Monday, March 31, 2014

Artdog Quote of the Week

Not to be confused with "The Boy Who Lived," but they live in the same neighborhood.

IMAGE CREDIT: From JoAnn Rutherford’s Quotes” Pinterest collection.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Artless Walls

As I have previously mentioned, I've been spending time in California recently, with my daughter (and now my son), clearing out the condominium of my recently-deceased aunt.

One cool thing about this home was some very nice artwork on the walls.

In her dining room over the buffet/bar.
My aunt was an art lover (and something of an artist herself, designing and tailoring clothing for herself when she was younger, and exploring photography and collage in more recent years), and the walls of her home hosted a gallery of work.
Up the steps into the loft.
Recently, however, we've taken all the artwork down.

It had to be done.  We are entering the final stages of packing up. But oh, how stark the place looks, just from that one change!

In the loft.
Taking the art down was kind of like removing the home's heart.  It changed the condo from looking like a home to looking much more like a semi-emptied living space.

Removing the art left a mark--some places more than others.

As an artist, I'm probably more attuned to the "art as the heart of the home" idea than some people, but I hope I've been able to illustrate my point.

IMAGES: All photos are my own work.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Artdog Quote of the Week

IMAGE SOURCE: Many thanks for this quote from Nietzsche, paired with the image, are due to D.S. Brennan Photography, found via Mel McDaniel’s “CherishedWords” Pinterest collection.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Silliness: Dingbat Definitions

We have reached the final Saturday of this line of silliness (you have no guarantees that I won't come up with more at some point).  One more round of cockeyed definitions--hoping to make you smile.

As ever, the credit(?) for these goes to a friend or family member who long ago sent me an email full of them.  But the blame for posting them here is all mine.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Artdog Quote of the Week

I've seen this sentiment expressed many different ways by many different people, but the eternal wisdom persists.

IMAGE CREDIT: Many thanks to E. Lucas-Taylor, who shared this image from Mohammad al-Sabbagh via LinkedIn.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Silliness: Two-Thirds of a Pun

Uh-oh!  It's Saturday again!  Time for me to inflict more dingbat definitions on you. Today it's a collection of (actually pretty bad) puns:

As with the last two collections, this one is drawn from an email I received long ago, from a friend.  I kept the silly list, but lost the source.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Artdog Quote of the Week

This week's quote is dedicated to anyone who's feeling depressed, and really would like to think happier thoughts, but the little nagging voice inside warns that's "not realistic." Tell those thoughts to get real!

IMAGE SOURCE: Many thanks to the Joel Osteen Ministries Facebook Page for this one, which was shared by Jackie, a friend of mine. Also, thanks, Jackie!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday Silliness: More Human Nature

Here's another short collection of demented definitions that reflect upon human nature.  I hope they give you a smile.

As with last week's collection, these are from an email I once received from a friend.  I saved them but forgot to save the source.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: Why Thrillers Sometimes Drive Me Nuts

Available from Rainy Day Books and other fine booksellers.

I’m still looting and pillaging in my late aunt’s library, and getting quite an education about the contemporary thriller genre. 

This week’s book, The Sixth Man, is another from the mind and word processer of David Baldacci.  Baldacci is a gifted writer, and he’s perfected his craft to a high level—but I’m becoming more and more clear on the fact that the thriller genre itself apparently has a tendency to punch a lot of my buttons.

The Sixth Man is especially a case in point.

Emotions: now there’s a concept
I’ve already written about the problem I have with emotionless characters—especially characters who remain emotionless, even when they are in situations where they shouldn’t or couldn’t be emotionless. 

Our two main protagonists are characters about whom Baldacci has written both before and since, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. 

In this book they are in a semi-romantic relationship, as well as being private investigator-partners. In the course of the book they are placed in difficult and dangerous situations where they worry about each other, struggle to survive, and encounter other situations in which any normal person’s emotions would be engaged.

I sometimes wanted to yell at author David Baldacci.
However, we don’t generally encounter pumping adrenalin, pounding hearts, sinking stomachs, or other visceral reactions in this book—not even when they’d be highly appropriate, natural reactions.  I began to wonder for a while if all the characters in this story are sociopaths.  Striving to remain dispassionate and rational despite dramatic events is not the question, here—not feeling anything at all is. 

Neither King nor Maxwell has been characterized as a Zen master or a champion emotion-compartmentalizer, and yet time after time I wanted to yell, “How does she FEEL about that?” or “What does that make him FEEL?”

Wanting to yell at the author is definitely the kind of thing that bumps me right out of the story and distracts from my willing suspension of disbelief, so it’s a problem.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only problem I had with this book. 

The basis for the story is a big WTF
Yeah, that’s a biggie.  For me the concept of The Analyst—while perhaps not totally preposterous (?)—seems really problematical as an ongoing business plan, much less the foundation upon which national security should depend. 

If only one person ever found actually is able (because of his unusual mental capabilities) to do this job, then what’s the long-term outlook?  What’s a nation to do, when The Analyst dies or burns out (or is framed for serial murder)?  On what enduring safeguard do you base national security then?

It has a f—king prologue
I will readily admit I have a built-in prejudice against prologues (if it’s important to the story, why can’t it be “seeded in” during the setup?  In many cases, that would be the better option). I was annoyed when I found this book had one.

Prologues were invented for a reason, though, and I could maybe understand upon reflection why Baldacci used one in this case.  On the other hand, 15 chapters and 100 pages is a long time to wait until an important character, whom readers haven’t seen since the prologue, shows up again.  I had to go back to the f—king prologue to remind myself who the heck this dude was.

The opening is a nameless torture scene
I really despise this kind of opening—you know the one: you’ve read them, yourself.

There’s some nameless victim in a dark room, writhing in pain and begging “make it stop!” but Remorseless Powers In Charge just watch him squirm.  It takes three pages to get to the first character’s name, in this book (as it happens, he’s the guy who doesn’t show up again for another 100 pages).

I’ve read both beginning writers and actual, award-winning and/or bestselling authors use this device, and it never works for me, no matter what level of skills are brought to the task.

It’s supposed to be a dramatic opening that piques the reader’s interest, I guess.  But it invariably makes me want to scream and throw the book across the room.  I soldiered on in this case, but it was a very near thing.

Earlier books are summarized in an “As you know” scene
Other writers may call it different things; I call it an “as you know” scene.  It’s a scene in which two characters (in this case King and Maxwell) have a conversation, in which they tell each other things they already know, for the “benefit” of readers who don’t already know them. 

No one actually has conversations like this in real life—we already know!  Baldacci should already know better, too!   

Okay, so are there any redeeming features?
Sure there are.  If you can tolerate some of the aspects that gave me the occasional urge to yell, and you’re willing to accept the general levels of alienation and paranoia that seem to be kind of the accepted attitude for most contemporary thrillers I’ve read, then other aspects of The Sixth Man deliver pretty well. 

The perplexing murders and the underlying pattern that only gradually comes into focus are well handled. It was an interesting mystery, well paced, and with the various subplots woven in skillfully. Despite the low emotional inputs, the ending is fast-paced and interesting. And just deserts are nicely served to most of the deserving.

If this is your cup of tea, then by all means, go for it!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Rainy Day Books for the cover image.  The photo of the author is courtesy of the "EBookee" website. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Artdog Quote of the Week

This week's quote is for anyone who's ever felt they were suffering by comparison, even though they had done the best they could. The truest measure of an accomplishment often is the distance one had to go, to achieve it--and that's something rarely reflected in the results of a competition.

IMAGE CREDIT: Many thanks to Back On Pointe for this week's quote and image!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday Silliness: Human Nature

It's Saturday!  Before you venture out to catch up on errands, here's what I hope will be a small grin, to send you on your way:

These are from an email I once received from a friend.  I saved them but forgot to save the source!