We never know how we look through another person’s eyes.  A year ago today, Dove published a video showing women describing themselves to a sketch artist.  Then another person who had just met them described them to the artist.  The two pictures of each woman were very different.  The experiment focused only on women, many of whom appeared really upset when confronted with the two different images.  You can see the original experiment from Dove here.

Just a couple days ago, BuzzFeed posted an article with a variation of this experiment.  They brought in a group of people to stand in front of a mirror and talk about themselves.  They did not know it was a two way mirror with another person making observations about them.  A few days later they were brought back in to look at the video footage of the people behind the mirrors.  One big difference from this and the Dove experiment is that some of the participants were men.  The men had just as much negative talk about themselves as the women did.

What struck me most, was one man saying that the mirror lies.  The mirror cannot lie.  It can only repeat back to us what we have told it.  The mirror is simply an amplifier.  The problem is our perspective of what we see in the mirror.  So many people have a skewed self-image that they only see the negative.  Many have been told their entire lives that they are not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough.  They’ve been told that they will never measure up to someone else, and spend their lives trying to reach a goal that at best is not theirs to reach and at worst is so far out of reach as to be impossible.

When we hear the negative often enough we start to believe it.  It becomes our reality.  Most people don’t recognize the negative self-talk they use everyday.  Not unless someone points it out to them.   These experiments are a wake-up call for these people.  The truth of how other people see us is right there in front of us.  It can be very hard to accept that reality.  It’s scary.  It’s not the familiar that we’ve become so accustomed to.  Letting go is not easy.  It is confidence building to hear what someone else thinks about your body and realize that they may be right.  Maybe my cheekbones are shaped nicely.  Maybe my hair is not as mousy as I thought it was.  Maybe my thighs don’t look so bad.  But even this thinking can be detrimental if spoken in negative terms.

It’s important to always look at yourself and find something positive.  Even if it’s just one thing, celebrate that one thing.  Then the next day, find and celebrate another thing.  Keep working at it until you believe those positive things.  Keep celebrating the beautiful things about yourself and others will notice them, too.  We are all more than we think we are.  We just need to change our perception in order to see it.  The full article is here on BuzzFeed.  The video is below.




Review: Dead West Books 1& 2

Not sure how I missed posting a review of book 1 in the Dead West series but I will remedy that instantly.


Those Poor, Poor Bastards is a zombie western following Nina Weaver and her father through a shambling landscape of supernaturally undead.  The characters are well developed, showing a range of the human condition in all of its ugliness and beauty.  Setting, dialogue, characterization and overall style are true to the western genre while offering up plenty of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.  There is never-ending danger of being bitten, ancient bad guys, human asshats, and a stoic, hereo-esque type in a Stetson with two very large guns.  All combine nicely into a crazy train that takes you on one helluva ride.

The Ten Thousand Things barrels down the tracks with just as much action as the first book.  We see some of the same characters and a few new ones, all being reassuringly predictable and still surprising as events unfold, forcing them to change in subtle ways.  The humanity of the characters is hard-fought amid the shambling horde and shines through beautifully.  The authors stay true to their western style while giving us a sex scene, a first use of native spiritual magic that is stunning, and a surprise at the end that I expected and still was surprised by.

I would recommend both of these books.  Hopefully the third in the series will be out soon.  My favorite lines so far:

Nina smiled and reached out to touch her Colt 1861 Navy where it rested just inches away.  Hard iron in front, an iron-hard man behind. She was covered.


You can find Those Poor, Poor Bastards and The Ten Thousand Things on Amazon and at RagnarokPub.

And we’re waiting for…

I came across a meme on Facebook recently that credited Carl Jung with a quote.  I haven’t been able to confirm that, but I do like what it says.  The quote reads:  Life begins at 40.  Before that you were just doing research.

If you’ve followed my blog a long time (did I really start in 2008??) you may recall that it’s not been all sunshine and roses.  For those of you newer to the blog, let me recap.  I’m 42 years old, happily divorced, no kids, raised to be a wallflower by a mother who had her own truckload of baggage.  There were many things I learned from my mother that I have spent the last several years trying to unlearn.  I’ve been what you’d call a late bloomer to doing that research mentioned in the meme.

The question is what do I want to be when I grow up.  The answer: I still don’t know.  I have a few ideas that I feel quite strongly about.  The problem is that I’m still letting my mother’s lack of confidence hold back my own.  You see, Mom didn’t let me explore a lot of things to figure out who I was and what I wanted.  I did get to try a few things if I made enough noise about it.  But in general, I had to rely on my librarians to help me explore.

I have a news flash for you: reading about great adventures and amazing experiences is not the same thing as living those adventures and experiences.  So I come across this meme and I start thinking, what am I waiting on?  What are the things I want to do that I’ve not tried yet?  What do I want to be when I grow up?

fender_stratocaster_guitar_3The two constants in my life have been music and the written word.  Currently I write my blog (yes, I know, need to more often) and I’m editing for Voluted Tales Magazine.  I also have my own writing that I’m working on.  I’m shopping around for a guitar to start learning to play.  And I’m working on a steampunk-styled Adventure Time cosplay for the St. Patrick’s Day party I’m having next month.  I LOVE making clothes and costumes and props.  I’m a very crafty wench.

So that’s writing/editing, playing guitar, and cosplay.  I’m not waiting any longer.  Mom died in 2002.  Sometimes I still feel her influence, but it’s not as strong as it used to be.  Me…I’m getting stronger every day.  I’m trying to make good use of the time I spend in my chair and find new adventures to draw me out of it.

What haven’t you done yet?  What are you waiting for? …

It takes a team

I have been watching a lot of football this season and I am noticing a trend.  Long before the final clock runs out, there is a tom-brady-losingquarterback on the sidelines hanging his head, dejected, towel over his face.  I want to reach through the screen and shake him and scream WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THE GAME IS NOT OVER YET!  The quarterback is the leader of the team.  He calls the plays and directs players on the field.  So why is he giving up before the game is over?  I saw this with my home team, the Carolina Panthers.  I’ve seen it with my all-time favorite Dallas Cowboys.  And I saw it yesterday during a play-off game with the New England Patriots.

cam-newton-fantasyI got news for these quarterbacks.  If your team mates see you looking all down in the dumps because the game is not going well at a particular moment, it brings them down.  They lose their steam.  And the third quarter looking rough does not mean that you won’t score again.  It does not mean the game is lost.  You cannot give up.

If you follow football, you know that the quarterback gets blamed for everything.  While I feel this is not fair, after all he is part of a team, when the game is not going well is when you need the quarterback to step up and lead.  Even if it means nothing more than NOT looking dejected on the sidelines.  Get aggravated.  Get mad.  Talk to the coaches and your team mates.  But don’t ever give up.  Don’t let anyone see you give up.

Many people say that American football players are whiny kids playing a game for a lot of money.  Yes, sometimes they whine just Romolike we all do.  And yes, they get paid well.  But they also train very hard to be the best at what they do.  At least they earn their money (unlike some politicians I could mention).  They put their bodies and minds on the line every time they put on their pads and step onto the field.  I read an article in ESPN magazine about Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and how he developed a work ethic back in his college days.  Romo wasn’t the best player on the team.  But when he saw that he needed to work on something he practiced and practiced until he got good at it.  He does the same today, studying game footage to see where mistakes were made and where he needs improvement and then he takes that to the field to work on those issues.  One of his team mates said he did not know anyone who worked harder to perfect his game.  That is how you become a leader.

Let’s talk about the fans for a moment.  I have been a football fan for as long as I can remember.  My dad was a Redskins fan.  So of course I had to pull for the Cowboys just to aggravate him. The Cowboys are still my team, even after my home state got their own NFL franchise.  Football fans are loyal, rabid, passionate, and insane.  Fans will cheer and boo and have superstitions (yes, I’m Giants Cowboys Footballtalking about the beer ads).  If these athletes are going to risk broken bones and concussions to play the game, we owe it to them to be as fanatical about our fandoms as they are about competing.  However, when our team loses, we should hold the whole team accountable (coaching staff included).  The flip side of this is that we have to be accountable as fans.  The NFC playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers was played in the noisiest stadium in the league.  The crowd has set records for how many decibels they can reach.  Quite the opposite from the AFC game at Denver.  I saw the big screen flash “Quiet please. The quarterback is talking.”  And the crowd would be so quiet when Denver had the ball that Manning was heard clearly throughout the stadium.  These crowd responses are what fans should be doing in every stadium.

So, remember this as you prepare for Superbowl weekend: do not blame the quarterback; cheer like your life depends on it; respect the effort put into making a professional athlete.  And have fun.  That’s what these guys are doing on the field.  It should be fun.  And we should have fun watching the game, not just the commercials.

Does your bra fit? (It’s not what you’re thinking)

If any of you have seen pictures of me, it is quite evident that I am not flat chested.  While I often gripe about my bras the truth is I Mae West Gownwould be in a lot of pain and quite miserable without them.  I need that support.  What does my bra do?  The same function as a man’s athletic cup.  Protect body parts that are often unsupported and in danger of getting squeezed, crushed, mashed, pinched…you get the point.  These devices come in different sizes.  A good thing since human bodies are a bit asymmetrical and even twins will have some differences.  Each person is different and needs a type of support designed specifically for them.

Which brings me to my point.  Each person on this planet needs more than just support from their clothes.  We all need emotional support from the people around us.  But it’s not all the same.  Students need support to do well in school.  Teachers need support to effectively fill heads with knowledge.  People with ANY type of illness need support from family, friends and doctors in order for treatment to be successful.

A lot of our support system needs to come from within.  This is not a contradiction of my last paragraph.  Our own self-esteem and self-control work with the support of those around us.  It’s important that the people we surround ourselves with understand us well enough to offer the support we need, and vice versa.  A good example: if your best friend is trying to make healthy changes to his/her diet and get in shape, don’t offer them food they can’t eat.  This is even more important when you live with someone.  It is very difficult for a person to make healthy lifestyle changes when they share space with someone who is content to stay the way they are.

Do you have enough willpower to fix two different meals so you can eat together?  Can you look across the table and watch the other person eat a big bowl of pasta and resist the urge to have even a bite?  It’s difficult to maintain a new change long enough for it to become a habit when you don’t have enough support.  And before you start, just saying you are supportive of someone’s efforts to get healthy or do whatever is not enough.  Saying you’ll support my effort to go to the gym and cut out sodas and wheat is nothing but LIP SERVICE UNLESS YOU ACTUALLY BACK IT UP!

Let me repeat that:  IT’S ONLY LIP SERVICE UNLESS YOUR ACTIONS SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  If I’m trying to get to the gym more often, ask me “did you make it to the gym today?”  If I’m trying to eat what my doctor recommends, don’t bring home spaghetti O’s and frozen pizza.  Yes, there are compromises, within reason.  But if you’re going to say you support my efforts, then act like it.  If we’re eating together, eat what I eat.  If it’s your turn to buy groceries, don’t fill the cabinets with stuff I can’t eat.  Don’t just tell me you support me.  Show me.

I was never taught the value of cultivating self-esteem and self-control.  I’ve had to learn those the hard way, through trial and error.  My brother and I are both trying to make some lifestyle changes in order to get healthy.  We’re both officially orphans with plenty of extended family.  The two of us are our own support system, warped and twisted though it is.  We need all the support we can get from those around us.

How strong is your support?  If you wanted to make a big change would people be there to help you or just give lip service?  How well does your bra fit?



One more thing…

Several people helped participate in my first Rock Blog Tour.  Much thanks to Whitney Coble, Tim Marquitz, Kristyn Phipps, Glenn Walker, Robin Renee, and Jennifer Cardonick Walker.  All of these wonderful people helped boost the signal for the band Skinn Jakkitt.  The band is keeping busy.  They have a CD trailer now airing on several satellite TV channels, but I have it for you here: 

The guys are getting ready for their tour that begins in Chicago in February.  Rock blogger Hellion Rocks had a round table discussion with members of Skinn Jakkit, Death Rattle, The Black Cross Brotherhood, Final Curse and Stevil Helmer of Helmer Management.

Check out the discussion in its entirety here:  Hellion Rocks.  You can find Skinn Jakkitt at the following venues:  

Jan 18th @ The Sand Shack, North Charleston, SC – The Helmer Management Show

Jan 25th @ The Wizard Saloon, Hickory NC, with Bonz from Stuck Mojo, and  Nefarious

Feb 7th Knoxville Tn tentative

Feb 8th @  Bada Brew, Chicago, Illinois with Final Curse and more.

Feb 15 @ St Valentines Massecre in Charleston, WV with Black Cross Brotherhood and Final Curse

March 29 @ The Drunk Horse Pub, Fayetteville, NC

June 21 @ Main City Cellar, Hickory, NC, for the Hillbilly Beardsman Club’s beard competition


The Rock Blog Tour was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again soon.  Who knows what music you’ll see here next?




Rock Blog Tour presents Skinn Jakkitt

bed13cb4962672dc2bab365a2f983a43I am very happy to be today’s stop on the Rock Blog Tour.  I have seen several shows with Skinn Jakkit and they are a hard rocking band with a lot of energy.  Their self-titled CD went live on November 5 and covers a range of topics in some really interesting, relevant, and sometimes surprising lyrics.  You can find the CD on Amazon, iTunes, Tate Publishing, and ReverbNation.  You can also find the guys on Facebook  and at their SkinnJakkit page.

Skinn Jakkit is Greg Stephens on vocals, Barry Sams at lead guitar, Shane Farris on rhythm guitar, Jeff Hayworth at bass, and Jeff “Pup” Price pounding the drums.  I had the chance to ask the guys a few questions…


Describe your writing process. Is it lyrics first or does a particular melody catch your attention?

 Jeff Price: Melody First

Barry Sams: A cool riff usually sparks the writing process. Me, Shane or Hayworth will toss around a few notes till one of us has a spark that will ignite a song.

Greg Stephens: Barry and Shane are the masters of the riff. They usually jam and I start trying to formulate a lyric pattern. Sometimes I have some lyrics but most of the time I write them at the same time.


Who are your musical influences?

Barry Sams:   We have the late 70′s- 90′s metal influences, I myself prefer bands like Fear Factory, All That Remains and GZR.

Jeff Price:  Tesla, Stryper, Metallica

Greg Stephens:  My influences are all over the board. I love Iron Maiden, Clutch, COC, Alice In Chains and Megadeth. New bands I love Eye Empire and Kill Devil Hill.  Guilty pleasure would be Journey.


Who would you most like to perform with?

 Barry Sams:  At this point Fear Factory or Five Finger Death Punch.

Jeff Price:  Shinedown

Greg Stephens: Id say Clutch, Megadeth or hell I said it Metallica.


What are your favorite and least favorite songs to perform?

Barry Sams:  Favorite song to perform is a new one we wrote “Cover Story” and       then “Farther” off the album. Least favorite is none of the above :)

Jeff Price:  Shame :) / End of the Line :(

Greg Stephens:  Id favorite is a tie with Shame the brand new one and Change. Least I really don’t have any.

Jeff Hayworth:  favorite any of ours ,/ least favorite anyone else’s. (covers)


Tell us about your experience shooting the video for Epiphany.img_22161_005

Jeff Price:  Difficult, wasn’t able to have much volume to the playback so it made it hard for me, the drummer to really show much energy or aggression in my playing. Still was a great experience.

Barry Sams:  You have to be still, then more energy, then don’t look at the camera, then the cops get called, then break, then change clothes, more pictures. Its cool I like it!!

Greg Stephens:  It was a very overcast day. Industrial park, old steel mill. In the shadows of downtown. Had people driving by and watching. Got the cops called on us for noise. Funny enough we had a hard time hearing the music. Lol, the noisy one was Mr. Price. Trouble maker. We had a scene that is only briefly in the video where I had to walk down this fence line while all the band members were scattered along the fence line. I walked slooooooow at their orders we did it a few times. Price says man there is a bag at my feet and something stinks. We go look and it’s a dead animal. Ewwwwww true story.


Let’s talk tour riders: what is the one thing you MUST have when on the road?

 Jeff Price:  Peace Tea, BBQ or Hot Pork rinds, Granola bars

Barry Sams:  Nothing but the essentials for the road. Well…maybe Diet Sundrop.

Greg Stephens:  Water, Juice, Fruit and some Cheerwine as a special


Any road stories you can share without incriminating anyone?

Barry Sams:  Scaring Price into thinking he was late for the plane. Being laid over in Chicago for 9 hours. Hayworth scaring the hell out of convenience store patrons hollering WHAT THE F*%K!!!  [He's over 6' tall.  Would scare me!]

Shane Farris: ( The Quiet One)  Yeah I would agree with the WTF story.

Jeff Price:  Getting woke up abruptly while sleeping on a bench while waiting on the flight to leave for Oklahoma.

Greg Stephens:  Welllll, we pull a lot of pranks and Price is a common target but the best prank was one I Orchestrated in the studio on Barry.  Barry took his prized “never take it off the wall don’t even look at it” Schecter guitar to OKC to record and do the video.  I immediately started to scheme.  He is laying down scratch tracks for Price to do his drum tracks and he has to go to the restroom.  I get Shane to be lookout and to let me know when Barry is coming, I have Price lay in the floor and he wraps Barry’s guitar chord around his leg.  I litterally take about 5 mins to carefully lay the guitar down on the floor.  Shane gives me the high sign and I kick over an empty guitar case and Price starts with the “OOOOOooo Ooooo.”  The look on Barry’s face was priceless, if you will.  He is gritting his teeth taking it all in.  After about 3 or 4 mins he’s like “are you ok” with gritted teeth.  “Because if you are I’m gonna kill you.  Of all the things to happen,  you and your big clumsy feet.”  “Hey Barry” I’m pointing to the guitar case.   “I swear I should have never brought it.”   “Hey Barry,” the case. “You are so damn destructive.”  Finally I drop the case again. “You sorry Son Ofa”…and he walks out of the room!


Sounds like these guys are as much fun off stage as they are on stage.  They are based out of the Hickory, NC area but are about to start touring to promote their CD.  Be sure to check them out!  The next stop on the Rock blog Tour is on Thanksgiving, November 28 at Kristyn Phipps blog.  Here is the video for Epiphany to whet your appetite: