#MondayMusings – Calling out Condescension

Monday Musings

I was shopping in Broadmead the other day and witnessed a heated argument/shouting match between a female bus driver (on the pavement) and a male bus driver standing in the door of a bus.

After she walked away, she caught up with me, and I asked her what had happened.  She reported she was a few minutes late and waited for the driver.  When he didn’t show for several minutes she called dispatch to see if she missed his arrival.  Apparently, the male bus driver was mad she called.

He made a couple of nasty comments condemning female impatience.  She wasn’t impatient.  He was late and off schedule!

It seems like a small thing, but I believe women must call out condescension whenever it happens. Belittling behavior, I believe, must be named for what it is. Don’t ask us to “have a sense of humor” about words or actions that are designed to make us feel small, inferior, or idiotic.

 

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#MondayMusings – Who vs What

Monday Musings

There is a big difference between WHAT someone is and WHO someone is. That’s why I don’t believe in archetypes.  Just another of my screenwriting heresies.

I look at it like this– An archetype is a job.  Warrior, Wizard, King, Trickster.  These are jobs. How someone does that job depends on who someone is.

One of the oldest archetypes is Wizard or Magician.  The Harry Potter books and films showed us nine different personal ways to be a wizard.

They correspond to the the Nine Character Types.  I wrote a long article about the different ways each wizard does his job, depending on who that wizard is as a person.  Read the article HERE.

The things to remember are a Character Type defines a person’s view of the world and view of him or herself.  How does the character think the world works?  What does the character believe his or her role in the world is? What is the best use of magic, for example.  What are the dangers of magic? What’s the function or role of magic?  How is it abused?

Each of the Character Types sees the world and his or her role in the world completely differently.  Look at each Character Type HERE.  Another article about all the types is the Celebrity Chef article HERE. How each chef think about food and his or her role in presenting food is completely different

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#MondayMusings – Thanksgiving In Vienna

Monday Musings

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We spent ours in sparkly, musical, baroquely beautiful Vienna.  Here’s a little photo essay of our holiday.

#MondayMusings – Making a Merry English Christmas

Monday Musings

The last few years my husband and I have spent Christmas in Bristol.  It’s been fun learning the traditions here.  In my US Midwestern family, Christmas Eve was always the big night. Christmas Day was a more low key Turkey Feast and a trip to the movies.  In England, the big celebration is all about Christmas Day.  The season kicks off in November with Stir-up Sunday.

Stir-up Sunday is on 26 November this year.  It’s the last Sunday before the 2017 Advent season. Stir-up Sunday was inspired by the pre-Advent reading, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”.

Over the years the date evolved into making the Christmas puddings on that particular Sunday.  The pudding (basically a steamed fruit cake) is one of the sweetest and booziest English Christmas traditions.  The dried fruit filled confection was introduced by George I in 1714 (from his German heritage). The recipes for Christmas pudding direct the pudding be cooked well before Christmas and be reheated on Christmas day and then set alight with more flaming booze. Recipe HERE.

The pre-Advent church reading serves as a good reminder to get the pud going. Families gather in the kitchen on Stir-up Sunday and the parents (or grandparents) teach how to mix ingredients. Everyone takes a turn to stir as they each make a special wish for the coming year.

Practically speaking, stirring the pud is difficult thick going and “many hands make light work.” Best to have as many of the family as possible are involved. The rule is to stir from East to West in honor of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus. Silver coins are often added to the mix for good luck to the person finding a coin in his or her slice.

The Christmas feast is pretty much as you’d expect with often the addition of Yorkshire pudding (made from a batter of eggs, flour, and milk or water which puffs high and hollow).  It’s great for sopping up the gravy.  Recipe HERE.

Another English accompaniment to the meal is often Bread Sauce, a modern survivor of medieval bread-thickened sauces. It’s made with milk, butter or cream, and bread crumbs and flavored with onion, salt, cloves, mace, pepper, and bay leaf.  Fat from the Christmas roast is often added too.  Recipe HERE

The Christmas meal is always accompanied by Christmas Crackers.  These crackers are a segmented cardboard tube wrapped in a bright (often sparkly) twist of paper with the overall effect of looking like a giant sweet.  There’s a prize in the central chamber (a toy, a puzzle, often accompanied by a joke or brain teaser written on a slip of paper), and of course a paper crown or silly paper hat folded inside. The cracker is pulled apart by two people, each holding an outer chamber, splitting the cracker unevenly.  One person ends up with the central chamber and prize. The split is accompanied by a  snapping or cracking sound produced by an inset tab like a cap for a cap gun.

After the finishing the Christmas meal, it’s traditional to gather around the television and watch the Queen’s Speech to the nation.  It’s a review of the year past and good wishes for the year going forward. George V in 1932 started this tradition over the radio when it was, of course, called the King’s speech.

Also part of grand English Christmas tradition is the race to be the UK’s Official Christmas Number One hit. The race commenced in 1952 when Al Martino first claimed bragging rights with his recording Here in my Heart.  You may remember this race being a plot point in Love Actually when Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) wins with the song Christmas is All Round. This clip looks ridiculously sexist now, especially in light of recent events. The Christmas Number One race is quite a big deal starting in November with the winner announced in the week in which Christmas falls.

I love joining in these new/old traditions. Bristol is a wonderful place to celebrate the festive holiday season!

 

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#MondayMusings – Saying Thank You to My Socks

Monday Musings

I am a fan of Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising.  Is she nuts, a bit obsessive, and takes things too far?  Absolutely!

But I do follow her general advice.  Take everything out of your closets and surroundings that isn’t affirming, isn’t beautiful, doesn’t make you feel beautiful, isn’t wonderfully useful, or doesn’t make you happy.

Appreciate what you have and be grateful.  She says to say thank your shoes and socks for helping you go where you need to go. Amen to that.

Clear your mind, make way for new projects, new ideas, new relationships and/or new beginnings.  Give yourself the space for reinvention.

There were so many things hanging in silent condemnation in my closet or resting with guilt and a sense of failure elsewhere.  Gifts I didn’t like from people I loved, clothes that were the size I wanted to be, bargain/sale mistakes (some very recent ill-advised purchases), and things that were out-of-date or not really my taste any more cluttered my life.  No more!

I have tidied up and it is indeed magic!  If anyone is interested, let me know and I will post pictures.

 

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#MondayMusings – Getting out of my Head

Monday Musings

Like all writers, I spend too much time living in my head. Whenever I couldn’t stand it any longer in the US I’d go out and garden.  I had two enormous plant filled terraces in Santa Monica

Being out in my garden just seemed to clear out any blockages.  I only have a small courtyard garden in Bristol which takes no time at all to tend.

I love flowers and I particularly love cut flowers for the house.  I can’t do too much cutting in my Bristol garden so I end up buying flowers.

But, whether home-grown or purchased. you need to put flowers in something. So I started collecting pottery in Bristol. (I couldn’t very well bring my previous pottery collection from the States).

I also love walking but hate just walking a circuit.  I like a destination.  Bristol has some great Charity Shops (Thrift Stores in the US).  They are my destinations. I’ve gotten some great pottery bargains while getting a bit of fresh air and exercise, being out in the world, and back in my body.  Here are some of my best discoveries:

           

             

The last two pictures are a real find for 75p.  It’s signed on the bottom by a well-known sculptor and potter. I Love finding treasures!

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#MondayMusings – All Saints’ Day

Monday Musings

All Saints Day is usually celebrated on November First.  Hallows means “saint” so Halloween is the eve of All Hallows.  Halloween has become one of the biggest holidays of the year, commercially.  It’s in reach of blowing past Christmas in terms of spending on decorations, food, and beverages.

I’d like to suggest that writers get back to the original meaning– honoring all saints (great writers and great mentors) known and unknown.  (The idea being there are saints in heaven who never claimed that title on earth. And writers and mentors who never got the recognition they deserved.

Who is in the pantheon of writers who influenced you and sustained you and inspired you when times were tough?  Maybe it’s time to give due and celebrate all those unknown and uncelebrated writers who persisted for love of the craft.

My unknown saints are:  My mom, who transcribed my stories before I could write and entertained me with her stories of Bongo the Circus Bear and his Adventures. My dad, trapped in a job he hated, who thought I could do anything and never even suggested I ever get a “real” job or have a “back up” plan that didn’t include the arts.

My high school English teacher who believed I could be a writer.  And helped me believe it too!

My husband, who has made his living as a lawyer representing musicians and artists of all kinds, who has represented me all through my career.  He was, is, and ever will be my rock.

A UCLA film school professor who was and continues to be my mentor, inspiration, guru, and rabbi all rolled into one.

These are my “saints” and I honor and remember them today.  Who’s in your pantheon?

 

#MondayMusings – Winter or Spring?

Monday Musings

I’ve started seeing Robin themed merchandise popping up in stores around Bristol.  We are not anywhere near Spring and the robins are often perched on snow covered branches, or on the red berried bushes of Winter.  That’s because the robin is a Christmas symbol in the UK, adorning masses of Christmas cards, Christmas wrap, and Christmas ornaments.

 

In the US the Robin is a sign of Spring. “The first Robin” is alway a joyous and exciting sight. They are depicted on flowering branches or fruiting bushes.  They are a sign that Winter is over.

Aside from an interesting fact about cultural and bird species differences, this is an example of how a simple clue might be misread or become a “red herring” in a mystery.  A detective or investigator or curious citizen might be mislead because of cultural assumptions leading to false conclusions.

A robin means something completely different in the US and UK.  Simple misdirection like this can be infinitely more satisfying than convoluted twists and turns. What are the assumptions characters make (cultural or otherwise) that lead them to a false conclusion or bad result in your story?

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#MondayMusings – My Secret Weapon

Monday Musings

Now on a lighter note. Today’s musing will be about my muse– “The Little Dog Who Lives Upstairs”.

I babysit for him quite a lot so he accompanies me to meetings, in dog-friendly cafes in Clifton/Bristol.  He watches the endless series television I keep up with on various streaming services, cuddling on the couch.  And he gives sage advice on the projects I am hired to work on.

Here he is in all his adorableness!

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#MondayMusings – Name Change Controversy

Monday Musings

Had a meeting with my wonderful web designer about some new tweaks to the website.  I am all about making the site easier to navigate and how to get to things of interest more quickly.

We met in the coffee cafe in Colston Hall, right in central Bristol.  History in the UK is different than history in the US. Buildings in the US are considered “old” if they were built in the 1920s, and older buildings rarely survive redevelopment.  The property on which Colston Hall was built dates back to  1574.

Not sure if you can see it, but the price of admission to see the Rolling Stones in the 1970’s was 75 pence and a David Bowie concert would set you back 1.50.

 

 

The controversy surrounding Colston Hall is one Edward Colston (2 November 1636 – 11 October 1721).  He was a Bristol-born English slave trader, merchant, and Member of Parliament.

Much of his wealth, although used often for philanthropic purposes, was acquired through the trade and exploitation of slaves.

The question in Bristol is: Should the name of the Hall be changed and his statue removed?  The hall is under-going refurbishment and will drop his name when it reopens.  The statue remains.  For more on the controversy click HERE

 

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