Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fifty Shades of Baaaaaaaa

Photo Credit: Artist wishes to remain anonymous for some reason

Admittedly my first reaction to Fifty Shades of Grey was humorreplacing the vampire from Twilight with a kinky megalomaniac billionaire dude hardly affected the storyline. It cracked me up. I laughed off and on which I’m sure wasn’t how most readers read the book, but I just couldn’t get past the Twilight similarities.

When I finished the book I literally threw it across the room in anger. As a mother with daughters I wasn’t so enamored with Christian Grey. I thought he needed fifty shades of angry Mama smack down.

Was I shocked by the BDSM? No. Appalled? No. Titillated? Nope. (I'm more of an Outlander or even Lady Chatterly's Lover fan.) Did I think Ana Steele was the stupidest woman in fiction? Yes. So why did I pick up the next two books to read? I wanted to see how it ended! I knew Ana Steele was going to be stupid enough to go back to him, and I was hoping that Christian Grey would get what was coming to him. It was a futile hope. But after I read the second book explaining the background of Christian Grey I began to like the books, and was able to separate it from Twilight and get into the story more. I love perspective and how if you see something from other people’s perspectives it affects yours.

When you see why Christian Grey is like he is, his predilections begin to make sense. He’s damaged. Ana Steele is stupid in love. Actually what I meant is Ana Steele is stupid. But it’s just a story. What bothers me about Fifty Shades of Grey seems to be far removed from what I see other people blogging about. What bothers me is our SHEEPle reaction to it.

Has anyone else ever noticed that a lot of the material goods we tout as the best things to have, or the pricier foods we sometimes enjoy, and even most of the popular places in the world to visit, were all things, food, or places referred to by James Bond in the Bond movies? I wonder, was James Bond living the fantasy of his time or did he sell us the fantasy?

Doesn’t really matter I suppose because we bought it hook line and sinker, or should I say diamonds, Aston-Martins, and Monte Carlo? You have none of the above? How about a mobile phone, some Bollinger champagne, or an Omega watch? There’s actually a book called Selling James Bond by Tanya Nitins, and it is staggering how much shtuff those movies sold us on over the decades. What bothers me about Fifty Shades isn’t the lusting that goes on between Ana and Christian—they’re consensual adults. As a matter of fact Ana is by today’s standards a good girl. (She only went with one man and she married him.) What bothers me about Fifty Shades is that it further perpetuates discontent about what we want and need to be happy.

Plus I know the marketing tie-ins will be painful. (Har, get it?)

Photo Credit: Another anonymous and painful bit of artwork

It’s not the shtuff that really bothers me though. So Jimmy Choo, Louboutin away if you like. We’re all free to waste our money how we please. What bothers me is the bill of goods selling perfect-looking, filthy rich, megalomaniac billionaires as an ideal. What guy can compete with that? Let's hope they don't try. And what about flawless women so devoted to her man’s dark desires that he can beat her. I’ve never had a megalomaniac billionaire who beats me so I’m hypothesizing here, but I’m guessing the real thing would be horribly high-maintenance. And I’m not a flawless woman devoted to my guy’s dark desires, and if anyone hits me the fur is gonna fly, so once again this is conjecture but I have a feeling that a woman like that would be a tad needy. And any real woman who twists her true self into knots to act like Ana Steele for someone—well, I’m sorry for her. I predict the pain would be legion, but the regret would be larger.

When we get too caught up in anyone else’s love life—whether it be the Fifty Shades of Grey idea of romance, Twilight, or the latest couple’s gossip from Hollywood—we’re missing out on all the real loving that could be going on in our own lives.

To me that’s the problem, and that’s not any book’s fault. And the sad thing is all of those things—junk from the mall or fantasy relationships—is really just snake oil. Nobody else should tell you what you need to be happy. You have to figure that out for yourself. Don’t let anybody sell you your fantasy. Make your own. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why I Joined A Cartel – A Conversation with my Muse

Photo Credit: HotBlack

SRK: You know what the toughest most frustrating part of writing is?

MUSE: Is it the years you spent drafting, writing and rewriting that six book series that spans worlds? Remember how every time you thought it was finished I’d come up with an even better idea that affected every single book in the series, and you’d have to chop and change every book over and over again? That was so much fun. I know that wasn’t the frustrating part.

SRK: Yeah, that was a blast. I wasn’t thinking of that part.

MUSE: If you roll your eyes at me again I’ll come up with a story thread that will require you to pull and edit the published books.

SRK: That was just a tick.

MUSE: Was it the two years you spent trying to get that series published in the CBA? Because when I want steamy scenes in novels, you will do what I want, or I’ll put them in your head when you’re kissing your husband—and I know he knows when you’re thinking about racy scenes with Kahtar.

SRK: Hey, that could have worked out with the CBA! Those books tackle good and evil, light and darkness, and Kahtar was even at the crucifixion! You have clans of people who follow the exact same ten laws and some are utopian and some are dystopian! That series is a perfect parable for religion in the real world!

MUSE: And Kahtar is totally hot. I mean an ancient-immortal, totally buff virgin bachelor…did you really think churches everywhere would clamor to put that on their shelves?

SRK: Yeah. Well…whatever. It was only two years wasted. Not even quite two.

MUSE: You’re going to say the most frustrating part of writing is editing, aren’t you? Editing is so boring. You can’t blame editing on your muse. Plus I always try to give you really good story ideas for other books while you and your editor are working, so you don’t get bored.

SRK: Yeah, it’s not editing, but thanks a lot for that. It’s only completely distracting when you do that, I want you to know. Editing requires focus.

MUSE: Whatever. Like being a muse doesn’t. I give up, and you’re starting to bore me with this. What’s the most frustrating part of writing?

SRK: The most frustrating part of writing is after all the work that goes into a book, that so few readers leave a book review. Without book reviews you sell less books. When you sell less books, it’s kinda hard to get the next book published.

MUSE: Writing book reviews is boring. Readers don’t like homework. They bought your book; they read it, why do you have to be so needy?

SRK: I understand that, but they’d like to have the next book in the series and a review makes that happen. Besides, a review doesn’t need to be a book report. One or two lines are plenty. But even getting a reader to do that is ridiculous. Once a friend of a friend asked me to bring them a candy bar from another country and I said I’d bring it if they’d put up a review of my book up on Amazon. (I knew they’d read it! They were pestering me via the friend of a friend about when the next book was coming out.)

MUSE: Did they do it?

SRK: Yeah, and that was the most reliable approach I found to getting reviews. But you can’t bribe people. It’s not ethical. Besides when you give your friend a candy bar to give to their other friend, your friend eats it.

MUSE: Are you telling me we’re not writing the next book in the series together? Is that what this is all about?

SRK: No. I’m telling you why I joined a cartel. It’s a place called Story Cartel, and they have readers who like to write reviews! I made a deal with Story Cartel that they can share my newest book with their readers—and in exchange for that, every one of those readers will write a review of BLANK: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice.

MUSE: How did Story Cartel find readers who like to write reviews?
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SRK: Actually anybody can join Story Cartel. Readers can download brand new books and books that haven’t even been published yet for free, and all they have to do is promise to read it and write a review within a month.

MUSE: What if they don’t do it? What if they just take the free book and never write a review? What happens then?

SRK: It’s a cartel. What do you think happens?

MUES: Oooo! I like Story Cartel.

SRK: Me too. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Defending the Caveman

Photo Credit: DMedina

If I were to boil down my long marriage in search of the glue that keeps it together, I think in the bottom of the pot I’d find some remnants of a one man show called Defending the Caveman. The first time Dear Hubby and I saw the show was in the first decade of marriage. We’ve seen it countless times at this point. It traveled the country, and right now it’s in Vegas on a regular basis. We took a grown daughter to see it recently. She loved it.

Back when I spotted an advertisement for it in The Dallas Morning News. It caught my eye because it was touted as the equivalent to years of marriage counseling. Why is it that women are so often interested in going to marriage counseling but men back off with that Don’t Stir the Pot look of terror in their eyes? Dear Hubby only agreed to see the show because it was at a Comedy Club. I was jazzed because I knew it would be the closest I’d get to counseling and I was enthusiastic, hoping that he’d realize what a savage he was and stop it.

The show started out with a short video showing a married couple in the throes of the usual situations—namely messy barbarian versus civilized female. You know the drill. One scene that particularly stuck in my head involved a woman trying on outfit after outfit to go out, and the guy digging through the hamper and sniffing his shirts. The women in the audience were in hysterics. Most of the men were nodding somewhat abashed. Of course mine whispered, “Oh come on! You never do that?” No, hon, never. The video culminated with woman after woman espousing for the camera, “He’s such an asshole!” And the screen showed shots of plenty of back-up evidence to the statement. It brought the house down to thunderous applause—all the women were now on board.

At that point Rob Becker, the creator of the show would come out and talk. The first thing I remember him saying—after he could speak over the cheering and laughter—was, “If that had said all women are bitches, this place would be on fire right now.” Um, how true is that? The gist of the show is simple. In the beginning men were cavemen, hunters of the tribe. The women were cavewomen, the gatherers of the tribe. We’re still hardwired for these tasks, and as Rob Becker presented his evidence for the case it rang true.

One example was shopping, and I’ll paraphrase and add some glitter here. You might have a situation where a man goes to the grocery store for bread. An hour later he returns with bread, possibly frustrated and disappointed to discover there is nothing to put on it at home. “But you were at the grocery store,” you say. “But you told me to get bread,” he says.

Hunter. Mission Accomplished. 

You didn’t tell him to bring meat. Grunt. Now the woman goes to the grocery store for bread. An hour and $200 later she returns home. She needs help unloading the haul. “Why did you buy Easter candy? It's July,” Husband says. She responds, “I got that entire bag for $4. I’ll freeze it. Easter will come again, someday.” Husband grunts, and carries in the bags of groceries, Easter candy, and one bag full of knitted wool hats. He didn’t even know they sold wool hats at the grocery store. Especially in July! 

Gatherer. Mission Accomplished.

Another huge difference between the Hunter and Gatherer is communication. The hunters negotiate. Who will chase the mammoth? Who will spear the mammoth? You can’t all spear it, and if you got to do it last time, forget it. There is arguing. Someone wins, someone loses. It’s different with the gatherers. They cooperate. Who feels like going into the swamps to gather herbs? It will be wet, cold, and miserable. Perhaps they should all go together and share the burden. It would be fair, and faster. This worked for the entire clan. But over time the hunters and gatherers began to work together. This is when problems came in.

My favorite example directly from the show happens at a party. It’s crowded and busy and took a lot of effort to prepare for, but everyone is having fun. The chip bowl is empty. The husband is heading for the kitchen to get something. The wife whispers, “The chip bowl is empty.” The husband glances at it and responds, “I filled it last time.” I think we can guess what seven letter name the wife is thinking about calling him then.

The thing is if it were all guys the situation is likely to go as follows. The chip bowl is empty. Everyone waits for someone else to fill it. Finally the dip is turning. Al says to Bob, “Go get more chips.” Bob says, “I got the beer.” Carl chimes in, “I bought the beer.” Dave says, “I bought the chips.” Eric says, “I pay the cable bill, and this is my house you’re trashing.” Everyone looks at Frank, who’s got nothing, and stands up to go get the chips. 

Life is good. Negotiation complete. All is fair.

Now let’s say it’s a party of all women. The chip bowl is almost empty. Alice says, “We need more chips!” and rises. Betty says, “No, I’ll get them!” Cindy hops up, “Let me!” Dina grabs the bowl. Emily wipes chip crumbs off the table into her hand. Francesca leads the way, and they all go into the kitchen together. 

Life is good. Cooperation accomplished. All is fair.

After Dear Hubby and I saw Defending the Caveman the first time I remember my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much. Over the years and now decades we’ve seen ourselves and each other in the hunter-gatherer and negotiator-cooperator roles quite often. We’ve seen the show many times with friends and family. There was a rumor that Rob Becker had offers to sell the show to HBO or a movie or something. The rumor went that he never did because everyone wanted to take out or change the ending, which is serious. It’s a charge to respect the differences in your mate, and basically to be mindful of their ways when you’re negotiating the world together.

It’s a proclamation that men are not assholes. After many years with mine, I concur. They are not. They’re some kind of wonderful.

If you ever have the opportunity, I can’t recommend seeing this show enough. I wanted my husband to realize he’s a savage and stop it and left Defending the Caveman realizing we’re both savages in our own ways. It’s like getting a user manual for the opposite sex. Interested?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Green Green Green

For those of you into quantum leaps and deadly missions and revealing the saboteur in a matrix of homicidal genius, I might have your favorite summer book LINK HERE.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Photo Credit: HotBlack

Outlander is a novel by Diana Gabaldon. It’s about a WWII nurse on a second honeymoon in Scotland who travels through a henge (think Stonehenge) and arrives in the 1700’s. This book has a rabid following, and is actually a series of full length novels. Outlander is difficult to quantify because it is so many things. It’s Action Adventure and Historical and has one of the best Romances ever penned. It’s also going to be a Starz series later this summer, so hurry up and read it because once you see a book in film—with actors—you might lose that objectivity that really connects you to the characters in a story.

Someone asked me recently why I liked this book. I’m not a big fan of romance per se. Actually, I love romance, but a book has to have more—like some Tarzan action adventure for instance. Outlander does that for me, and it’s one of those rare novels that really transport you. You will experience the book, and not all the experiences are pleasant, but it is that total immersion into story that really sells me on a novel. The first time I read the book was in the late 90’s. The second time—well over a decade later—I enjoyed it every bit as much.

What really grabs me about Outlander is that the characters come alive. Writing dialogue with accent is considered a fiction no-no because it is the very rare author who can do it well. Diana Gabaldon nails it. You will hear every word spoken in this book, and you will see every action clearly. You will feel what Claire feels, not to mention the frustration she inspires in those around her, and you will be in 17th Century Scotland.

Occasionally some of the actions in the book raise protest from readers—spanking children, spanking wives, and various other abuses. The reason for the protests is that the perpetrators of these actions are not always the bad guys. The good guys do plenty of barbaric things that would get them in a heap of trouble in the 21st Century. The thing is, this story is in the 17th Century, and that world is not our world. Truth in fiction is not politically correct, but it strikes me as incredibly important. Always pretending that the whole world is Disney perfect serves no one, and seems far more dangerous than the truth is.

Today most current fiction is written to engage and hook the reader in the first paragraph. It’s written that way for our impatient and instant gratification world. Outlander has a bit of a slow start by the latest standards, but you won’t want to have missed a word of it as the story begins to unfold. There are no wasted details in this epic tale. If you enjoy reading, this is one you do not want to miss. It’s for adults, both male and female, and if you’ve already read it, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Glittercaso - Art of the Sleepless

S. R. Karfelt
"I Miss Crayons" 

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"Modern Life"

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"Coyotes Keep Me Awake"

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"Railroad Trestle"

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"My Left Foot"

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Chimp Paradox

Photo Credit: Gojo23

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Program to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence, and Happiness by Steve Peters was one of my vacation reads.  Huddled under the mosquito netting deep in the bush, wildly waving a type of tennis racket that emits an electrical shock to annihilate mosquitoes; it’s very easy to believe that there is indeed a portion of my brain called The Chimp.

Nope, not much of a stretch at all. My chimp was occupied doing a type of 21st Century bug picking.
The writer, Steve Peters, explains that he’s very much simplifying the human brain while exploring the psychological mind. He cuts it into three main parts to start. The idea is that we all have a limbic brain—an emotional machine he refers to as the chimp—and a human brain—maybe best summed up as higher thinking—and also what he refers to as the computer part of your brain—think of that as information and facts. You yourself are the human, your chimp is the emotional thinking machine, and your computer is your storage and automatic functioning machine.

You know how sometimes you’ll be in two minds about something? Apparently that’s because you really are. Both the human part of the brain and the chimp receive information and they each interpret it. The chimp goes with feelings and impressions, pretty much basing its conclusion on assumptions, hunches, paranoia and defense. The human searches for facts and truth and logic. So obviously they don’t see eye to eye on everything. To further complicate matters the chimp is the stronger part of the brain. So wrestling with your chimp is futile.

Think about it. How well do you fare if you’re out to dinner, super hungry, and your first impulse is the order a cheeseburger although you know you should have a salad? Sometimes the salad wins, but think about the process that goes into that. A salad is healthier, your human brain thinks. The chimp is going Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! The human can counter with an argument: The doctor will put me on meds to lower my cholesterol if I don’t control my eating. The chimp might not like meds, or extra doctor trips to make sure those meds aren’t harming its liver, it might listen to that. If you’ve already established that scenario. Since I don’t have high cholesterol, my chimp just keeps shouting for the cheeseburger and is now eyeballing a chocolate shake too. My pants are too tight, the human says, and I hate tight jeans in the summer! Plus it looks terrible, and red meat makes me feel sick later. That worked for me, especially since I read through the tasty ingredients in a salad and caught my chimp’s interest.

What really caught my interest and held it throughout this book were the suggestions for ways to control the chimp—ways to get what the human wants and needs while keeping your chimp happy. It was a bit
S. R. Karfelt
inspirational to be given encouragement to keep my chimp happy. My chimp loves dessert and I’m trying to get into shape. During my vacation I managed to pacify my chimp’s cravings with a healthy makeshift dessert consisting of a vegan coconut wrap filled with bits of dark chocolate, cocoa nibs and goji berries. It worked beautifully. It took about a half hour every day to gnaw through it with my TMJ and my chimp was in bliss.

This book also made me watch other people with more interest as I watched for their chimps. I give it four thumbs up, two from my human, and two from the chimp. It never hurts to try to figure yourself out, especially if you’re struggling with fear, addiction, or simply trying to get where you want to be in life. 

A shout out to Jade for telling me about this book. I don’t know why he thought of me in reference to The Chimp Paradox, but my chimp is encouraging me not to ask. As for the rest of you, please let me know what your inner chimp thinks about this take on the brain. I’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Souvenir Survival 101

S. R. Karfelt

There are two kinds of people in this world, those who buy souvenirs and those who don’t. Usually the first kind are parents and they’re at Disney without their kids and consumed with guilt. That is why they spent $10.50 on a Mickey Mouse shaped pencil for their kids. (Mommy can’t help it if the conference is next to Disneyland, and she only went to watch the fireworks because her boss made her. #MeanBosses #GuiltPurchase)

After running this idea through The Glitter Globe for about twenty seconds, I’ve concluded that 80% of all souvenir purchases are purely guilt purchases. Business travelers will back this up, I’d bet. Because here is what happens when you return home from a business trip:
  • Things happened and you weren’t there. You suck.
  • I don’t care if you were in Cleveland; you were off having grown-up fun. You suck.
  • Spare me your horror stories about the cruddy hotel you stayed at. You were at a hotel! You suck.
  • Oh, poor baby, you’re sick of eating out every single day? You suck. Have some Kraft Mac and Cheese.
  • You had to drive a rental car through Chicago during rush hour every day? You were in Chicago! You suck.
  • You brought me a shower cap from the hotel? YOU SUCK.

The thing is I’ve been on both ends of the travel spectrum. I’ve been the parent at home with the vomiting children, and once the kids got old enough to clean up their own vomit, I got to be the traveler. This way I knew what to expect upon my return, so I was wise enough to be a souvenir shopper. This is what I learned about that:
  • Things happened and you weren’t there. You suck.
  • You were off having grown-up fun. The Keep Austin Weird T-Shirt ain’t gonna fix a thing. You suck.
  • A cruddy hotel can require a decade to recover from. But you still suck for going there. (Always check Trip Advisor for hotels. Just. Do. It.)
  • You do get sick and tired of eating out every single day. Take fat pants for the return trip. You suck and now you’re fat.
  • You drove a rental car through Tucson and it was a convertible. #MyBad You suck and you don’t even care.
  • You brought me an expensive necklace from Brighton at some random airport? Thanks, but you really still just suck.

Mama brought you Raisin Bran from Quebec!
With that in mind, what was the freakiest souvenir that you gave or that you received OR that you’ve always regretted passing up? Because I think I'm getting rather good at this! Check it out!