Category Archives: Culture

Other People’s Stuff

A picture of a twig

This is another unfinished piece…it’s based on a variation of a leaf.

Normally I don’t comment on other people’s blogs, nor do I publish a list of favorites, who I follow and so on. That’s totally because I’m worried about leaving someone out by omission. Some days its tempting to single out those who can really strike a nerve, but I’d rather focus on the positives . . . so hopefully I won’t “make the wrong mistake” as Yogi Berra said.

I’m really just getting the hang of Pinterest. I spend most of my time related to that site looking for original pins, as opposed to simply repinning. However, there are a small number of pinners that I’m following, and some or all of them also have blogs. I’m not going to comment on the blogs here, just the Pinterest boards.

If you haven’t spent much time there – or if you think it’s somehow less than blogging – I think you might re-think that if you visit Julie Green’s page. It is fascinating to explore, an intellectual and visual treat . . . the kind where you stop watching the time, so be careful!

Here’s the link, and I hope you check it out for yourself: Julie Green on Pinterest

I’m learning how busy the world of Twitter is, though it has been all pleasant surprises, kind of “rapid-fire” so it’s hard to keep up. I still have much to learn over there, but aside from that, there are some people over there. One guy, @PhilTorcivia , is amazing because of his constant and pretty consistent stream of humorous one-liners. For example, “I told my girlfriend she’d drawn her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised.” I’m not surprised that he has over 64,000 followers.

For all the authors out there, I also came across some named Jane Friedman, but I can’t remember how I came upon her first – Twitter, blog, Pinterest or somewhere else. What I do know is that wherever I come across her, I learn something new and important when it comes to writing and publishing. If you’re looking for book reviews, that’s not what she does, but for tons of great information, resources, and opportunities, I suggest starting with her home page: Jane Friedman’s Home Page

There are many other kudos I’d like to send out, and will over time. There are some bloggers that have made an extra impression lately, including Jackie Jones, especially for her wonderfully honest and great photographs of the Caribbean on her blog. She keeps apologizing for this and that photography, but I’d never have noticed without her mentioning them – they’re imperfections make them all the more intriguing and endearing: Jackie Jones’ Caribbean Photos – the little stories add to the charm.

Finally, thank to Jill Paterson for your tips on writing that all-important blurb, as well for being a friend on Goodreads: Jill Paterson’s Blog

A little music, a little picture, and the “Blurb” . . .

If I could put the some of the tone of it to music, it would be as in the above video.

I feel like I’ve accomplished something with this book – lots of mystery and intrigue, yet funny and heartwarming, characters you come to love even though they can sometimes be insufferable, and something about love – with honey, not syrup, and believable.

Book – Dawn at Last – Why it’s not Free . . . Yet

Before I can give my book away on Amazon – and I can only do that for a few days – I’d really like to get a “critical mass” of people who like to read on Kindle – get my book out there for free for awhile – it really is a nice read.

Also, I’ve rewritten the “blurb” – this is such a hard thing to write! I’m still waiting for Amazon to update the new one, so here’s what it says:

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New Blurb – Don’t be fooled by the Title!

Titles can be deceiving and no one knows this better than Donna Belauche. She is the envy of every woman she knows and adored by her eight male clients and two partners . . . or is it seven and three?

With her natural beauty, education and “special” training – and with her ability to charm on a dime – she has it all, but only according to others. She prides herself in playing the game of love, winning by acting and remaining unattainable . . . but in control.

Then her plans become unravelled in sleepy Victoria, a deception of its own . . . her secrets are only a pale part of the bigger picture. As events unfold beyond her control, what was once all so predictable becomes a battle with the past, a duel with deception, including the intrusion of a few simple tulips . . . will she learn to dance or will they cripple her forever?

“Then the strangest thing happened . . . Karen covered her naked body with Andrea’s robe, put her hair up and then put on that chauffeur’s hat . . . she told me to sit down again and just wait there for a minute. Then she went over to this platter. It had three tulips on it, but she only left one on the platter and put the lid back on. Then she disappeared with this platter – after all this – such a fuss over a single tulip?”

After 300 pages you will have the answers.

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From my "Playful & Cheery" collection - which goes nicely with my novel, "Dancing With Tulips"

From one of my art collections – which goes nicely with my novel, “Dawn at Last”

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So there you have it. Now to get that free copy – when its available – the best way is to follow me on twitter @ljgrodecki.

I’m hoping/ planning to do this launch two weeks from now – May 17th – depending on how much interest there is . . . and if you’re wondering why there is an error message up in the top right, under “Tweeter in Person”, that’s probably because as of this typing, I’m still a tweet virgin . . . I haven’t tweeted anyone yet . . . I’m so nervous as to who will be the first! 🙂

Piece of Cake

It’s about time something was done about this.

The Government of New South Wales has decided to clamp down on what social scientists are claiming is a phenomenon on the verge of getting out of control.

Apparently the feminists in the province have successfully defended their right to decide for themselves in terms of whether their sexual orgasm is real or not; their right to falsify their own climax has passed the third reading and will soon become law.

In her oral defense, the champion of the cause, Mona Lottz, cited the famous case of Kramer vs. Kramer, and after that hearing the assembled members succumbed, stating that their decision is a landmark victory for women, and that it was time to give the issue a rest. Apparently three female members – backbenchers – were heard to howl upon the handing down ceremony.

To appease the male members, and also quoting Kramer vs. Kramer, men now have the same legal right, however this applies only when they are alone, and certainly not in public.

The scientists were ecstatic, claiming that these decisions will now alleviate the pressure caused by a related problem of both men and women claiming that they feel they are not getting enough sleep.

Legislators agreed, and now the house rests – A Fake Confession

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Can you tell the difference?

Yoga Sayings

Yes, my name is Lawrence, and I hope Lawrence doesn’t mind me playing around with his name. And yes, I’ve enjoyed a little Yoga off and on over the years, but can’t seem to make it part of my regiment, so my arms aren’t always serviced.

I like to play with words, and I suppose letters and even ideas. Ever since a kid, Yoga Berri is without a doubt the funniest athlete that I’ve heard, mostly in books though.

Funny thing is that he was a catcher too, and his real name is Lawrence, so we have at least a couple of things in common. I wonder if he did any of the below, or would agree with that? I hope he wouldn’t think it’s too much. I tried really hard, but couldn’t figure out how to add less:

1. As a kid I once caught two no-hitters in the same game.

2. If I find myself speeding to get somewhere 10 minutes earlier, I slow down and just decide to stay 10 minutes longer.

3. If you don’t know where you’re going, check the map.

4. If you can’t love the one you are with, try changing.

5. When the odds are stacked against you, be sure to check the bottom as well as the top.

6. I’ve been a part of three double plays at the same time, twice.

7. My first draft was cool, the second draft was cooler, but then the final one got hot!

8. I like it when I mince my words and they come out right, but my mince meet never does.

9. And finally, I have a hard time hearing with one ear, and can’t see out the other.

Feel free to add your own here…I’ll just grin and Berra it!

For Your Eyes Only…Only for You?

When I was a kid, and then still when I was a young man, I always looked forward to the next 007 flick. I don’t know about you, but for me it was all about the gadgets and special effects, and of course the leading ladies. Yeah, I know, there’s plenty of stereotyping that goes on, but then there’s the humor, so hopefully no one took the sexism to heart.

Then it got to the point where for me at least, the introduction and the ending credits became worth the price of admission all by themselves. In this particular case for example, as much as I like the video, I can’t remember a damn thing about the movie, nor do I care to now. And I must have seen it at least three times.

This video, For Your Eyes Only, has always captivated me. There’s the music, the intriguing and mysterious lyrics. . . “no need to read between the lines.”, and then there’s the visual portrayal, and finally, all the technology that goes with it.

It’s pretty amazing to think that this video was done so many years ago. We tend to think of all this layering as being much more recent than 1980. But then the machine that was eventually to become known as ‘the fax machine’ was actually based on technology from the 1920’s.

It’s funny how the ‘warm and fuzzy’ I get when I watch this video is also the same way I feel in writing many parts of novel. It is hard to blog about that, partly because what is really a very simple story seems to be deceptive in a way. I say ‘deceptive’ because as it is coming to completion, I see that it has many different layers, and to talk of one without the other is damn near impossible. It’s kind of like trying to describe the rain coming from one cloud when it’s actually coming from more than you can count. . . but not too many!

But I’ll try to touch on of those layers here. It actually does concern the issue of audio and video technology and what happens when they become somehow entwined in a very sensual experience. Should some experiences be “for yours eyes only”?

So the issue becomes an ethical one, and there are so many these days, so many that I wonder whether humanity will ever be able to catch up with all our modern technology. If you think about it, then in a way the technology controls our sense of right and wrong, or perhaps puts that sense to sleep, for your shut eyes only?

And does technology have karma? It must, at least in the sense that it seems to be an inextricable part of much of the human condition. But then what is karma? And I’m sorry, but I’m not going back to writings from thousands of years ago to try to understand that. I’ve already done that many times over the years. But there are things that happen, and they involve technology, technical applications in the context of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. . . well those events have crushed any personal understanding of that term ‘karma’, at least in the traditional sense.

In my writing, one of my characters finds herself disturbed by the term, so the best she can describe her own feelings on the matter is, “the blending and churning of time and truth.”

Anyways, these are the musings of someone finds inspiration in the strangest places, even a silly little introduction to a James Bond film. I think the next music I post here will be ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’, the live rendition by Sharon Clark.

Have a wonderful weekend.

PS – The last 007 film that I’ve seen was a breakthrough film for Halle Berry, with an exquisite Madonna intro and conclusion. Since then they have completely lost any appeal, but then I haven’t seen the intros.

So tell me, am I missing something, anything?

Bar Reflections, With a Few Friends

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I suppose this might have been inevitable once I began writing more. “This” being the urge to add a post about how that’s progressing, my writing.

I’ve come across so many writers’ blogs recently, so many fine ones, and I don’t mind saying it is a richer experience than my networking places. Perhaps the dialogue isn’t so instant, though It’s all so much more personal isn’t it?

I’ve gotten to know only a handful of people through networking, and I’m very thankful for that, but for me it seems this is in spite of the venue and not because of it. With each of these people it is only through one-on-one and private communication where I really feel like I’m getting to know any one.

By comparison, it’s be like thinking of something like Google + as a busy night club, lots of entertainment, pizzazz (yeah, I know…pizzazz, but what the heck, I am 55), and a lot of fine people trying to impress and get to know some of the ‘each others’. And then you hit it off with some one in particular, and you begin a private correspondence, and it’s like going from a busy and crowded night club to a quiet, more intimate coffee shop. And you get to know one another about as well as one can over long distance telecommunication devices.

Blogging though, is often like skipping the bar scene and heading right to the coffee shop, and it often feels like one that is in a sort of magical book shop, full of surprises.

So I guess I’m old fashioned that way. You don’t have to think too hard to realize that in the real world a person is only physically and mentally capable of developing a handful of relationships that are meaningful at all…what’s the joke at political dinners, “I’d like to thank 500 of my closest friends for joining me tonight.”? Hmmm.

So it doesn’t matter if this place has 1 billion members and that one only 125 million…insane numbers really, especially when it comes down to you and me. Save it for the folks with the big advertising budgets. McDonald’s may have served billions, but how many do you want?

Oh, yeah, a post about my writing…well it’s coming along quite nicely, thank you, a pleasant mystery, twists and turns, a little humor, an almost excruciating amount of teasing of the reader…and soon I might even share a paragraph of two, but which ones?

Typing in the Bars

An Infinite Universe…How Nice

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I’m tired of this endless debate, so many smart people who don’t seem to get it in terms of the simplest truth. The universe is boundless, infinite, end of story.

One thing we all know about walls is that there is always something on the other side. Those who claim that the universe is finite must then claim that the universe has some kind of invisible wall, like a shell of sorts. If so then how thick is the wall, and what’s on the other side?

So either the wall goes on forever or it doesn’t and there is something on the other side…either way it keeps on going…it is infinite, immeasurable.

I’m so tired of any claim else-wise. When you come to understand this boundless aspect, then with  a little thinking you can actually appreciate that in its totality there is a kind a unity. I say this because an infinite universe can neither expand nor contract.

Many people of science get very upset when you can explain this universal truth to them with simple reason, and a little imagination. To these people it seems reputation and the sale of textbooks seem much more important than truth.

Thankfully there are still those who have a passion for truth, and for them it is more important than tradition, more important than egos and more important than reputation, past or present. And thankfully there is no money to made from this simple truth, which speaks volumes when you think about it.

Your comments are welcome, as is freely sharing a little truth…just please don’t ask me what it means! 🙂

A Tender Page of Beige

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A naughty little book

for quiet fireside evenings!

An imagination,

a glass of wine.

and…  thou ? !

Such a poetic note, handwritten, and a rather pleasant surprise, as it was found upon opening the book, on a blank page of paper no less…one with many shades of beige.

I picked up this book at what is now my favorite used book store. It’s full of pleasant surprises and mysteries, some of which are too private for posting. What’s pleasant about this handwritten note above is not only the words but the beautiful calligraphy, almost a work of art in itself as it looks so genuine. And as this wonderful gypsy that sold it to me pointed out, “I wonder who she was?” which were my thoughts exactly, as in, “What was her story?

As it turns out, the book is a hard cover first edition. It is a book of short stories by an author who’s work I’ve only read once before, about 30 years ago now. It’s called “Little Birds: Erotica by Anais Nin” which was published shortly after her death.

I’ve mentioned a little about erotica in my last few posts, including a discomfort in getting caught up in its current popularity. So I received another surprise in this book, and this occurs before the stories begin, in the preface. I’m including a quote from that preface, as she expresses how I feel about the whole issue of writing of the erotic better than I can…really quite remarkable!

Before adding this quote I should mention that Anais Nin had a soft spot for these writers, ones she knew at the time, who wrote a lot of erotica. She talks sympathetically about how these people were poor and hungry and wrote in this style simply for the money. She then goes on to say:

It is one thing to include eroticism in a novel or a story and quite another to focus one’s whole attention on it. The first is like life itself. It is, I might say, natural, sincere, as in the sensual pages of Zola or of Lawrence. But focusing wholly on the sexual life is not natural. It becomes something like the life of the prostitute, an abnormal activity that ends up turning the prostitute away from the sexual. Writers perhaps know this. That is why they have written only one confession or a few short stories, on the side, to satisfy their honesty about life, as Mark Twain did.

But what happens to a group of writers who need money so badly that they devote themselves entirely to the erotic? How does this affect their lives, their feelings toward the world, their writing? What effect has it on their sexual life?

As I’m typing this quote I keep thinking of it in the context of not so much the writing of the day, but of mass media in general, the eroticism of it all, whether it’s magazines, the internet, music videos or television. The words of Anais Nin become somewhat prophetic in the sense that our culture has somehow lost its way in this assault on our senses…how much candy is too much?

And with that I look forward to finding another book of hers, titled, “The Novel of The Future”.

PS – I didn’t realize it before, but her writing is the epitome of “The Elements of Style”…a wonderful companion!

 

How Can They Be Free?

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When I was a kid, over 40 years ago now, I think I was in grade 7 at the time, Friday night was kind of special. How this became special I cannot remember, nor can I remember how I ever came to be involved in this activity. It seems what was special about this activity was the score, and the coinciding peer pressure. Getting one down the center was the ultimate goal and doing so frequently was some kind of achievement.

I’m not talking about bowling here; that was reserved for Saturday mornings. This was a school-related activity, or at least it happened underground, beneath this one-story elementary school, the one where I spent grade 5. The oddity of this didn’t even hit home until just this very day. You see I was always told that this underground facility was built during the wartime for training purposes. It was a shooting range. There were perhaps 10 or so alleys, the targets seemed much further away than the pins at the bowling alley, and the circles on the paper seemed so very small…and I had great eyesight.

My friends and I thought this was pretty cool. None of us owned the 22-caliber rifles; they stayed with the bunker and we just bought our weekly supply of bullets. There was no time pressure or anything, just the pressure to score highly on a weekly total of 100, kind of like a percentage. So at the end of evening the boys and I would compare our sheets and I was never much better than average, so it wasn’t so much fun. On the other hand, no one beat me at bowling, which was so much more fun.

It seems this was a winter activity and only lasted a few months. When it was over one or two of my friends were awarded pellet guns by their parents. It was springtime by then. In no time at all there must have been about half a dozen of us with these guns. Mine was one of the cheapest as my parents probably had less money than all of the others, so I was kind of envious of some of the others’ units. This too was a competition. Pellets were pretty cheap and the river was very close.

The implication of that was that there was no problem exploring our favorite paths along the river, surrounded by plenty of ample bush and trees, only now we had arms. We usually wondered in pairs, perhaps three if there was an odd number. For practice we would shoot at tin cans and so the competition continued, though it didn’t stay at cans for long. You see there were birds to shoot, and the prowess became the hit rate on sparrows and robins, shot for no other reason.

Thankfully I was not very good at this activity, and regretfully I never thought much of what I was doing. I don’t remember this hobby lasting more than one summer. Neither do I remember when everyone else stopped. However, I do remember as clearly as this evening’s supper how I came to cease and desist. It happened on a very fine day and I was standing on the river bank right next to a big bend in the river. For whatever reason I was all alone. I had my pellet in my gun in case a bird should come along.

Sure enough while looking around this bend I spotted one flying, more like gliding along the path of the water. It wasn’t a sparrow or a robin though. It was a bird like none that I’d seen before, more like a great blue heron. By the time I noticed the beauty of this magnificent bird I already had my gun raised to shoot. And then it happened. I saw this bird for what it was, but more than that it spoke to me in that wonderful silence, as if to say to me in a very gentle voice, “Why do you want to hurt me?” And as I sensed this my arms fell to the side. The question remained unanswered and I’ve never shot a gun of any kind since.

I’ve seldom had such a moment of clarity, and such a calm and peaceful one at that.

So fast forward 30-some years and you will find me in a very confused state. It is in the fall and like so many people, I am immersed in a battle without even knowing it. The tragedy of 9/11 is still very fresh and there is this talk of taking action, a part of the battle of the hearts and minds. My children are with me at this time, they are around 10 and 11 years old and I am driving them to school one day. I don’t know how it came up, but there must have been a question that arose on this issue of war. I hadn’t been able to make any sense of the news, couldn’t understand any of the arguments, but I did mutter something about the need to protect freedom.

Well the discussion pretty much ended in one of those other moments of clarity. It happened very spontaneously in the form of a question that kind of answers itself. So in response to my comment on freedom, one of my children said something that will stick with me as long as I can think. She said, “But daddy how they be free? They carry guns.”

Today when I see the birds there is freedom I see and a togetherness that is so truly inspiring and of course I am a dreamer and I wonder if we will ever be that together. It seems all I can do is hope.

PS – The picture at the top is yet another unpublished work of mine, still in progress, but almost finished.

1,000 Shades of Beige

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Bound and impatient. With these three words I could launch 1,000 stories. I’m sure to do many, and with just nap three or four or five plots begin their journey. In fact, as far as fiction goes, I’m already thinking that I’ll give it a whirl, start everything I write with these three words and see where my story takes me. This way it will be just like doing art!

So once more I have to thank someone I know in a way but have never met, a kindred spirit I suppose. She has this knack for showing me and picture and zoom, with the exchange of a few words I’m off and writing.

She let me see one of her works of art, though not the picture above, which is one my unpublished works. The picture she let me see depicts what most would consider mild bondage , which can be so hot when the element of patience comes into play, even hotter when the element includes impatience. There was no surprise as the conversation inevitably lead to the mention of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that I’ve never read nor do I intend to read it, and yet I’ve conversed with 4 or 5 people about my writing and each time this book comes up.

Pardon the pun, but I’ve only heard about that book in snippets. I won’t read it only because I don’t want it to influence my own writing.

While I have no intention of engrossing myself in erotica, I certainly don’t mind my hot chocolate getting a little steamy, in a playful way. And there is the rub of it, the invisible window between play and something else…danger? With luck and the wind, perhaps I’ll mix a little of the gypsy magic with the adventure of an adult Harry Potter character, of sorts? One way or another, let there be some humor, dammit!

In the spirit of the gypsy Harry Potter then, “bound and impatient” becomes a story of an old leather book and the impatience of curiosity…the search for the knowledge of, “Well, you know…”

So these stories will twist and turn and I will tease and taunt you as best I can. Certainly some laughter, perhaps a few tears, and some secret “oh my”s along the way. Eventually they will take the form of an ebook or a dozen. All this on top of my art, which if you’ve seen my site, you should be warned…I’ve only just begun. And I have no intention of ever being done; who would ever want that?

After all, being done is certain to lead to impatience. Then there is this issue of writer’s block, the kind where one has too much going on in one’s mind and is bound by the constraint of a single keyboard, when about five going at once would be preferred! So the block isn’t a block at all but more of a timeless ocean, which is a nice way of putting it given my new acronym of the day…SWIM…see what I mean? 🙂

Hanging In There Until The End