Thursday, May 29, 2014

First, You Fight the Shark

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You can't have Indiana Jones, E.T., or Jurassic Park without first fighting the shark.

Roy Scheider and Steven Spielberg

Universal's first directorial pick referred to the shark as a whale a la Moby Dick. So, they let a 27-year-old director take over this "good B-movie" titled Jaws. Excited and naive, he took his crew to Martha's Vineyard and the Atlantic Ocean. Steven Spielberg rued his own decision.

What ensued was a disastrous production to rival that of Tommy Wiseau's The Room.

Robert Shaw and Bruce the Shark

For one long summer, the same message echoed via production's intercom system.

Static. "The shark is not working." Static. "The shark is not working."

The ten man crew on a man-made island, jokingly dubbed U.S.S. Garage Sale, scrambled to fix their flopping machination -- hourly. The Orca began sinking with the actors and sound department onboard. The crew fought the Atlantic daily and rewrote the script nightly. Filming went from wrapping in May to late August.

Spielberg recalls attending a party where an actress shared how no one in Hollywood wanted to even touch him after he finished this movie. The news left him ill and fleeing the party.

Filming the final showdown

In the making-of documentary I watched, Jaws author Peter Benchley explain how fascination led to preparedness then to survival. He meant our fascinations with our fears, but this also extends to our ambitions and dreams.

Making movies, starting a business, publishing novels -- it's your dream, but it's a fight to the very end. Spielberg needed to see if he could survive the greatness of his dream. We know what would have been lost had he ran away from this.

"I watched a boy become a man...he was threatened with firing -- everyday. There were people second-guessing him at all times. He never gave in to the stress -- except when he bit his nails." - Dreyfuss, our Matt Hooper with the city hands, "counting money all his life."

It was incredible naivete and an unimaginable outcome.

I've been saying Spielberg, but I mean everyone. What we unknowingly lose when someone gives up on some great dream has been in my head since realizing how close we came to never saving the alien in E.T. or visiting Neverland in Hook.

 I listened to the crew's retelling of production, and the reality of creative passions struck me. Your love for what you pursue must be so great that you learn grit and discipline. It's about sacrificing and reaching.

In that way, you become a miracle.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Midsummer Reads: 22 Questions

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Today, I'm leaving heavy feelings for my diary. The warm weather has me thinking more about reading, because midsummer is the height of my reading frenzy.

Source: Sincerelysaydee

Here's to 22 Reading Questions

1) Favorite childhood book?

The Three Billy Goats Gruff (the very first favorite)

2) What are you reading right now?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern & The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3) Bad book habit?

Peeking ahead and other impatient habits -- those are my book sins.

4) Do you have an e-reader?

No, I like to think of reading as a break from screens.

5) Do you read one book at a time or more?

I juggle like a low-rate circus clown.

6) Least favorite book read this year (so far)?

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

7) Favorite book read this year?

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero

Pride & Prejudice directed by Joe Wright (2005)

8) What is your reading comfort zone?

Classic English lit and YA - but I'd like to branch out

9) Can you read on the bus?

I'd probably miss my stop if I ever did.

10) Favorite place to read?

Right before class, or on my bed

11) What is your policy on book lending?

I'll start asking for it back after a few months, but I never forget.

12) Do you ever write in the margins?

Only for textbooks or devotional readings. If I adore a book, then I couldn't mare the pages.

The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrman (2013)
13) What makes you love a book?

I need a character to latch onto and root for; someone who keeps me up until 3am. A beautifully written world (think Gatsby or Anne of Green Gables) is the clincher.

14) What will inspire you to recommend a book?

If a book is full of truths, big and small, that reveal something about the world that I had not seen in the world before. Poignancy.

Or I think that person will simply be entertained.

15) Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?

Mystery! Why can't I get into it? The idea sounds marvelous.

16) Have you ever read a self-help book?

No, but I've read enough encouraging quotes about the quarter life crisis on Tumblr to possibly qualify.

17) Favorite cookbook?

Speaking my language. Midnight Munchies by Diane Morgan, because I am a night owl who loves her food.

{source unknown}

18) Most inspirational book you've read this year?

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero. For all of his incredible and disheartening setbacks lasting years, the disasters culminated in the nightmarish productions period of Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Great things can come from terrible situations.

That's fantastic.

19) Favorite reading snack?

Tea, coffee, or water, please. The better the book, the hungrier (literally) I get.

20) If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?

A small goal of mine is to read the French version of Harry Potter, as a way to stretch old muscles and re-discover Harry's world.

21) How many books do you usually check out at the library?

I go for two but just have to grab that extra third.

22) How many of those books return unread?

That extra third book.

.     .     .     .

Choose a question or two and tell me about beautiful, reader-ly you.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sleep So Soundly

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I didn't think I had it in me to get up today. There was no foreseeable reason to open the blinds.

But it's not so simple for a writer to stay like that. Unoccupied, I'm always visited by one or two characters. One lazed about beside me and said ridiculous things, like who had the worse case of bedhead (we both considered ourselves the winner). Another tried coaxing me up and, frustrated, conspired with her father then promised to trick me into it later. She came through on that promise.

Repose, regardless of reason, always ignites creative minds.

So how could I ever be deficient in company? Only by not letting them in. I've lately shut out many lovely people in my life.

My last evening in Rome, I hurt my hand jumping off a wall. As my handsome companion looked it over, he told me some wounds need the light to heal.

So, I'll open the blinds and curl my hair while story characters fill my head with words lovely like a lullaby.

.     .     .

Christian Riemensc

{source unknown}



Long Exposure Photograph of Gold Fireflies in Japan by Colossal


Music with Rae

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 What have your characters done for you?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Beau Matin: Chocolate Chip Cookie Muffins

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Every Sunday at summer camp, campers and counselors dragged themselves at their leisure to the lodge for a casual breakfast. The kitchen served 20 kinds of cereals, a fruit bar, greasy bacon, three different sausages, and so many muffins.

For one morning a week, I relaxed with my fellow counselors while dining on the best muffins I ever tasted. These day of rest delicacies born from the mysterious back kitchen were chocolate chip muffins.

A la my instagram

Returning home, I searched, experimented, and found the closest replacement in my chocolate chip cookie muffins.

I'm always taken back to that tight sense of camaraderie between us counselors: Christians, pagans, Jews, Americans, Brits, liberals, conservatives, feminists, etc. Differences hardly meant anything when we all dealt with teenage, rich little campers who bragged about how many Apple products and Tiffany&co. jewelry they had.

Sweet, sweet taste of camaraderie.

Or, simply dessert for breakfast. So many of my campers ate only yogurt and fruit for breakfast that someone had to go for the chocolate. I volunteered as tribute.


3 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup milk room temp.
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag chocolate chips

Makes roughly 15 large muffins~

Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Large bowl: combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Medium bowl: combine butter, milk, sour cream, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and sugar. Note: add the sugar last so that it won't clump together. Stir while adding it.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. When it is halfway combined, add the chocolate chips. Don't over mix! Count on a few little lumps.

Okay, we want the classic bakery look, so put your batter into the muffin tin with mounds high than the rim. Anywhere between 1/2 to 3/4 an inch will look good! Because the tops will come up over the top, I prefer to make batches of 6 at a time in a single tin so they aren't crowded (see photo). Love that rounded look!

Baked 28-30 min for 6 muffins, or closer to 35 if you do all twelve. The muffins are done when the edges turn golden brown -- like a cookie does!

Let them cool for 10-15 minutes. Who am I kidding? Pluck one out for yourself after waiting 5! The morning is short!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Six Thousand Steps

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The times I feel most alive and creative are on my feet.

The right drink
Summer mornings meant a miniature sheltie or a shar pei scratching at my door for a walk before the summer heat set in. For the first time in all of my remembered summers, no one came.

Going from the constant action of summer camp to lethargy at home sapped me. I felt myself growing sad and didn't want that, so I took to heart the human need to walk at least six thousand steps everyday.

An old wellness professor told me six thousand steps a day means less anxiety and depression, that the brain simply works better.

I go where I walked my dogs. Far down the side of the street then onto a hidden sidewalk leading into a large neighborhood of beautiful houses, thick trees, and sloping sidewalks. The sprinklers come on around 8 am, a little fact known from my dog walking days. I enjoyed it more than they did.

Hot days mean feeling the heat rolling down my back in wave after wave. Cooler days are brisk walks with music in my ears.
Mon favorit
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Are you the Elizabeth Bennet of walking or do you get creativity going another way?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Take to the Sky

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Mid-July, a flight carried me from Maine to Georgia, down the east coast. I had never appreciated flying so much until I was up there looking down on the coast.

"The view of the coast is sublime. The tiny islands in cozy bays, seagulls on the docks, the sea and sky becoming the same in their hues of blue -- it's enchanting. I saw a lighthouse far away, where it appeared to be in the sky more than the sea. Now Maine is a white and green blue through the hazy clouds."
Oh yes, I was waxing all sorts of poetic in my diary while in my free upgraded seat with a whole row to myself. Absolutely enchanting three hours spent.

As a writer, flying has stuck itself into my imagination ever since. From up there, the hills, waves, and fissures of the earth appeared flat. Everything looked so much closer together. I think I may have forgotten until then that magical quality flight has.

Heron by ChrisSpies

Lyrics from Vanilla Twilight by Owl City

Amelie (2009)

Howl's Moving Castle by Studio Ghibli

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You. Flying. Tell me about it.

Note: None of these photos are mine.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Read & Eat: Indianapolis

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Artwork from Eli Lilly, the Canal, gondolas, the monorail -- Indianapolis gets prettier and prettier. Fittingly, we find more and more interesting local eateries.

The family and I lunched at Creation Cafe in downtown Indianapolis. We ate outside where we could look over the canal and the gondolas from the shade. The falafel was tasty (first timer!), but eating came before photography. Woops!

{End of the Canal as part of our view}
Their food menu is notably limited, but the drink and dessert menu looked like a novella. Evening Nutella gelato on the water, anyone? There were a few cozy sitting areas surrounded by twinkle lights, and I can easily imagine a future late evening there for one of their imported wines and mayhaps a slice of cake (all of their cakes are from the local Cake Stand).

{From atop the Marion County Central Library}
The family was interested in checking out the new Central Library. A Peanuts display, library cafe, baking books -- talk about feeling in my element!

There were a few other great displays with exotic instruments with sound samples. And the Blind Date with a Book display had these little hints about what the book might be about. If only that parking meter hadn't been ticking!

The marshmallows on today's sundae: petites lettres from a camp counselor friend! Silly as it is, I get so happy over letters that I put off reading them to draw it out.

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Adventured anywhere new lately?