Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sparks ~ Five Reasons I Heart New York




You might run into a dude dressed like Spidey at Grand Central, busking so he can pick up some new tights.


You can hang out with Harry Houdini at The Jewish Museum for your 40th birthday. (When he's in town, of course.)



Or you can have a blue Christmas in Times Square...


Though possibly not as blue as this fella from the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA, a few years ago.


But you can always warm yourself up with a spoonful of Stephen, as seen on this poster on a dumpster near NYU.

All pictures above are mine, mine, all mine.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Milestone, A Button, and a Poll

The Milestone...

Balthazar, pulling a face, & Goth Mom
So, my baby graduated high school this weekend. On August 11, I move him up to college for a pre-semester workshop, so he can acclimate to studies at the college level and start building his circle of friends and fellow miscreants.

This whole year I worked with him on the college search and application process. He filled out all his applications online, I looked them over, helped him revise his essays (OMG, SO MANY ESSAYS!!!!!), paid for the application and associated fees, etc. (His dad, from whom I am divorced, chipped in for half.) My point in mentioning this is that I've been aware, for some time now, that my little birdling is poised to fly the nest. But that future is now really, really near. Like, seven weeks away, near.

Holy shit.

I have to say, I hardly ever see The Kid anymore anyway; now that he's done with school, he's almost always out with his friends (he suggests this is his way of helping me to prepare for when he's away - he's all give, that guy). I've been on "stay-cation" the past few weeks and, spending so much time at home, became aware of how very quiet the place is when he's not around. At one point, my eyes fell on the picture below and I remembered other quiet moments, first thing in the morning, when he was a baby...

Baby Balthy
I'd awake and tip-toe to his bedroom. Invariably, he'd be wide awake himself, contemplatively sucking on his pacifier, either lazing on his back or standing at the rail of his crib, his gaze directed toward his window. Then I'd inadvertently betray my presence with a creak of the door, or a clumsy footfall, and his head would swivel in my direction. He'd smile so wide his pacifier would fall out of his mouth (and often, onto the floor) and he'd throw his arms out to me in a wordless demand that I pick him up. Or, as in the picture, he'd scrabble up from his reclining position, to make sure I knew he was awake, and do the demanding arm-flinging whatsit then. He was just so damned happy to see me. The memories conjured by this picture struck me vividly, the silence around me swelled, and sobs overwhelmed me for the next couple of minutes.

Thank God he didn't catch me crying, else he'd have treated me to his typical smart-assery. The other day, as we passed each other, I planted a kiss on his cheek and told him I'd miss him when he went away. He patted my shoulder, saying, "There, there, Mother. There, there." Little tosser.

But enough about him. Let's move on to:

The Button and the Poll...

So I've been toying with the idea of creating a blog button, should any of my dear readers feel inclined to grab 'em for their blogs/Web sites. Here's what I've come up with:

#1 - Asymmetrical Blog Button

#2 - Symmetrical Blog Button

In the poll over on the upper right-hand side of the page, please cast your vote for either button image #1, #2, or choose option #3, "Something else altogether." If you select #3, please be sure to list in the comments section of this post any suggestions for a "Some Dark Romantic" blog button. The poll won't be open for long, so please vote soon. Thanks, y'all!

Edited to add: I see #2's in the lead - is it because of the alignment of the words or the color of the pic?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Snarks ~ There's Not Chairs!

"Snarks" is another new feature I'm bringing to my bloggy-blog—it's basically my chosen monthly moment to bitch about stuff that irks me. (Yes, I wrote, "monthly." Make of that what you will.)

The title for this post comes from a sentence once thoughtlessly uttered in my presence: "There's chairs over there."

No.

What's wrong with this sentence, people? Let's break apart that first word, "there's." It is the word "there" with an apostrophe and an "s." There are two very basic and common uses for the apostrophe in the English language:

1. To show possession
2. To show omission (as in the case of contractions)

I believe the speaker intended the second thing; that is to say, she meant the contraction for "there is."

This would have been fine if the rest of the sentence had been, "...a chair over there." Breaking it down, what she actually said was, "There is chairs over there."

No. No no no no no. There's NOT chairs  over there. Trust me on this.

"There are  chairs over there," yes.

"There is  chairs over there," no.

NO, DAMN IT.

Gah, you hear this sloppy English all the time, everywhere—sales people do it, politicians do it, even writers and educators  do it! It's uttered on the news, for pity's sake! THE NEWS!  It's so pervasive that people default to it unwittingly.

Well, stop it.

There's another mistaken use of the apostrophe + s, which is a perverted attempt at pluralization that also pisses me off. Banana's, nut's, or chocolate's = wrong. Bananas, nuts, or chocolates = right (oh, so deliciously right!).  See what I did there? I magically multiplied the number of comestibles without abusing any apostrophes. (And not apostrophe's, for the love of all that's holy.)

To see more shocking examples of maltreated apostrophes, check out the Apostrophe Catastrophes blog, if you can bear such horrors.

And if you need a bit of help sorting out other apostrophe uses in this hellish era, check out this nifty little number:


Or take a look at Grammar Girl's essay on the apostrophe here.

Come on, folks—let us all fight the good fight. BE the change you want to see in the world. We can make it a better place, one well-placed apostrophe at a time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

WIBWIW ~ Who Am I? Who are you?

The WIBWIW of this post's title comes from this new feature I'm introducing to mah little bloggy-blog: Whatever, I'll Blog What I Want! Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

In today's post I'm borrowing an idea from my fellow blogger and all around nice gal, L.G. Keltner of Writing Off the Edge. Back in May she asked her readers to do something I found quite titillating - namely, she asked us to describe ourselves in one sentence, with no limits as to how many words we could use.

Intriguing concept, right? How often are we asked to encapsulate all our thoughts, our aspirations, our strengths and weaknesses, in short, everything which makes us unique individuals, in just one sentence? Unless you're coming up with a profile for an online dating site or crafting a tagline for yourself for some arcane purpose, my guess is "never."

L.G. got the ball rolling for us by writing of herself, "I am a geeky writer, wife, and mother who doesn't have her head in the clouds because it's out there amongst the stars." Which is a brilliant self-descriptor, though she fails to mention she sports a glorious mane of titian locks that I'd kill to possess. (Don't worry, L.G., I'm not gonna scalp ya. For one thing, I don't know where you live. For another, as I've said elsewhere, I'm lazy as hell.)

My answer to this challenge, which I posted in her comments section, was "I'm a sleep-deprived lunatic, self-medicating through her mid-life crises with chocolate and cabernet sauvignon, while freaking out over how she's going to pay for her son's college fees starting next month (next week!!!)."

This clearly shows what I was going through then, and still am: money and life worries that I cope with by treating myself like shit. Lovely. Well, in the back burner of my frazzled mind is the thought that I have to take better care of myself because no one's going to do it for me, so, you know - baby steps to a better me. I'll either get there or I'll leave a chunky corpse that's three shrouds to the wind.

On a better day, I'd describe myself as follows: "I'm a compassionate, sensual, and creative soul whose work will bring pleasure to many." That's better, right? More optimistic, anyway.

So, how about it? In the comments below, describe yourself in one sentence, however long.

Go on, then - I dare ya.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Three Awards, One Post!

Over the past coupla weeks three groovy gals tossed awards in my general direction and I'm only now getting to working on them. *Tsk*

The "One Lovely Blog Award" comes to me from Elise Fallson. Merci bien, Elise!


The Rules for this award:
1. Name, thank, and link back to the blogger
2. List seven facts about yourself
3. Pass the award to 15 other bloggers and leave them comments on their blogs to alert them (I'll do this at the end of this post.)

Here are 7 facts about me:
1. Though I was born and raised in NY, because my parents spoke their native Portuguese at home, I had to take ESL during the first few years of elementary school.
2. No matter how much hot coffee I drink, I never quite wake up till I've taken a steamy shower.
3. I read tarot cards from the age of 16 till I was about 32.
4. I also started smoking at the age of 16 but haven't managed to want to quit those just yet.
5. I break for vampires. (Woof!)
6. For some bizarre reason, I count steps as I climb them. This may have started when my Kid was young, but I can't be sure it's not 'cause I'm just insane.
7. Speaking of vampires and counting, I just adore the song Eight Beautiful Notes, as sung by Count von Count from Sesame Street. It's a hell of a lot of fun to sing, and an excellent example of an ascending and descending harmonic minor scale (my FAVE!).


OK, award #2 is the "Fabulous Blog Ribbon" bestowed upon me by L.G. Keltner of Writing Off the Edge. Thanks, L.G.!

Here are the rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Name five of your most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.
3. Name five things you love.
4. Name five things you hate.
5. Pass the Ribbon on to five other bloggers. (Leave them a comment to notify them of this.)

Five of my most fabulous moments:
1. Winning a poetry contest in fifth grade.
2. Learning that my English teacher (from both 9th & 12th grades) has used my work as an example of good writing in her classes (I heard this from two of my cousins who attended the same high school, maybe five or more years apart from one another). That blew me away.
3. Winning the role of the Narrator in my first college's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
4. Seeing this blog go live and folks stopping by to read it.
5. Every time I buy a drink and get asked for ID. :-D

Five Things I Love:
1. My family
2. The talents God gave me
3. Reading
4. The Atlantic Ocean
5. Mojitos

Five Things I Hate:
1. When people crack jokes at others' expenses.
2. When folks condemn, rather than critique intelligently. (For example, "That sucked." -vs- "I thought the plot weak and I couldn't connect with the main character's motivation.")
3. Waxing. (Sorry, fellas; it's a fact, Jack, and I ain't takin' it back.)
4. Cleaning.
5. Most reality TV.


And the "Liebster Blog Award" is the 3rd and last for today's post, given me by Andrea Teagan of The Enchanted Writer. Thanks, Andrea!

The rules are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or fewer.
5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

So, here are all of my nominees, who fulfill the criteria for all three awards above and are welcome to claim them all, if they choose:

Random Stream of Consciousness
* Pixies Don't Have Wings
Abso-fraggin-lutely
Bouquet of Books
Chock Full of Words
Dina Thanki
Geek Banter
Holly's Horrorland
Semi-coherent Thoughts
Just Another Creative Writing Blog
Living In An Estrogenic Flux
Pish Posh
Shouldn't Life Be More Than This?
Tonja's Musings
The DM's Screen

Right, so - the hour grows late and all the informing will have to wait till 'morrow. Goodnight, Blogosphere. OXOXO


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tuneage ~ You Bred Raptors?

You Bred Raptors? pump up the Poe-jam.
Folks, for this "Tuneage" blog post, I'm not asking y'all a question, but telling you about these terrific New York City instrumentalists whose name is already appropriately phrased to pose the question to a Jeopardy answer. (OK, you'd have to preface it with, "Who are..." but the upspeak inflection's already there, which was generous of them to provide.)

You Bred Raptors? are a trio of modern-day minstrels and dinosaur aficionados, with a long-standing tradition of playing in NYC's finest subway stations. Jamming on drums, cello, and an electric 8-string bass (woof! ), these guys compel large groups of cynical and tired New Yorkers to slow down on their treks from one train to the next so they can bathe in YBR's funky goodness. (Um...you know what I mean.) More impressively, they manage to charm us out of our hard-earned coin, which is no mean feat when it comes to all us jaded straphangers.

I told the story of how I "discovered" You Bred Raptors? on my friend Ja's online radio show back in April - you can listen to that broadcast for free and snicker at my dorky voice by clicking here and selecting the play button, comme ça:


I felt a bit awkward during my portion of the interview because I was having some phone issues that night and missed bits and pieces of what was said (and wound up repeating some of Mr. Andlu's words, at one point). BUT, on the bright side, I did manage to coherently give props to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, in which I was engaged at the time, so YAY, ME! Again, click here to listen to the interview with Epileptic Peat (founder of the band and ass-kicking bass player) and my own fine self, but be advised the interview happened on 4/20, a huge day for fans of the MaryJane (or so I'm told). Pot references, as well as other adult themes and language, abound. (Some of the naughtiness escaped from my own lips, but 'twas elegantly uttered, if I do say so myself.)

If the above isn't your bag, here's a summary of how I "met" YBR?: last November, I went to see a charitable production by The Bedlam Ensemble. They staged and choreographed dances to some stories and poems by one of my favorite authors, Edgar A. Poe. You Bred Raptors? were the band for the show (I took that pic up top on my craptastic cellphone-camera that night). With their masks (which they regularly use when they play), they perfectly accompanied the enactment of The Cask of Amontillado (during which the actors made us audience members get up and dance, so as to be part of the Carnival feel). It was a fantastic show and, thanks to the talented ensemble and music by YBR, a gorgeous night.

So if you're yearning for some new tunes to boogie, think, or just bob your head to, do check out the You Bred Raptors? Web site - it's totally worth the click! (Plus, I think you save a baby Velociraptor if you do. Won't someone please think of the baby Velociraptors???.)

Explicit language/themes in video, below. Just sayin'.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Writerly Things ~ Collage Me, If You Can!

These are a few of my writerly things...
On a recent visit to my friend Andrea Teagan's blog (The Enchanted Writer), I read with pleasure her post "How to Make a Story Inspiration Collage." The basic gist of the project is to make a visual representation of a current work in progress (or WIP) and have it readily visible for when you're writing and feel yourself getting a bit stuck. The instructions are simple and I remember thinking that just going through the process of making the collage would probably stir up all sorts of ideas for your WIP. My next thought was, "Hang on; I totally made one of these for my (as yet unpublished) novel, Bedeviled !

I dunno about y'all but, as I write, I tend to need firm mental images of real-life folks to fill in these sort of abstract characters who're clambering out of my head and onto paper (yes, paper, as I tend to write my first drafts longhand). They're actors, usually, though sometimes they're folks with whom I'm personally acquainted - which isn't to say I'm basing the characters on the folks, just that these are the visuals I've got when I'm writing the characters.

Anyway, at some point that I worked on Bedeviled, I felt myself stall and so I put together a collage which, I must admit, is not as grand as the collage Andrea posted on her site but worked the necessary writerly mojo for me. There are two panels to this collage, which I've scanned and elaborated upon, below. My character's names come first (followed by the names of the dudes I visualize as I write, in parentheses).

Clockwise from the top: Ardos (Thomas Gibson); some random beach, somewhere; Father Gianni (William Hurt); me and my Sis on a wintry Robert Moses Beach, Long Island, NY; Gavin (Gerard Butler); and Mike (Samuel West).


Clockwise from the upper left: Cadzick (John Cusack); me and my Sis on her alma mater's campus (I envision this space as belonging to the chapel in my story); Gabe (Matthew McConaughey); Rafe (my friend, singer-songwriter Tama Waipara); a snippet from some magazine which perfectly summarized the basic themes of the story; a clawed hand belonging to no one in particular...as far as I know.

I've been thinking of Bedeviled as a supernatural thriller for quite some time but, lately, have desired to take it in more of a romantic direction - which is to say, rather than starting with the Main Character's love life at its crisis point (and having very little interaction between her and her fella except for the beginning and end of the tale), I want to tell the same crazy story while also showing the developing relationship between Madeleine (my main chick) and Gavin (her main squeeze). So, yeah; I've a fair bit of revising to do (and then some - what I've got in mind is a gargantuan process which will undoubtedly take me all summer to complete). Am I daunted? Hells, yeah. Can I make it happen? Sho, 'nuff. Probably. (God willing!)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Blog Props ~ It's a Stitchy Thing!

On Monday, I blogged about one of my favorite author's recent releases. It felt natural to next praise the blog of a friend I made because of that author.

Sara Leigh Merrey is a fellow Fruitbat (fan of Christopher Moore). When I first joined the Boardello, back in 2007, she was one of the regular posters whose style I immediately took to - clever, fun, and caring. At the time, Sara Leigh owned a brick and mortar store, Scarlet Thread, which sold any and all things needed to do canvas work for charted and non-charted needlepoint projects.

Now, you have to understand - I flatter myself that I'm talented with words, not my hands. (Uh...you know what I mean.) I can spin a yarn, metaphorically, but the best I've managed to achieve with actual yarn amounts to a few unevenly knitted scarves. Anyway, this kind of crafting was not my forte, so the pictures she occasionally posted of her gorgeous projects made me green with stitchy envy.

"Lois," canvas work by Sara Leigh Merrey
Then the economic downturn of 2008 happened. Sara Leigh had to close down her shop. Buzzkill. I bussed my way down to Virginia to lend moral support, as well as hands for helping with the packing up of the shop's contents, one weekend that June. While there, I fell in love with one of Sara Leigh's pieces, which she'd framed and hung in the store. I convinced her to let me buy it and now "Lois" hangs out in my office, to cheer me when the going gets tough.

Sara Leigh was understandably down, but never out - with fellow stitcher and soon-to-be business partner, Dawn, she toiled steadily and faithfully to bring her shop to the Interwebs, and with it, her blog.

The blog
In It's a Stitchy Thing, Sara Leigh blogs about, "...all the aspects of canvaswork: the materials, the designers, the tools, and the people who do this fascinating needlework." So why do I, a maladroit wanna-be, dig this blog? It's all about the colors, baby. I can't resist the gorgeous pics, the glorious fibers, the geometric patterns and designs:

Sands of Time ~ Calypso
Diamond Delight 9




Red, White, & Blue Panel
American Beauty
Crown of Hearts
Shop Scarlet Thread online!

So, Dear Readers, the crafty among you may enjoy checking out It's a Stitchy Thing for the scoop on what's hot and happening in the canvas work world. And if the stitching bug bites ya, check out the online store, Scarlet Thread, where all of the above (and more!) can be found and purchased!


All pictures, except for "Lois," belong to Sara Leigh Merrey and have been posted with her kind permission.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dark Romance #5 ~ Christopher Moore's "Sacré Bleu"

Sacré Bleu et moi.
Y'all, in this brief study of dark romance I will shamelessly pimp the recent release of one of my favorite authors, Christopher Moore. Because I really think you should all pick up this New York Times Best Seller (#3!) tout de suite, this will be the first study I'll post sans spoilers (which pains me like you'd not believe, but damn it - it's for art!).

Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art  is about the color blue. And Impressionism/Post-Impressionism. And lots of shagging.

There, I bet that last part got your attention. (It always gets mine.)

Specifically, it's a bit of whimsically comical weirdness which follows young baker/painter Lucien Lessard and his BFF Henri Toulouse-Lautrec as they bumble about late 19th century Paris in search of answers to various questions: did their buddy, Vincent van Gogh, really kill himself? Why did the love of Lucien's life disappear and then reappear, seemingly out of the blue (if you'll pardon the pun)? Why are so many other artists dying of "locomotor ataxia" (a 19th C. doctor's euphemism for syphilis)? And what's up with the mysterious (and creepily annoying) Colorman, who keeps pushing them to buy his ultramarine paint?

Well, I promised to avoid spoiler-land, so I'm damned if I'll tell you - you'll just have to buy this kooky exploration of art, love, inspiration, and madness to find out. (Click here to read the first few chapters.)

The dark romance of it all: for Lucien and his beloved Juliette to enjoy a happily-ever-after, they have to do some bad, bad things...like, the things which led to all of the mysteries Lucien sought to uncover in the first place. And that's the rub in this terrific tale - Moore writes so richly of Lucien's boyhood and quirky family life, of his aspirations and passions, that I desperately want things to end well for Lucien. Only, the price which must be paid for his happiness is steep. By the time I finished the book I found myself wondering if I would be able to resist sacrificing my principles for love. And shagging. (It's the shagging that really shakes my conviction.) (Oh, right; like it doesn't shake yours.)

Monsieur Moore, Barnes & Noble Union Square, April 18, 2012.
If you ever get the chance, get yourself to one of Chris' book-signings - you can't call it a reading, 'cause Author Guy don't read. Instead, he treats his fans to a bit of literary/pop-culturey stand-up and sometimes talks about the book he's just published. I'd also suggest you follow him on the Twitter (@TheAuthorGuy). But be warned - his tweets'll have you snorting cafe au lait out your nose on a regular basis, so invest in tissues.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Frankenpost!

You may be asking, "Frankenpost? What up with that, Mina?" Well, I'll tell ya - I done been tagged for awards by three hoopy froods from the Blogosphere and, because I'm old, tired, and congenitally lazy, am combining all award responsibilities into one post...and then merrily messing with them and thrusting the onus of the work onto whomever feels like signing up for it. So that's what up with that.

For all of these awards, you're supposed to write a blog post in which you thank the hep cat who nominated you, and link back to that gal or guy's blog. This I will do for all three. One award requires you to answer a series of questions, all three want you to put any number of facts about yourself and then nominate any number of others for said award (click on the respective blogs, linked below, for exact instructions on that particular award). These last two points are where I'll shirk my duties, but in a totally groovy way. Just wait, you'll see...

Thanks to Jolie Du Pre (what a friggin' awesome name!) from Precious Monsters, a blog about...well, monsters. Dudes, her 10 Interesting Ghost Facts post had me twitching for the rest of the evening, the night I checked it out. (I have this love of things creepy with a constitution perversely incapable of supporting it.) For this version of the Kreativ Blogger award, there are ten questions to answer, which I'll cover at the end of this post. You're also supposed to list ten random facts about yourself and nominate seven other bloggers for the award.


Thanks also go to L.G. Keltner of Writing Off the Edge. Her flash fiction entry for that contest in which I recently participated, Nuance, was chillingly brilliant. I suggest y'all check it out at warp speed. The Versatile Blogger award requires listing seven random facts about yourself and nominate fifteen other bloggers for the award (holy crap; fifteen!)


And finally, thanks to Chris Fries from
A Writer's Expanding and Slightly-Warped Universe, who nominated me for both the Versatile and Stylish awards (you're killing me over here, Chris). ;-) The Stylish Blogger award requires you to list seven random facts about yourself and nominate anywhere from five to fifteen other bloggers for the award.


Dang, y'all. That's a whole lotta fact-finding and nominating to tackle, wouldn't you agree? Now do you feel some pity for my poor, lazy ass? Sure you do.

OK, so; to answer the ten questions for the Kreativ Blogger award:

1. What is your fave song?
Promised You a Miracle by Simple Minds.

2.  Favorite Dessert?
Häagen-Dazs® Rocky Road Ice Cream (Oh, Lord, yes...)

3. What ticks you off?
Extremists, whether they swing to the far right or left. Either way, from what I've seen, extremists are yellers who've no interest whatever in hearing the other side of the argument, much less concede that the person on the other side of it could, just possibly, have a wee bit of a point.

4. When you're upset what do you do?
Constructive things. (You know; cry/smoke/drink.)

5. What is your favorite pet?
All my life I've wanted doggies and have yet to live somewhere they're allowed. So I've no proper answer to this question.

6. Which do you prefer black or white?
Black, baby.

7. What is your biggest fear?
Never fulfilling my potential. Oh, and rats. Euw.

8. What is your attitude?
One of resignation, I suppose.

9. What is perfection?
Rocking out with like-minded folks (especially if they're playing my tunes; that's like, WHOA!) :-)

10. What is your guilty pleasure?
Y'all, life's too long and hard, I don't believe in feeling guilty for whatever happens to bring me pleasure, when I've so little of it. But to play along with what I reckon this lame-ass question's aiming at, I'm hooked on The Jersey Shore. Satisfied?

OK, SO ~ rather than tagging folks, I'm inviting all of you to tag yourselves! (Get your minds out of the gutter, you know what I mean.) Put yourself down on the linky list below and post a comment stating 1. who you are, 2. the name of your blog, and 3. which of these awards you wish to claim. Follow the instructions for that award and then lemme know when you're done so I can check out your bad self.

Examples of what you're supposed to put in the Comment:
I'm Big Bad Wolf from "The Better to Eat You With, My Dear" and I'm Kreativ (and a bad speller)!

I'm Little Red Riding Hood from "Eat This, Wolfie!" and I'm Versatile!

I'm Grandma of "Where's That Woodsman When You Need Him?" and I'm Stylish!
Got it? Good. Now GO!

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