Friday, February 25, 2011

Keeping Me Honest-February 25 edition

So, did I get any writing done this week? Not as much as I'd like. It's been a full week. But I'm continuing to plot my novel.

Asimov's rejected a poem I submitted to them. My first official rejection from a professional magazine. I wear it like a combat medal. Truthfully, I don't mind. It just means I move on to submitting somewhere else, and I did that just the other day. Let's see if Mindflights will like the poem.

And I scored another cheeky piece with "The Devil Is in Your Thin Mints" (see prior blog entry). I like writing in that style of observational satire, but it's sometimes hard to figure out a topic. Thin Mints fell in my lap. Not the cookies, thankfully, just the subject. I need more calories like I need a hole in the head. That piece has received some nice feedback.

Conclusion: I feel good about this week, since I got more done than it seems at first glance. And I've got all weekend to write and edit. Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Devil Is in Your Thin Mints

Don’t be alarmed… But if you have Thin Mints in your home, burn them in your fireplace or shove them down your garbage disposal, and do it now, before they lead you into mortal damnation.

Thin Mints are the devil’s instrument, and the Antichrist will be someone who eats them. This is a known sign of the Apocalypse. I can’t give you the scripture reference, but do I need to? You know it’s true. Reject these cookies before they destroy you.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of doom. I know you like Thin Mints. Everyone does. Have you ever met anyone who can eat just one of these sweet little cookies? Me neither. People mainline them—you know, like heroin, the really bad stuff.

What is it about these innocent-looking cookies that drive people off the diet wagon and over the edge in a fat-building cliff dive?

“It’s the ingredients,” you say, “the luscious cocoa married with the rare and delightfully aromatic oil of peppermint.”

Ingredients make crack addictive too, but you don’t see me coercing you to buy it from sad-eyed girls forced to wear green—the most dreaded color in a woman’s wardrobe. That’s abusive.

“These cookies are only 40 calories,” you say. “They’re harmless.”

Harmless? Not if you eat the whole box in one sitting. And that’s exactly what happens. People lose all control eating these wafers of destruction.  They down whole sleeves of these cookies in a single snack session. It’s as though lust, greed, and gluttony have teamed up against us. One person against three deadly sins and chocolate mint? That’s a wrestling match you can’t win.

I even have a real-life example of the evils of Thin Mints from today’s headlines. Two roommates in Florida got into a cage match fight over the cookies. Don’t believe me? Here’s the link, o ye of little faith:

These cookies force spirituality to its knees.

Yes, Thin Mints are from hell. No doubt about it. So, the next time a Girl Scout shows up with her boxes of evil, slam the door in her face and pray for deliverance.

Copyright © 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Muse Reviews: Janet Evanovich

Today, the Muse reviews the Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich.

Since I’m reviewing a series of mystery novels today, let me start with a confession: I didn’t start reading at novel number one. I started with number five, which incidentally is called High Five. I liked it enough that I’m now working through number one, aka One for the Money.

If you’ve sensed a counting theme in the novel titles, you’re right. You can tell where you are in the series by the title. That may sound flippant, but I don’t mean it that way. It’s useful to know at a glance where you are in a series.

But that’s not the reason to pick up Janet Evanovich. You read her mysteries because they’re witty, entertaining, and satisfying. Heroine Stephanie Plum is like Philip Marlow—if he were a she from New Jersey, with a nutty family, questionable taste in men, and a tendency to stumble into embarrassing situations as often as dangerous ones.

The novels are light and funny, with a good dose of real mystery drama mixed in with the family dilemmas and romantic conundrums that make Stephanie’s job as a bounty hunter look easy. The action moves along quick and smooth, making the books perfect for a beach read or a plane ride. These books are not deep, but they are entertaining.

I had no problem picking up the fifth novel first and following along. The story made a few references to past incidents, but in no way made me feel like I’d missed something. Evanovich writes with a nice sense of wit and humor that never overpowers the story, but definitely brings a modern update to detective fiction.

And if you like the character, be encouraged. Stephanie has appeared in 16+ adventures, and counting. Give Evanovich a little of your time, and enjoy an amusing ride to mystery solved.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Keeping Myself Honest

Just keeping myself honest here... and sharing with those who care what's up with my writing life. My most recent endeavors: I submitted two poems and an essay to two contents. I submitted a poem to Asimov's Science Fiction. (That's my first submission to a professional fiction magazine ever.) I'm writing a new short story, editing another short story that I wrote last year but needs some work, and I'm brainstorming on a fantasy novel, developing the characters and the plot.

I hope your creative endeavors, whatever they may be, are flowing along like a nice bubbling brook!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lady Gaga and the Death of Creativity

Am I the only one not feeling Lady Gaga?

I know what you’re thinking: “She’s a sensation! Everyone loves her. Her songs are hits. She’s so popular. She’s a fashion maker’s dream. She wore a meat dress! She’s the next Madonna…”

Nope. I’m not feeling it. I know I’m swimming against the stream, but I’m going to say this anyway. Lady Gaga is the living epitome of everything that is wrong with the art machine in America.

I’m calling it the art machine because those running the show in movies, music, and publishing are churning out entertainment pablum faster than you can say “Please pass the Soylent Green.” Remember that old movie? People were being fed Soylent Green and liking it, because all the ads told them to like it. Until someone found out he was eating recycled human flesh.

Lady Gaga reminds me of Soylent Green. She’s packaged and marketed with the message that she’s unique, and therefore lovable. But she’s not the “next Madonna.” She’s not even “another Madonna.” She’s a cheap imitation. A knockoff, and a bad one at that. If she were a purse, I’d be afraid to carry her around for fear that she’ll fall apart at the seams, that’s how poorly she’s made.

I don’t want to be mean about it, because I have sympathy for whatever person is trapped beneath the ugly hat and cheesy Batman outfit she was trying to sport at the Grammy Awards last Sunday. But I think someone really needs to pull her aside and tell her it isn’t working.

And by “it,” I mean her creativity and uniqueness, which are MIA even though she doesn't seem to have noticed.

For crying out loud, she came out of a giant egg to sing “Born That Way.” Get it? Maybe she should have taped it with a big sign that reads “Ovum” to be sure we all got it. And by the way, if she wanted the joke to be funnier, she shouldn’t have taken her bad dancing so seriously. The whole mess didn’t work as a serious performance. It didn’t work as satire. It sure didn’t work as an homage to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” performance, which I must say is so drastically better than the egg thing that I just hope Gaga never realizes how bad she was.

What is truly sad here is that the woman underneath the Gaga mask is extremely talented. But you can’t see her talent because she is so insecure that she allows others to define how she should look and how she should act. And all the art machine can do is make her look like someone else. Another Madonna. But we don’t need another Madonna. We need real people.

Reality leads to creativity. Imitation leads to Soylent Green. You can choose which you prefer, and consume what you want. But myself, I’d rather starve than eat the pablum.

Copyright © 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eating Habits: Fast Food = Missions Trip

I'm back from a missions trip to Honduras. That means no writing update. But I do have an eating update. Interesting observation, really...

On a missions trip, between the full schedule and the attempts to avoid Moctezuma's revenge, we tend to eat a lot at American fast food places. (In Honduras, you can go to McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and Pizza Hut, for starters.) As a result, I ate a lot of meat, bread, french fries, and soda. Not the way I'd normally eat, but I make sacrifices when I am in a foreign country.

Here's the interesting part... Apparently, Oklahomans eat this way ALL THE TIME.

Okay, not all Oklahomans. I certainly don't, though I'm a transplant from Connecticut, so maybe I don't count. But a lot, lot, lot of Oklahomans do eat as though they're on a missions trip every day of their lives. Here's the evidence:

This is a frightening set of statistics. Poverty combined with a lack of wisdom is putting Americans at risk. This shouldn't be. We don't need to eat like we're on a missions trip every day of our lives. We can choose to take care of ourselves. Good food should be affordable, shouldn't it? Especially in this country. Am I too much of an idealist? I don't know. Tell me what you think.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.