One Minute Writer: Green

(this was actually Friday’s prompt, but I didn’t get a chance to post what I wrote last night.)

PROMPT: Green. Write a brief bit of fiction involving money.
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It was all about the money, it always was from the start. Yes, it’s true that I loved her beautiful soft flowing blonde locks and her oh so alluring charms, but she was just the temptation, the temptress. I have to right out admit that in all honesty, the greed of the pay off was all the more important. I was definitely a greedy bastard. Who wouldn’t have been? A quick million smackers was enough to make even a formerly honest salesman like me turn to the dark side. To a life of crime. To a life now behind bars. What in the hell was I thinking?

Movie: Double Indemnity

“Paramount’s shocking, suspense-filled masterpiece of love…and murder.”

While I have been a film noir lover for years now, somehow, I had never sat down and watched Double Indemnity. Of course, after finally renting it, I saw how spectacular of a film I had been missing all these years.

Visually, Double Indemnity is amazing, it is absolutely the king of film noir classics. The use of the venetian blinds to continually cast their shadows upon each scene as well as the femme fatale using the protagonist insurance salesman to do her will is all signature noir style.

The story itself that was the basis for the picture is a 1927 crime committed by a married Queens women and her lover. The scandal was turned into fiction by author, James Cain. Later, Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder co-adapted the tale into the screenplay. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but didn’t take home any statues.

Fred MacMurray, who portrays the insurance salesman, Walter Neff is first-rate in the role. He is likable, and makes you feel sorry for him even after he has committed murder and is deserving of whatever the fates throw at him. His narration throughout the film is fantastic, I enjoyed it just as much as his moments with the conniving wife and his boss, Keyes.

Barton Keyes, Neff’s insurance investigator supervisor was played by the excellent Edward Robinson. Robinson was well known for his spectacular performance as the title role of the ambitious criminal Rico in the movie, Little Caesar in 1931. He does an amazing job as the determined Keyes in Double Indemnity whose gut instincts seem to never fail to lead him to the truth.

Our femme fatale, Phyllis Dietrichson performed by Barbara Stanwyck puts on a stunning portrayal. She is alluring and convincing in the role as the motivated wife. It isn’t difficult to see why she is nominated for her third Academy Award for Best Actress in the picture, as she more than deserved the honor.

All in all, I would recommend the movie highly to anyone who is wanting to see some of the best Hollywood has had to offer through the years. Double Indemnity is easily one of the best films ever made, without hesitation, without a doubt one that should be a part of any movie buff’s collection.

Nikon has disappointed me

You know, I used to have high expectations for the Nikon name and brand. That was until now. About a week and a half ago, I sent my D5000 DSLR back to them for the service advisory repair since my camera was one that might be affected per their website. I packaged the box well and tight, so as my camera was well cushioned during it’s trip to Connecticut where Nikon is doing the repairs.

Jump to last Friday morning. I had checked earlier in the week on the tracking, and UPS reported that the package containing my D5000 had reached the repair facility on Monday, August 3rd. Okay, I figured by this time I should have had some sort of email or what have you from Nikon about the ETA of repair on my camera. So, I called them. After waiting on hold for almost ten minutes, a representative was less than helpful or insightful. He informed me that he couldn’t tell me anything about my specific camera and that I should be hearing something from Nikon by Monday. So, basically, I just sent them my $800 piece of equipment and they couldn’t give me any information on what was going on with it. This astonished me, I thought, ‘I expect better from Nikon than this.’ But, I decided to be patient and give them some more time despite part of me wanting to call back and request to speak with a supervisor.

Here’s where we arrive at the present. I got home from work this evening to discover a box addressed to me. Since I wasn’t expecting anything, it surprised me a bit. Opening it up, it became clear very quickly who the box was from, Nikon. Inside was my camera. The packing of the box itself was shoddy. The box containing my camera was barely secured. Thankfully, the camera body itself seems okay, no damage from what I can tell. I searched the box for paperwork. Nothing, nadda. What? You supposedly did some sort of repair on the equipment but no paperwork? How am I to believe that anything was done at all to it? And, they never, not once communicated with me through the process, a process mind you that had to take place because Nikon messed up on the D5000 line. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that sometimes things happen, and I didn’t get upset when I heard about the service advisory, but no communication? Come on, Nikon. I honestly expected better from you than this. I guess my expectations have been set too high. Now, you have disappointed a loyal Nikon customer, one who has only purchased Nikon cameras now for over ten years. After all this, I’m not so sure that my next camera will be a Nikon. Yeah, I’m starting to reconsider my loyalty to the brand. Canon may start to get my business in the future. Sorry Nikon, but you are just not showing the loyalty to your customers that some of us have shown to you. If that’s the new way you are conducting business, I will be taking my money elsewhere. I work too hard to hand it over to a company who appears to not care about their consumer.

One Minute Writer Prompt: Quote

PROMPT: In 100 years, what one statement would you like others to remember you as having said?
http://oneminutewriter.blogspot.com/

This is a tough one, isn’t it? Well, I would hope it would be something inspirational, something motivational. While I may not do acts to necessarily purposefully motivate or inspire, it’s nice to know when you do just this for someone else.

So, probably, “Believe in yourself, and never give up.” Something along those lines would be a great statement/quote to remember me by I think.

Come Write With Me

This is from Geek Girl Diva’s blog. Sounded like fun, so here’s mine.
http://geekgirldiva.entertainmentearth.com/2009/08/come-write-with-me.html

Everything you think you know about me is a lie. You thought I was out for your best interests, for the interests of all those in the files, but you couldn’t have been more wrong. From the beginning the only person I’ve looked out for was me. I’m a selfish son of a bitch who only took on the files for my own personal agenda.

Ironic isn’t it? All those men, the organizations inside that we have fought to take down, and I’m none the better. I have taken any and every opportunity to reveal the truth around the one thing I care about. Nothing else has mattered to me.

Ha. The truly crazy thing is, that through all of this, through my journey to find the absolute, undeniable truth for myself, I never anticipated you. Not only you being here, but falling for you. Nothing could have prepared me for this, nothing. It appears my quest for my own egotistical meanings and reasoning has brought forth the one thing I wasn’t prepared for, someone else I have grown to care about as much as the pilgrimage. I love you, Scully.

(yes, I have recently been watching old episodes of The X-Files…always will be one of the best TV shows of all time, hands down 🙂 )

One Minute Writer Prompt: Pickup

The prompt for today was, Pickup. A la pickup lines or create a pickup line. I sort of took mine in a bit of another direction. Anyway, the point is to free write for one minute around the theme or what have you and then stop to see what you came up with in the short amount of time.
Great blog site, please check it out. I’m going to try to do one of these daily and post it here on my blog.
http://oneminutewriter.blogspot.com/

Here’s what I came up with…

What is a pickup line anyway? I mean, honestly. A silly line a guy or girl makes up in an attempt to start a conversation with that attractive person across the room that has caught their eye? Why not just be yourself? Sure, you might say the wrong thing, but you have to realize that these so-called pickup lines are not reflective to the person behind the words. Personally, I think they are not only overrated, but just plain silly. I would much prefer a guy come up to me and simply be himself. That, in my mind is the way to go. Ditch those crazy pickup lines, and be who you are.

My Epiphany

It was 2008, I was living in Hendersonville, NC (30 minutes from Asheville) and loving it. I had moved there in June and here it was September, the time for a little vacation back down to Florida to visit family and friends. Little did I know that this vacation would change my life forever.

My vacation came and went, I drove down to the Sunshine State with my pet birds in tow (definitely made it a not-so-lonely drive!), and back again to the mountains. While in Orlando, my dad and I went to EPCOT one day. Both of us taking pictures with his DSLRS. We both wandered through the different countries snapping away. What I didn’t know is that my father took some pictures of me taking photos without my knowledge. I only discovered this when I got back home to North Carolina and uploaded the photos from the CD he had given me. He included both the photos I had taken and his. I was stunned not only to see images of myself, but more so at how I appeared in the photos. I remember thinking, “Wow, do I really look that fat? Am I that large?” Seeing myself that overweight upset me greatly. I knew I was fat and unhealthy, but didn’t have any idea just how bad off I was. It was a reality check that while I wasn’t ready for, I seriously needed. Staring at myself on the screen of my computer, I knew that I had to change, I had to get healthy and lose the weight for good. No more excuses, it had to be done.

Left photo is one that prompted the lifestyle change. Right is from October 2008.

Left photo is one that prompted the lifestyle change. Right is from October 2008.

So, it began. I dusted off Jillian Michaels’ “Winning By Losing” book and started to really take every word she wrote to heart. I began to download podcast episodes of not only Jillian’s radio show, but other weight-loss podcasts that would aid in keeping me motivated and help me learn about health and fitness. Also, I kept a food journal, writing down any and everything I put into my mouth. My grocery shopping trips brought more apples and such into my cart while the chips and cookies got left by the wayside. After work each night, I went to my apartment complex’s fitness center to workout. No, it wasn’t easy at first, heck, it wasn’t easy even at times throughout, but I knew I was doing the right thing. I knew in the end, I would be glad I was making these better choices and putting in the hard work to drop the weight.

Slowly but surely, the pounds began to come off! Some weeks were great, losing 3-4 pounds, others not so much, only dropping one pound. Nonetheless, I told myself, I was succeeding, I was getting smaller and healthier. And, I was doing it the right way, no pills or “lose weight quick” diets, just good old fashioned calorie counting and sweating it out.

Further inspirations for me were The Biggest Loser contestants, Jillian Michaels, and Bob Harper. Watching fellow “losers” each week on TV working hard was a big motivation and inspiration for me during my journey. In addition to Biggest Loser, was the online support I have had on a forum I began a regular poster on, we all need support and these people were definitely that for me. While I know that it is me who has done all the hard work to drop the weight and get healthy, I can honestly say that without the support I have gotten from those friends, I may not have gotten as far as I have.

As of today, August 2009, I have now lost 69lbs and counting. I have never felt better in my life. Not only am I now at a healthy weight, but I love being active. Can’t say that I necessarily love working out all the time, but I it is now a part of who I am. Working out and watching what I eat is a way of life for me. I will never go back to that overweight girl who was unhappy with how she looked and felt. The “new” me is here to stay.

October 2008 to August 2009 progress photo.

October 2008 to August 2009 progress photo.

The mind of George Sodini

Who is George Sodini? Well, you probably know him best as the gym killer. He is the man who walked into the L.A. Fitness in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, killed three women, injured nine others and then turned the gun on himself.

Reading Sodini’s bloggings, it becomes obvious that he was a deeply troubled man. He frequently talks about being alone and without a girlfriend. About never having a lover and seemingly feeling sorry for himself in the process. His words invoke a person who was crying out for help, yearning for someone to help him make sense of the feelings he was feeling. Yet, no one it seems saw that until now, when it is of course too late.

Now I wonder, how many other people are out there desperate and severely depressed like Sodini was? Is that guy driving the coupe next to you at the intersection secretly suffering and thinking of pulling out a gun in a crowded mall later that day because he feels he has nothing to live for? The current financial situation of this country makes this a honest to goodness question we need to be thinking about. True, Sodini wasn’t in a financial woe, but the unemployment rate of this country right now bring this sad question to light.

I know we can’t predetermine who is going to go nuts tomorrow and go into a rage like they could in the movie, “Minority Report,” but without going into a panic, people need to pay attention to those they care about or know. Listen to what they are saying or expressing. The signs where there for Sodini, but no one took the time or interest it seems to give him any serious consideration.

Anyway, just some thoughts I had on the subject.

12 Random Thoughts About Dialogue

1. Keep your characters ignorant. Don’t play the scene as if the character knows the ending before it happens.

2. Become the character.

3. It’s not the transcript. Take it slowly when writing dialogue. Include dialogue important to the story.

4. Make every word count.

5. Realistic dialogue involves rising conflict.

6. More on why less is more.

7. Writing dialogue is a multi-draft thing.

8. Yes, you can use adverbs – judiciously.

9. Avoid repeating what the reader knows.

10. Stick to the people you know.

11. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

12. Trust your taste.

Walking Observations

I go out for a walk/run three to four days a week as part of my workout routine. Being a creative thinker, this time serves two purposes for me. One being the obvious fitness rewards this gives me, and two being it helps me gather my thoughts and put together some of my ideas. It also gives me the opportunity to observe my neighborhood in a new way, through an observers eyes. Normally, we are all in a rush to get where we need to go or be, driving in our cars, not giving much thought to the world around us. When we take the time to go out for something as simple as a walk, the world seems to slow down, if only for a short time.

This morning during my walk and run, I took the time to really observe what was around me as my feet hit the pavement below. Some things, like a stranger’s garbage lying on the side of the road seem intriguing when you just take the time to simply observe. True, the rejected cup from McDonald’s may just be that, a piece of trash someone was too lazy to drop into a dumpster, but other things aren’t quite so simplistic in my mind.

Santa hat. Now, this is an odd item to find on the side of the road, especially in the sticky humid summer heat of Florida. The hat was lying there, in a crumpled jumble, covered in grass and moss. Where did it come from? Was it really Christmas in July for someone out there?

Sandhill cranes. A very cool and neat sight if you get to see them, especially when they are up close and personal with you. This pair was about five feet from where I was running. One of them even seemed to say “hello” to me as I passed by.

Old Nursery. My morning jaunt took me past my old middle school and near a place I knew well as a youngster. It was a garden nursery that myself and classmates used to frequent after the final school bell rang each day. Not an obvious “kid hangout,” the owners had candy, cookies and sodas for sale inside the small building. Seeing the place, now abandoned and closed, pulled me back to those years of running inside on a hot afternoon in search of a coke to quench my thirst.

Anyway, those were some of my observations today just being outside and watching. Have you taken the time to stop and take in your surroundings lately?