Here, There be a Writer

Friday, January 29, 2016

Poetry Corner: Remember When...

Do you remember back in Kindergarten, the days of simplicity and safety scissors. Thanks to DAScottjr for the topic. A little poem about the joy of school, before it became a struggle or torture. What do you remember from the early days of school? Leave me a comment below, Dear Readers...

Remember When…

Metal and plastic,
The safety kinds, you know
When craft time begins, but really how can you
Manage to cut anything with
Safety scissors,
Making rings around your fingers as you cut.

But, I prefer the glitter and glue
Elmer’s drying on my palm
Like a second skin,
Slowly away, when I should be making art.

Snack time,
Fruit rolls are like crack,
always wanting more.
Usually the box wouldn’t make it home
From the grocer’s
Or maybe pudding cups,
Metal lid,
Pry it off,
And plastic spoons to scoop out the
Chocolatey gold.

Math sheets,
Not my favourite subject even back then—
Faced down and GO
the timer starts
Never finished the whole sheet.

The simple things
That made school less harrowing
Maybe more enjoyable
Years after,
When taxes, 
speeding tickets, 
and arthritis 
fills your world.

I know I do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Essay: Thoughts of Reading

Reading is is a pastime that many of us enjoy,or  that students have to experience (some do, others don't), and that teachers do daily.

From MorgueFile
Reading is not just about reading the next Harry Potter novel or classic Moby Dick. I have not tried reading that book, yet. Reading is something that pretty much everyone does on some level. Think about it. Seriously! You have to read the instructions on the mac and cheese box or read the directions on the box of laundry detergent. It is everywhere! It is something built in to our brains, even if not everyone can do it I feel that reading is necessary to ones own pysche.

As I have yet to see people who can't read (unless they are two) or don't want to (I still see them reading magazines or news articles).

Reading is life. At least to me it seems to be life. Maybe that is the difference, but I have yet to be fully convinced.

See, I remember spending days at my local library, either reading Beatrix Potter books, Black Stallion and Nancy Drew books, oh, and the guilty pleasures of The Baby Sitter's Club books. Yes, I was one of them!!! The librarians introduced me to Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence. I also played Book-opoly, a summer reading program where I read Marguerite Henry books (think Misty and Stormy), books about dogs, and mysteries. Then when I was in middle school-about fourth, fifth, and sixth grade-we had the Book It!. It was a reading program that got kids to read and rewarded them with pizza from Pizza Hut. There were many trips to Pizza Hut when I was younger. So you see there was always something making me read, even if I didn't always want to read. The first year of Book It! I was not the most determined reader, that would happen later. I read only a little bit, but more than others.

But, as I look at my life I can see that I was destiny to read. I love sharing books with others, reading and telling stories to little children, and writing my own stories down.

When I think about books I get a happy, fuzzy feeling. They smell good. Feel wonderful under my fingers. Books are like friends telling you a wonderful secret. I have many secret lining my books shelves and I am always on the look out for more. There is always a stack of books to be read in my house. I always say I will get through the stack, but like any bibliophile (lover of books), I am buying more. Heaven help me going into a bookstore.

For the last two years I have been taking part in Goodreads Reading challenge. I am not a fast reader, but I am a determined reader. Usually, I can get through a book in 2 to 4 weeks, unless it is a harder read, or a really long book. Some books, like Wrinkle in Time or Bridge to Terabitha can take me merely a day to read. I always strive to be able to remember the story after I finish reading the book, so no rushing through to just finish the book here. This year the goal is 40 books. I read 40 last year, starting at 30 books (tried to get to 50 halfway through the year). I am already at 5 books. Granted I have picked up the shorter novels to novel to get me into the reading spirit for 2016. I also have about three books going at one time, and therefore read what I am most in the mood for. In my queue is currently at Inkspell (Cornelia Funke), Victory on Janus (Andre Norton), Murder Comes to Shore (Julie Anne  Lindsey), and a non-fiction book  on poetry.

I usually read fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, but other times I do read non-fiction. Currently, I am reading Writing the Australian Crawl, which is a book of essays on writing and poetry by William Stafford. He is a poet and writer. My friend Kevin gave me the book for Xmas and I am working my way through it. I have had to resort to my process of reading textbooks, like I did in college, by using a pencil and reading small chunks at a time. Most books for me are reading to slide into, but when I am reading something like a textbook, or a collection of essays I need to take my time.

Any book that has paragraphs that take up a whole page is going to take me longer. I remember my literary theory class in college, well, actually I barely remember it, because the essays and chapters were so long that I would forget what I read after I read it. That and the teacher was a terrible, cruel teacher (aren't they usually). That was when I veered from non-fiction, specifically essay/theory books. I don't mind reading a history book, as long as it is about an interesting (See Sin in the Second City. It is a fun read.). So, as I read the Writing the Australian Crawl I am finding that I have to relearn how to read. This isn't necessarily bad. It is very good. You should learn something everyday. In fact, I am finding that while it is taking me a longer time to finish, I am understanding it more. At least so far!

Remember how I said that reading is built in to us. I still believe that is true. I may not understand everything I read, but I can find that in the learning there is always something you take from the words, always. If you never learn from life, the universe, and everything (42, man!), then you will never grow. I could always read my sci-fi/fantasy and never see outside that, or only read about the news. I could never try to understand how to write a poem, but then chances are my poetry would never get better.  But I would not feel whole.

Playing Witch #1 this Spring
So, I try to inspire others to read, write, act, direct, or just life your life with purpose. Maybe I will convince someone to read something different. Maybe I will be inspired to read or write something different, and that I feel is the better than not. Truth, some people will not read novels, but maybe I will inspire someone to try. That is really the reason for this essay, self discovery.

So I read books that I harder for me, I stretch my literary muscles by performing Shakespeare (means I have to read it to understand it), I read books outside of my comfort zone, and sometimes I will just not finish a book (it is true, but that is for another blog post and another time). I am learning. Hopefully I helped you find something within my words to inspire you.

I am a reader, a scholar, and thespian, and writer, a friend, a mentor, a person.

What are you, Dear Reader?

What do you like to read, Dear Readers? What type of books, styles, authors are your favourite? Your least favourite? Leave me some love in the comments section.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Top 10 David Bowie Songs!!

I think it is time to discuss David Bowie.

Let me point out two things. First,the effin' Goblin King!!! Yeah, my 10 year old self was not sure what to make of it, but I knew I liked it. I liked it A LOT!!!

And those eyes!!! Yeah, I never realized he had two different colours. What always struck me was the intensity of those eyes.So yeah, stare into those for a minute...

I awoke that morning to the news via my Facebook feed, which as you know is not the most reliable, but there was so much of it. Seriously he JUST released an album how could he have died? Truthfull,y I hadn't listened to much of his newer stuff, I had The Next Day album and had listened to it a few times. but I didn't really know the newer material. I felt like a horrible Bowie fan.

But then I pulled out my greatest hits album, the Labyrinth soundtrack, and the Hours... album (big when I was in college). I started to listen to him sing, I mean really listen. I also had in my collection Heathen and Reality, and I went out to buy Blackstar that very day. Oddly enough Best Buy did not have Blackstar, but the Target did. That was a rant in and of itself. I began listening to the new album and reclaiming the new Bowie material as my own and loving his older material. Pretty much any where I went that first day i was listening to Bowie.

It made me realize that Bowie was a unique artist and a deep soul. There were lyrics that I found captivating that I missed out the first time I listened to his music. I am still discovering new things within the music, This has given me a  greater respect for his music, even if I don't always get it (because sometimes I don't). Its like poetry, not everyone will understand poetry or get it, but somewhere in the middle I found an understand of Bowie and his lyrics. Deep and meaningful, and usually when you aren't paying attention it will hit you. Bowie 's lyrics are very much poetry, and as a poet I can appreciate the cadence he creates within his songs and the worlds he builds.

I want to share the songs of Bowie that have left their marks on me. I don't doubt that the more I listen to Blackstar, The Next Day, Reality, and Heathen, the more I will find the poetry, the magic, the truths within the truths Bowie has written.

Today I present my top 10 David Bowie songs...

Now I ranked them, yes some of you might take umbrage to where I put some of the songs or have not included others. These are the songs that I have listened to repeatedly or mean something to me. I have a great respect for all of Bowie's music and his rather extensive career. Please leave me a comment with your favourite Bowie tracks and why they are important to you, Dear Readers.I love to hear from you.

First it is time for the Honourable Mentions. The songs that didn't make the list. I bought the Hours... album while in college and I remember by fascinated by the new Bowie. I kind if ate up this album. It felt like an ethereal album, like something out of a dream. So, I chose If I'm Dreaming of My Life from this album and The Stars are Out Tonight from The Next Day, which was the first track I heard and the first single. these two are songs that when I first heard them I knew they were Bowie songs.

10. Valentine's Day. There is something haunting about Bowie's voice and this track kind of hits me in the cockles. I love it. Not really sure why, I just love it.

9. Space Oddity. An obvious choice here and another example of Bowie's voice sounding dream-like, ethereal. I think that was why he resonating as alien or angel. He was definitely other-worldly.

8. Rebel Rebel. Just a good song. Something with a nice beat.

7. Thursday's Child. Definitely the first song I heard when Bowie returned. I always love this song, even though is was kind of sad. I was born a Thursday's child myself and I think I understood the point of it.

6. Let's Dance. Just that....Let's dance!!!

5. I'm Afraid of Americans. I knew of this song, but it wasn't until I heard it at a club that I realized that it was a fabulous song for dancing to. Still is a favourite.

4. Underground.  I am a Labyrinth girl. The Goblin King was my first crush. I would always belt this song while watching the movie.

3. Lazarus. I have only heard it a few times, but it is my current favourite from Blackstar. There is a lot of truth to this song. My heart aches, but I see where he was coming from. Very beautiful!!

2. Modern Love. Catchy. Pop-filled. Fun!

1. As the World Falls Down. was there ever a doubt. I loved this scene. Love Bowie's voice. Something just made me feel good about the song. That and David had made a literal version of the song, Watch it here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Essay - How to Audition

It's a bit surreal when you do something that you haven't done before.

Auditioning! Its not something new, truthfully. But....

Audition: 1. a trial hearing given to a singer, actor, or other performer to test suitability for employment, professional training or competition, etc.; 2. a reading or other simplified rendering of a theatrical work, performed before a potential backer, producer, etc.

A trial is definitely what is was. Funny that after all this time I am seeing like that. 

I have auditioned for a number of shows over the years and each one has a story: a few of the memorable ones were Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (that didn't go well, still got a chorus part), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (did go well, was asked to be the back stage manager. I was still pleased with my performance), and Beauty and the Beast (my first musical and I was scared out of my mind, also got chorus). This past weekend I attended auditions for a local production of Shakespeare's MacBeth with The Keuka Lake Players (out of Bath/Hammondsport area). This is there third Shakespeare production I am going to be involved with, the first being A Midsummer's Night Dream in 2012, I played Bottom and then two year laters in 201, I played Trinculo in The Tempest. Dear Readers, you probably have read out some of my exploits in the theatre world on this blog. This is about my most recent foray into Shakespeare, specifically about the audition process and what I discovered.

A trial is something you have to go through to see that what you do has purpose. An audition has purpose, to get you to show your best for the role you want. I knew what I wanted, or did I?

You see, Dear Readers, I guess I never really took auditions quite so seriously before. Often I would go in and just do a cold read of the scene for the part I wanted. If it was a straight play, no singing or Shakespeare I would just go and read. When it came to Shakespeare I was much more unsure that I could just do a cold read. For the past two shows I would I read the show all the way through, so i would at least know the show, if i hadn't already read it. With Midsummer I focused more on how I could be Puck (by reading and re-reading the Puck parts), and to  think like Puck (this was the part I wanted). I remember during Midsummer auditions I tried to take what the director suggested and  give her what she wanted. i hadn't prepared anything, I just knew the show (is my favourite Shakespeare show). Thus, I did not get the part I wanted, but I ended up getting cast as Nicholas Bottom, the Ass. I loved the role of Bottom. As proof, I still have the head! 'Twas a good time.

Me in the Asshat!! (The only time this term is accurate)
When it came to The Tempest, I had much less time and wasn't as prepared. I never worked on a monologue, nor did I the show more than once prior to the audition. I wanted Ariel. I wanted Ariel bad. But i wasn't prepared when I read for Ariel, thusly, I did not get it. True story, Tara who did get Ariel was perfect. I was cast as Trinculo the drunken clown and cast alongside Sara as Stephano and David as Caliban. It was the best time and The Tempest is a new favourite!

What have I learned?

Hang on, I'm getting there.

So somewhere in the middle of the last two year my brain decided that after Tempest I needed to try something different. For MacBeth, I was asked to prepare a monologue from an non-MacBeth show and something from Macbeth. This meant that I had to actually do some research and work. I took it  much more seriously.

Try: to attempt to do or accomplish.

Something I never realized before about auditions is that they are hard work, especially if you want that part. Audition are just as important as when you get the part, spend time rehearsing, and performing. Auditions really are the foundation on which you build a show. I wanted to be Lady MacBeth. I wanted it. I wanted it bad. I found my Midsummer script and prepared my old Pyramus monologue from the play within the play, "Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beam; I thank thee moon for shining now so bright; for by thy gracious, golden glittering gleams; I trust to take of truest Thisby's sight..." It was surprisingly easy to return to Bottom. I had an old copy of the script. Also, I bought a new copy of MacBeth and picked out a scene to learn

Dear Readers, when I chose to do that I made a commitment to myself to do what I could to get that part. I purchased the FEAR NOT version of MacBeth that had 2 versions, the regular Shakespeare version and the modern language version. Act 1 Scene 5 is what I read, over and over, looking for cadence, emotions, and tamber.  I looked into the deeper meanings, trying to figure out who Lady MacBeth was.This is what I studied. I looked up scenes online for further development in Lady MacBeth's character. I did this to see what makes her tick. The power and passion under her persona. "O, never shall the sun the morrow shall see. Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters...Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under 't...and you shall put this night's great business into my dispatch...give solely sovereign saway and masterdom."

Commitment: a pledge or promise; obligation.

I was scared out of my mind when I went to Thursday (the first night of auditions). But, I stood up and performed my Bottom monologue in front of those at auditions (many who were my friends). That went well (except that I messed up a line and had to start over, probably because I overthought it at first). Bottom lived and flowed off my tongue in an overzealous spree. It was glorious! That was the easy part. When the time came to do my 1-5 scene, I was paired with Ryan, an English teacher who has taught this play for years in his class room (and husband to Sara. And no, it wasn't awkward either, Dear Readers.Yes, I have to tell you that). I wasn't off book, but I performed the scene. It is vastly different doing a scene with someone then by yourself, which is what I had been doing. Suddenly there was chemistry, elecrticity flowing through me and Ryan. I could feel myself becoming Lady MacBeth.

Transform: to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.

The downside, I second guessed myself and I didn't push past and complete the circuit to make the transformation complete. I knew I hadn't done everything. The rest of the audition included reading with Kevin and Ryan in other scenes and finally reading the "Out Damned Spot" scene. I left feeling good, but disconnected, and now I had to wait.

Sara said that anyone reading for a lead should come back Saturday for callbacks. I vowed to return. I vowed to start what  I finished. This was the upside.

Downside, I had to wait a whole day and a half before I could get there.

Upside, more time to find the Lady MacBeth in me.

Friday was more studying and keeping busy, a good three hours at my local coffee shop Soulful Cup where I found this page and the quiz. I took it and got a 5 out of 5. And when Saturday arrived I was wired, nervous, excited, and probably several other emotions hanging out in my head. It was a long day and equally long night. A three hour audition turned into a 4 and half hour audition where I waited the first 90 minutes before I could read. There was suddenly a slew of new people auditioning that needed to go first. So, I waited. The talent of Thursday was amazing. But Saturday's blew me away, and I was only auditioning. And I waited.

To wait: to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens (often followed by for, till, or until.

Whence I got to perform, and it truly felt like a performance. I read against Ryan for 1-5, 1-7, and 2-2. Also read for more Witch scenes too. But when I was Lady MacBeth I felt the room move away from me and time become real only for Ryan and myself. In 1-5, after MacBeth enters and Lady MacBeth sees him, she is suddenly full of life, blood, passion, and desire.  I felt I was loving on my husband, the great provider, the new Thane of Glamis and Cawdor. I could feel Lady MacBeth's passion for MacBeth, her power and her sex flowing through me. In a split second, right when I had pause (merely a millisecond) I was kissing him in my audition, doing what I had wanted to do on Thursday, but has second guessed myself, living the scene as if it was my life. I had become Lady MacBeth and I had sold it. I brought it! "Only look up clear. To alter favor ever is to fear. Leave all the rest to me." It wasn't a fluke as when Ryan and I read 1-7, the passion was equally there and another kiss. I still cannot believe it, but I can, because I did it. I made those choices to make that scene as realistic as possible, to show the love, passion, and insanity that is Lady MacBeth.

I was floating. It was wonderful.

Note: Lady MacBeth is a very fun character to portray, but also physically demanding.

After the casting, my friend Lisa(h)-yes I added an H-told me afterward that even if you do not get the part or job, you should still "sell to the room". Lisa(h) was my biggest competition for Lady MacBeth and a close friend. We had joked between us earlier that it was a battle and it was no hard feelings between. And there aren't. She won Lady MacBeth fair and square. This audition was my battle to win or lose, mine alone. I fought. i fought hard. And while I didn't win Lady MacBeth, but not for trying,I don't feel I lost. Seriously, it was that close. I still won. I sold the room and for those brief moments I WAS Lady MacBeth. (Even when there was giggles and Ryan had started giggling during scene 1-5). We finished three scene strong and proved to the room that both of us could do it.

We were MacBeth and Lady MacBeth.

I am very proud to say that I am playing Witch #1, Lisa(h) is Lady MacBeth, Ryan is MacDuff, and David is MacBeth. The whole cast is filled with phenomenal actors and my theatre family. We are going to make something amazing and awesome. And I got to prove to myself and to others that I am force to be reckoned with.

I also have set the bar pretty high for myself. I cannot just go to an audition and expect to get a part on a cold read. Yes, sometimes it happens, but no always. If I want something I have to fight for it.

Win: to succeed by striving or effort.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016 kick off

It's 2016, Dear Readers! Can you believe it?

Somewhere the time keeps on ticking and then a whole year passes. I am not really surprised by this as I prefer to be busy. When  one is busy, one tends to not see the time passing and I like my days full. This doesn't mean that I miss out on life because I am in the middle of something else.  I am more aware of the world around me because of this. I live with open eyes and am actually happy.

I'm sitting here think that I hadn't blogged about anything since Round 4 of A Round of Words in 80 Days, which is a blog challenge that  allows you to set goals and report of those same goals. It gives you a level of accountability that wasn't there before. And I did this for two years? Three? I don't even know now. (Well, I could look back at my post to see when I started, if I wanted to). I learned to set measurable goals and to how myself accountable for those goals. I met a lot of fun writer folk and learned a number of things. It's 2016 and I haven't post to the new Round 1. Not sure if I want to. It's not that I am above the purpose of ROW80, hells bells I need that accountability, but I feel that I need to do ROW80 for the right reasons. What reasons are you asking, Dear Readers?

I have a different set of goals for this year. a different plan for what I want and maybe I need to not be held to posting twice a week on my progress. Maybe! I know I need goals. That's a given.

Coffee in hand and bagel in my stomach I am thinking that I should blog about something. Goals are an obvious blog post. What are my goals for 2016? So far, I have these...

        *Pull completed stories and work of revisions. When ready, send them to my Betas. Continue to
revise and edit until the stories are ready.
        *Submit completed, revised stories for publication. This also means looking into places I can submit to such as online journals, contests, and even self-publishing.
        *Submit poetry for publication.
        *Learn to use Adobe Photoshop. I want to make poetry books of my collections of poetry: sonnets, pantoums, OctPoWriMo poems, and NaPoWriMo poems.
        *Work on my children's stories, edits and getting test art. Look into where to submit the complete work with and without art. Get Little Lost Sheep published by 2017. I already have about 8 artists making test panel for Little Lost Sheep.
         *Finish major edits of The Real Road Trip (NaNoWriMo 2014).
         *Complete my first Channillo series (6 month series).

Yeah, that seems like a lot and maybe it is, but this year I am a bit more focused on specific projects and getting them launched. I will try to come up with a more detailed plan for these goals and report on my progress in the coming months.

Auditions for McBeth are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Bath, NU. I love doing Shakespeare and having a group that does it every other year and does it so well gives me shivers of excitement. I want a serious role this time. After having played Bottom and Trinculo, I want to stretch my muscles. So I am going for Lady McBeth. Will be happy with whatever I get though, because Shakespeare.

This year is going to be filled with awesome and a number of changes. Something that I am ready for, okay, maybe not completely ready, but feeling like I will be when the time comes. This year is starting out good so far, and I can't really complain about 2015 as 2015 was really good to me too. But a new year is always exciting, isn't it?

I am ready, are you, Dear Readers for 2016?

A Round of Words in 80 Days is a blog challenge, come and visit the Blog Hop and see what everyone else is up to. I also decided to participate, but I am not going to stress about goals and just report on the basics. I also miss the community of writers. so, gang, I'm back! Stress-light version of me.

On a side note, the first movie I saw in 2016 was The Good Dinosaur. 'Twas cute. Pixar and Disney really are a good team. More of this is a later post.

What are you doing for goals in the New Year? Seen any good movie, Dear Readers?