: How much information, really, is too much information to share with the whole world in a blog post or a comment on Facebook or a message board or in a comment on someone else's blog?


Stay tuned. I just might tackle that subject one day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ACPL Author Fair

Here's one more plug for the Author Fair, Saturday, Nov. 9 from noon to 4 p.m. at the downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library. There should be 62 authors, maybe even more, who will have information about their books. The Bookmark will be selling the books, so no need to worry about bringing cash, because they take credit cards. I will be on a panel discussion about e-publishing, and that starts at 3 p.m. and runs until 3:50 p.m. Dean Robinson, of Summit City Noise will be at my table during that time. Talk to him about his work.

My books Served Cold: Tales of Revenge and Redemption and Anything For Georgetown And Other Stories will be available for purchase. I will also be giving away FREE SAMPLES of the latest erotic romance I'm working on. You can also enter for a chance to win one or both of my titles. "Served" is what I call semi-autobiographical revenge fantasy fiction. If you've ever pissed me off, you might be a character in one of these stories. A former bully from my middle school/high school days ends up being a character in one of the stories, and he ends up dying in a plane crash. (The plane crashes into the high school I attended and postpones classes for a while--obviously a fantasy of mine.)

"Anything" is erotic fiction focusing on the fetishes of spanking and tickling. So if you are into unique foreplay, you might want to give this one a shot.

Friday, November 1, 2013

One of My Biggest Fears

I came across a picture on my Facebook feed today, and I should have saved it, but I didn't. On the left was a flabby, tattooed guy, who looked like he was taking a "selfie." On the right was a chiseled, nearly skinny guy with guns draped all over him. The caption on the left said, "this is sexy." The caption on the right said, "this is not." I frankly thought both pictures were gross-looking and said so. The flabby guy was unappealing, because he was flabby and tattooed, the chiseled guy looked a little too skinny, and the guns didn't help.

So what does this have to do with one of my biggest fears? Well, I'm afraid of becoming morbidly obese. I'm already obese. My BMI is right on the borderline. I've been trying to eat better, and I've definitely been exercising more. I've been eating at least two servings of vegetables/fruits a day since the doctor said I could eat what I wanted after I had my surgery. But I know how I can be, and I'm scared. It seems like the only way I can lose weight is on the Atkins diet. But I don't exactly enjoy eating a bunch of meat. But I notice that I do feel different. Sometimes it's hard to eat a lot of meat, and I end up not eating a whole lot during a day, because the thought of eating protein is tiresome. So I try to have a variety of protein: fish, pork, red meat, poultry. I try and prepare it ahead of time. I've been using the Crock Pot a lot more. I put a roast in it before I go to work, then when I come home, I have a hot piece of meat waiting for me. So I've been having a good chunk of roast with a salad, usually. Or, I'll have chunks of baked chicken breast with a salad. Lots of salad. And the other day I bought some cranberries, because they are low in carbohydrates. They are pretty tart, and I use stevia, which is calorie, carb-free and natural, to sweeten them up a bit. Today, or rather yesterday, I didn't do too well food-wise. But I've realized that when I indulge, it really doesn't make me feel as good. I have to be careful eating greasy foods. Soda has become a laxative. So that incentive is helping me to eat a bit better.

And then there are some people I know.

I've lost two friends to complications from morbid obesity. I lost a third friend last month. The family is not sure if she died of a heart attack, an overdose, or if she had throat cancer. Yes, she was very overweight. The family may never know. I know people who are morbidly obese. I see people all the time who are morbidly obese. And maybe this is not politically correct, but I'm getting tired of seeing really fat people. And that includes me. I don't like my belly. I've always had a bit of one, even when I was skinny. I think it may be something I'll have to live with. I have my mother's torso, and I have my father's skinny calves. I may never get down to 110 pounds again. That's okay. But I know I've damaged my body. I had surgery earlier this spring to remove a good-sized polyp and half of my colon. The surgery was expensive. I recovered well; nearly three months later, I was walking around at Cedar Point. But the surgery scared me. I'm wondering what else is going to go wrong with me. I hope I have better insurance by then.

But the photo I saw on Facebook really kind of bothered me. But I guess I shouldn't let it bother me. Everyone has a different standard of what they find attractive. Some women like guys with lots of tattoos, some like facial hair, some like tall guys, some like short guys, bookish-looking guys, biker guys, athletes, and so forth. But the flabby guy being described as being sexy really did kind of get on my nerves. I'm thinking it was posted probably by some fat guy, fed up with seeing chiseled male models. I guess it might be the way I feel when I see some really skinny chick with large breasts. I know they are implants, because naturally skinny women usually don't have huge breasts.

I know I can change my body. Some people have been saying I've lost weight, even though the scale hasn't been proving it. But maybe the scale is wrong. It frequently says "error" when I get on it, and I have to weigh myself two or three times and see what the number says. When I was going to the gym regularly last spring, someone asked me if I was losing weight. I wasn't, but I had to have been toning up.

I've seen "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" several times, and when I went to Meijer's, they had a copy of it. So I bought it, and I'm in the process of watching it for the second time tonight. The message makes a lot of sense, and I have got to get a juice. I really want a Breville juicer, but I don't think I can afford a $300 appliance right now. I'll probably have to settle for a cheaper model, and just DO IT--that is, start juicing.

It's getting so when I see a person of average weight, or is actually skinny, I almost have to stare. Because it's the exception anymore. Someone I know went on a trip and a relative asked her if she was going to go on disability. This person said no, even though she's unemployed for most of the year. She says she knows she needs to lose weight, and she just needs a couple of months (her words) to get into shape. Trust me--she's going to need more than a couple of months. She needs to go on "The Biggest Loser." And I work three jobs and I exercise way more than she does. What the hell does she do all day while she's collecting unemployment that she can't fit 15 minutes of exercise in every day? Since I've been teaching more, the gym at school is closed by the time I am done with my day. So I drive into my driveway, and I jog around the block just north of my house. Sometimes I go around the other block. If I take the long way, it's seven tenths of a mile. If I take the shorter block, it's a half mile. I try and do this four times a week. If I take the long way, I've added nearly three miles of jogging to my exercise plan. If I take the short way, it's two miles. Either way, I'm increasing my exercising.

But I don't like the way my body looks (well, actually, it's my torso. I'm okay with almost everything else) and I've learned that I'm really sensitive to carbs. Eating protein and veggies definitely made me feel different. The slightest amount of carbs cause my body to shut down, or else just hold on to the carbs for dear life. I bought strips to see if I was burning ketones. I can't eat more than 50 grams of carbs a day. If I eat more, the strips won't change. If I want to see the strips change color, it's about 30-40 grams of carbs I can eat, and no more. I need to get more strips, because I'm out.

So this isn't politically correct, but fat acceptance is starting to piss me off a bit. If we make it okay for people to weigh 400 pounds, and to roll around in those electric shopping carts and scooters, what the hell will we as a nation look like in 20-30 years? Yes, maybe women can't be a size two, but that doesn't mean it's okay to be a size 28 either. People are screaming about Obamacare/ACA, but we really, truly don't give a shit about our health. We don't want to pay for our own, and we don't want to pay for others.

But think about that the next time you look at your paycheck. We are all paying for it. Sure, people pay into disability, but if you allow yourself to get too fat to work, why do you get to watch cable television all damn day while I scramble working three jobs and grade papers on my day off and try to pay my bills, and not have spare cash?

This is a long post, but it's something that's been bothering me for a long time. I don't like the way I look, and I don't like looking at jumbo-sized men. I'm not attracted to jumbo-sized men. And I know the kind of man I I would like to hang out with will not want to hang out with someone like me. Because I'm too big. So I've got to work on myself, both inside and out. Because I'm terrified of being morbidly obese. I'm surrounded by cautionary tales.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Like Fifty Shades of Grey? Check Out the Allen County Public Library Author Fair!!!

The Allen County Public Library is a great resource here in northern Indiana. It's one of the top libraries in the United States for genealogy research, and has a huge selection of videos, especially in the downtown location.

Because it tries to use funds wisely, they host an annual author fair. This is to gather authors wanting to promote their books all in one area, all in one day, instead of having authors set up individual book signings/readings.

Some of the authors are self-published, but some have actual honest-to-God publishers as well. It's a chance to meet authors, talk about writing, and get information about self-publishing and epublishing. One author dismissed self-publishing as "printing." The majority of the authors I talked to for a story that will appear in the November 1 issue of the Fort Wayne Reader thought that self-publishing and epublishing is a great thing, and will enable more writers to get their stuff out there. Like Amanda Hocking. Haven't heard of her? She writes paranormal romance. She sent her stuff off to all the major New York publishers, who turned her down flat. She published on Amazon, sent her stuff to book bloggers, and shortly thereafter, became a millionaire. THEN New York came calling. If I'd been Hocking, I would have asked for even more money, and told whichever publisher I went with they had to take out full page ads in several newspapers across the country apologizing for not publishing me in the first place, and apologizing to every writer they turned down.

I will have my books there. Yes, books. Served Cold: Tales of Revenge and Redemption, is a collection of short stories I wrote when I was absolutely furious. A former acquaintance pushed me a bit too far. So I blew up at her on Facebook. Then I called her and left a nasty message on voicemail. And I STILL  wasn't over it, so I sat down and wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. When I ended up with was a semi-autobiographical collection of short stories where I took the events and made them end quite differently. Bullies die in plane crashes or end up being driven to suicide. Former friends are blackmailed. And ungentlemanly men are tricked into thinking they will get a bullet in the back of the head, instead of getting a blow job. So yeah, these aren't love stories, by any means. But, if you've ever wanted to see the underdog get even, check it out. The Bookmark will have a table set up at the fair so you can buy my books, or, you can get the e-book version here and the print version here. The e-book you can find on Smashwords.com, but deactivate the adult filter, or you won't find it. I call this genre, "semi-autobiographical revenge fantasy fiction." There's a small chance that if you've ever pissed me off, you're in this book, under a fictitious name, of course.

I also write erotic fiction, or what some people call "smut." I write that under the pen name of Janell Elizabeth Meyer. That collection is called Anything For Georgetown And Other Stories. At least two male readers said this was better than Fifty Shades of Grey. Since Shades is so poorly written/edited, I'm not sure how much of a compliment that was. But for what it's worth, the excerpts of my erotic fiction have had more than 60,000 views on short-fiction.co.uk. If you want to purchase this, click here for the e-book, and here for the print version. Yes, you have to deactivate the adult filter for this one too. Hopefully, both links will come right up. They did when I tested them.

And incidentally, the top-selling writer at last year's author fair was me. Self-published me. It probably didn't hurt that I was running a two for $20 deal. But this year, I'm giving away samples of my latest erotic work in progress for FREE. Yes, free while supplies last. I'll also have some chocolate as well. So stop out and see me Saturday, November 9 from noon to 4 p.m., downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library. I'm serving on a panel from 3 to 3:50 p.m., so Dean Robinson of Summit City Noise is helping me out by being at my table while I'm busy talking about my epublishing experiences. Come by and say hello to me, and/or to Dean.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scarlett O'Hara, I Feel Your Pain

Gone With the Wind was not my favorite book as a child. Nor as a young adult. I had to wait until I was considerably older to appreciate it. It's the same with the movie. Mom used to drag me along whenever it was re-released, and I remember sitting in the Embassy Theatre as a child, watching the epic unfold on screen and wondering what the big deal was about. I had to become an adult to appreciate the film, too. It's not my favorite film, but I can admire the work that went into it.

The only way I'm like Scarlett physically is that I'm a brunette. The other way is that my parents sheltered me to a certain extent. I certainly wasn't rich, but I think my mother wanted to protect me from harm as much as she could. A bout with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis made my early years a bit of a mess, and I think it anguished my mother. As a result, whatever I wanted, I got, as long as my mom could afford it. I relied on my mom to make things happen, to fight my battles, and as a result, when I really needed to fight, or stand up for myself, I didn't know how.

So that's the way I can relate to Scarlett. When my mother died, I had to take care of the house, pay property taxes, car insurance, house insurance, plus my own bills. I ran though the money she left for me. And it's not like I had a career or anything. My finances continued to get worse and worse, and I didn't really have anyone to help me. Scarlett, after she returns from Atlanta and faces trying to manage a house and servants, thinks that her mother should have taught her how to do something practical, like chop cotton or learn how to split wood. However, Ellen O'Hara thought life would have gone on for Scarlett the way it had for her. She'd get married in her late teens, and end up running a plantation. However, the South collapsed.

In my situation, the economy, both mine and the country's, collapsed. While I am not in fat city, I hear tales of adults with education and work experience who have been idle for anywhere from one to three years. Look, I understand not wanting to work retail. Totally understand that. If you have say, $50,000 saved, I understand how you can cut your expenses back to the bone, and live on the hump of savings, But you do realize that the biggest of humps don't last forever, as Rhett Butler once said. Not having the luxury of savings, I got out there and looked for work--work I didn't like, work where I knew I'd be hired because I wasn't tattooed and pierced on/in every square inch of my body, hired because even though it was part time, I needed work.

And for me it's a bit harder. Sure, Scarlett had a bunch of people to support, but she also had what I don't: a tiny waist and plenty of charm. I am invisible to men, unless of course, they are dirty-minded, borderline crazy, or potentially dangerous. Scarlett was able to steal Frank Kennedy away from her sister, use his money to pay taxes on Tara, and after Rhett got out of jail, he helped her buy a sawmill. I don't know any men with money, and if I did, they wouldn't be spending it on me. So applause to Scarlett O'Hara, but at the same time, she didn't really do it by herself. She had a couple of investors. Me, I have no one except for me. What am I willing to do? I'm working three jobs and planning to return to school next fall. It's going to be student loans and scholarships for me, but if a master's will enable me to teach at more than one college, even on a part time basis, I'll be doing something I like. I'll have a set schedule and weekends off, and one day, it might even lead to a permanent teaching position somewhere.

So Scarlett, I understand. Our mothers wanted nothing but the best for us. But despite everything they did, somehow it just didn't turn out the way they had planned. I could have made better financial decisions when I was younger, but wouldn't we all say something like that? I don't envision myself rich, but we both wanted the same thing: money and security. I will probably never be rich, but one thing I know: I'll have to borrow money from a government or get scholarships in order to get there. No businessman husbands or rich gamblers will take a chance on me. So Scarlett, you were lucky, in a way. Me, I'll have to figure something else out.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

If Fort Wayne is So Great, Why Do People Keep Leaving?

I'm becoming more and more suspicious of people who want to try and turn Fort Wayne into a big city. They frequently have grand plans, but not enough money or people to support it, and then they take off.

There was someone here a few years ago who had an idea to rent meeting space to local business owners who wouldn't normally have space to meet in. Here's the problem: we have way too many places to meet for free. The mall, Barnes and Noble, restaurants, coffee shops. Plus, people are cheap, and Fort Wayne people are way cheap.

More recently, I attended a meeting for a locally-based online publication. I expressed a desire to do short videos of local events/businesses. The person with the idea for the website was very receptive to my making videos. So I started on one for a downtown business. I ran into both camera problems and video software editing problems, and I've apologized to the business owner for the delay. However, the website, which was supposed to be up in late August, wasn't. I'm still trying to find it online, because supposedly it's up now. I asked the person who started it to send me the link, which I've yet to receive. I probably won't get it, because the person is moving to Chicago. This person also told me plans were in place to get someone here to take over the site.

And it seems like it never fails. The people who want to push the good parts of Fort Wayne seem to do it right before they more away.

Some food for thought: we have some cheap real estate here, and that would be a great tool for promoting the city. If you want to buy a home, come here. We've got 'em.

But here's the downside of that. More people come into the city, the more crowded it is. Lots of people and limited housing creates crowding, and also drives up the price of real estate. Fort Wayne may not be a cool place to live, but it is affordable. Are we willing to give up affordability for coolness?

Didn't think so.

There ARE good qualities about this city, but this isn't the place to be if you want to be an actress, or a model. Writers can work from anywhere, but I would imagine if you live in the New York City area, it's easier to walk into a major publisher and get some attention than merely sending an email. It takes money to live in a big city. You don't necessarily have to be wealthy, but in NYC, it certainly helps. You get less for your money in a big city.

Fort Wayne seems to be fairly normal. We have crime, but I don't think it is as crazy as some places. The weather can be dreary in the winter, but we've been blessed with a pretty great fall. We are three to four hours away from Chicago, Indianapolis, Toledo, South Bend (Go Fighting Irish!), Detroit, and if you want to visit another country, you only need to cross the bridge or take the tunnel to Windsor, right next to Detroit. It's possible here to buy a house here if you are single. We have a great zoo, one of the top libraries for genealogy research in the country, several public swimming pools, sports teams, festivals and we now have a Costco. I gripe about this town, but there's some positives about this town.

But if I ever get the money, and feel confident enough to make the move, I'd like to move to Toronto, or at least the Toronto area. That being said, I'm not one of these people who are going to come up with a "Make Fort Wayne Cooler" campaign. Fort Wayne is what it is. But if you DO have an idea for Fort Wayne, could you stick around and get it going first? Because coming up with something, then taking off makes it seem like you didn't care much about the town in the first place.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fright Night Fort Wayne (Plus Fashion Parade Zombie Walk Edition!)

Through some sort of fluke, I was only scheduled for four hours today, so I was able to check out Fright Night in downtown Fort Wayne. Actually, it started at 10 a.m., but has events going on all day up until midnight. I'm not much of a Halloween enthusiast, or a party-goer, but I figured it would be something to see at least. Here now are some photos from the event, plus a Fashion Parade Zombie Walk commentary. Enjoy!



These pumpkins were in front of MKM Design on Wayne Street.












The cars were part of the car show at Cindy's Diner. Yes, that is Carroll Shelby's signature. I thought the pumpkin buggy was too cute.

Every little kid's dream: to look dead and ride on dad's shoulders in a parade.

Funny how "parenting" and "prison" both begin with the letter P.

That's not a zombie: that's what your uninsured average American looks like when just released from the hospital.

If he didn't win for "scariest clown eyes ever" he damn well should have.

Cutest zombie EVER!

The 80s are both dead AND alive.

These guys were busier than shit!

The baby was so scary, they HAD to put a blanket over it.

Thanks for telling us, but we've known that for years.

Miss, could you spare a child-sized heart?

This costume was not as effective as it could have been. Some "Dr. Who" reference, I guess.

He's delighted, but she sure isn't.

 
Remember that show MTV did on furries, or fuzzies or whatever the hell they are? How can anyone think these creatures are sexually attractive?

"Can't talk now. I'm busy being in a parade and texting you."

I want my baby bones, baby bones, baby bones ... Chili's baby bone ribs...

Actually talked to this guy. He really IS that gaunt.

That's why it's easy to get away with murder in Fort Wayne. The cops are chasing live dead people.