Monday, June 27, 2011

"Your Life is Never Going to be the Same Again"

Watch this video of Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr's audition for America's Got Talent:

Surprising, isn't it? Not at all what you expect when you hit play. Even though we've seen it before with Susan Boyle and then the Korean man a few weeks ago, we still don't expect to hear that quality of voice. They come out of obscurity and blow you away with their talent.

As Howie said here, "Your life is never going to be the same again."

I guess I admire them because they didn't give up hope. How many people in similar situations to theirs have given up their dreams and their hope for a better life?

Don't give up. Never give up on your dreams.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crows on the Beach

Hopefully, you can see this. Four crows on the beach.

What is odd about this is that crows are not shorebirds. They usually live in trees and are scavangers. Normally, you'll see them in parking lots where people have dumped trash on the ground.

But these guys are mutant crows. Not only are they hanging out on the beach, but they are eating coquina, a tiny bivalve sort of like a clam. They must have learned how to do this by watching the plovers or sandpipers, because they run out when the water recedes, grab a coquina, then somehow manage to crack it open with their beak.

They're rather amusing to watch, because they don't like getting their feet wet. If they don't pay attention and a wave rolls in around their feet, they launch themselves into the air. You can almost hear them saying, "Ack! Wet feet! Wet feet!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Country

A few days ago on the Do Some Damage blog there was a guest post about a new site called Book Country.

Penguin launched the website. It is intended to help unpublished writers of genre fiction hone their skills. It's worth a look. You can find it here.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I've been thinking about Lesli's response to my previous post. Particularly the part about the difficulty in starting a conversation with someone about art, books, poetry, etc. and hearing "No, because I'm just too stupid/uncultured/ignorant for that sort of thing!"

There is an insidious pervasive attitude in our culture to tear down and sneer at anything that is popular or light. My six year old nephew would say, "They got an attitude." It's cool to sneer at Twilight, Rowling, bestselling authors, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, pop music, Disney, etc.

If you're like me one of those uncool people who happens to enjoy those things, then when someone asks you about books, art, poetry, you're going to say, "No, because I'm just too stupid/uncultured/ignorant for that sort of thing!" Because who wants to get sneered at?

A few days ago, I met my brother's new girlfriend. At one point, we were both sitting on the couch reading (me a book. her her kindle.) So I asked her about the kindle. And then we started talking about books we liked. And at the beginning it was like two cats cautiously circling each other waiting for the other one to pounce, because we both like popular books, the ones you find on the bestseller lists, and we were waiting to see if the other one was going to sneer. Once we figured out that we had similar taste in books and authors and that the other one wasn't going to sneer at what we liked, we had a great conversation about books.

And you know what? Lesli is right. It is damn hard to start a conversation about books. That was the first time in a very long time that I had had a decent conversation about books. And even if it had turned out that we didn't like the same kind of books, I think we would have had a good conversation anyway, because neither one of us was going to sneer at the other.

Those that sneer at what others like cut themselves off from hearing what those others might have to say. If we're going to have good conversations with an exchange of ideas, then the sneering has to stop.

If someone wants to play around with alternative art forms, pushing the edge of the envelope, that's fine. And if you enjoy that kind of thing, that's fine. Just don't get an attitude about it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Emporer's New Painting: Clarification of previous post

My last post about the seven year old winning a prestigious art contest probably felt like it came out of left field to most of you, but it is something that I've been thinking about for the past several months. What has happened in the world of literature is similar to what has happened in the world of art.

Up until the 20th century, anyone could look at a painting, fresco, sculpture, etc. and tell whether what they were looking at was done by a master artist or a student. Monet, Surat, Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Reynolds, etc. are master artists. No one has to tell you that, all you have to do is look at what they did and tell it was art.

Then we got into the 20th century and artists slapped their names on urinals and called it art. Or they laid out huge canvases, swung paint cans around slinging paint onto the canvas, and called it art. And now we have to have art connoisseurs, gallery owners, and art museum curators to tell us which contemporary artists are great and which are not. With the added bonus that you're an idiot if you can't tell how great these contemporary artists are. And if you like the work of Thomas Kincade or Christian Reise Lassen, then you're an ignorant slob with no taste or style.

I'm sorry. If I look at a painting and it looks like a drunk monkey was handed a paint brush, then it isn't great art. While Leilah Poulain's painting of a penguin is really good for a six year old, it belongs on her mom's refrigerator not hanging in a prestigious art gallery. This is a wake up call to the leaders of the art world: I hope they answer it.

As for how this relates to the literary world, a similar thing has happened in literature. Prior to the 20th century, you could tell whether you were reading a good story or poem.

Now we have fiction with no plot, no theme, no characters, no point... Existential, stream of consciousness brain barf that we're told is brilliant. If you can't tell how brilliant it is, then you're an ignorant, illiterate slob with no style or taste.

"And how dare the bookstores put my great literary masterpiece on the same shelf as bestselling novels written by talentless hacks."

Yeah. Right. I can't wait for the literati to get its wake-up call.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Looks Like Something a Six Year Old Painted

When I was a teenager, my family took a trip to Washington DC. My dad and my brother snickered and chuckled throughout the Smithsonian Museum of Modern Art. Personally, I agreed with their assessment, but I wasn't so lacking in decorum as to let anyone know how "unsophisticated" I am.

I love art. But looking at what the hip-cool-with-it art connoisseurs gush about has me biting my lip so as not to giggle. Because quite frankly a lot of it looks like a drunk monkey was handed a paint brush.

At last, I have validation that those hip-cool-with-it art snobs are out of touch with reality: "Seven Year Old Girl's Painting in Top Art Gallery"

I'm really not surprised.

It shouldn't be too long before a seven year old receives a Pulitzer prize for literature.

Korea's Got Talent

This is subtitled, but worth watching.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mother Nature

Is it just me or has Mother Nature been throwing a temper tantrum?

Record snowfall, earthquake in New Zealand, earthquake and tsunami in Japan, record flooding, record tornadoes, record heat wave. And jeez a tornado in Massachusetts?!?

Wednesday was June 1st and the beginning of hurricane season and what did we have? A tropical disturbance that formed off the coast of North Carolina and then made a beeline southwest to Florida, the exact opposite direction that hurricanes usually track.

And while the rest of the eastern US is melting in 90 plus degree weather, down here on the Space Coast we're having lovely weather in the 80's. Warm enough for this native Floridian to go swimming but not so hot that you sweat when you're standing still in the shade.

Does anyone know any rituals for pacifying Mother Nature?