Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ramblings of a Writer on Night Shift

Tonight was the first night since I started working the night shift, that it was exactly as I imagined. Although as I pen this, there are still several hours to go and it could erupt into chaos. When I took the job (Originally two nights a week) I was the fill in person, working alone. I imagined it to be quiet, because, you know, people sleep. This job has been anything but.
Most nights that I am here I do find time to write, and I started thinking about blogging. This could be my way to get back into it.
You’re probably wondering why I, a D-List established writer, would take such a job.  I always dreamed of being a writer. I remember years ago when I started, was all that I wanted to do was be a full time writer and live off my writing.
I am blessed and fortunate that I can pay my bills with writing. Some months are great, some suck. It’s the game with sales. But unlike a lot or even most writers who ‘claim’ to live off of writing, I don’t have a spouse or partner. I am sole provider for my family and especially my grandson. That’s a lot of pressure.
Financially, that’s not why I took the job. Sanity and health are. 
Sanity? Health.
This job I have, only a couple days a week, sometimes more, has an official title of Night Laundry Auditor. I audit nothing, and fold sheets and towels. Most of the laundry can be completed in two hours. I spread it out. It’s not glamourous, but it keeps me moving. 
The life of a writer isn’t glamorous either. Most writers drink. We don’t eat right or regularly, and when you don’t feel the need to get up, shower and actually dress, there are issues.
I started Lunch Lady work because as a writer,  I packed on the pounds. That’s not healthy.
Is night shift at the hotel hard work? Nope. Not at all. In fact, I actually love the job.
When an irate guest tried to run me over with his car, yeah, that got a little scary, other than that, it’s perfect for a writer. I don’t need my fit bit to tell me to get up and move every fifty minutes, the buzzer on the dryer does that.
Other than the eating, forced to shower at normal times and not wear my famed red ugly sweatpants, the best part of this job ... people.
It can do nothing but help my writing and have dialogue realistic. Although, the people here are pretty interesting.
Hence, why I decided to just start blogging about it. Because it dawned on me, the reason I stopped blogging was because I was buried in my office, buried in my books, never really going out and truly had nothing to blog about any more.
Now I do.
The people in his hotel, most of them live here. Permanent residents, so it’s a community. They hang in the lobby at all hours.
From the drunken construction workers, naked senior men airing it out in the laundry room, to the woman who uses a walker to carry her super large breasts and the man whose feet are so hideous someone called corporate about them.
All of them are real and here and will give me stories to share on a blog. I wouldn’t meet them in my writing room, then again, I probably would, with in the depths of my writer mind.
I took the job for the quiet nights and prospect of endless writing, And now that I have experienced a quiet night that is giving me the prospect of endless writing, I want the insanity back, because that gives me prospect of endless ideas. As a writer, as long as you have ideas, you can write.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Patient Zero Movie Review

Warning this is a SPOILERY REVIEW. I usually don’t write them, but on this I will because I am hoping maybe someone can answer my burning question.

While I was entertained, the movie left me stuck in the fact that I needed one answer given … and that one question stayed with me so much, it was distracting. ‘Was Morgan the only one who could hear them talk?’ It never was answered. If it was. I missed it.

From the get-go it establishes that Morgan can talk to the infected. He had been bit and survived the bite. He’s an arrogant snip who things everyone around him is an A-hole. His words not mine. When in fact, he actually is the A-hole.

The world is besieged by a rage infection and the infected are evolving. Morgan is part of a survivor camp looking for patient zero so they can cure it. Search for Patient Zero. Which leads me to mention that at the 31 second mark of the movie, in the open sequence, a Newscaster states, “Health Authorities have now said they discovered their first case of a new strain of super rabies in a human.” If Health Authorities already discovered the first case, wouldn’t that be Patient Zero? Maybe our underground scientists missed that newscast.

Onward …the underground team uses Morgan to communicate with the captured infected. But they never say if those around him (Uninfected) can understand what the infected are saying. From the camera’s eye, Morgan after irritating them with music (Music drives them nuts) he has a normal conversation with them.

So if Morgan can do it, why can’t the uninfected?  Do the uninfected hear them? Or can only Morgan hear them? Is it telekinetic? Or does Morgan simply speak growlese. I never had that answered.

HUGE EDIT – I went back to the beginning and turned on Closed Captions, apparently Morgan does speak Growlese, because the closed captions explains what you can’t hear. While Morgan is speaking, the closed captions say ‘Morgan speaks low growl’ Hmm. All this time wasted. All those paragraphs I could have deleted.

OK back to the movie.

Enter Stanley Tucci … he kind of saves the film, but I felt a lot of his story was  part of the ‘select delete’ process on the Final Cut timeline.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an hour and a half decent movie that could have been so much better. The end sequence starts out good, nail biting in fact, but then it gets cheesy wraps up in a ‘too convenient’ package which takes us to an end scene that I couldn’t see. It was either shot in a too dark location or someone went a little overboard with the ‘day to night’ filter.

It’s a Friday night, nothing else better to do film. But I’d wait until it was free or cheaper. Just my opinion.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review - Off and really running

This is a no spoiler review. There are a lot of cool plot points that shouldn’t be spoiled. Especially the end.

Let me start by saying that I like the first Jurassic World movie, didn’t love it, but liked it. I wasn’t waiting on pins and needles for the sequel, but I went anyhow on preview night.

Unlike many, my favorite Jurassic Park was the third film. I don’t know why, but it was. This one comes pretty close, but to be honest, at the beginning of the movie, I was rubbing my brow, eating my popcorn and wondering why I even went.

It starts unimaginative and like every other Jurassic film. Give us an action bang sequence of three minutes, cue the credits, bring it down for story development.

They start out with a nice bow on a package ‘this is what happened after the last movie’ newscast, bringing us back to Bryce Howard’s character. For the life of me I couldn’t remember her character name, but once I googled it, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, Claire’.

After her re-introduction, that was when I got bored, irritated, as I followed her through the induction of the story. At first, I believed, here we go again, a repeat of Jurassic Park 2. Hell, I even did an eyeroll when I saw the kid running about, then again, later when the nanny couldn’t find her. I truly believed, like JP2, she stowed away on the plane.

Let’s back up. While Claire is getting the gist of the story and plot, I fidgeted wondering where was Chris Pratt. I couldn’t wait for him, then when he arrived, I was disappointed. I wanted his witty, snappy character, instead if was evident from the get go he was being portrayed as an action hero only. But it was Chris Pratt, how can you not love everything he is in?

Admittedly, right now, it sounds like I am hating this film, but what I described to you was only ten percent of the total movie. Once it got moving, I was locked tight, squeezing my grandson’s hand, and at points, jumping out of my seat.

It had the imaginative story of the first Jurassic Park, it ended up being original and it had the nonstop action, barely able to catch my breath feel that the 3rd film had.

It was good, it was fun. It had characters that you loved to hate and some new people that made you laugh. Although, I hated that they never said their names much.

And Bryce Howard was kick butt this film. I went into this ready to dislike her because I wasn’t crazy about her in the first film and she was pretty great in this one. Chris Pratt … what can I say? He’s like that old Blue Bonnet Margarine saying, ‘Everything’s better with Blue Bonnet on it’, well everything is better with Chris Pratt in it.

Summary … lots of suspense, a few screams, family friendly, awesome cast and a boatload of dinosaurs (that’s actually a double a tundra)

Go see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Raising the Walking Dead Ratings

If you read a lot of articles out there, many are suggesting that Walking Dead should end. Forbes especially, they hate TWD. Sure, the viewership has fallen, but 6 million viewers a week is nothing to scoff at. I even read an article recently that suggested they would never up their ratings. I’m going to disagree. Last I heard there were 118 million viewers in the US. Even at top game (18 Mil) there are a 100 million viewers that haven’t been tapped by them.

I don’t think it’s a lost cause. Granted I am one of those people who doesn’t love it as much as I did, but it's not because they have run the course, it’s because they made bad decisions that made me shake my head.

They can, in my opinion, not only stay alive but get better ratings.

So I thought I’d give a tip sheet (Not like they’ll ever read this) on ways Walking Dead can rise up from the stalemate it is in. Some of these are also reasons for the decline. All my opinion, of course.

More Older People
The 18-49 demographic is the focal age group of The Walking Dead, therefore most of, if not all, of their main characters fall into that age group. But if we look back to the seasons more successful than this one, there is an important factor they had and let slide. Older, wiser, Americans. Actors/actresses/characters over the age of 50, will attract viewers in the same age group. I’m not talking about the occasional senior in the background or one that has a word or two. I’m talking main characters. Don’t believe me?
Season 1 – Dale (Sixties)
Season 2 – Dale and Hershel (70)
Season 3, 4 – Hershel
Seasons 5 and 6 – Deanna (60’s)
Seasons 7 and 8 …. None.
Ratings cascaded in season 7 and never recovered. Bring back an older character, bring in some older viewers.

Have an End Game
There is no end in sight. Nowhere to aim for, there for viewers, like the characters are moving aimlessly. Walking Dead needs an end game, even if it seasons away, it’s a goal to shoot for and a goal for the viewers to wait for. IE: Game of Thrones

Get Rid of Negan
He needs to go. Whether he dies or goes away, he needs to leave. While loved in the graphic novels, he didn’t transpose well to the screen and the viewers hate him. Most do. I realize Kirkman has a hardon for him, but his fans don’t. It’s no coincidence ratings dropped when he appeared. It’s like dating someone your family hates. They won’t invite you as much or treat you the same while you’re dating an asshole. Get rid of Negan.

Race for a Cure
It’s fact in the Walking Dead universe, for some reason everyone has this virus. They have it, yet they can still get infected with it and die. Whatever. Damn show needs some hope. Introduce a scientist who is on a breakthrough for a cure., A real cure.

Up the Zombie Game
Let’s face it, our characters are zombie killing gurus. There is no threat anymore. I’m surprised they haven’t wiped them all out. So, if they won’t get rid of Negan, add some old people, have an end game … how about upping the zombie game. Virus mutates. Imagine, Daryl is out, he sees a walker, he lifts that crossbow … bam, that walker isn’t walking, it races top speed at him. New game.

All is not lost in Walking Dead. I don’t think they’ll try any of these, but it’s not gonna hurt to toss it out in the universe. Maybe Gimble will read this.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Baking with Ease ... not

We all have it. Well, some of us. That deep down desire to create something edible and have everyone that tries it, moan in delight with every single bite. Now, I write novels, songs, make movies and I’m actually a pretty good cook. Anything and everything pasta … I got it. Soups, salads, you name it. I can create anything from scratch, give the best Chopped TV show champs a run for their money and have folks clamoring for a third or fourth helping of my chili. Yet … yet .. mind you, give me a dessert to make … I crumble faster than any cake I can make. I don’t get it. I don’t. I mean why is baking so damned hard. I will follow a recipe to the letter and still end up with … something … something so horrible my dog runs.

So can someone please tell me what I am doing wrong? Since I moved into the new house with the huge kitchen, I have really wanted to bake. But desire doesn’t equal talent. Take my latest endeavor. I was, was mind you convinced I could make a kick butt cross-shaped cake for my granddaughter’s christening.

I had to practice first.

I was in a creative culinary mood. I took that pound of ground beef and made philly cheese baked sliders on sweet rolls with homemade ramen noodles. At the store I got everything I needed to make that cake from scratch, icing and all. I found this great recipe with awesome reviews, my sister gave me her no fail icing recipe. This is the recipe I used. FLUFFY MOIST CAKE

Line by line, word by word I followed the recipe. It said 'bake 30 minutes', but at 30 minutes it looked uncooked. 45 minutes later the edges were crisp and I took it out.
It not only flattened it sunk deep in the middle.

As soon as it cold enough to remove, it came from the pan with ease then simply … crumbled.

I tried, I mean really tried, through tears of laughter to make it look presentable, but that wasn’t happening.

“Maybe it just looks bad,” my daughter said. “I bet it’s great.”
Do I cut a crumbling serving for her and I.
Um, it was thick, too sweet and so dense, a small bite was caught in my esophagus and it took two glasses of milk to get it down.

The icing was good.

I just can’t figure out what I am doing wrong. This isn’t the first cake I failed making from scratch, but after looking at the picture, I think it will be my last.

As for my granddaughter’s Christening cake … I have the number of the local bakery.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Being Poor: It isn't a SNAP

It’s a long one … be forewarned …..

I’ve never been rich and I doubt I ever will be. That’s  okay, I’m actually alright with that. I have however, been several levels of poor. From the ‘we will barely scrape by’ to ‘Robbing Peter to Pay Paul’ to ‘There is no Peter, there is no Paul, I’m screwed’

Recently I read an article where there is talk of USDA changing the EBT/SNAP/Food Stamp benefit. Taking up to 50% of the recipient’s benefit and replacing that with something called a Harvest Box. Which would be meat, milk, cheese, vegetables. The decision on what and who is affected would be left to the states.

Before I make a comment, I merely am going to give my own take on poor and not having enough to eat or rather lack of a choice in what I had to eat.

My low point, which some of you probably will say it wasn’t that bad, because it is true, no matter how bad you think you have it, someone else out there has it worse.

My journey into the worst ‘poor’ of my life started in 2008. Quickly following my marriage break up, I lost the car, and keeping the house was a pipe dream. I had no backup plan, no savings and at the time was writing (Making nothing) and working part time. That’s all I had to do, I was married. But that part time job wasn’t enough. Fortunately, I found a full time job at a nursing home and moved into this affordable apartment. It was five rooms over an empty store, no living room windows, steps from hell and the entire place was slanted. Seriously, all balls and cans rolled.

My take home pay was $1108 a month, plus I made another 300 being a Karaoke DJ. It was sustainable. Rent was only 650, a car payment from a ‘buy here pay here’ place, electric, insurance and phone, totaled just about 1200.00. We didn’t have cable or internet. If I set the laptop in the right spot in the kitchen, I was able to get the guest wifi from a local business. DJing paid for food and gas.

Then came my grandson. Suddenly that 200 to live on wasn’t all that much for food, diapers, formula, so forth. There were four of us to feed, gas for work. I was working all that I could and I found myself caught in a catch 22 loop. I applied for assistance, and was denied. See, my daughters had just turned 18, the baby wasn’t mine and according to guidelines I made too much money. My daughter applied and since she was technically still in school, it fell under my income, which again, I wasn’t allowed to count them. Not only denied SNAP, we were denied medical for the baby. Forget WIC, you need a doctor to sign off, no insurance, the Health Department was our doctor.

Basic food was a luxury. Now, keep in mind, at any time, I could have called any member of my family and they would have helped. But pride kicks in and you just can’t do it. You can’t let them know you don’t have food. Plus, I would bother my brother for help with the electric, I couldn’t ask him for help with food.

So I turned to the church. They helped me sign up for the Food Bank. The Food bank was a godsend. The ladies there made sure I had a can of formula and diapers each week. My grandson may not have had the same formula every week, but he was being fed. My little bit of money went for extra formula and things that the FB didn’t give that week.. Mostly, everything we ate, breakfast, lunch dinner was determined by what we received that week at the food bank.

You know what? We ate.

The way a Food bank works is you walk through stations picking one item from each.  Each station was a different type of item. Sometimes they had goodies. Then there was always bread from the local store, and sometimes there was fresh meat. At the end of the line was a packed brown bag, you weren’t allowed to look inside, you had to grab one and go. Always in there were pasta, protein, veggies, cereal/pancakes, etc

I didn’t have a choice, I didn’t have the money to go to the store and get what I wanted. For over a year there were never cookies or snacks in the house. That brown food bank bag was like Christmas. Every Saturday I would open it with enthusiasm and thanks.

Had I been eligible for food benefits, I would have purchased things that I craved like real milk, fresh oranges and lunch meat. And quite honestly, I would have purchased cookies, chips, ground meat not in a can, and fish sticks, I love fish sticks, but they can be expensive.

Now, you can understand why when I got my first Amazon royalty for $33, I danced about and treated everyone to pizza.

When I hear people talk about SNAP recipients using benefits for steak and such, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t believe they’re eating steak every night. It’s a treat. Most using SNAP are making it stretch as best as they can. So what if they want a steak. Their steak was my fish sticks. On a good sale day a sirloin costs less than a box of Gordons.

When I hear of the plans for that Harvest Box, I liken it to that brown paper bag from the food bank. While the choice of what I would make and eat was limited, I was still was eating.

I firmly 100% believe that if by some far off chance they pass the Harvest Box law, those who truly need the assistance (Like I did) would gladly choose that box and small balance on a SNAP card, over nothing. People unable to afford food don’t want the help, they need it. It’s hard to ask for help and there isn’t any boasting and flashing of that EBT card. Standing in line at the food bank isn’t a social occasion, it’s a weekly sledgehammer to your self esteem and worth. A shame, at least for me, that I felt and tried to hide.

Thankfully, I was blessed and able to pull myself out of that situation, but many others aren’t as fortunate. They get hit over and over and when they find themselves two steps ahead, something knocks them back.

Trust me when I tell you there is great pride when paying for your own groceries, even if it takes your last dollar.

Whatever your opinion is on SNAP changes, that is your opinion, there is no right or wrong on an opinion.

Just remember before you judge those getting benefits, put yourself in their shoes. Not everyone getting benefits is scamming the system. Try to imagine working two jobs and still not having enough to feed your family, it’s a horrible feeling. When a dollar will and does break you. Asking and getting help is hard enough without people judging for buying Oreos.

Whatever the law is or will be, bottom line, we should not be a country where people go to bed hungry and wishing there was a single pack of Ramen left in the cupboard.

Friday, January 26, 2018

This is Us ... the show, the mystery, the legend

This is Us is a great show, but they almost sent me down the Walking Dead path … almost.

**Note, this blog may contain spoilers**

It started with a promo trailer six months or so before the premiere date. And I, like many others waited for This is Us. I needed something to fill the weekly cry fest hole that was left in my being after Parenthood left the air. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed.  At first to me, it was no Parenthood, nothing could be. Come on, Zeke Braverman was the man. While I love, love Jack, indulged and sobbed that first season, there was one thing, in my opinion, that stopped the show from snatching the golden crown from Parenthood .. relatability.

Other than Kate, I couldn’t relate nor could I relate anyone I knew to the characters. They were good and enjoyable to watch. Kate’s struggle with weight loss and self esteem issues struck home with a lot of people. But Kevin and Randall. Nope. When we are first introduced, Randall was searching for his biological father. Yes, people do search for biological parents, but not many are well to do enough to have a private investigator handle it., and he was a Weather Trader, whatever that is. Kevin is a famous television star who has everything, good looks and a body. So unless you’re Chris Pratt sitting on the couch, watching This is Us and saying, “Yes, Kev, Yes. Nailed it.” Relatability out the window.

Combine that with the fact that not only did they keep us in a shroud of mystery over Jack’s death, they tossed out clues that were totally misleading. Making the ever guessing fans look like weirdos. I went from watching it live, to watching it on Wednesday and when Season 2 started, I was like, “Eh, I'll DVR it and watch it when I can.”


Then somewhere, Kevin became an addict, Randall quit his job, needed to find himself and Rebecca became human. (Notice I left  out Kate, she’s perfect). Suddenly this family, struggling to live up to their father, became broken and not perfect. The second half of season 2 fires into the writers focusing more on them as a family, over their individual storylines. The Jack mystery death …. UG, they reeled us in the with mystery when it was actually a sniper attack. I suddenly didn’t want to know. The latest episode had me reaching for the bourbon, pausing the show because I didn’t want to see more, examining my crock pot and running around checking and double checking every smoke detector in my house. Thank you for that, by the way, This is Us became a PSA and because of that episode, someone out there was saved.

They hooked us with Jack, kept us coming back for Jack and as the season progresses I find myself ready to face the series without Jack. Like the characters do, reflecting on the man’s life, instead of obsessing over his death.

As I pen this, we haven’t gotten to episode 14, the one after the super bowl. I’m not ready for it. Not at all. My only grip now is the misleading they have done. Since the first episode of Season two, we’ve known about the fire. Yet, the cast and producers kept saying., “The viewers will be shocked when they find out how Jack dies.” Showing his unburned personal effects, had viewers scrambling for a reason for Jack’s death and the fire. “none of the fans have guessed it,” They’d say. Of course not, we’re not gonna guess a freaking crock pot. We weren’t looking for the cause of fire, we were looking at the death. And if he burned in the fire, why were all his things unharmed.

None of the kids looked like they were in a fire. After seeing the promo, it looks more like he does die saving his family. I got news for the writers, we’re not going to be shocked. Even if he runs back in for Scrappy the dog, no shock there. If he dies in the fire we have known since Episode 1. Crock pot or not.

If I was the writer, Jack would have been hit by a car while chasing the dog that ran into the street, the house fire was caused by the crockpot and only because Rebecca was in the hospital watching Jack die.

That’s just me, that’s why I’ll stick to writing end of the world stuff instead of dramas.

How Jack ends up passing still remains to be seen and I will be watching.

This is Us went from being a great show to a fantastic show, and it’s mighty close in my book to catching up to Parenthood.