Monthly Archives: October 2016

My Top-Ten List of Great Movies #film

…or    What makes a good book? What makes a good film? What makes a good story?

     Have you ever wondered what makes you sit on the edge of the seat at the 90 minute spot during your favorite film? What keeps you up until 2 am turning the pages of a book you can’t put down? Is it just coincidence or did someone spend a lot of time planning a story to make you react that way?
     A lot of research goes in to finding out what makes people tick, what makes them buy certain items and what will move them emotionally. But in the end, there are very few story lines out there. Put quite simply:
     Get the hero up a tree, throw rocks at him and get him back down again.
     Now make that story line memorable with some great characters. With that in mind, I want to put together my Top-Ten List of Great Movies. These are my favorites, in no particular order:
     1. Matrix (1999) written by Larry and Andy Wachowski.
     2. Pirates of the Carribean (2003) written by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.
(A short breather here to say that I didn’t like any of the sequels.)
     3. Anonymous (2011) written by John Orloff and directed by Roland Emmerich. (Was Shakespeare a fraud? I don’t really care because the movie was great and the guys were hot.)
     4. Gladiator (2000) story by David Franzoni and directed by Ridley Scott. (I’m starting to see a trend here. The first ingredient of a good film is some hot guys.)
     5. The Princess Bride (1987) novel and screenplay by William Goldman. (Hot guys and swordplay.)
     6.  Alatriste (2006) based on the novels by Arturo Perez-Reverte, screenplay by Agustín Díaz Yanes and Arturo Perez-Reverte. (All the makings of a great film–hot guys, swordplay–but if you didn’t read the books, you’ll be lost. Too bad that they packed like six books into one film.)
     7. Since we’re talking about Viggo Mortensen: Eastern Promises (2007) screenplay by Steven Knight. (No swordplay but, well, you just go watch it for yourself.)
     8. Ladyhawke (1985) story by Edward Khmara. (One of my all-time favorite movies, but the soundtrack from Alan Parsons is so dated, that it is almost impossible to watch it today. The lesson to be learned? Hot guys, swordplay and a good soundtrack.)
     9. Forest Gump (1994) based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom, screenplay by Eric Roth. (What? No hot guys, no swords? This absolute hammermäßig* movie gets two thumbs up from me!)
     10. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Based on the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf, screenplay by Jeffery Price and Peter S. Seaman. (The hottest of them all! Roger Rabbit!!)

*hammermäßig  means something like Super Affen Geil!

Did I forget your favorite? What are your favorite films anyway?

Guitar Solos #electricguitar

     
     

     The Creator rested on the seventh day. On the eighth day, he woke up and heard the angels he’d created on the fifth day to keep him company playing on their harps.“Listen guys, this just won’t do. You can’t expect people to want to get into Heaven when they realize they’ll have to listen to that all day.”

     So, on that eighth day, the Creator invented the electric guitar.

     I love guitar solos. And top ten lists. So what better way to end the week than with a top ten list of guitar solos?

     I can identify with singers because I love words and lyrics. And they’re usually the cutest one in the band. I can memorize lyrics and sing a tune, but I can’t make one up. I’m more like a parrot and not really creative with a melody. Even when I was playing the piano, I could only give back the melody as I learned it from sheet music. Which brings me to the conclusion that the singers and the lyrics are the mind of the song. But the guitarist is the heart and the soul.

     I often listen to instrumentals when I’m writing. If I’m trying to think in words, lyrics get in the way. Guitar solos are brainstorming. Or speed on the autobahn, shifting gears and changing lanes. Or rain pounding on the window or snow sliding off the roof.

     I could expand my top ten list to maybe twenty or fifty. If I was talking about my favorite songs of all time I would. But I will only allow myself a top ten list of guitar solos this weekend. Otherwise I would spend all day searching my musical archives. My choices are in no particular order of preference, because I like them all the same. And there are, of course, many more but these come to mind first.

     
1a. 25 or 6 to 4 (the long version)—Chicago / Terry Kath

1b. So We’ve Ended as Lovers—Jeff Beck

       1b2. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat—Jeff Beck

1c. Alive—Pearl Jam

1d. Free Bird (live)—Lynyrd Skynyrd / Allen Collins

1e. Little Wing—from Sting’s band, don’t know who the guitarist is.

1f. Lenny—Stevie Ray Vaughn

1g. Do You Feel Like We Do (live)—Peter Frampton

1h. Eruption—Eddie van Halen

1i. Brighton Rock—Queen—Brian May

1k. Anything played by Jimmy Page.

     I only put Jimmy Page last for effect. He’s my Number One Guitar Player, which opens up new possibilities for other top ten lists!

     If ten people comment with their own top ten list, I’ll be able to compose a Top Hundred List. So your challenge for today is… 

 

Have a nice weekend!

Greetings from the Chaos Kitchen #ambaking

Tear-and-Share Vegan Bread by TheVeganWoman.com

Laura’s Chaos-Cooking Tip #1: 

     Beat the winter blahs with bread baking.

     Yeast dough smells yummy when it’s rising, kneading dough is a fun way to let off some steam and you get to punch the daylights out of something!

     But isn’t bread baking hard? No, not at all. All you need is yeast, flour, water and salt.

     First, skim some sort of recipe. Just look one up on the internet. I found a vegan recipe, just follow the link up there, by googling ‘vegan bread recipes.’ Ok, flour, salt, powdered yeast, soy milk and something else. After skimming the recipe, go into the kitchen and see what you have in the pantry. Well, I don’t think we can buy powdered yeast, but I have these little 40 gram blocks of fresh yeast. Is that still vegan? Yeast, check. Flour, check. I don’t want to use soy milk in bread, how about olive oil? Check. Doesn’t yeast need sugar to feed on? I read that somewhere. Sugar, check. Water, duh. This is the twenty-first century.

     Dump the flour in a bowl and make a depression in the middle. I don’t know why, just do it. Mix the yeast with lukewarm water and a teaspoon of sugar and stir it until it dissolves. This part has to be right. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die! And I just throw the whole block in because what am I going to do with a half a lump of yeast?

     Now you may open the wine bottle.

     Pour the yeast mixture into the flour. Throw in some salt. A teaspoon looks about right. Pour the olive oil over the top. Maybe four tablespoons. I don’t like to dirty a spoon, so I count. One banana, two banana, three banana, four…tablespoons. Then get your hands in there and mix it up.

     Man, this looks really dry and crumbly. How much flour is in a bag? I already threw the empty bag in the fire. Checking a pizza dough recipe, I notice that 500 grams of flour would have been enough. And looking in the drawer at another bag, I notice that the bag was a whole kilo.

     Pour a big glass of wine, get out the half a lump of yeast that is still in the fridge (oh, that’s what you can do with that!) Mix with water, who cares how hot, get out the oil and one banana, two banana…

     Sip wine.

     Get your hands back in there. Mix it around until it starts to look like dough. Ok, this looks better. Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth and let stand for about an hour and a half in a warm, draft-free corner of the kitchen where no mice will go. Grab the wine and get out of the kitchen.

     Don’t panic when you come back coz it’s ALIVE! Now picture someone who you might have a beef with and punch that sucker in the face. Funnily enough it feels like flesh. Punch punch punch punch! Take it out of the bowl and throw it onto a floured board and punch some more. Some may call this kneading, but I call it stress-management.

     Now, there’s lots of turns this scenario could take. One could slice the dough into small handfuls and make rolls. Maybe stick some of those big Spanish olives inside or some fresh chopped herbs and sautéed garlic. Or some vegan cashew cheese. One can bake half of the dough and put the rest in the fridge for the next day.

     Punch punch punch sip gulp.

     One could roll the dough out flat and put some tomatoes on top, maybe some homemade pesto, fresh chopped red pepper, sliced mushrooms, onions, garlic. Then throw it in the oven and make pizza (since this is probably a pizza dough.)

     Punch punch punch gulp.

     OR…I can see an evil twin moment coming…the situation gets out of hand…

Headless #mondayblogs #electricguitar

Eddie van Halen-behaving—Photo courtesy of jeffbabicz.com

 

Speaking of Guitars:

      In 1976, furniture designer Ned Steinberger and luthier buddy Stuart Spector got together in Brooklyn, NY and developed a new electric bass called the Spector NS2. The ‘concave / convex’ body form, designed by Ned, became the distinguishing factor for Spector Basses. After that, Ned’s interest in the music industry grew and he pulled out all the stops. He went on to develop some of his more innovative designs. The headless bass was born and the rest is history.
     The unique construction of the Steinberger L-Series headless bass and it’s design made it a real eye-catcher. The neck and body were one solid construction molded out of carbon fibers. The body was then covered with a plastic face plate that also housed the electronics. The neck contained no truss rod, that metal rod inserted in the neck used to adjust the curve of the neck. The curve, or relief, was built into the neck and optimized with the frets. Because there was no headstock, the tuning pegs were incorporated into the bridge and string change was a breeze using the double-ball stings.
     In the early 80’s, Ned got some cheap factory space in Newburgh, NY and moved shop upstate. Shortly thereafter, a six-string guitar version was launched and Ned’s ground-breaking transposing tremolo system, the Trans-Trem. It was at that time, in 1985, that I started working in the fret department. The necks were pre-formed in a machine so that we could install the frets with little or no top-levelling. This procedure for ‘calculating the deflection of carbon graphite necks as they were displaced by the cumulative effects of installed fret pressure’ was developed by Ned and Jeff Babicz.
     Other new models were released. I transferred into the assembly department and worked on the P-Series project: molded necks bolted onto wooden bodies. Guitarist Mike Rutherford of Genesis inspired the M-Series, a molded neck bolted to a more-traditionally shaped body, built by English luthier Roger Giffin.
     Steinberger never officially endorsed artists. The artists just played the instruments. At this time names like Eddie Van Halen, Rick Derringer, Geddy Lee and many others were touring with their Steinberger guitars and basses.
     But, alas, every story has an ending. On my last day, in the summer of 1987, the big blond guy from Gibson came by and bought the company. At that point, the NY company was producing over 25 guitars and basses a week. Eventually, the NY factory was dismantled and the operation was moved to Nashville. 

Here’s some links for more infos:

Ed Roman’s story: Ed Roman’s Steinberger Story 
Jeff’s Website: JeffBabicz.com

Interview with #historical novelist Laura Libricz

writerchristophfischer

Main Photo smallWelcome to my blog Laura. Please, tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I can go on for hours and hours when I’m writing about a character and spilling all of their secrets. But when it comes to writing about myself, I am reluctant. The traits that make me a writer are those same traits that have given me problems over the years; problems with relationships, in the workplace and general miscontent. I have been blessed with, or cursed with, an inquisitive personality, borderline nosey-busy-body-syndrome, a sharp memory for mundane details and word-for-word recollection of conversations and arguments. Add a tendency to take all of this and twist it into whatever type of story I need to entertain my bored mind and a overdeveloped drive to turn a job into a major project.

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

I grew…

View original post 844 more words

#FlashFiction #MondayBlogs 2 minute read


The Newby

     “I don’t have to love them, but I do,” Libby said and sipped at her chai latte.
     A bus accelerated away from the bus stop next to her table, leaving a cloud of diesel. Mario turned suddenly in his chair next to hers and thanked the waitress as she set his espresso down. He had a fine aquiline profile, hair and eyes black like coffee.
     Libby took another sip. “That’s why I want to put them out of their misery,” she said and looked past him to the clack-clack-clacking source of approaching stiletto heels. Four pairs.
     Mario raised his eyebrows, confirming the suspicion that he heard them coming, too. He pulled a cigarette out of a pack, balanced it between his lips and lit it. Libby watched smoke curl away from his chocolate-brown two-day-old mustache.
     Four blonde women, one blonder than the next, each exactly the same height, the same weight, the same measurements, wearing the same regulation-blue skirt and white blouse, ID tags wagging merrily over their left breasts, clacked in unison through the tables of the sidewalk café. Another bus pulled away from the bus stop and honked its horn at a courier on a mountain bike. The four women lined up at the counter.
     “Probably to order the exact same soy milk latte, no sugar, and an extra shot of clone espresso.” Libby said.
     “You know, we’re so close to the city. All the women look like that.” Mario stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray. “I think you’re overreacting.”
     “They can’t be real. I’ve been watching them multiply. First there were a few working for The Group. Then ‘we’ all started losing our jobs.”
     “’We’?” Mario waved the waitress over, put his empty espresso cup on her tray and nodded, ordering another one.
     “Us humans,” Libby said.
     “Oh, and it had nothing to do with your all-nighters and your bartending job? I remember how you used to come to work in the morning. Your brother was just as bad, Libby.”
     Libby turned her head as the four pairs of stiletto heels ticked in time out of the café, down the sidewalk, towards the center of town. To the heart of the city. The Group.
     The waitress set Mario’s espresso on the table and looked towards the clicking of four more pairs of oncoming stilettos.
     “They only travel in fours. No matter where they are,” Libby said. “Shopping, in restaurants, even at the bar in the evening. That’s not normal.”
     The four women, one blonder that the next, lined up at the counter. They received their drinks from the waitress behind the counter and filed past Libby’s table, down the sidewalk, towards the center of town.
     “It’s like a parade. Every morning. In the evening they all go back to their apartments in those new blocks. I heard they’re all furnished the same.”
     “I’ve been out with a few of those women. I’ve had them alone.” Mario laughed and shot his espresso back in one gulp. He lit another cigarette. “They aren’t clones. You’re just jealous.”
     “You would never notice if they were, Mr. Thirty Seconds.”
     Mario shot her that predictable angry glare. A bus slowed at the empty bus stop and then sped up again. Clack, clack, clack came the cadence of three pairs of stilettos along the sidewalk.
     Mario turned in his seat. Libby stood. Teetering behind the three women, an offset honey-blonde struggled to keep up with the other three. Her hair was unkempt and her clothes were too small. Or her breasts were too big, Libby wasn’t sure which.
     “The novice revenges the rhythm,” Libby said.
     “Never saw her around before,” Mario said.
     “Should I get her?” Libby said. “I have some of my antidote in my purse. We can try it out and see if it works.”
     “What? That stuff you made yourself? It’s poison, you said.”
     “Yeah, well, if it doesn’t cure her, it will kill her. I love them too much to see them suffer this horrible existence.”
     “Don’t you dare. Look, Libby, as much as I love you, there is no such thing as clones and especially not in Mitteltown. I got to get to work.”
     He stood, threw a few dollars on the table, kissed Libby on the cheek and took off towards the center of town. Libby turned and admired the sight of him walking away. She forgot all about him as the beat of stiletto shoes pulsed into motion. Three pairs. Towards the center of town.
     The honey-blonde stood alone by the counter. She handed the waitress a bank note and the contents of her wallet emptied all down the counter, coins chinking on the sidewalk. Libby sprang to her side and knelt down next to the newby.
     “Let me help you,” Libby said.
     The flustered honey-blonde said nothing. Sweat beaded on her forehead. She smelled like a mix of that same perfume all these women wore and some sort of chemical, like bleach.
     “Are you new here?” Libby touched her clammy arm and tried to get a reaction out of her.
     The honey-blonde dropped one coin after another into her wallet and would not meet Libby’s gaze. Libby sighed, was about to stand up and get a move on. Maybe Mario was right. The honey-blonde touched her hand. Libby looked up, instantly mesmerized by the clarity in the blonde’s steel-grey eyes.
     The steel-grey eyes did not blink. “Help me,” she said.