What Would the World Be Like Without You?

 

As I’ve said probably too many times – I love the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Because I love the premise – What would the world be like without you? To me, that is a fascinating concept.

I mean, think about it – how many lives do you touch during the course of your life? How many times have you intervened without giving it a second thought – and possibly saved someone’s life? Stopped someone from doing another harm. Made someone laugh and change their mind about taking some dark course. Encouraged someone so much that they went on to succeed at something they might not have ever tried?

Like the lady I saw looking at peanut butter at the grocery store. I didn’t know her, I’d never seen her before in my life. Yet, I was compelled to say ‘make sure that isn’t one of those brands they found with semonila  (sp) in it.’ Now why did I say that? Was there some perception on my part that the food would hurt  her? Did I instinctively know she shouldn’t eat the dang peanut butter? As it turned out, she didn’t buy it and thanked me for saying that.

Or the kid I chased down the street to give a sandwich to because I knew he was living on the street and was hungry. Maybe he didn’t try to steal money from an old lady later that day because he didn’t need to. I don’t know and I’m not trying to make myself out as some sort of hero – not at all. I’m just an average person who tries to live as a decent human being, despite my rants and the things that aggravate me. I try to help people. To encourage people. It’s so much easier to give love than to withhold it. To help than to harm.

I don’t know what the world would be like if I weren’t in it. I don’t know if anyone would notice that something was missing. Maybe so. Maybe not. But I wish I could be like George Bailey and get a 24 hour period where I could see my life without me in it. I suspect it would make me much more grateful than I am, for all the many things in my life that I take for granted. And perhaps there’d be a few surprises that would make me feel differently about me.

I guess my point is that we all (too often) feel small and powerless in the world. And maybe even feel as though our efforts don’t matter in the greater scheme of things. But I think they do. I think that the aggregate of our small acts of kindness, love, help and awareness are part of the greater scheme of things. And without them, the world is a smaller place. We are all special and important in some way, to those we know, those we encounter and even those we don’t know.

So, what about it? What do you think the world would be like without you? I really want to know.

WC

Is Blogging Meant to be Therapy?

 

You know I haven’t been at this blogging stuff for very long – a few months – though it seems more like years. Or really it seems like something I’ve always done. Perhaps it is, in a way, as a writer I’ve always had these sort of running dialogues ripping through my mind and occasionally they ended up on paper or computer screen.

They are often seem endless. Non-stop, going at the speed of light thoughts that are questions, ponderings, annoyances, wonder, shock, stupor…you name it – it’s in there. Then suddenly…nothing. Yep, it all stops and I feel a kind of statis. As though my mind simply went on vacation and really I’ve said or thought every thing there is to say or think and well stick a fork in me cuz I’m done.

Still, even when I’m in that empty-headed state I still feel the urge to express thoughts, ideas, points of view. Is it arrogance on my part? That I believe that my thoughts are so important that I must commit them to paper and publish them on the Internet, or (so the dream goes) in books and magazines, newspapers? I mean, really, what is so special about me that I  have the irrepressible(sp) urge to force my views on others? Am I forcing or am I simply looking for a meeting of the minds across the great spatial divide of cyberspace? Am I looking for understanding, agreement or just a safe, warm place to rest my weary head? Could be all of the above or none of the above.

Are bloggers really just writers who have turned to technology to get their message out? Or are we all just a bunch of losers who need to air our problems, concerns, insecurities and little life tragedies just to feel okay about ourselves?

 I wonder, I really do wonder about this stuff. Particularly on days when I don’t feel especially funny or witty. See, in case you missed it that is my thing. Don’t know why but really I live to make people laugh. I would go through just about anything to put somebody in hysterics. Do you think that is a sterling quality or a character flaw? I don’t know. Do you?

During my short adventure as a blogger I have read and visited many blogs. Many more than I ever would have thought I could or would want to. Initially I think it was curiosity. Like, gee there are bagillions of blogs out there and there must be something to this stuff, you know? I mean jeez everybody seems to be doing it – maybe if I read enough of them, I’ll know why.

But despite my research and reading and following and discovering of the many blogs I’ve found and stumbled upon, I still am no closer to answering that curiosity than I was the day I started.

When it comes to blogging it seems there is something for everyone – knitters, political junkies, writers, poets, dancers, artists, musicians, geniuses and idiots alike. But in the greater scheme of things does it really contribute to the oneness of the allness of the human community? Or are we all just trying to vent enough to get through the day without committing murder and mayhem? Trying to get by the things in our lives that disappoint and baffle?

I know in my case sometimes the only thing I had to look forward to was blogging later in the day. Or at least responding to comments from readers. That little burst of joy I felt whenever I saw I had a comment on something I’d written. But why? Do I need that validation from readers? Is it important? Is it silly?

If I pulled the plug tomorrow on my blogs would it matter? I mean truly – would it change a thing other than for me? LOL – I’m just totally lost on this topic. Cuz I really don’t know.

And  honestly, I don’t have a big bang up ending for this entry – so I guess I’ll just leave you guys with the questions for now. Hopefully somebody has some insight or at least a couple of funny come-backs.

Later kids.

WC

Five Answers

Alabaster Crippens  had a great little post called Five Questions. I liked it a lot and asked him to create five questions for me. Below are the questions and answers.

1. What’s the saddest fictional event you’ve ever borne witness to?

The belief that we lost the Vietnam War and the propogation of same. And further, that those who were involved were somehow criminals and lower than plant planken. It was a terrible lie and a tragic insult forwarded against people better than you and I who didn’t deserve it. And the liars still continue to spin the lie and somehow make it relevant today. The p.c. kids are the worst of the sad fiction creators around.

2. What’s the most wonderful sound you’ve ever heard?

You can smoke with impunity. Actually, I’ve only ever heard it in my dreams but ….. I’d have to say the most wonderful sound is children laughing.

3. Who do you most want to punch in the face?

It’s a toss-up between Hillary Clinton and Howard Stern. They both gross me out beyond words and are a total waste of space in my opinion. Two things I really cannot tolerate are panderers and liars. Most any other transgression can be forgiven but those two are very difficult for me to tolerate. I don’t understand why anyone would find either of them credible on any topic – they seem absolutely transparent to me.

4. What was the last thing that stopped you in your tracks in amazement?
The attack on the World Trade Tower and the Pentagon and the murders of thousands of my fellow citizens. Which is not to say that there haven’t been amazing things since then but there hasn’t been anything that truly stopped me in my tracks other than 9/11.

5. Have you ever seen something that definitely wasn’t there?

Absolutely and pretty regularly actually. I see ghosts. Often late at night when I’m driving, sometimes on my way to the bathroom and various other places. I once lived in a house that was previously inhabited by an old woman and her ghost would constantly knock over my trash can at night. After a while though, you get used to it. Oh, I also sometimes see what other drivers are planning to do on the road ahead of me – the trick is to not react too soon before they do it. Takes some practice.

Thanks Al for the super cool and groovy questions, I love pop quizzes and this one was good because it was completely unpredictable. Loved it.
WC

What Do Movies Meme?

 

Using AFI’s list of 100 Top Movies, bold the ones you’ve seen, ital ones you’d like to see and add up to three that you think should be on the list.

1. CITIZEN KANE (1941) Brilliant mostly for its cinematic features, the story itself is over-rated in my opinion.
2. CASABLANCA (1942) A real classic – love it still.
3. THE GODFATHER (1972) To me, the epitome of gangster movies which meant for me I no longer had to see any more ganster movies which generally are boring as hell.


4. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) a movie I was satisfied to see once.
5. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) a movie that was almost as hard to watch as Reds.
6. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) still afraid of those flying monkeys.
7. THE GRADUATE (1967)
8. ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) The speech with Brando and Malden in the cab is the best part.
9. SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993) Truly touched me.
10. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952) Who doesn’t love this one?
11. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) always gets to me.
12. SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
13. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957) I never really ‘got’ this movie. What was the big deal?
14. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) Nothing funnier than Curtis and Lemon in drag.
15. STAR WARS (1977) Once was more than enough to see any of these movies.
16. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) If  you haven’t seen this, you must the dialogue alone is worth watching it.
17. THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)
18. PSYCHO (1960)


19. CHINATOWN (1974) The sequel The Two Jakes is decent too.
20. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975)
21. THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)
yawn!
22. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) yawn!
23. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
24. RAGING BULL (1980)
25. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)
26. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
27. BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)
28. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
29. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) Classic
30. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
31. ANNIE HALL (1977)
32. THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
33. HIGH NOON (1952)
34. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) I dare you to watch this movie and not feel changed by it.
35. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
36. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969) Very sad and tragic I thought.
37. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
38. DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) True Film Noir.


39. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)
40. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) I was fascinated by the shine in Eva Marie Saint’s hair in this one. How did they do it?
41. WEST SIDE STORY (1961) Urban Romeo and Juliet which has never been improved upon.
42. REAR WINDOW (1954)
43. KING KONG (1933)
44. THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915)
45. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)  Blanche Dubois is one of the most unique characters ever written in my opinion.
46. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) Ugh, hated this
47. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
48. JAWS (1975) One of the best scary movies ever.
49. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)
50. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
51. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
52. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)
53. AMADEUS (1984)
54. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
55. THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)
56. M*A*S*H (1970)
57. THE THIRD MAN (1949)
58. FANTASIA (1940)
59. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
60. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
61. VERTIGO (1958)
62. TOOTSIE (1982)
63. STAGECOACH (1939)
64. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) The mashed potato scene is my favorite.
65. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) Chianti and fava beans, yummy.
66. NETWORK (1976)
67. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) This version was superior to the recent remake.
68. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951)
69. SHANE (1953)
70. THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)
71. FORREST GUMP (1994)
72. BEN-HUR (1959)
73. WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939)
74. THE GOLD RUSH (1925)
75. DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) I only remember how I longed for this movie to be over.
76. CITY LIGHTS (1931)
77. AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973)
78. ROCKY (1976) Despite all the terrible sequels the original was one of the best movies every made.
79. THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
80. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
81. MODERN TIMES (1936)
82. GIANT (1956)
83.
PLATOON (1986)
84. FARGO (1996)
85. DUCK SOUP (1933)
86. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935)
87.
FRANKENSTEIN (1931)
88. EASY RIDER (1969)
89. PATTON (1970)
90. THE JAZZ SINGER (1927)
91. MY FAIR LADY (1964)
92. A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
93. THE APARTMENT (1960)
94. GOODFELLAS (1990)
95. PULP FICTION (1994) totally over-rated and stupid.
96. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
97. BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
98. UNFORGIVEN (1992) Not bad, but did it really deserve all those oscars?
99. GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967)
100. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) It was a hoot to see Cagny dancing and singing after all those ganster movies.

I have seen 78 out of 100 – wow, even I’m surprised. The three I would add to the list are:

101. THE CAINE MUTINY
102. BODY HEAT 
103. WHITE CHRISTMAS

The three I’d remove from the list are:

1. Lawrence of Arabia
2. The Godfather Part II
3. Grapes of Wrath

What are your picks?
WC

I Didn’t Meme It…or Did I?

 

I snagged this meme from Interstellar Lass because it looked like fun and I’ve never done one.

Instrutions:
Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read
*Italicize the ones you want to read
*Leave the ones that you aren’t interested in alone.

If you are reading this, tag your it!

1.The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) (sorry but YAWN)
2.Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3.To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) (truly one of the best books ever written)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10.A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12.Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) (forced to read this in high school and never would have finished it if I didn’t have to. Hated every word of it.)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) (One of my personal top ten)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (parts only)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) (beautifully written and yet almost too sad to read)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) (another book I was forced to read which I hated)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) (What about Tender is the Night?)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) (Worth the read if only for the speech given by Roarke at the end in court)
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving) (to me, the ultimate book about writers – the way the mind works for them and their lot in life – although too over the top which is Irving’s style)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams) (stupid book about rabbits – why did I even read it? I think I kept waiting for it to get good)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100.Ulysses (James Joyce)

I must say though I would add quite a few to this list:

1. A Movable Feast (Ernest Hemingway)
2. The Shining (Stephen King)
3. Lightning (Dean Koonz)
4. The Foundation (Isaac Asimov)
5. Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein)
6. Up Country (Nelson DeMille)
7. Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
8. Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
9. The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway)
10. The Dead Zone (Stephen King)
11. Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)
12. Letters From Earth (Mark Twain)
13. Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
14. Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury)

And probably many more….what about you?
WC

To Crit Or Not To Crit….

 

Writers are very funny animals. They love words, which I guess right there is pretty weird as far as most folks are concerned. They also like to do silly things like collect old dictionaries, odd and unusual reference books, old maps, time tables, train schedules – you name it. If it’s some sort of reference that might someday enable us to add authenticity to a story or essay we want it.

We also like people to read what we’ve written. Naturally. I suppose that isn’t so strange – but there is a bit of a catch for the reader. Oh yes, you don’t get away with simply reading it – you have to give feedback. Writers love many things, but nothing so much as feedback.

A few years ago, I got involved with an online writing group called Writer’s Village University. On the face of it, it sounded like a writer’s haven. Over 200 free courses, a chance to read and be read by other writers, message boards, forums, etc. all for a very modest sum. And off I went like the bright-eyed, hope-springs-eternal writer that I am – believing this was going to be an incredible experience.

Well, truly there were some  incredible things that happened. The biggest I think was meeting my buddy Michael whose writing talent slapped me upside the head like a train going 100 mph. I was actually in awe of the man. Wow, I thought, if only I could write like that!

To my utter amazement he seemed to like my writing as well. We sort of formed a bit of a mutual admiration society and sought out other writers to share in the fun.

Sadly, there were many wannabe writers there. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have admiration for anyone who aspires to anything and is willing to put in the work. But many I’m afraid were just looking for the atta boys (or atta girls) and didn’t take too kindly to actual criticism.

That’s the problem for writers. Even really good ones. It’s hard to swallow that criticism. It’s hard to see why someone wouldn’t love what you’ve spent so much time (possibly months or even years) crafting. But part of being in this group was to give what was commonly called a ‘crit.’ Many times these crits didn’t go over well. And feelings were hurt and sometimes worse. Or even payback so to speak was exacted upon the crit-er.

Within a few months both Michael and I were ready to leave the group for the same reason (which we learned in later conversations with one another) – people said they wanted feedback but in fact they wanted validation. Which to my way of thinking is not the same thing.

It’s hard to critique a person’s work – especially if you like them. It’s harder still when you’ve with the best of intentions critiqued someone’s work and they’ve blown your head off for it. Actually, it’s quite the trick to learn just how many eggshells one must trod upon lightly in order not to get your head blown off.

I think if you want to be a writer – or really any kind of artist, you must have or grow a very thick skin. And be willing to hear anything anyone has to say about what you write. Even if you don’t like it and even if you don’t agree. Because even on the really bad ‘reviews’ you learn something – if only who isn’t your public.

So despite it all – I’m one of those writers who wants you to tell me honestly what you think of what I have written. Whether you like it or not. Naturally I would prefer to wow you with my incredible skills but I’d rather hear that I didn’t – if that’s the honest truth – than to have you blow smoke up my skirt (much fun as that might be under the right circumstances. 😉 hehe).

So dear readers, please do feel free to say what you think and for that I will give you my eternal gratitude.

WC