Friday, August 05, 2011

Mariachi Beluga

Surreal: A Mariachi band plays "Yellow Bird" to a Beluga whale through aquarium glass and the Beluga nods its head in time to the music, obviously enjoying the concert...another great video via my favorite daily-refreshment website, Cute Overload:

I discovered from the comments by the blog readers that the aquarium is in Mystic, Connecticut, and the Beluga is a young one named Juno, verified here.

This makes me wistfully recall my long-held secret desire to learn to play the ukulele. My golden years are here, so maybe now's the time. I could serenade the penguins at the Audubon Aquarium.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Storywonk Story Generator

Having trouble coming up with a good idea for a new story or book? Try Storywonk's Story Generator

Here are a couple of ideas it gave me tonight: 

He's a psychotic fashion designer with an MBA from Harvard; she's a charismatic geek with an attractive smile. Together, they must learn to use their special powers before midnight. 
 He's a selfish con artist with no sense of humor; she's a respected millionaire with one leg. Together, they must put on a show in the midst of a farce.

Beaucoup entertainment for any writer!

(The site owners do warn: The small print: the StoryWonk Story Generator is not intended for serious use, and the StoryWonk minions are not responsible for any distraction, insomnia, skin rashes or fantastic novels which may result from its use.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

TV or Not TV, That Is the Question

(Sorry to rip off Hamlet's most famous line, but I can't resist corny puns.) 

Today's Topic: Television.

For years I spent little time on TV viewing. I was a Reader. I found most TV shows boring or inane -- to me it was indeed the boob tube.

In recent years, however, I've changed. I spend as much time watching TV as I do reading or online. I've discovered shows in syndicated reruns that I never viewed when they were in active production: Seinfeld, The Office, Boston Legal, Scrubs, NCIS, Criminal Minds. (Yes, I know NCIS and Criminal Minds are still in production, but they both have a long list of past seasons to rerun for my viewing pleasure.)

More than reruns, however, I've found new cable TV series that are thoroughly engrossing--well-written, with great production values and wonderful performances: Deadwood, Game of ThronesJustifiedThe Killing, RubiconTreme, True Blood, The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire. These are all cable network productions, and at least half of them from HBO. I have a kind friend who not only subscribes to HBO, but also has a giant TV, so viewing these shows in her living room is a home version of a movie theater experience.

(Ah, with what scorn I used to look down on people who placed such importance on their televisions as to make them the centerpiece of their homes. Now I wish I had a giant TV. Shades of Fahrenheit 451? But no, I still read. I don't get all my information from TV. A lot of it comes from the Internet, and I still subscribe to my hometown newspaper.)

I digress. Anyway, I recommend the series I've mentioned above, all excellent entertainment, and some of them thought-provoking. And good for writers, too, because they're so well-written. You can sink into them purely for pleasure, or you can sit back and analyze them from an authorial point of view, to learn helpful do's and don'ts for the modern writer. (Because, frankly, nowadays readers like things that are written like movies or TV--lots of dialogue and action, low on expository passages and narrative.)

You can get any of them in DVD for past seasons. My Netflix queue grows longer every day.

Friday, July 08, 2011


 I love donuts. There's a new donut shop in New Orleans called Blue Dot that's getting rave reviews. In addition to the usual varieties, it has some exotic flavors on the menu -- Red Velvet, Maple Glazed with Bacon, Key Lime Crumb, Almond Joy -- to name just a few of the fancies. They also sell ice cream in only-in-New-Orleans flavors: Creole Cream Cheese, Bananas Foster, White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Nectar Soda, Chocolate City Chocolate. (The ice cream is produced by New Orleans Ice Cream Co., not by Blue Dot.)
Photo by Rusty Costanza, The Times-Picayune
Blue Dot owners: Brandon Singleton,
Dennis Gibliant, Ronald Laporte

The part that really tickles me is that it's owned by ... wait for it ... COPS

Plus it's in my old stompin' grounds, Mid-City -- Canal Street at North Hennessey. I gotta try it soon. Next time I eat at Mandina's, I'll stop at Blue Dot for dessert!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Judgmental Bookseller Ostrich

I just discovered Quickmeme, a website that allows posters to add their own caption to a photo. It's hilarious! The only ones I've looked at so far are Judgmental Bookseller Ostrich and Business Cat, and there are so many versions of each I couldn't view them all.

Business Cat

There are lots of other Quickmemes, too. Try it, you'll like it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The E-Book Revolution

During my hiatus from blogging, I managed to keep up with my weekly writers' group meetings. I haven't done any creative writing in a very long time, but just being around my writer buddies keeps me from wallowing in the stews of anxiety. Our discussions--works-in-progress, books being read, developments in publishing--are soothing and reassuring. My own writing interests and ambitions have long been in stasis, but I enjoy their successes vicariously and I value their esteem. To the Wordsmiths group--Charles Gramlich, Laura RowlandSteve HarrisCandice ProctorRexanne Becnel, Pam AhearnMarie Goodwin--thanks for being there.

Sony Reader
E-publishing has been one of our regular discussion topics for quite a while. The increasing popularity of e-books and the resulting huge changes in traditional publishing concern us all. Our individual opinions run the gamut: Some of us have been eager to embrace the new technology (I myself own a Sony Reader and a NookColor reader); some are gingerly learning about it and trying it out; some have sworn never to read an e-book. We all are stunned by reports of huge sales of a few writers' backlists in e-book form (e.g., Barbara Freethy) and writers who became popular and successful through e-books alone (e.g., Amanda Hocking).

NookColor e-reader
The biggest change that e-publishing works is that many authors e-publish without a traditional publisher. They are self-published or, as it's coming to be called, "indy" published. This wreaks havoc with the financial aspects of the publishing business. Established publishers don't earn money from authors' self-published works nor, in most cases, is there an agent involved. One of the members of my writers' group is an agent, so this directly affects her future in the business. 

As an unpublished author, it's encouraging to think I can get my work out to the world despite rejection by traditional publishers, but it's discouraging to realize how few self-e-published authors earn significant money. (There will be very few Amanda Hockings.) As a reader, it's encouraging to realize there will be more variety on the reading market--we won't be locked into books published only to follow trends; we'll get to see good work that was rejected by a traditional publisher as not marketable enough.  On the other hand, we readers also will have to wade through a lot of dreck that people will e-publish, because without screening via review by an agent and/or editor, some really bad work is going online. 

Kindle e-reader
One way or the other, e-publishing is the future. Paper books won't die, but more and more people will go to e-readers. As much as I love books (and I own thousands of them), I love the idea of being able to carry hundreds of books with me in one small e-reader. I long ago ran out of shelf space in my home for traditional books; being able to store them invisibly in a device the size of a single slender volume is appealing.

I'll still want to keep paper books around. After all, what if I have to do without electricity for a while and can't recharge my e-reader? (I can never forget the post-Katrina morass of loss of power, etc.) The idea of going without reading material terrifies me! So next time I evacuate for a storm, I'll carry my e-readers with me...but I'll also bring some paper books. Just to be safe. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Return of the Prodigal Blogger

Greetings, my friends and readers! I'm lucky you can still find my blog. I've had a long blank spell. My last entry was nearly seven months ago. During the past couple of years I've endured serious family issues and  worrisome health problems. I let go of extraneous activities to manage day-by-day responsibilities. I couldn't focus on things that took mental effort, like composing blog posts. Instead I became a viewer. I watched television a lot. I Web-surfed and read other peoples' blogs. I read books, although sometimes reading novels took more effort than I could muster.

Time heals or it kills. Months have passed, situations have changed. The family issues have partly resolved, which relieves a lot of my anxiety. I'm coping with the health problems. I want to return to life as I once knew it. I've adopted that corny-but-true old saw from the 1960s:

I'm back in the blogosphere and I hope to post on a regular basis.