Thursday, February 28, 2013

Writing With a Heavy Heart: Using Grief and Loss to Stretch Your Fiction by Denise Jaden

Sopphey Says - Writing With A Heavy Heart: Using Grief and Loss to Stretch Your Fiction by Denise Jaden
Writing With a Heavy Heart Cover
I thought this book was a blessing when I first saw it in my social media stream. A blessing because I was working on a very difficult, very tense, and very sorrowful piece. So of course I had to read this book. I knew it was going to be an excellent resource and that I would love it. Well, I do think Writing With a Heavy Heart is an excellent resource, but I don't love it as much as I thought I would.

Not that I didn't enjoy the book. Denise Jaden does an excellent job at presenting tips and guidelines for writing with grief. She reached deep into her Spring of Grief to bring us these insights. A Spring of Grief where:
a series of wrecking balls came pummeling at my life [...]. My tragedies started with a painful and heart-breaking miscarriage. Shortly after that, my dad died in a sudden and unexpected work accident. My family was close, so this was certainly the most brutal of the wrecking balls. In the aftermath of the accident, my son took a fall and had to be rushed to the hospital with a head wound, and finally, my husband's place of business burned down.
I really like how open and inviting the paragraph is. It doesn't read like a laundry list of hurt and pain to me, but like a list of little medals. I can clearly imagine what the author had to go through to create the book. And because I have an active imagination, I can imagine how strong and courageous of a woman the author is because of that one paragraph.

Writing With a Heavy Heart is a guideline for writing engaging characters and conflict around grief. The author repeatedly states that grief is not a story on its own. Thus, grief becomes a tool to push characters, conflict, and tension. Which is perfect for great story writing. However a little part of me just kept repeating "that is cruel," "oh, she is cruel," "wow, poor character," and generally disapproving of the additional hurt involved.

The following little wedges of advice felt cruel (but are necessary):
Don't let your character admit to himself or others that he is grieving. Push away the process and have him try to get on with his life as normal.
Or... have your grieving character notice how others seem to deal with their grief "better" and faster. 
Or... have your secondary characters push your grieving character (in authentic ways) to face his grief.

 Another necessary cruel wedge of advice:
When or where is the worst possible time and place your character could be ambushed by his grief? In front of his enemy? In a very public place? Before a special speech he has to give?
Special days can be a great opportunity to build tension in your character's life if he is all too aware of a looming special day, or to ambush him with his grief, if he hasn't prepared for that special day or has forgotten about it.
Enough examples. Overall it's great advice. It's an easy read. If you're writing about grief, you should consider giving Writing With a Heavy Heart a read.

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Do you like reading books; watching movies? Have you ever come across a book or movie that inspired you to write about it? I'm looking for guest bloggers.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Read 1 Watch 1 Challenge: Harry Potter Series Edition


Introduction

The goal of the Read 1 Watch 1 Challenge is to read a book and watch the movie version. As a group, we've decided to start with the Harry Potter series. To “spice up” the challenge, readers can read-a-long three different paths.

Paths

The first path is designed for the independent reader who will earn points for themselves.

The second path is designed for the house reader who will be sorted into a House and earn points for both themselves and the house.

The third class is designed for the casual reader who will participate without earning points.

About Points

Readers can earn points for various Challenge and Wordsmith Studio (WSS) activities. The following activities are a general guideline to earning and losing points. Readers note: this is not an exhaustive list. Readers and Houses can lose points as the challenge progresses as Sopphey chooses.

Earning Points

  • Participating in a Challenge #WSChat per chat [100pts]
  • Answering a question during the Challenge #WSChat per question asked by Sopphey [50pts]
  • Commenting about your reading progress on the Official Wednesday Challenge Post [50pts]
  • Commenting on other reader's comments on the Officla Wednesday Challenge post [5pts]
  • Creating your own Challenge related post on your blog [10pts]
  • Commenting on Participants Challenge related blog posts [5pts]
  • Participating in any #WSChat Wednesday Book Chat [10pts]
  • Commenting on any WSS blog post [5pts]
  • (for WSS Members) Posting any of your blog links to the WSS Facebook Fan Page [5pts]

Losing Points

  • Tweeting without some attempt at punctuation (upper case included!) [-5pts]
  • Being the last reader to post on the official Wednesday Challenge Post before Wednesday #WSChat [-5pts]
  • Posting or discussing spoilers on your blog, social media, or anywhere “public” [-500pts]

Tallying Points

Points will be tallied after the Challenge #WSChat and the leader board will be posted the next day by noon in the Official Wednesday Challenge Post.

Notes

The Official Wednesday Challenge Post will be posted on the Wordsmith Studio site shortly.

Drifting

I am drifting on a dream
feeling over cautious
Sipping fermented green tea
There's no way out of this
Hands fidgeting with a pen
Stars peering while I laugh
Or cry
Or ride the stone sphinx
A Cleopatra in my own right
Goddess of rainbows
Bright lights adorn my wrists
Only I'm dreaming
Drifting with my eyes open
Singing hymns of my thoughts
Arms stretched
Knees bent
Diving
...

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Monday, February 25, 2013

MM Feb 25 2013


This week's playlist is a mix of old Spanish music and relatively new Spanish music. I haven't listened to Mexican radio in a long time, so I can't say what's new and popular.


Track List:
  1. Muevelo by Cruz Martinez and Los Super Reyes
  2. Cumbia Arabe by Afrosound
  3. Mi Confesion Los Angeles Azulez
  4. Yo No Me Muero Por Nadie by La Makina
  5. Mentirosa (Eres Mentirosa) by Chicos de Barrio
  6. Al Despertar by Rayito Colombiano
  7. El Gavilan Pollero by Joe Arroyo Con Los Bestiales
  8. El Chico del Apartamento 521 by Selena


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Voices - International Women's Day

Sopphey Says: Voices - International Women's Day
Graphic created for local event.

Creating an event is a form of art. It really is. I've created multiple events since high school. I usually just name a place, give the event a name, and invite several people to meet me at the event. I think I have event making down to a science. But, this event, this one is more complex. It's bigger. It's something I want you to take a part of.

See, everyone has a story. I want to invite everyone on the blogosphere to share a story. It can be any kind of story. A story about your career, your life, your loved ones. You don't have to be a woman to share a story either. All stories are worth sharing.

I'll start with a story I don't tell too often. I've always wanted to be Mother Teresa. My admiration for her began in middle school when I learned that she helped the poor. I didn't understand what untouchables were then, so they were grouped in as poor in my mind. And because I grew in a lower income neighborhood, anyone who helped the poor was Super Fabulous in my book.

I don't think I'm quite Mother Teresa now. But, I do hope to become like her. I want to be encouraging, understanding, and helpful to others. I want to help everyone, love everyone. I even want there to be less suffering in the world. They sound like wonderful dreams and I'm too determined to make them a reality. I really do want to make the world a better place. And because I'm determined, I will never give up in my dream.

What are your dreams? Share a story. You can share your story in the comments or by leaving a link to your blog.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Abandoned


Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in the five sentences, just use it for direction. Today's word is abandoned.

...


It stands quiet, wedged in a corner between a field and the airport. At night the cityscape peers through the fold of the purple sky. Darkness fills the space leading up to the dirt path. Quiet blocks the path from the sounds of the abandoned bridge. It's where we went for privacy, where I fumbled through shibari 101.

...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Little Bit About Food and Fitness


Food and Fitness

Here's a little secret for you: I've officially been on a “diet” since I was 12. Yeah, that's crazy. But, I never called it a diet. I read all the right pamphlets, listened to all my nutritionists, psychologists, and physical trainers throughout the years and called it a lifestyle change. I've been on this journey for around 13 years now. I've had successes and failures. Mostly, plateaus... let's just say I've learned a lot.

Sharing My Experiences

I've learned that forming lifestyle habits are time consuming. And I've finally learned what my body needs in terms of nutrition, fitness, and psychological health. I feel like clouds drifted apart and a path appeared. This path is leading me to share my experiences with you.

I'm partly inspired to share my story after reading and following Readers' Workouts, a fitness meme for readers hosted by Joy. And by Ferns from the Domme Chronicles, who shares her workouts and eating log with her readers. Really, she'll always be the Awesome Domme Master of Everything Badass to me.


Readers' Workouts Day

So to the point of this post. It's Tuesday in Texas and it's also Readers' Workouts day. My daily workout revolves around 45 minutes of walking divided into four to five spurts. The first is in the morning right after I wake up. The last is before I crawl back into bed. I purposely make my morning walk a medium pace to wake up all the joints. The intermediate walks are faster, and finally, the last walk is slow. I usually gaze at the stars and feel content after the last walk.

I kind of multitask, too, and use those walks to take my pillow thief out. It's a win-win situation, we both get fresh air and exercise. I'm content with my minimal walking at the moment because and am looking for low-impact alternatives to amp the power.

A Little Bit About Food

I've been cooking more to supplement and aid my journey. Fortunately, I'm in a position where I can cook my own meals.

Mornings I'll start with a green smoothie.Then, I'll have a fried egg with chopped vegetables. Lunch, I wing it and try to combine one cup of vegetables, one fruit smoothie, one serving of grains, and one serving of meat. Dinner I wing even more and combine fruit, a lot of vegetables, grains, and meat.

I'm clearly not a nutritionist and haven't perfected the art of eating yet, but I'm proud of my regimen. I haven't felt this good in years and I'm looking nice.

Weekly Goals

This post is long. But, it does add up everything I've done in the past few months. I plan on blogging more about my journey, and will be revising my editorial calendar for my blog to add this slice of food and fitness. My goals for this week are:
  1. Continue my workout routine and add wall pushups/qigong every other day.
  2. Continue eating the way I am and fine tune meals.
  3. Write shorter food and fitness posts.
And work on other life time goals. What about you? What are your goals for the week? Share your goals in the comments. They can be any goal: food, fitness, writing... all goals are important.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

MM 18 Feb 2013


This week's playlist is a lot edgy, a bit psychedelic, and mostly inspired by grunge.



Track List
  1. Thrown Away by Vast
  2. Isolation by Joy Division
  3. The Book of Spectral Projections by Outrageous Cherry
  4. Did You See the Words by Animal Collective
  5. Sail to the Moon by Radiohead
  6. Are You Supernatural? by Sundial
  7. Mansion World by Deadsy
  8. Not to Touch the Earth by The Doors
  9. Everyone is Totally Insane by The Dandy Warhols
  10. Spread Your Love by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  11. Heart and Lungs by Beach House
  12. Unravel by Bjork
  13. Warmth of Your Eyes by Lazarus

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grand Green Smoothie Experiment

I started the grand green smoothie experiment a couple of weeks ago. It all started with a natural curiosity to blend carrots and make red vegetable juice (think V8). Well, my blender can't blend vegetables so I started searching for vegetable smoothies. In my search I found a lot of helpful resources, some had affiliate links every time they mentioned Vitamax (a high speed blender). Others had recipes for really big smoothies to use as meal replacers. Since, I'm not in the market for meal replacing, I decided to take all these recipes and make a green smoothie recipe that I can interchange to fit my taste buds.

All green smoothies look the same to me, but here's a one I made.
My experimented consisted of taking my dairy and fruit smoothie recipes and changing proportions to make two types of green smoothies: fruit juice based and milk based. The generic proportions are:

1 handful of greens + 1/2 cup of base liquid + 1/2 cup of fruit (or 1/2 of a banana)

Greens

I'm particularly fond of romaine lettuce. I started blending it after reading some of recipes by Incredible Smoothies. Other greens I've used are cucumber, spinach, and spring mix salad. I've read that you can use kale as the green too, but my grocery store doesn't carry kale.

Base Liquid

I've made some really creamy smoothies using a generic brand of light vanilla soy milk. I've also used 1% and 2% milk too. I haven't had a chance to try unsweetened almond milk, yet but I'm sure it works.

On the other hand, I've made some really juicy smoothies using apple juice as a base. Apples are sweet, they're also a good color to mix. I'm a big fan of unsweetened apple juice as it's not too sweet nor too sour.

Fruit

I want to start out by saying bananas are amazing. Angela, from the Green Monster Movement and Oh She Glows, uses bananas as a main ingredient in her Green Monster smoothies. She uses a whole banana to make a double portion. I just use half and freeze the second half for the next day.

If I'm out of bananas I use other fruit. I've had quite a success with Kiwi-Cucumber smoothies as well as Strawberry-Romaine smoothies. Most fruit will mask the flavor of the greens, the sweeter the fruit the better.

I really like green smoothies. A lot of people claim that these smoothies give you energy and all this other wonderful stuff. But... I like them because they make a handful of greens and a piece of fruit a fun substitution for a whole glass of juice or a soda. They're 100% better than Dr Pepper, and that's a good enough reason for you to give them a try. Give them a try, post a picture and show it to me. Go on your own grand green smoothie experiment and eat some more greens.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

On the Side of the Road

Remember my creativity project? Here's the result.


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Friday, February 15, 2013

Cherish


Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in the five sentences, just use it for direction. Today's word is cherish.

This week has a bit of my memoir wedged in. Remember, when it comes to my memoir: what is fact versus fabrications is something we may never truly know.

...


It had bright yarn hair the color of oranges. Big wide cheeks like me, except peach with speckles. It was my doll and it resided in the bathroom before it went on an adventure with the trash man. Because I was scared shitless of Chucky and that doll was not my friend anymore. But I used to love it, until I betrayed it with fear.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Brain Over Brawn: Smart Solutions To Regain And Maintain Strength, Health and Youth By Clint Cornelius

Many, many, super awesome thanks to the wonderful and talented Meena Rose for helping me proofread this blog post. Check out her blog.

***

Sopphey Says: Brain Over Brawn
Brain Over Brawn Cover
Brain Over Brawn: Smart Solutions To Regain And Maintain Strength, Health and Youth By Clint Cornelius

I've been turning my life around ever since I started my adventure into cooking and +Joy Weese Moll did her New Year's Books blog series. Adventures into cooking have led me to incorporating fruit smoothies into my day while Joy inspired me to read books about health. Before I begin talking about this book, I have a disclaimer. I don't think I've ever read any health article, post, or book without calling it stupid about "wild" suggestions. If I can't see science-based evidence behind a claim I lose interest. I'm not going to claim Brain Over Brawn is magical or amazing.

But, it is a good starting point for people looking to change their lives. It is a good example of carefully written material on health, nutrition, and fitness. The book is broken into three major sections: Design and Plan, Fuel and Repair, and Build and Operate. My favorite part of this book is the author. He's straight forward. If he makes a wild suggestion, he backs it up with a bit of his logic.

The author tackles the reality of a person's appearance in the section titled books are judged by their covers. The metaphor being that people are judged by appearances. He concludes, that a fit person is irresistibly considered to be a better person. He outlines this conclusion by saying:
1. As an earner: Statistically, fit, and attractive people earn more money than someone out of shape. They are considered more favorably and more often for promotion  Their ideas and work are more respected, their opinions and suggestions more influential.
2. As a lover/spouse: It's impossible to measure the amount of business brought to psychiatrists (and lawyers) each year based solely on someone's partner being out-of-shape or having "let themselves go."
3. As a parent and role model: Parents play a fundamental role in the development of not only their own children, but through them, influence the development of their children's friends, classmates, and from there on out into the world.
These statements can be difficult to adjust to because they're not always 100% true. On the flip side, I'm sharing them because they're mostly true. As a worker, I compete on a pay-scale basis with the entire world. My physical appearance matters a tad less because my professional knowledge is specialized and backed with years of experience. As a lover, my general lack of self-care is a giant relationship killer. It's on my low priority to-do list, but still something I'm working on.

And thirdly, as a role model I have room to improve. I am an entrepreneur, activist, and older sister. Even if my sisters are out-of-town, I still interact with them. They've seen first-hand what years of mismanaged health care do to a body. They know of the the barriers I've faced, am facing, and that they could potentially face. I can only lead by example at this point. I've learned that it doesn't get any easier. The laughs, stares, and finger pointing from the neighbors as I do my daily exercise doesn't seem to stop. The pavement doesn't feel any softer and my shoes become less shock-absorbing after every step. The falls as I misstep don't hurt any less, and scabs don't heal any faster.

Also, the blender hates me. But, I make it churn smoothies and wash it with water and soap to let it know that I'm going to take care of both us. The author states that our life choices aren't solely for ourselves. We "influence the community to be more healthy, responsible, and intelligent, and perhaps most importantly, happy."

Most importantly happy.

That addition is what kept me reading this book. Not only do I want to learn to eat well and have better mobility, but I want to be happy. Everyone should be happy, maybe my progress will help others be happy. The book covers methods and examples to do the least amount of "work" to create the most amount of success. Topics ranging from sleep, to eating high protein meals, eating high carb meals, making your own work out materials, how to use your work out materials, and how to burn fat by gaining muscle.

Overall, Brain Over Brawn, is a really informative book. One of those books you want to take notes and come back to every now and then. I enjoyed my first read, and will probably start my second read soon. You should read this book too, because you can download it for free: http://brainoverbrawn.com/get-the-book. Check out the book, let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

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Do you like reading books; watching movies? Have you ever come across a book or movie that inspired you to write about it? I'm looking for guest bloggers.

...

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Monday, February 11, 2013

MM 11 Feb 2013


This week's playlist is a lot spacey. I spaced out a good five times before I finalized the list.



Track List
  1. Da Feelin by Nightmares On Wax
  2. Kalimba by Mr Scruff
  3. My Step by Little Dragon
  4. Kong by Bonobo
  5. Yellow by Coldplay
  6. Roche by Sebastien Teller
  7. With or Without You by U2

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Banana Raisin Oat Bites

This easy recipe calls for bananas, raisins, and oats, three brilliant ingredients to satisfy a sugar craving. Now, I can't take credit for this recipe, but can point you to Davey Wavey and Blogilates, two fitness bloggers, who blogged about the recipe calling it a cookie.

This is not a cookie.

Cookies are Oreos, Chips Ahoy, four and fat creations crumbling into sugar. But, this recipe is perfect for a snack. It's also versatile, leaving room to add extra spices and sweetners.

The base of this recipe is a bite size ration of 1/2 of a medium banana and 1/4 cup of quick oats.You can can mesh the banana and oats together, bake, and eat. I chose to add raisins and make a "double" batch to eat and ponder the meaning of life.

Sopphey Says: Banana Raisin Oat Bites
Why do you look like an oatmeal cookie but taste like oats, bananas, and raisins?
The recipe:

Banana Raisin Oat Bites
Makes 6 average sized cookies

...Ingredients

1 medium banana
1/2 cup quick oats
1 oz raisins
Cookie sheet greaser (butter, PAM... whichever makes your heart happy)

...Tools

Bowl
Spoon
Oven
Cookie Sheet
Measuring cup

...Directions

Instruct your banana to not be gooey! This doesn't work, and if your averse to gooey things use a spoon to make a pudding out of your banana. Measure your oats and raisins; add to your bowl. Mix till you have an almost even distribution of oats, banana, and raisins.

Sopphey Says: Banana Raisin Oat Bites
It's a dense bite. Filling, ah so pretty.
Grease your cookie sheet. Place spoonfuls of your batter onto the sheet. Place sheet into oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Bake, cool, and enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Purple


Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in the five sentences, just use it for direction. Today's word is purple.

This week has a bit of my memoir wedged in. Remember, when it comes to my memoir: what is fact versus fabrications is something we may never truly know.

...


She stood in front of me with a bright purple fleece sweater. My hands sunk deeper into my pockets, my bare arms wore goosebumps.

"No thank you," the words clung on my lips. That day started a trend of not accepting gifts. A trend that made me feel ungrateful, and too proud to be a person in need of charity.

...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Name Is Khan



Last part. The first major project in my young life, a collection of 13 movie reviews. You can say that these movie reviews spawned my hobby of watching movies and sort of "learning" from them.

You can read the entire collection here.

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My Name is Khan


My Name is Khan, is somewhat controversial. It’s sort of controversial because it portrays the stupidity of the United States’ deep rooted biases against people who are not “American.” My Name is Khan features Rizwan Khan, a Muslim man who grew up with his brother and mother in India. Rizwan was “always different” and that difference led to the over protectiveness of his mother and the disdain of his older brother. Rizwan and his older brother learn that Rizwan has Asperger’s syndrome when their mother dies and Rizwan moves to the US to live with his brother.

Rizwan works for his brother selling cosmetics and in the process falls in love with Mandira, a Hindu woman. Rizwan goes against his brother’s wishes and marries her. Their life is wonderful, but then the September 11 attacks occur and Rizwan’s new family with Mandira and Sam, her son, crumbles faster than the Twin Towers.

Sam dies from a fight provoked by a ‘race’ argument leaving Mandira extremely distressed and angry. Mandira, in her anger, casts Rizwan aside in the following scene:

“We killed him.” Mandira repeats over and over at the soccer field where Sam died.

“Mandira, it’s time for dinner.” Rizwan tries to tell her. “Doctors say that post-traumatic disorder causes people to ignore their health.”

“Both of us killed him.”

“You need to take care of your health.”

“Just shut up, just shut up! Are you listening to what I am saying? We killed him!” Mandira grabs Rizwan by his shirt collar. “It’s all my fault.” She says after she releases him and holds her head.

“If I hadn’t married you,” she moves her hands to her sides and turns away, “all this wouldn’t have happened. I thought you loved me so much. Loved Sam so much. What difference would it make if his name changed? What difference would it make if ‘Khan’ was added to his name? But I was wrong. It makes a difference.”

She turns to Rizwan, “I should have never married a Muslim man! If Sam would had been a Rathod (Hindu last name) he would have been alive today. He was a Khan, so, he died. He died becauseof you. Because of your surname!”

“I don’t understand what you are saying. I don’t understand what you are saying. You are not well.” Rizwan says while his hand fidgets with some rocks.

“God. I want to die.” She exclaims and holds her hands.

“Oh, no, no, no, no.” Rizwan says walking side to side.

“I want to die.”

“No, no, no Mandira please don’t die. No, no, please don’t die. You can’t die. Please don’t die.”

“Just leave me alone, please.” She turns to him again. “Leave me please. I don’t even want to see you. Whenever I see you I remember Sam’s wounds. I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore. I’m leaving you, Khan. I’m leaving you!”

“Why should you leave? The house is yours. I will leave.”

“Go right now! This instant! Go right now! Go! Go!”

“Mandira, when should I come back?”

“When should you be back? When should you be back? You know Banville? It has a population of 30,000. And each one of those 30,000 people hates you. Tell all of them that you are not a terrorist. Why only them? Tell every person in America. Can you do that? Can you? No, you can’t. Why don’t you tell the President of United States then? Mr. President, my name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist. So, he can tell all these people that my Sam was not the terrorist son of a terrorist father. When you do that come back.”

This scene covers the whole premise of the movie. A brokenhearted mother lays the impossible task to a devoted husband to convince the world that not all Muslims are terrorists. Rizwan embarks on the journey to meet the president, makes several friends along the way, as well as several enemies, wins the hearts of Americans (citizens and noncitizens), and eventually meets the president.

I never knew of the Muslim-Hindu divide in India. I had a very narrow view of Indians and Muslims before watching any of the Shahrukh Khan films. I knew two types of Indians, in-real-life Indians and online Indians. All the Indians I have met at work and college are rude, selfish, hate receiving directions from women, refuse to work in teams, and break any rule they desire. I wasn’t too happy with them, but I was even more unhappy with online Indians. Sorry India for the following, most online Indians are rude, selfish, perverts, degrading, and unbearable.

Now Muslims, I believed that most Muslims are mean, angry, and hateful. I blame my Christian grade school education for that misconception. I also believed that some Muslims really want “72 virgins,” when they go to heaven. That’s a result of Muslim online “trolls,” who constantly harass nonMulsims peoples. But, when it comes to Internet Trolls all you have to do is troll back.

Watching My Name is Khan and learning about Shahrukh Khan has changed my perspective a bit. Just a tiny bit. This world is composed of really loud people who make a bad name for their species, religion, country, province, home, and person. But, at the same time this world is composed of really humble people who fight daily against the misconceptions the loud people make.

Humble people just need to join and become louder, stronger, and well known. People also need to be lenient of other’s beliefs, country, and person. So who cares that a) you want a heaven and b) I don’t believe heaven; please stop praying for my heavenly future because it’s not happening. Just throw a prayer for my happiness as I pray for yours. Pray for love instead of war. Act on the side of freedom instead of oppression. Live for the sake of everyone instead of just your own. Love everyone as much as you love [your] God, and if you can’t don’t do harm. Easy, right?

Sadly, after this movie my love affair with Shahrukh Khan is no more. I can’t fall in love with love any more than I am right now. I can only admire an actor for so long. I can only follow the media coverage until another actor or another scandal fills my sight. I can’t look for answers in foreign languages when I can’t even understand the language filtering out of me.

I’m extremely thankful to Shahrukh Khan, though. His work as an actor made it possible to enjoy a journey through 13 types of love. I’m not really sure what type of “real person” he is but, I do know that he’s ok. He’s not actively trying to convert anyone or involved in the politics of religion. Some of the media accuses him of being arrogant, gay, bisexual, cunning, and immoral. And, I think he even left Twitter, because he received hate tweets. Regardless of what the media thinks or how I could feel, he’s a good man. The world needs a lot of good men and women.

Oh, there is one more movie I wanted to watch. It’s Kal Ho Naa Ho, but I think my movie nights are changing into editing nights for a while so… I guess I’ll just have to save it for later.

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{ Previous - My Love Affair...

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Do you like reading books; watching movies? Have you ever come across a book or movie that inspired you to write about it? I'm looking for guest bloggers.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Alexander the Movie

It's been a while since I've had a guest here, but hopefully I'll have more guests soon! Become a guest.

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Alexander the Movie: What a Mad Macedonian Thinks
by Kiril Kundurazieff

Stone turkey gobbles up scenery!

What I thought of Oliver Stone's film, Alexander, has nothing to do with that line. It was just too good for one of my sense of humor to pass up.

The first actor to play Alexander the Great in a film may have been George Clancey, in 1916's Lord Loveland Discovers America (Silent). One of the earliest known film bios of Alexander the Great was actually filmed in India by director Sohrab Modi, in 1941. His filmography spans 6 decades from the 30's to the 80's, as actor, director, and producer of Indian films. The actor who played Alexander was Prithviraj Kapoor, whose acting credits span 6 decades from the 1920's to the 70's. The film was called Sikandar.

Being of Macedonian heritage I wanted to see this new film, on principle, when it came out, as a show of support for my ancestral peeps.

I read the negative reviews of the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, the mixed review of the OC Weekly, and saw the positive blurbs from reviewers I respect such as Sheehan, Ansen, and Travers. While this film is no Gladiator, or Braveheart, it is most certainly NOT the disaster Stone detractors, left, and right, claimed (wished?) it to be. This is Oliver Stone and, given the subject, it is to be expected that there will be folks looking at this film with other than the enjoyment of good film making in mind.

History tells us about Alexander, and a lot written about him that is by all known accounts more or less accurate makes the modern sensibility uncomfortable. As Guy Rogers wrote, in an essay for the Los Angeles Times, no longer online, Alex never lost a battle, ruled an empire that stretched from Macedonia to India, was accepted as the legitimate ruler of Asia, and had the fighting genius, and intellectual, and tactical qualities to dream of, and work for, harmony and fellowship of rule between the Persians and the Macedonians.

He "understood that although he might conquer the world with his sword, to rule it he needed to wield a far more devastating weapon: the revolutionary idea of sharing his empire with his former enemy."

That was then, this is now.

To trash a bio-pic from the perspectives of what you approved, or disapproved, about the subject’s life, and culture, makes little sense to me. (I've felt this way about the various life of Christ films over the years too.) Ol' Alex lived in a harsh world with different religions, and morals than ours, and what went on then shouldn't be judged too harshly by our disapproving standards.

I'd love to go 2000 years into the future and see what THEY will be thinking about US.

Despite everything there is no getting around his greatness. The Greeks STILL have issues with Ol' Alexander, and Macedonians in general. It's all a part of the general squabbling in the region, from Greece to Bulgaria, that has been going on for 2000 years. Getting cranky with Oliver Stone, and his film making styles, and choices, is fair game, though.

So, what did I think?

Oliver Stone had this project on his mind for years, and his intention from the start was to be a bit more conventional than what he's known for, which I think he accomplished. He still touched some controversial subjects, yet presents a respectable contribution to the sword and sandal genre.

While following the conventional biopic formula of loosely blending historical fact, and dramatic embellishment in portraying his subjects life from childhood to death, youthful interactions with the parents to love, war, and politics in adulthood, he does so in a bit of a departure from tradition.

The thing to remember about even the oscar Caliber sword and sandal epics, from The Ten Commandments, all the life of Christ films, to the Roman epics, is that even the best stories, and dialog, steeped in our modern language, and sensibilities as they are, may appear a little corny, and melodramatic compared to the almost unknown, mundane, reality of the actual events as they occurred.

Only the battle scenes, especially in Gladiator, and this film, come truly close to conveying what life was like back then.

After watching the film I found several anecdotes in Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes to be useful references to semi-quote (some are quite lengthy in the original.) when thinking about the film, and its portrayal of events, and people.

The story is told, in flashback, from the perspective of one of Alex's generals, Ptolemy, from the comforts of a wiser old age as a ruler of one of the off shoots of the great ones empire. Anthony Hopkins, has plenty of scenes throughout the movie, along with his narration, that allow him to express, physically, visually, and verbally, not just the story he tells, but the effects of it all on him as well.

You can tell that the life of Alexander, and his part in it, took a heavy toll on Ptolemy, as a person, a general, and a king. One of the nice touches of these scenes was the presence of the slave taking down the old man’s words. I found myself watching this actor, and his little character bits, as much as I was watching Hopkins.

Gossip surrounded the birth of Alexander. Doubt as to whether Philip was really his father later allowed Alexander to declare that he was a god, and the son of Jupiter. His mother preferred to leave the matter obscure. When news was brought to her of Alex's claim to divine paternity, she said, "Please-- I don't want to get into any trouble with Juno."

Angelina Jolie, in my mind, was a good choice for Olympia. She portrays the haughtiness of a woman who KNOWS she is descended from a god, and her portrayal of a woman scheming to protect, promote, and guide the son she loves, scheme against the husband she hates, and raise snakes, accent, and all, is an engrossing performance.

I have no problem with the closeness in age between her and Colin Farell. It's been done before, and was just as believable. In the later scenes, where she is mainly vocalizing the contents of letters written to Alexander, she expresses the obsession of her character quite believably.

Alexander was puzzled to find Diogenes examining a heap of human bones. "What are you looking for?" he inquired. "I am searching for the bones of your father," replied the philosopher, "but I cannot distinguish them from those of his slaves."

Val Kilmer plays Philip of Macedon with a seriousness, and a relish for the over the topness allowed by the personality, and life, of the character. Philip accomplished much in his life, as warrior, and ruler, and whether he was a monster drunk who loved to party and go wenching far too much is certainly open to interpretation.

I didn't recognize Kilmer in his make-up, but his portrayal of a violent man whose relationship with his son, and wife, was complicated at best is an entertaining performance. With his first appearance the viewer is given license to hate the brute, and then we are guided down the path of, if not loving the man, then at least appreciating that he secretly always wanted to please, and loved his son in his own way, and coveted the adulation of his subjects.

The scenes where father, and son, visit the cave paintings depicting famous warriors from history is a touching vignette.

The first big scenes setting up Alexander as a courageous, daring, young man involves how he got his horse Bucephalus, and this was the best part of the performance of one of the young actors to portray this stage of his life in the film. Showing how no-one, not even Philip, could handle the high spirited animal, the scene sets up its payoff with Alex getting reluctant permission from dear ol' dad to try his hand.

If the prince failed to ride the horse he was to pay his father a forfeit equal to its price. Alex walked quickly to the horse's head and turned it to face into the sun, for he had noticed that the horse's own shadow was upsetting it.

He calmed it, and then mounted it, and the horse obediently showed off his paces.

The crowd went wild!

Pops was overjoyed.

He kissed his son, saying, "Seek another kingdom that may be worthy of your abilities, for Macedonia is too small for you."

On film Stone shows the nervousness of all involved, and the thrill of horse and rider joining as one to the happy relief, and joy of all. A flashback, later in the film, depicting the death of Philip is one of those scenes where you know what's coming, but the setup is so well handled that it's still a bit surprising, and you feel for him.

There are early set ups showing the relationship between Alex and his lover, Hephaistion, as boys, and while Aristotle's rapturous ode to gay love may strike evangelicals, the religious in general, and many non-gays as offensive, or a bit much to swallow, taken in the context of the times of the characters they are perfectly reasonable, and acceptable.

Finally we come to the adulthood of Alexander, and his exploits as a conqueror, and here the film kicks into almost permanent "Gladiator" mode.

Colin Farrell makes for a study in contrasts as Alexander. At once a pretty boy loving, chastely (lots of hugging), his male lover, and lustily, his 2 women, and also the cunning populist, strategist, and ferocious warrior, he straddles the 2 halves of his character very well.

Comparing him to the more muscular sword and sandal stars is not worth the effort because this character was more than just an uncomplicated warrior, and had to be portrayed that way, tears, emotion, and all. He does well showing how one man could have 4 loves, and 3 hates (ma, pa, wifey #2, and his male lover.), and yet manage to be warrior, and statesman as well.

Jared Leto, as his lover, also has to straddle the pretty boy/ warrior line as well, and makes it serviceably believable that this Alex would only be defeated once in his life and that "by Hephaistion's thighs."

After Alexander had conquered Egypt, the Persian king, Darius, sent a letter offering generous terms for peace, and future friendship: 10,000 talents to be paid in ransom for Persian prisoners, all the countries west of the Euphrates to be ceded to Alex, and Darius's daughter to be given him in marriage.

Alex consulted his friends, and General Parmenion said, "If I were Alexander, I would accept these offers." "So would I," retorted Alex, “if I were Parmenion."

The battle scenes are spectacular and comparable with anything from Excalibur, Braveheart, and Gladiator. They are staged with a realism, and attention to detail, and accuracy that film goers have come to expect from their battle scenes.

The big battle with the Persians gets up close and personal with the effects of these weapons on the human body, the chaos, and strategy of such day long fights, and the shocking carnage displayed on a battlefield in the aftermath. Alexander's hollow formations, and the decisive cavalry charge, were true to history, and well executed by Stone and friends.

He also shows, briefly, the closeness, and caring of a general towards his troops in the "hospital" scene. It is here that Oliver Stone begins his allusions to modern day events, and such thoughts stay with you through the end of the film.

Despite the implication that Darius's army was made up of poorly paid mercenaries, the depiction of Babylon as a vast city of wealth hints at the truth of the well-organized empire that Persia was, and its army fought very well in its battles. Beginning with the bearded look of Darius, and moving on to the fact that he regrouped to fight a guerilla war, for a year, against the invader of his country, whose goals included bringing westernized law and culture to a "barbarian" land, the allusions to Osama, Saddam, and their followers is there for those who want to try to connect the dots for whatever reason.

Alex sent his soldiers out into the countryside to fight the resistance, and bring the various smaller cities, and tribes, under his rule, and it wasn't until Darius was killed by one of his own that order was fully restored. The theme of dissention in the ranks, Imperial over reaching, almost quagmires, and the resulting re-grouping masked as not being so is all there on display.

Ignore Macedonians with Irish accents, and revel in the characters, and scenes, from battle to revelry, from moments of calm to moments of storm. Quit nitpicking over whether this line or that is supposedly cornier, and just enjoy an entertaining, and well told story that, though the acting may not be oscar worthy (Close but no cigar for both Colin, and Anthony.), the special effects, costuming, and cinematography certainly are of high enough caliber to warrant consideration.

I wanted to see more detail of how Alex united the subjects of his new lands by adopting some of their ways, and not just marrying their women, to himself, and his men, and how he dealt with them politically. I especially would have loved seeing this scene from Stone's perspective:

At Gordium in Phrygia (Asia Minor) a chariot was fastened with cords made from the bark of a cornel tree. The knot was so cunningly tied that no ends were visible, and the tradition was that the empire of the world should fall to the man who could untie it. Alex, unable to untie the thing, drew his sword and severed it with one stroke. "Cut the Gordian Knot" is a phrase for finding a quick and drastic solution to a difficult problem.

Or this one about the Greek philosopher Anaximenes, of Lampsacus in Asia Minor: When Alex's forces captured Lampsacus, Mr. A was anxious to save his home town, and so went to the King....

Alex anticipated his plea: "I swear by the Styx I will not grant your request," he said. "My lord," calmly replied Anaximenes, "I merely wanted to ask you to destroy Lampsacus." And so he saved his native city.

The scenes where Alex dealt with mutttering, mutiny, and betrayal are handled in various ways, from serious to almost over the top.

The other main female role, that of one of Alex's wives, Roxanne, is played by the fiery Rosario Dawson, and one look at her gloriously nude had me scratching my head as to why Alex still hankered after Mr. Thunder Thighs. The sexual energy in their bedroom scene was something that the subversive side of the Director held back from depicting in the relationship between Alex and his male lover (too bad, but the MPAA would not have put up with that, I'm sure.), in the interest of catering to the masses sensibilities on this subject.

For the sake of spectacle Stone takes his biggest license with the story of how Alex got the famous spear wound in battle. This wound, from a spear with a 3 inch wide point, apparently occurred in a siege somewhere else, and not in a battle in the jungle, no matter how spectacular, and well-staged.

The climactic scene IS a magnificent screen moment, destined for a poster and, with the immediate aftermath as seen from the perspective of the wounded Alex, is the purest Oliver Stone moment in the film.

Elephants were the tanks of their day, as much as chariots were, and just as deadly when thrown against the ranks of soldiers on foot (see the earlier fight with the Persians.), and this is one hell of a battle.

The film winds down on a note of death, conspiracy, reflection and regret, as old Ptolemy hints that all was not as simple as a death from disease. The Oliver Stone of JFK would have done more justice to all of this instead of just implying and, like the dying Alex when asked who would succeed him, leaving it all up to the interpretation of the listener (Alex's generals), and the viewer of the film.

Fortune favors the bold, so the saying goes, and to fault Oliver Stone for not being bold enough is to miss the point:

This was a pet project of his, something apparently closer to his heart than any of his more controversial films, yet no less bold for that. He planned this out just the way he wanted, inserted moments of controversy, and conspiracy, where they could be used to best advantage, from his point of view, and made a film in the highly popular Hollywood epic tradition that saw its heyday in the 50's and 60's, and rears its profitable head every so often still.

For 2 hours, and 56 minutes, just revel in the spectacle and count yourself fortunate that a director such as Oliver Stone wanted to make a "respectable" film as part of his film legacy.

Critics, from Ebert on down, were busily overanalyzing, nitpicking, and letting their feelings about Stone get in the way of enjoying an entertaining film. Their confusion, and disappointment, isn't the fault of the filmmakers.

On a scale of 1 to 5? I give this film a 4.

Alexander is a great, and entertaining, film.

Buy it, rent it, watch it on cable, just don't skip the chance for an enjoyable time at the movies.

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Kiril Kundurazieff is a creative writer and blogger with 10 years of experience in storytelling, poetry, reporting, and photography. Kiril has created more than 4500 blog posts of original content for four blogs (2 still actively published) on the themes of creative writing, hobbies, culture and society, personal journey, and enlightenment (Sneakeasy’s Joint and Musings of a Mad Macedonian), adventures in bicycling (The Cycling Dude), and unique “cat opinions and thoughts” (Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat). The hallmark of Kundurazieff’s writing is his wit and peculiar sense of humor. 

Kundurazieff relocated to Houston, Texas in September of 2012 after having lived in southern California all his life. Kundurazieff shares his apartment with his cats Nikita and Elvira, who are his source and inspiration for the creative writing that appears on his blog, Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

Connect with Kiril Kundurazieff on Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, February 4, 2013

MM 4 Feb 2013


This week's playlist is a lot bouncy.



Track List


  1. Candy by Cameo
  2. Medley With Stone Fox & Chase in Zaire by Rhythm of Zaire
  3. Take Your Time (Do it Right) by The SOS Band
  4. Gold by Amanda Lear
  5. Jungle Love by The Time
  6. Popcorn (cover version)
  7. Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson
  8. Weapon of Choice by Bootsy Collins
  9. Superstylin' by Groove Amanda


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Perfect Fruit Only Smoothie

Fruit.

I have grown particular to this smoothie interchangeable recipe. The perfect fruit only smoothie recipe can be broken down into two parts: fruit and fruit juice.

Ingredients

2 cups of fruit
1 cup of fruit juice

Tools

Measuring cup
Blending Device
Glass

Directions

Put your desired fruit and fruit juice into a blender. Blend, and enjoy.

Now, the trick to making a good fruit only smoothie is to choose the right types of fruits AND to have a good mix of frozen and fresh fruits. The frozen fruits act as that smoothie texture (whoa I'm sounding like a foodie!). Most people, will add ice to make the smoothie less runny and more compact. I don't like doing that, it waters down the flavor. I promise, it tastes perfectly fine if you just use fruits and no ice.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bolton Carley's Candy-Coated Love-Fest

The Candy Coated Love Fest - Candy Photo
I like Bolton Carley. She has these amazing blog posts about rules and cool stuff. Really cool stuff. So, when she commented on a recent #WSChat about a challenge, I was intrigued. Then I read the challenge's rules:
Lover? Hater? Dreading it or excited about it? No matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day, we’ve got just the event for you! Smug Married or Single-for-what-seems-like Forever, this is for you! Male or female, single or taken, depressed or livin’ the dream, there’s something here for everyone. We even have different levels of participation, too. And best of all – it doesn’t cost a thing!
1. Want to join in but make it really easy on yourself?

Just write a comment where ole fb asks how your day is going or post a picture every day between Feb. 1 and Feb. 14 about something or someone you love whether it’s the mailman, your pet dog, Zippy, your mocha latte from Starbucks, or your mommy. We aren’t here to judge. We are here to have a good time… to party like it’s 1999 if you will!
OR
2. Do you want to jump on the party bus big time and play along with each day’s theme?
There will be pictures, contests, chalky hearts, prizes, Christian Grey references, bad relationship jokes, and mushy-gushy crap, too…probably. :) Just join the event and a post will pop up each morning for you to hop on or give the finger to.
Each day for the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day (Feb. 1 - Feb. 14), you can post whatever you have to say on the subject to your own FB page or here. Feel no obligation if you don’t have time. This is just for fun. The only thing I ask is that you invite your friends to jump on the bandwagon because the more the merrier around here!
Happy Valentine's Day!

"Sounds easy," I thought to myself and joined with the intention of doing the hard version. AKA following the 2nd path and jumping in with the fest's events. Little did I know... this is probably the most challenging challenge I'm ever going to partake in ever. I'm going to update this blog post as I undergo this challenge. Starting with Day One, of course.


DAY ONE; Okay all you candy-coated love festers (get it festers - lol), we're starting off easy!  Gonna make it a sexpot Friday going into Super Bowl weekend!  No tough stuff today, just a day of fun and a little bit of Nelly "hot" in here hot-sauce to get your party started. Today, your job is to post what you think is sexy.

...(Why did I agree to this challenge again?)

Sexy is... when I look into a person's eyes and see a little clock ticking. A gear, a nuisance that drives our conversation for hours. Once I see that twinkle, the person becomes interesting. And sometimes, interesting enough to be sexy.

DAY TWO. So what do we all love about Valentine’s Day??? Well, that’s obvious!  We love CANDY! Don’t lie. I know you have a stash! So let's hear what's in or break out that camera phone and snap a pic of your fave sweet treat! Or if you're at the store, just take a pic of the cart! lol.


My younger sister has candy to a science. It's a feast on its own for days around Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. Valentine's Candy always involves those "be mine" hearts. Lots and lots of them. Then, there's usually chocolate of some sorts. But primarily "be mine" hearts.

This Valentine's Day my younger sister won't be home, so I have absolutely no Valentine's Day candy. But! I do have some nice all fruit recipes to make little pies and sweet dishes. I'm liking those more than candy at the moment.


DAY THREE. Not only are we talking conversation hearts, we’re talking a contest and a prize for the lucky winner of the day!  Yes, that’s right.  You heard me!  So are you ready to talk candy hearts with me now????

Some people love conversation hearts.  Some people think they make better chalk.  I’d agree with the chalk theory.  However, I happen to love the premise.  Who doesn’t love having candy say what they can’t put into words?

I mean there’s so much to say, good or bad.  For instance:

                B My Anna Steele! (sexy style)

                U 8n’t 4 me! (ghetto style)

                Purdier than a tractor! (farmer style)
               
So here’s your chance.  Tell me what should be on a new conversation heart in 15 letters or less.  Best one according to me (and I can be swayed!!!) wins a prize!  I’ll let the winner know and grab an address then. 


 inspired by the Anna Steele one (but it's not really creative):

XO and Spanks

DAY FOUR. Whose love inspires you?

The love from people who love without expecting anything in return.

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Delicate


Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in the five sentences, just use it for direction. Today's word is delicate.

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She's dressed in the magnificent sapphire necklace I forged with the bluest silver in the country. She sits across the room, holding a crystal glass with the deepest red wine in the world.

She laughs at her suitor, "Yes, the great smith Andres made this necklace."

Her suitor looks at my direction and move his chair closer to her. I look away.

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