29 September 2013

What is Steampunk? - AW Blog Chain

Steampunk and Retro-Futurism are genres that take the aesthetics and technology of the past (the Victorian era, interwar Art Deco era, etc.) and add futuristic technology. Examples include The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the Downey Sherlock Holmes films, and (or so I'm told) some wacky Japanese animes like Fullmetal Alchemist, Steamboy, and a bunch of the Miyazakis.

When I sat down to write my entry for Absolute Write's September Blog Chain, my mind went blank. I tell myself I can do this, now that I know the definition of Steampunk.

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of
Pure imagination

No problem, right?


I can't pretend to be a serious writer of this genre if I can't get my mind off silly things like those contraptions created by Dr. Seuss and similar machines used by Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory. Where's my creative flare? I know what people looked like in the Victorian era. I've seen movies, so combining these elements should be fairly easy.

Remember this?

And this?

I also thought the Everlasting Gobstopper machine was pretty cool. It had noisy steam and a honking "in process" mechanism moving things along. Steampunk? I think so. Others may not be so inclined to agree with me. I am the newbie. Someone straighten me out.

Anyone in for a chocolate river ride on this boat?

After all this nonsense of trying to come up with a clever story for you, I decided to do this topic some justice and share with you an educational video. "What is Steampunk?"

If you are an enthusiast of the Steampunk genre, let us know something about your characters and their contraptions. I would love to learn more.

Enjoy the video!

Please visit these other participants and their posts:

pyrosama   [YOU ARE HERE]

24 September 2013

The Art of Sign Disobedience Part I

Many of my articles deal with writing and the progress I've made in the past several years. I try to share most of my experiences with you. This article is no different, but we’re not discussing my writing. We’re discussing the writing crafted by those folks who design signs and those of us who read them, or not.

But Diane, why are we discussing signs? I’m interested in fiction. How about some grammar tips or helpful links instead? Okay, here's one: It's okay to break grammar rules. Onward!

We’re discussing signs because I’m feeling a little rebellious this week and my +Threshold RPG friends have been oh so encouraging with their own willful disobedience when it comes to signs. Let me explain.

It started with a sign I’d come across during my trip home from Savannah, Georgia.

I couldn't help but wonder if the crow’s attempt at stirring my muse was a bit intentional. God speaks to me in many ways, but this was too odd. A crow mocking the words on a sign had me in stitches, so I posted the photo on my Facebook page. And thus began the sharing of sign disobedience photos.

This one had been posted by the Administrator of Threshold, known to me and my Thresher friends as Aristotle. You rebellious rule breaker, you!

Anyway, now we’re getting into some really intentional stuff here. I know the crows can be explained because, obviously, they can’t read. But Threshers read. We must, or else we meet our own demise. See “The Importance of Reading in a Text Based RPG” and “10 Profound Mistakes Made by RPG Players.”

But what if...what if people really aren't reading? Maybe signs are posted in the wrong places. Like, maybe a sign posted directly in front of people - like this one.

Nope. Apparently, if you look somewhere other than directly in front of you, this is excusable. Really, it is. What if someone stumbled into this dude and he spilled his Latte Grande all over the Asian’s device and damaged it? Oh, excuse me. How do I know she’s Asian? Trust me, I know...she’s got a camera doesn't she?

So this gives us the unintentional, the intentional, and the excusable. What next? The exception.

Obviously, this rule is not enforceable. My driver’s license prohibits me from driving without my glasses. How else would I find my car in the parking lot if I’m not wearing my glasses? Hmmm.

I did point this out to the owner of the establishment, but the sign remains. And so does my willful disobedience.

Then there’s the incidental rule breaking. The one that happens just before you read the sign declaring said rule. This happened to me while visiting my husband in Gainesville at the Red Roof Inn after his surgery.

I salute rule #6 just before finishing my Miller Lite. Don’t you think these rules should be posted on the outside of the gate rather than on the inside? Hell, I’d already broken the rule as soon as I stepped into the pool area and before closing the gate behind me.

From www.dictionary.com in-ci-den-tal: adjective 1. happening or likely to happen in an unplanned or subordinate conjunction with something else.

Get it?

Then we have the Master Kard, the connoisseur of sign disobedience.

Con-nois-seur: noun 1. a person who is especially competent to pass critical judgments in an art, particularly one of the fine arts, or in matters of taste.

Thank you to all my Thresher friends for sharing their photos!

If you have a photo depicting sign disobedience, please post a link in the comments.

If you care to, please vote for your favorite rebel.

20 September 2013

The Significance of John Wayne

Let’s consider this legend. Remember him? Of course you do!

I had never been a fan of John Wayne, but my husband, the advocate, probably watched every single movie in which The Duke starred. These movies are acceptable for viewing over and over again, yet I’ll be mocked if I watch The Breakfast Club one more time.

I admit, I’ve watched a few of his movies throughout the years - True Grit, Sands of Iwo Jima, El Dorado, and Rio Bravo, to name a few. To me, the man didn’t really act. Nobody had any mad acting skills back in the day, maybe some stilted over-acting, but definitely not award-winning acting. 

However, according to Tim, John Wayne was more than just the name of a famous actor. And so it came that I would watch another of his movies along side my faithful husband.

The Sons of Katie Elder

It occurred during this movie, that moment where I realized the significance of John Wayne. I was ironing clothes on a Saturday morning and Tim lay on the bed, right leg crossed over the left and arms folded behind his head, watching television. Then came the announcement. It must have been the same guy who announced the television series Leave it to Beaver. At least, it sounded like him, “And now, The Sons of Katie Elder….starring, John Wayne…”

I stopped ironing, because of course, I needed to understand what the big deal was when Tim yelled out, “The Duke! Haha!”

I watched for a bit, just long enough to understand four brothers, the oldest being Wayne, had come back into town because their mother had passed away. Apparently, these sons had been gone for some time, according to the tongue lashing they’d received from mother’s long time friend and caretaker.

The elder brother removed his hat in humble acceptance of the scolding he’d received, then bowed his head in shame.

From the look on Tim’s face, I could tell something was awry. It was like an exasperated silence hung in the air and nobody dared say a word, not even me. The television was silent, Tim was silent, and I held my breath.

“You should be ashamed,” the caretaker continued. “The lot of you!”

That’s when Tim turned toward me, tapping his chest with indignity, as if speaking for the man, “Bitch, I’m John Wayne.”

And that’s when I knew that John Wayne would always be bigger than the characters he played. He was, indeed, a legend.

18 September 2013

Five Scariest Movies From My Childhood

Every now and again I come up with a list of things I recall as being those things having guided my life. Whether it has been childhood books I've read, iPhone apps I love, or antagonists I admire, I enjoy sharing these things, hoping my readers will take the time to seek out opportunities to experience the same.

Yet another area I want to share is the 5 scariest movies I've experienced. Watch these and know, your life will never be the same afterward. I dare you.

Let's Scare Jessica to Death   1971

This movie is so old, I can barely recall why it scared me so much, but I wasn't very old when my sister and I watched it as a televised movie on HBO years after it came out. I think we were babysitting my younger brother while our parents were out on their weekly Friday night bowling league.

I recall screaming when this drowned, pale-white body emerged from the lake. The special effects and makeup back then were horrible, but they didn't need all that stuff to shoot a scary movie. Scary movies were scary because of the situations, not the gore.

Burnt Offerings  1976

I loved Bettie Davis in her black and white movies. The young Davis was such a beauty. When I watched her in Burnt Offerings, I was horrified. Still a great actress, she made my skin crawl in this movie. She played the elder Aunt Elizabeth, all things centering around her health and well-being as I recall it.

When the father and son play in the pool, there's some rough housing and the father holds the kid under water, attempting to drown him. The look on the father's face, his obvious violent pleasures, scared the crap out of me. The premise of the movie is that this run down old house restores itself to its glorious beauty, little by little, as people die on the property. Spooky, right?

The Sentinel  1977

I'm not certain why this movie stuck with me after all these years, but I remember the priest fascinated me. It's the introduction of after the fact information that scared me with this movie.

The main character attends a birthday party and you think nothing of it, because it's pretty ordinary. But later, she discovers that everyone in attendance at said party were dead criminals and she'd been hanging out in a sort of purgatory to hell. WTF??

The Shining  1980

The spooky twins murdered years ago in this hotel? Didn't bother me they were twins, didn't bother me they were murdered, and didn't bother me they showed up as aberrations. What bothered me? The look on their faces. It was like fish on land, but not struggling for air. The idea of it just spooked the hell out of me.

When you can create a scene where the characters behave super ordinary from the expected, that's pretty freaky to me! Jack Nicholson going after his wife the way he did wasn't as scary to me as when she'd discovered all the writing he'd been doing which consisted of lines and lines of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Ghost Story  1981

Spooky because it connects with our sense of past ghosts seeking vengeance upon us. There are so many ways we experience the past, and this movie touches upon the psyche playing on each. It's something how the producers and directors years ago connected with our sense of foreboding, so much unlike movies today.

Each character in this movie who deals with their past does so in a situation which will make your skin crawl.

Do you have a favorite childhood horror movie you'd like to share here? I love it when you can go back at least 30 years and experience technology then vs. now. You didn't have a whole lot of gore in horror years ago, but they weren't lacking in the creative art of scaring the bejeezies out of you.

09 September 2013

I'll Have a Vanilla Latte, Thanks

I had a discussion about coffee yesterday and it reminded me of my writer friends out here in the blog-o-sphere. Why? Because I think we all drink coffee, or some variation of the caffeinated concoction. When I think of coffee, I think of Barnes & Noble, then I think of books, then I think of you, the writer.

My husband started the discussion by asking, "How do you drink that stuff? It's so bitter!"

It's an acquired taste, honey. Kind of like beer.

The Teetotalers

Coffee isn't alcohol, but you'd think you were consuming abusive amounts of the Joe around these folks, even if only consuming one cup per day. They don't understand the kick we get from our daily dose of java. The way I see it is, if I don't criticize you for smoking your cancer sticks, please save the lecture on how coffee contains no nutritional value whatsoever.

The Bottom Feeders

These are those folks who drain the very last drops from the pot you made first thing in the morning, you know, because you're such a nice person, thinking of all those others who would benefit from the fresh pot you so kindly started. Unlike you, these bottom feeders place the empty pot right back on the burner. Lazy bastards!

The Pot Watchers

My old boss used to say to me, "A watched pot never boils."

My answer? "Yeah, but when the pot has finished brewing, I'll get mine first!" Seriously, we have a tendency to become impatient while waiting for the brewing process to finish. Move pot away from dripping java; hold cup in place to capture brewing liquid until cup is full; replace pot. You've seen this, right? I know two people in my department who do this. I'm one of them!

The Frap Boys

Annoyance Majoris, they hang out at Starbucks attempting to out-caffeinate one another. Don't bother to search the word at dictionary.com; I made it up. Imagine a twenty year old dude slamming down a triple power latte and crushing the cardboard cup against his forehead, "Grrraaaaahhhoooooooooah, get me another, NOW!"

I shouldn't poke fun. My daughter loves McDonald's Caramel Frappé. That's just as bad.

The Instant Gratifiers

For those of us who have given up on socializing others into the world of java etiquette, there's always instant coffee. Whether you choose to dip baggies in hot water, or scoop crystals from a plastic jar, you will bypass the madness and enjoy your beverage in the sanctuary of your office. Total word count today? Five hundred and forty three.

Which type of consumer are you? Or, as the Brits would say, "Would you prefer a cup of tea?"

02 September 2013

Labor Day Mission and Mishap

I woke up this morning, Labor Day 2013, to find I'd neglected to share my experience with you of my visit to the wonderful city of Savannah, GA. While attempting to compile a post and provide pictures from my wonderful vacation, I noticed the warming temperatures in my home. Yes, the air conditioned atmosphere I'd been privileged to know the entirety of my life has been taken away, though temporarily (I hope). I'll have to call a technician tomorrow, during non-holiday hours, of course.

In the meantime, while I sweat profusely in my newly transformed 1,630 sq. ft. oven, because the thunderstorms are preventing a nice, cool dip in the pool, my husband approaches me with the question, "Can I get you to help me with something?"

OH, LO AND BEHOLD! That means he's done started something which must be completed by the end of the day or I'll not get any sleep, let alone any writing done.

I follow him to the bedroom, but not before making a brief stop in front of the oscillating fan we'd set up in the living room. This gives me some relief, but it doesn't tame the rising temperatures produced by the blazing Florida sun.

When I finally arrive at the door of the master bedroom, I am witness to piles of 15 years worth of historical relic, which has been displaced, meaning everything which occupied our walk-in closet had been transferred into our bedroom and onto every available surface you can possibly imagine: bed, floor, windowsill, dresser, name it.

He places hands on hips and says, "I need your help. What can we toss and what do you want to keep?"


I'm talking everything from 1995 letters of recommendation from old bosses, old text books and book club membership collectibles, to pictures, report cards, closed accounts, five purses filled with receipts, missing social security cards (2), and my old passport I never declared as lost when I got my new one. What is wrong with this man? Doesn't he realize you don't start this sort of mission on LABOR DAY and WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING??!

Am I angry he asks...

Yes, but I still love you. Happy Labor Day!

So, how did you spend your Labor Day? Did you work? Did you sweat? Or, did you actually relax and enjoy your time off?

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