The soul of an artist

images (4)I found a picture today in my Facebook feed that made me stop scrolling. Not this first pic. He’s further down the page. It was a photo of one of my favorite musicians and it got me thinking.

There’s a lot of talk about separating the art from the artist when we find out one of our idols from stage, screen, or airwave has different views on some topic than we do. Those of you up in arms about Ender’s Game and Orson Scott Card know what I’m talking about. The truth is that each of us is entitled to our own opinions on politics, religion, sex, birth control, gender equality, all of these and more.

As fans, we do need to separate the art from the artist sometimes. Each song/book/painting/movie touches each of us in a unique way that only we understand. What we have to remember is that it happens for the artist, too.

I’m particularly into music. It feeds my writing ideas, both fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes it’s the phrasing of lyrics. Other songs it’s the feel of the music itself. And sometimes you find an artist that you just can’t get enough of. Everything they touch turns to gold.  I have been addicted to music since I was a kid listening to my dad on the radio. Dad would quiz me on artist and title when we were in the car with the music on. I love everything from Albert King to Rob Zombie and back around twice more.davegrohl

Of all the artists I’ve found in my 42 years, Dave Grohl is one of my all-time favorites. He has an appreciation for the music that more musicians need to develop. His love of music is so profound that he bought the sound board from the Sound City Studio to preserve the history captured in all those miles of wire.

Grohl personifies what music does to the soul. Watch the video for Pretender by his band Foo Fighters and you’ll see what I mean. Many of the bands videos include cheesy costumes and campy themes behind deep, heavy grinding rock beats. But Pretender starts slow, just a voice and a microphone. Then Hell breaks lose. Pretender has both those moments of intense quiet and raging, balls-to-the-wall energy that drags you through the song at mach 3 with your hair on fire.

Watch not just Grohl but the entire band in that video. The song would be intense even of there wasn’t a riot squad involved. That intensity is evident in everything Dave Grohl does. Sometimes it’s just under the surface, others it breaks free. It is always glorious.

Since learning to play guitar at age 12, he has become one with the music and its power. That’s the point where the artist is so connected to the art they become inseparable. When you listen to an artist of that caliber, it sets your soul on fire.

 

 

 

Review: The Forty First Wink by James Walley

Do you remember your dreams? Ever woke and thought you were still in one? Are you afraid of clowns? Then there’s a new book you really need to read.

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The Forty First Wink plunges you into a strange world that’s a gloriously weird hybrid of Labyrinth, Legend and Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a fast pace that doesn’t let up. Characters are strong and distinct, keeping up with the action and keeping you turning pages.

This debut novel is funny and terrifying at the same time, making you relive your own hellish nightmares and wish for companions like Walley’s characters. With flying pirates, talking canaries and deranged clowns The Forty First Wink is a wonderful roller coaster of a read. I look forward to much more from James Walley.

 

What I Want

moneytreeA money tree would be nice, right? Recent events have reinforced me opinions on financial independence. Not financial security, I’ll get to that in a minute. Financial independence is not something I was taught. I’ve had to learn it the hard way. It goes hand-in-hand with work ethic and job stability and budgeting. All of these things work together, if you do it right.

This is how it should work. You grow up seeing your parents work hard and take care of all their responsibilities and live productive happy lives. You get an education and find employment doing something you enjoy and make enough coin to take care of all of your responsibilities and live a productive and happy life. Your children grow up watching you and learning the same lessons you did. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

In case you haven’t been playing along, I grew up watching my parents constantly argue over money. There was never enough. It never got spent in the right way. We didn’t know when more was coming. These are the lessons you don’t want to learn. It wasn’t until I was grown, married and divorced that I learned how to live on a budget.

Budgets are easy concepts, really. Total all of your necessary expenses. Subtract that from your net income. The difference is hopefully a positive number and it’s what you get to play with. If it’s negative, then you need to reevaluate your expenses and your source of income. We waste tons of money on fast food and stuff we don’t need. Eliminate that stuff and then see what’s left. If you’re still in the red, you may need to find a better paying job or a second job. Not an easy thing in today’s job market.

Now here is the tricky part. You need to be able to do this without relying on your parents, grandparents, third cousin twice removed or whomever to bail you out when you get overdrawn yet again. Don’t let the bail-out become a habit. Each of us needs to be able to stand on our own and manage our own money independently without needing a knight in shining armor with deep pockets. It doesn’t matter what gender, race, sports team, hair color or anything else you are, learn how to manage money and live on your own. That’s financial independence.

Knowing that you have financial independence is how you build financial security. That feeling of knowing how much you have in savings, that you could survive for at least 6 months if you lost your job, that you’ll have money to live on when you retire to that beach house, that feeling comes from knowing that you have the ability to make money and keep money.

Oh, and check your credit report regularly. Especially if you’ve been in a relationship where money was shared. Those recent events I mentioned? Yeah, my ex-husband never learned those lessons any better than I did. The difference is that he still hasn’t learned them. I had yet another call this week from someone looking to serve papers on him. I may go ahead and change back to my maiden name after all.

Just looking

A few of you who know me personally already know this, but for the rest of you…I’m job hunting. I’ve worked in health care for the last few years. There were four years with the same company in food service before that. Staying in one place is not a problem. I’m still editing for Voluted Tales. That won’t change – Mark is stuck with me now. But I’m looking for a new day job.

I’ll be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve done this. Almost had an anxiety attack trying to update my resume. I have said resume listed with Indeed, Monster and Careerbuilder as well as a few others. I’ve had to start checking my email a couple of times a day because of all the messages these sites generate. And the actual searching is exhausting. This hasn’t gotten any easier as I’ve gotten older.

No matter what age you are, if you think you’re ready for a change, make sure you don’t run off half-cocked. Have a budget and know how far you can survive without steady income. You need to be covered in case you have any down time between jobs. Going back to school is always an option but you still need to keep the bills paid. Know what your income requirements are before you start looking. If you know you want to buy a house, you need to have enough income to cover payments, insurance, utilities, homeowner’s fees, and maintenance. It’s more expensive than you think it is. Plus, you have groceries, gas and other car expenses, internet, cable, and don’t forget your cell phone.

I keep seeing that commercial talking about how far your money will last you once you retire. I’m trying to figure out how far it will go past the end of the month. If you’re looking too, happy hunting!

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Help yourself

No, I’m not talking about getting seconds at dinner. I’m talking about learning how to live better, healthier lives. I had a conversation recently with a friend who said she wished she realized sooner how much bad she was doing to her body with the food choices she made. Now she’s making a lot of changes to correct a health issue. She lives with extended family and is being met with a good bit of resistance. I’ve experienced the same thing. It’s not easy.

During our conversation, I said “It’s sad that we wait until we’re sick to take care of ourselves.” And this is very true. We grow up and do whatever we want as far as how we eat, whether we exercise, being proactive with our health. The United States is often touted as the fattest country on the planet. While we try to prevent body-image issues, we still have a tendency to put shame and blame on people who are not perfectly healthy. And the truth is that we don’t eat right, don’t exercise enough, eat and drink things that are bad for us, allow our government to go along unchecked with what they do to our food production and we take no responsibility for our own health.

Let me say it again: we do no take responsibility for our own health! Not until we get sick and realize what we’ve been doing to ourselves. We learn how to choose foods and how to treat our bodies by what we see our parents and the people around us doing. We all need to set better examples for the children around us. The adults, too. How can we expect our kids to eat right and stay healthy when we don’t show them that it’s an option?

Exploring healthy lifestyle choices is just as important as exploring career choices. Do something good for yourself. When you do, others see it and want to do good for themselves. It pays itself forward. There are two quotes that are fitting for this topic. The first is from the Bible: Physician, heal thyself. The other is from Greek philosopher Socrates: know thyself.

You cannot heal yourself if you don’t know what your body is doing. Know what you do to your body, know what your body can handle and do everything you can to make yourself the best possible version of yourself. Help yourself.

Monsters – A reply to Glenn Walker

WARNING: Spoilers! If you haven’t seen Godzilla yet, read at your own risk. ;-)

GposterOver all my friends are just as weird and nerdy as I am, each in their own way. Like several of my friends I have been a Godzilla fan for a long time. Yes, I still need to replace the G-movie collection my ex kept (the hit order is still in effect). And yes, I admit to liking the 1998 Godzilla with Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno. Don’t be hating, just read. I will also admit to not watching any Godzilla movie after the 1998 version. All that being said, I was seeing mixed reviews as the first showings this year’s Godzilla were hitting the big screen. You can find one such review at Biff Bam Pop with my friend Glenn Walker. I was very excited to see the newest version since it was being lauded as a Hollywood version of the Toho Limited-style movies.

Now, last night I saw my favorite lizard, in 3D, and I have to say I absolutely loved it! If you’ve seen the original movies you know they have almost Shatner-esque over acting coupled with cheesy effects. This version of Godzilla has better effects but it still looks almost like slow-motion film of actors in suits during the monster fight scenes (except for the last scene, later on that). Yes, as my pal Glenn points out the two monsters Godzilla fights look strange and alien. I thought the male MUTO looked like a bat-praying mantis hybrid while the female looked more spiderish.

Let’s talk about the science. The actual science is what a lot of people despised about the 1998 version. But be honest. It’s a monsterGcavern movie. It’s supposed to be unreal and totally impossible. Monsters can’t actually come to live and roam the Earth, can they?! If had really believed that the Wasp Woman was a possibility in reality I would never have used make-up a day in my life! In this version, G-man is an ancient apex predator that feeds on nuclear energy, all of his species and the parasites (the MUTOs), going deeper into the Earth to get closer to the core as the outer atmosphere changes to support more human life. I thought this was a cool godzilla-2014-legend-14concept. Especially when they show us an underground cavern that is actually the remains of one of these giants, with ribs and a spine laid out in perfect order. And the weapon/self defense of the MUTOs being an electromagnetic pulse made it a formidable danger for our modern society, which is a nice nod to the dangers of nuclear bombs that was the unspoken enemy in the originals.

One point Glenn makes is that he noticed people cheering when Godzilla appears and that he’s viewed as a good guy instead of a destructive force of nature. I admit I cheered, too. There is a lot of human-based storyline in this movie and less of the actual monsters. Which is why I was thrilled to see the massive spinal ridges of G-man breaking the surface of the ocean when swims into the daylight. Godzilla was still very destructive. The tailspin knocking the male MUTO into a building to kill was a nice touch. I cheered then, too.  I would say the big lizard is more an antihero in this movie. He’s not there to destroy San Fran just because it’s there. He’s there to take down the giant lovebirds and restore balance. He does his job and goes home. I’m cool with that. _KF14095.DNG

Glenn’s review also breaks down the casting. I will say that it was disappointing to lose Cranston’s character so early but it was necessary for his son, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, to suffer the loss of both parents and realize the danger to his own family in order to keep going in the face of certain death. GfordAnd in Taylor-Johnson’s defense, his character is military. Training knocks all the squishy emotions right out of them. While not overly emotive, I thought the character was portrayed fairly accurately for the background he had.  I will agree with Glenn that Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa was perfect.

Okay, one last thing. My favorite part is near the end, the last of the monster fight scene. The mama MUTO is about to devour Taylor-Johnson, a bomb and the boat they’re on all in one vengeful bite. Godzilla, who we see fall right before this scene, pulls her new-godzilla-trailer-shows-first-good-look-at-the-monsterback, pries her mouth open, and shoots atomic fire breath right down the bitch’s throat. Then he rips her head off. Yes, I cheered. It was beautiful. And the least cheesy looking of the monster scenes, I may add. If you’re a fan of the monster genre I would highly recommend seeing Godzilla. I will probably go see it again. Yes, I loved it that much. And I will be buying it on DVD. I may even have to get a poster.

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