Just Ctl – Alt – Delete Me

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From: DesignPicsInc - DepositPhoto.com

From: DesignPicsInc – DepositPhoto.com

“Grandpa, No. Double click the Internet Explorer icon, then download the updated App. That should fix it.”

 

This is supposed to be the time I help the younger generation, drawing on lessons from decades of life experience. Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying to keep up with ever changing technology, code words that come with it, and service websites that have become minefields of ineptitude.  Synchronizing the new TV to the internet requires a college course on WiFi gobbledygook. My cell phone is about as intuitive as programming a satellite launch. Passwords now require mixed characters. Took a month to set up my website, and I used a preexisting template on WordPress, but why do I have to learn HTML code?  Don’t get me started on widgets.

I know, we’ve been down this road before (see Texting – Conversational Spam), but technology and the software it comes with, is supposed to make life easier, not drive us to excessive use of pharmaceuticals. No, it’s not a sign of my age, wishing for a simpler life.  It’s that embarrassing call to kids still in diapers, to sheepishly ask for advice when things go haywire.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Scantily Clad

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From: Pinterest.com Legend of the Cryptids - applibot

From: Pinterest.com Legend of the Cryptids – applibot

In setting up my web site graphic, Searching for Light in the Darkness, I put a lot of thought into the graphic art to fit the brand (translation: burned-up days surfing the internet for artists and sites).  It was by pure luck I stumbled on Lori Nix’s “The Library” (thank you Google Search).  I get numerous positive hits on my profile page on about.me because of Lori’s unique dioramic photography.

I put the same amount of effort when working on characterization for my stories. I’m always on the hunt for that perfect face to fit a character; that unique combination of setting and portraiture that might even make a good book cover.  Sites like Pinterest, DeviantArt.com, and other graphic artist sites offer a plethora of ideas. When I find one I like, I collect them on my Pinterest Characters Board for future reference.

I’m in the middle of rewriting a fantasy; contemporary gal crash lands in a dark-ages alternate world, almost hanged as a witch, has to fight an ancient darkness, death, dismemberment, general mayhem – good wholesome fun. In my search for concept character art to fit the story setting, I discovered a disturbing trend.

What is with graphic art portrayals of warrior women in outfits befitting a harlot?

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Bacon – Won the West, Men’s Hearts, and maybe the Apocalypse

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From Wikipedia Commons: Bartolomeo Passarotti – The Butcher Stall

From Wikipedia Commons: Bartolomeo Passarotti – The Butcher Stall

Bacon has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent months (not that it hasn’t been a durable headliner for those of us who enshrine smoked meats). Our local AA baseball team is hosting Bacon Days Friday and Saturday, September 19-20, a celebration of America’s favorite artery-clogger, to start with a 5K run that includes a stop to eat bacon.  You can read about it in the Morning Call, but I’ll venture a guess the event won’t be mentioned in Runners World.

I’m an enthusiast of foods we might see in the aftermath of apocalyptic events (see my earlier article, Expiration – Never). The cured and smoked belly of Sus scrofa domesticus, better known as the domesticated descendent of the wild boar, has been a part of ancient societies for thousands of years.  Along with flour, beans and brown sugar, it kept people alive when pioneers wagon-ho’d to the Wild West. You could say bacon is a founding food. It’s a national treasure, like the bald eagle.

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Going Off Grid for a Human Touch

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From: CursedSenses - DepositPhoto.com

From: CursedSenses – DepositPhotos.com

Been a while since my last blog post (a phrase hauntingly reminiscent of my parochial school years), but I have a really good reason.  I’ve reached a new phase in my life, grand-parentage. Took a few weeks off to trek out west, where daughter number one has brought into the world an amazing baby boy.  Though I brought tools to write on the road, the creative keyboard went untouched in favor the simple act of belonging.

I wrote about such silence last year in Going Off The Grid.  That incident was less voluntary; influenced by geography and lack of signal.  I remember it being inspirative; separated from the noise of media input. My senses rekindled a childhood when social media used voices and a high tech communication device called a telephone.

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Your Brain’s PnP Driver Has Been Hacked

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From: vectorguru - DepositPhoto.com

From: vectorguru – DepositPhoto.com

In science fiction, we love the premise of enhanced brainpower. Wouldn’t you like to be Lucy, the main character in a recently released movie, who overdoses on a synthesized drug and ends up stimulating access to over 90% of her brain capacity to become a superhuman?  Or how about Gabriel Vaughn in the TV series, Intelligence, an operative with a super-computer microchip in his brain and the first human directly connected to a globalized information grid.

We’ve been tinkering with the brain for centuries. Ever since cave dwellers discovered certain plants instilled feelings of euphoria, mankind has been on a quest to unlock the mysteries of our human processor, find ways to upgrade its abilities, repair and improve upon original sensory input devices.  A recent article on the future of “wired” brains had me wondering if we were pushing a concept destined to backfire on us.

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Robert A. Heinlein – YA Science Fiction Pioneer

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Robert A. Heinlein - Tunnel in the Sky

Robert A. Heinlein – Tunnel in the Sky

The writer who instilled my love of science fiction is the incomparable Robert A. Heinlein. As a child of the fifties, I was voracious reader in a time of Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Boy’s Life magazine, and comic books like Strange Adventures, Tales from the Crypt, and Archie (where Betty and Veronica wore scandalous cheerleader outfits and bikinis).

But Heinlein took me to the stars.

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The Fourth of Fantastic

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Photo by DT Krippene

Photo by DT Krippene

I love Independence Day. It’s all about summer, family, picnics, BBQ, beer, fireworks and homage to Old Glory. In last year’s article, Star Spangled Memories, I reflected on summers spent at grandpa’s place on the lake, and the dozen photo albums of memorable fourths. For 2014, I’d like to revisit the subject of who we are as a nation.

If you listen to today’s seemingly immoderate media espousing the derision of our elected officials, many wonder what happened to the greatness that defined the country. Live a while outside our borders, I’ve no doubts you’ll find that greatness is still soundly intact.

I spent two years with the Peace Corps in Asia. They used to say “it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.” What it should be is: “It’s a job that will make you appreciate where you came from.” Having spent more than a decade overseas in my professional career, you get a unique perspective of how other cultures live, and more importantly, what they really think of us Americans. Ask any military person who spent time overseas, and they’ll be happy to tell you how good we really have it.

We’ve had a tendency of late to feel our nation has lost its luster in the eyes of the international community. Aside from a few who have axes to grind or disappointed in our free-wheeling way of life, most are as positive of our country as they’ve ever been. They like America. They like our freewheeling cowboy ways, a place where anyone can be rich and famous, live your dream, speak your mind, and worship freely. The planet still has too many places where despots insist on dictating needs of the many.

Is it perfect? Oh, hell no. Right versus left, up versus down, enough to make your head spin. That’s what makes it great. People voicing opinions, standing up and saying what for. Democracy is chaotic, inclusive, confusing, open-minded, batty, and downright fantastic. Like all large families, it’s a potpourri of multi-generational next of kin that comes with large doses of squabbling and that crazy uncle we whisper about. And man, do we love to bicker.

Wouldn’t it be neat if all teens when they graduate high school were required to spend a year or so outside the borders? It can be the military, school internship, or service like the Peace Corps. Further away from the border, the better, get them out of that comfort zone of a familiar language and recognizable food. You may think it sounds radical, but they’ll gain a respect for different cultures, and I’ll bet when they repatriate home, they’ll be more patriotic than a general in the army.

What am I doing this fourth? Oh, the usual, check out the local parade, burn some meat over an open fire with a beer in my hand and grouse with friends about what’s wrong with whatever. Why?

Because I can.

I’ll also give thanks for the incredible luck of being part of the world’s greatest democracy … warts and all.

Lori Nix – My 8 X 10 Life

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Lori Nix - The Living Room

Lori Nix – The Living Room

I became a fan of photographer, Lori Nix, while researching the graphic to represent my website, Searching for Light in the Darkness.  Every author wants to find that perfect header graphic that best captures the brand.  No shortage of candidates for apocalyptic and dystopian settings, Lori had a unique presentation of forsaken places.  I settled on The Library, where a tree stretches to the broken roof of a derelict library in search of better light.

Lori Nix, is a self-described, non-traditional photographer who constructs her subjects (rather than look for them). Her lifelike photographs begin as dioramas—some as small as 50×60 centimeters—that she builds with her creative partner, Kathleen Gerber, who adds aging and deteriorating effects. “We have a great symbiotic relationship—I build them, and she helps destroy them,” Nix says. The scenes recall the 1970s disaster movies she grew up watching, images of crumbling buildings and abandoned subways, with nature overgrowing the built environment.

Lori working on set

Lori working on set

Her collection, The City, is an imagined city of our future, where something either natural or as the result of mankind, has emptied the city of its human inhabitants. The walls are deteriorating, the ceilings are falling in, the structures barely stand, yet Mother Nature is slowly taking them over. Insects, Flora, and fauna fill dilapidated spaces, reclaiming what was theirs before man’s encroachment.

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Romance on the High Seas

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Kovacevic - DepositPhotos.com

Kovacevic – DepositPhotos.com

Romance writers love to tell period tales of pirates, sailors, sea captains, and the women whose hearts are broken by them. Might have had something to do with why seafaring men of yesteryear considered the presence of women on ships to be bad luck.  Much has changed since then.  An entire industry evolved around getting folks on cruise ships to find or rekindle love’s illusive spark.

A recent weeklong cruise gave me an opportunity to observe romantic rituals of people sequestered on today’s modern SS Gluttonous Seas. Enthralled by the dichotomy of behaviors, I discovered love could still be a challenge for some, despite the best efforts of ship crew to conspire, coddle, and coerce folks to love the one you’re with. The following is a summary of my questionably unscientific study.

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Disassembling a Fairy Tale with Charles Kiernan

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Illustration by Heinrich Vogeler - Wikipedia

Illustration by Heinrich Vogeler – Wikipedia

When was the last time you read, or heard someone read, a real fairy tale? Did you know the Brothers Grimm printed over 200 stories, but most of us are aware of only a handful?  Centuries ago, fables were told by word of mouth, perpetuated by folks who couldn’t read, or couldn’t afford a printed version.  When the Brothers Grimm collected and published popular folklore in the nineteenth-century, it opened a completely new door to literary romanticism in Europe.

Fellow Aponte Literary author, Charles Kiernan, is one of those rare talents that can hold an audience captivated with his storytelling, no matter how many times you’ve heard the tale.  It isn’t just the words, it’s how it’s told. I had the privilege last month of listening to Charles dissect the elements of a traditional fairy tale. He was kind enough to share this knowledge on Searching for Light in the Darkness.

And yes, his resemblance to Mark Twain is uncannily accurate.

*****

Charles Kiernan Gesture

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