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Archive for February, 2012


So, tomorrow my writer’s group meets.  One of my short stories is up for review.  I’ve shared this story with a couple of friends, who told me they enjoyed it.  It’s supposed to be a funny story based on an unintentionally funny conversation that I had with my sister.  I have been told that the story is funny.

I have to admit that I am nervous.  The last time I wrote a story that was supposed to be funny, that my friends told me was funny nobody in my writer’s group thought it was funny.  They enjoyed the story, but they thought it was a drama.  I’m not sure I’ve completely recovered.

The conversation about the story was funny.  Let me explain.

The story was based on something that happened to my sister that was pretty hilarious.  She was doing routine maintenance on blood pressure equipment in the triage area of the ER when a woman, who was in the throws of labor pains, burst into the ER and gave birth in the triage area with my sister trapped in the corner.  She called me after and I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard.  I combined that event with another that I would take it over the top.  I have another friend who cannot stand needles or the sight of blood and passed out at the hospital one time when she visited a friend of hers who was in labor.

I thought combining the two events and having my main character faint in the triage area would be funny.  People had the opposite reaction and thought it was very serious.  Then the discussion took a strange turn with some of the men trying to tell me that this would never happen.  This is when things became really funny.

I was told husband and wives plan things out, go to the maternity ward and check into a nice comfy room.  Wait hours and hours, possibly even a day.  Or alternately, the woman plans a C section and goes to surgery.  Nonetheless, woman do not go to the emergency room to give birth.  At which point, all of the women cracked up and took a minute to disabuse them of this fantasy.

I haven’t returned to that story yet, but I do plan to.  And I would like to work on making it funny(er).  But tomorrow is not about this story.

Tomorrow is a new day with a new story.  It is less than 1000 words.  I am hoping to enter it into a contest soon.  *fingers crossed*

I will keep you posted.

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Jan Berenstein, co-creator of the Berenstein Bears died.  This makes me very sad.  Some of my favorite reading memories growing up were reading her books.  My favorite and one I remember best is “Inside, Outside, Upside Down.”

Yes, I know, oh the irony of a would-be writer’s fond memories of a childhood book about grammar.  But to a kid, it is not a book about grammar.  It is a book about a kid, being precocious and unknowingly getting into a bit of trouble while introducing children to the concept of prepositions and prepositional phrases.

The world of children’s literature suffered a huge loss today, but we are lucky that that we will always have the Berenstein Bear legacy in the books that she and her husband created.

Thank you Jan Berenstein.

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I know I promised an update of my Oscar picks and I did not.  I know.  I suck.

I am sitting here watching the red carpet with the Oscar about to begin and I feel I must make some comment.  I have not seen any more of the movies that are nominated, so I feel unqualified to hazard an intelligent guess.

So let me just say, good luck to all of the nominees.  Some things I would like to see:

Meryl Streep should win an oscar by now.  I know Octavia Spencer is the favorite, and I would also like for her to win if there was a way both could.  But realistically, Glen Close should probably get it for Albert Nobbs.

Christopher Plummer is a superlative actor and is my favorite to win.

As for best picture I will defer to my brother.  He said his favorite of the ones nominated was Midnight in Paris, but the one he thinks should win is Tree of Life.  My prediction, The Artist will win.

Well, the show is getting ready to start.  Enjoy everyone!  I will probably be tweeting @twitlit1000.

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I’m not so much an anglophile as I am someone who appreciates British movies, TV shows, and especially their understated wry wit.

**On a side note, I’m sitting here at Starbucks writing this post and a giant hamburger and fries just walked by.  Only in America.  Maybe I should switch to decaf.**

Maybe I’m just jealous.  Anyone who knows me knows that my sense of humor is more silly than witty and I’m loud as opposed to understated.  That doesn’t mean I cannot whip out a sarcastic funny remark from time to time, but that just makes me a smartass, not necessarily witty.  I simply do not have the fortitude to maintain the stoic exterior required for wit.

The stoic exterior personified by British characters is what makes their movies and TV shows so appealing in my opinion.  They stereotypically “keep a stiff upper lip” and “soldier on” in the face of adversity.  And they can let a witty comeback rip without flinching.

I love it.

With that in mind, I have a confession to make.  I have been sick for the last week and holed up in my apartment..thus why I’m at starbucks today btw.  During that time, I have become absolutely and thoroughly addicted to Downton Abbey.  It is so good.  How have I missed this???  (<—see? notably lacking in subtly or stoicism.  How many question marks did that really require?)

I watched the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix in one day.  I was up until midnight watching episode after episode.

Now I have a dilemma.  Season 2 is on dvd only on Netflix.  I do not have the Netflix subscription that will send me dvds.  I can upgrade, but then they will only send me one dvd at a time.  I can watch the last episode using the On Demand feature on my cable box, but I do not really want to skip over the other 6 episodes.  Or I can go to iTunes and download episodes from season 2 for $2.99 each.  Not bad I know, but it’s cheaper to just download all of season 2 at once.  And it really doesn’t make any sense to buy just season 2.  If I’m going to buy season 2, I might as well and just go ahead and get season 1 as well to make the set complete.

Now I’m sure to be out $50.00 I can ill afford to part with to satisfy this addiction.  Not too bad as far as additions go, I suppose, but still.  I guess I can take solace in the knowledge that my purchase will support PBS, which is a good cause.

I know that Downton Abbey has been all the rage for a little while now, especially since their big win at the Golden Globes.  Sometimes though, the fuss is warranted when a show is as good as this one.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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I’m not so much an anglophile as I am someone who appreciates British movies, TV shows, and especially their understated wry wit.  

**On a side note, I’m sitting here at Starbucks writing this post and a giant hamburger and fries just walked by.  Only in America.  Maybe I should switch to decaf.**

Maybe I’m just jealous.  Anyone who knows me knows that my sense of humor is more silly than witty and I’m loud as opposed to understated.  That doesn’t mean I cannot whip out a sarcastic funny remark from time to time, but that just makes me a smartass, not necessarily witty.  I simply do not have the fortitude to maintain the stoic exterior required for wit.

The stoic exterior personified by British characters is what makes their movies and TV shows so appealing in my opinion.  They stereotypically “keep a stiff upper lip” and “soldier on” in the face of adversity.  And they can let a witty comeback rip without flinching.  

I love it.  

With that in mind, I have a confession to make.  I have been sick for the last week a holed up in my apartment..thus why I’m at starbucks today btw.  During that time, I have become absolutely and thoroughly addicted to Downton Abbey.  It is so good.  How have I missed this???  (<—see? notably lacking in subtly or stoicism.  How many question marks did that really require?)

I watched the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix in one day.  I was up until midnight watching episode after episode.  

Now I have a dilemma.  Season 2 is on dvd only on Netflix.  I do not have the Netflix subscription that will send me dvds.  I can upgrade, but then they will only send me one dvd at a time.  I can watch the last episode using the On Demand feature on my cable box, but I do not really want to skip over the other 6 episodes.  Or I can go to iTunes and download episodes from season 2 for $2.99 each.  Not bad I know, but it’s cheaper to just download all of season 2 at once.  And it really doesn’t make any sense to buy just season 2.  If I’m going to buy season 2, I might as well and just go ahead and get season 1 as well to make the set complete. 

Now I’m sure to be out $50.00 I can ill afford to part with to satisfy this addiction.  Not too bad as far as additions go, I suppose, but still.  I guess I can take solace in the knowledge that my purchase will support PBS, which is a good cause.

I know that Downton Abbey has been all the rage for a little while now, especially since their big win at the Golden Globes.  Sometimes though, the fuss is warranted when a show is as good as this one.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone.  

 

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OK, so I know, I am shamelessly stealing from Dr. Seuss, but I do so for a reason.  Allow to me to explain.

I had dinner this weekend with a couple of friends from my writer’s group.  One of the girls, whom I haven’t seen in a while,  brought a friend with her.  Her friend, an artist and a writer, asked me what inspired me to be a writer.  Her seriousness and intensity made me realize that my usual casual answer would not suffice and I found myself telling her a truth I do not often admit.

I have thought about writing most of my life.  I just never had the confidence in myself to be able to take that desire seriously.  OK, maybe I didn’t actually admit the second part quite so readily, but the more I thought about it, the more I recognized there was some truth in it.

Another thing happened this weekend that also started me thinking.

My niece’s birthday is next week.  I have been shopping for presents for her.  I always look at books in addition to toys and clothes.  I look at the traditional “The Velvetine Rabbit,” or books with a lesson like, “The Giving Tree.”  But my favorite books that I return to time and time again are the books by Dr. Seuss. 

“The Cat in the Hat” is a favorite classic.  “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” is another.  And my all-time favorite is “Green Eggs and Ham” which I am slightly embarrased to admit, I can still quote from memory long stanza’s of the book without pause.

But the book that inspired my love of reading and writing is a book about a boy who allowed his imagination to run wild inventing a tale of what he saw on his way home from school.  It was the first book Dr. Seuss published, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.”

I love Dr. Seuss’ use of language and poetry in this book.  He allows the child to combine the ridiculous with the mundane.  The boy uses his own imagination to fix the problems in his story.  His descriptions are as imaginative as they are silly.  And the young boy’s excitement of telling a story to his father that can’t be beat is palatable. 

At the end of the story, the boy arrives home, ready to tell his father the tale he cooked up on the way home and his father asks him about what he saw ont he way home.  He asks, “Did nothing exicite you or make your heart beat?”

And here, in the young child’s response, I find my answer.  An answer that belies its own simplicity only hinting at the excitement and depth of imaginative creativity revealed just a page ago…

“Nothing, but a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street.”

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A few weeks ago I found the perfect place in which to set my story.  The bulk of the story takes place at a fair.  Since I decided that the story would take place in New Castle, PA, I decided to google parks in that city.

New Castle has a great park called Cascade Park.  The park has a waterfall and a wonderfully rich history.  Researching the park also helped me work out some of the problems I was having with the story.  

The park has a waterfall, a dance pavilion and a stage.  All of which are going be featured in the story.  The park also used to have a trolly car in the neighborhood.  I love street cars.  They are kind of romantic and bring up wistful images of a bygone era when life was simpler and somehow more pure.

Ok, no such time ever really existed, but I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t at least try to convince you it that I thought such a time was possible.

But back to streetcars.  The city I grew up in still had trolleys when I was a little girl.  They stopped running them after I was maybe 5 or 6, but I do remember riding one.  Many years later, they tried to bring the trolley back and made it a sort of trolley/subway.  It only runs from the south end of town into the city where it has 3 stops underground.  It’s more like a ground level L train like the one in Chicago than it is a streetcar, but it is still pretty cool.

My next plan is to take a quick road trip to New Castle and check out the park.  I want to get some pictures, check out the waterfall and the stage.  

Maybe if I’m lucky, I may even find old trolley tracks poking through the pavement.

Wish me luck!

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