Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for the Little Things that Actually Aren't so Little

Many people I know have been practicing days of Thanksgiving by listing the things they are thankful for—I have enjoyed seeing these proclamations on Facebook and other social network sites. It’s a great reminder that, despite all our complaints about the (Insert whatever is frustrating you here) we have a pretty cushy existence compared to most places in the world.

But today, I thought I’d try something different. I’m thankful for the BIG things, of course! The things we all realize: family, freedom, food, health, faith (for me, this means Christ as my Savior) and so on…I think we all are. There is a book that says, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”

I disagree. I say the big stuff is made up of small stuff…and I wanted to try something different this Thanksgiving. I am definitely thankful for the BIG stuff (but you all knew that already) so I’m going to mention some of the small stuff. The tiny, everyday blessings that really aren’t so tiny. Things I don’t even think about that, well, maybe I should think about.

So here are ten “minor “things (that really aren’t that minor) I’m thankful for:

1. Going to the bathroom.

I know, that sounds silly, but until you have a friend on dialysis, or a relative with a blocked colon, you realize this is one of those things that happens every day that you never think about until something goes wrong.

2. Pajama days

I maintain that having a day to spend in your pajamas is one of the great simple pleasures of life. We don’t think about it because 1—we take for granted that we HAVE pajamas, 2—we take for granted that we can (generally) afford to have at least one morning a week in relative safety where we can do that.

3. A church on every corner.

A friend of mine from up North laughed at all the hundreds and hundreds of churches in Rocky Mount—especially the “storefront” ones with names like “Temple of the Power House of Christ’s Holy Spirit.” Now, I can’t speak for what all these folks believe theologically, nor can I speak for any of the storefront worship centers of other faiths, but while he found all this variety laughable, I thought it was fascinating. We forget in many countries, not only is there no religious freedom, but differences/ dissention within denominations is met with much more than some bad press and heated exchanges at annual conferences. And to display your affiliation in bold letters in the front window? Not possible in some areas.

4. My big-butt can o’ change.

Which in itself is more money than most people have in some countries. Maybe I need to give that change to a charity.

5. Spiders

Until you are surrounded by the Eastern North Carolina Mosquitoes of Summer (that always deserved to be capitalized) you really appreciate any critter who makes mosquitoes a part of its everyday diet. Heck, I’ll even throw bats and frogs in there as well.

6. Breathing

Two of my closest friends have cystic fibrosis, a horrible disease that, until I met K and T, I knew very little about. One of my friends said it was like trying to breathe through a straw in a room full of cotton. Many with CF have to have lung transplants, and because that is still a relatively uncommon procedure (as compared to kidney or liver transplants), the NIH doesn’t dedicate as much money (or maybe any) to lung transplant research. If you are looking for a worthy charity this year, I suggest www.lungtransplantfoundation.org

7. Better living through chemistry

All Prozac jokes aside, I take it for granted that when I have a massive headache, I can have an Advil, or if I have a cold, I can take some vitamin C. Even herbal remedies are available (or easily shipped ) . Even as recently as the 60s, treatment options for several conditions were limited, and it’s only been in the past 20 years that we’ve really gotten a grip on what is going on in relation to how the brain works, and thus giving new insight into brain injury, brain tumors, autism, mental health and a host of other conditions. Check it out at www.silverribbon.org

8. That God cares about the little things.

Seriously, the fact that God is even aware that I am doing this silly little list astounds and humbles me.

9. Milk coming out my nose

Remember in fourth grade when you laughed so hard at lunchtime that milk came out your nose? I mean, it hurt like blue blazes, but it touched upon what I think is one of the greatest gifts God gives us that we fail to recognize: laughter. And not just laughter, but unrestrained, guffawing until you start crying, laughing until you throw up type of mirth.

If you have not laughed this hard in a while, then by all means, let this thanksgiving be the time to do so. (well, maybe not the throwing up part)

I’ve been blessed that I have a family with an exceptional sense of humor. Case in point, I once left a voice mail message for my mom, and , out of force of habit from leaving messages from work all day, I told her this message was from Dawn Wilson. Her response?

“Thank God you specified Dawn Wilson, because I would have confused you with all the other daughters I have named Dawn.” Touche.

I have no brothers, but we used to joke about an imaginary brother named Wilson. Then we wait to see if anyone picks up that his name would be Wilson Wilson.

And while this may not get in the “milk coming out the nose category”—here’s my favorite LOL cat vs. a printer. Wait for it. It’s worth it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua4nDQ-IGbY

10. The flip switch

I know a few physicians who dedicate their time to treating patients in third world countries, and mention that they have to carefully schedule surgeries for “the three hours that the hospital has power.”

I turn on the light switch, I turn my key in the ignition, I boot up my PC, I Netflix the latest Dr. Who episode, I dial from my cell phone and ---unless something has gone wrong—I have a reasonable expectation that something is going to happen 98 percent of the time. This predictability often causes me to take things like this for granted. So that concludes my list of little things that aren’t so little.

Anyone want to share any of yours? Pleace them in the comments below.

I’d like to close with this prayer of general Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Summer of GATSBY-- No. 8 ---The best Great Gatsby Book Covers from Complex Art and Design




Welcome to all things Great Gatsby: chances to explore, chances to learn, and chances to win.

What's all this about? Read the intro to Summer of Gatsby here...

Whether you've read TGG in high school and are revisiting it or rediscovering it for the first time, enjoy our discussion. And warning--HEREIN BE SPOILERS!

And check my last post for a chance to WIN free Gatsby-inspired bookmarks.

So pull up a chair, and get a glass of bootleg hooch (we're still mixing some in the bathtub) and we'll get going:


Reminder: Prize drawing is June 30!!!! for Gatsby-inspired homemade bookmarks. Check the link above for details.

The Best Great Gatsby Book Covers

I'll confess, I'm not one who was overtaken by the complexity, blah, blah, blah of the iconic blue Great Gatsby cover (I'll bet dollars to donuts that's the cover of the one you read in high school.) But maybe it was because it took me a while to see the face in it. Still even longer to see the reclining nudes in the pupils (I'll also bet dollars to donuts the Buncombe County School Board didn't know those were there).

But I came across this article. My vote for the top covers? Well, my faves didn't make the list. (Though I do like numbers 11 and 12--but only because you can't see Gatsby's face. Let the reader fill in with their imaginations.)
Look at the faves for Complex Art and Design and my faves found on the net.

http://www.complex.com/art-design/2013/05/the-15-best-great-gatsby-book-covers/

My three faves:


(as you can see, I come from the school of thought that less is more. Note how the black and white make the green really pop.)






From hfour. We don't talk a lot about
the car, and I don't think that there's
really even a good description of the car
in the book. But I love this. Understated.
Also remember: this is the last thing
Myrtle sees....
From wallppaer.com Not a
typo, that's the name. Why?
Understated. Classic. Emphasizes
the green.
From Neil commonplace book
I like this one, too. Esp. the title
type face. I can still see
Robert Redford in that, though.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

SUMMER of Gatsby-- No. 7 -- The Great Gatsby video game: We may never leave the house again.


Welcome old sport!

Welcome to all things Great Gatsby: chances to explore, chances to learn, and chances to win.

What's all this about? Read the intro to Summer of Gatsby here...

Whether you've read TGG in high school and are revisiting it or rediscovering it for the first time, enjoy our discussion. And warning--HEREIN BE SPOILERS!

And check my last post for a chance to WIN free Gatsby-inspired bookmarks.

So pull up a chair, and get a glass of bootleg hooch (we're still mixing some in the bathtub) and we'll get going:

Retro 80s style Great Gatsby Video Game

Sure, there are ones with more sophisticated graphics, more detailed storylines, but do they feature Nick Carraway with ninja moves busting flappers and drunks with his cap? 


I bleepin' love this video game....
Here's a link to the game

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Summer of GATSBY No. 6. -- My FAVORITE Gatsby cartoons by Kate Beaton




Welcome old sport!

Welcome to all things Great Gatsby: chances to explore, chances to learn, and chances to win.

What's all this about? Read the intro to Summer of Gatsby here...

Whether you've read TGG in high school and are revisiting it or rediscovering it for the first time, enjoy our discussion. And warning--HEREIN BE SPOILERS!

And check my last post for a chance to WIN free Gatsby-inspired bookmarks.

So pull up a chair, and get a glass of bootleg hooch (we're still mixing some in the bathtub) and we'll get going:

AWESOME Gatsby Cartoons by Kate Beaton

If you're not reading Kate Beaton Comics, you're missing one real talented gal.



I highly recommend her book (warning to the easily offended, some of them are R rated).
She is witty and clever and has a great take on classic literature that is funny and understated at the same time. You can check her out here.
All images copyright by Kate Beaton (you HAVE to check out her Anne of Cleves stuff. Hysterical! Please click on the link above to her stuff.)

These are some of my favorite Gatsby cartoons she did--- click on them if the sidebar gets in the way...

STill, the link to these and other AWESOME literary comics (One of my faves is "Dude Watchin' with the Brontes") can be found above. Her book is "Hark! A Vagrant!"




Thank you Kate for a big SMILE.
You can buy her book here:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summer of Gatsby No. 5--- Five Reasons Daisy is a B--



Welcome old sport!

Welcome to all things Great Gatsby: chances to explore, chances to learn, and chances to win.

What's all this about? Read the intro to Summer of Gatsby here...

Whether you've read TGG in high school and are revisiting it or rediscovering it for the first time, enjoy our discussion. And warning--HEREIN BE SPOILERS!

And check my last post for a chance to WIN free Gatsby-inspired bookmarks.

So pull up a chair, and get a glass of bootleg hooch (we're still mixing some in the bathtub) and we'll get going:

Five Reasons Daisy is a B---

Maybe it was because I was so crushing on Robert Redford in the 1974 film version. Maybe it was because I was going through some unrequited love of my own. Maybe it was because adolescent hormones made me so incredibly stupid. Maybe I was PMS-ing (if that's not verb, it should be).

But regardless, I have to be frank. After reading the book and watching the movie, Daisy. Pissed. Me. Off.

Feel free to disagree (hey, I love a literary discussion) but here are the facts IMHO.

1-- Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.

Rich family. And not just a rich family, but "old money." Not just any rich kid would do. As Tom said to Gatsby later, "You're not like us. You can be rich but you'll never be like us." (I'm paraphrasing.)

Really girl? Personally, I'd rather be shopping at K-Mart with my true love than sipping champagne with Tom (who, btw, is a brute and racist. Not the top qualities for guys in my book.)

2-- She led Gatsby on.

Okay, so he finds you and he's rich and all that is awesome so you are all "yes, yes, yes!!! Let's continue the affair! Dance with me in your uniform! Mother of GOD what beautiful shirts!!! Kiss me!! (and btw, since my husband is having an affair, I guess I will too) ."

But when it comes down to the wire, are you going to leave Tom? Really? Are you?

Don't start something you aren't going to finish. Gatsby isn't just looking for a roll in the hay for auld lang syne ("roll in the hay" --do other people say that? I'm from the South, curious if it is elsewhere. RJ-- do they say that in England? Michael, how does my resident Aussie add in to this?) This leads to......

3-- "But I love you NOW, Gastby. Isn't that enough?"

Um, nope.
Read: I love you now that I have my courage up and I don't care what my family thinks and now you have money and it's more socially acceptable and oh wait, despite that, I'm still going home to Tom.

Daisy: I don't want to go home.
Gatsby: Then don't.

Not that I'm advocating adultery, but I AM advocating not marrying a racist brute because you sort of love him and his family has money.
Daisy says, "OMG, Gastby! I just looooooove those shirts. Can you wear your uniform for me?"
(and while you're at it, I scuffed up your car a bit, can you take care of that for me, too?)


4-- You weren't at Gatsby's funeral.

Grrrr. You'd think Tom would let her go if for no other reason just for him to get the chance to dance on Gastby's grave. Okay Tom. You won. We hope you feel good about yourself.

5-- The crappy way you acted when you ran into Nick later.

This wasn't in the 1974 version of the film. Nick basically runs into Tom and Daisy and is like "oh

BONUS: Number 6--

6-- You let him take the fall for you which led to his death.

I don't know why the bleep Gatsby let you drive on the way home, but he just can't say no to you, can he?  Even then he's willing to take the fall for manslaughter for you when you rammed into your hubby's mistress.  This all leads to Gatsby's death. I mean, it was like by pretending it never happened meant it never happened.

Denial ain't a river in Egypt, sister. And after all of that, you STILL did #4 and #5.

[insert string of expletives here]

You and the horse you rode in on, Daisy.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Summer of GATSBY No. 4 - How to win Gatsby-inspired bookmarks!


Welcome old sport!

Welcome to all things Great Gatsby: chances to explore, chances to learn, and chances to win.

What's all this about? Read the intro to Summer of Gatsby here...

Whether you've read TGG in high school and are revisiting it or rediscovering it for the first time, enjoy our discussion. And warning--HEREIN BE SPOILERS!

So pull up a chair with some bootleg hooch and we'll get going.

Crushing on Gatsby

I have to admit that part of my fascination with Gatsby was that when we saw the 1974 movie in my high school, I was totally schoolgirl crushing on Robert Redford (can you blame me?)  That made everything in the book even more haunting. Yes, I'm not going to get into that whole book vs. movie thing (book. Almost always.) but for a kid in high school, you got to admit that if you're going to be watching a movie for English class, having some gorgeous actors certainly doesn't hurt.

As I've said about Robert Redford, to use a phrase my British friends find amusing: You can't slap the handsome off that man.

(I still feel a tinge when Robert Redford shouts "Because she doesn't love you!!" to Tom. )
So in honor of that and the new release:

How to win ORIGINAL, Gatsby-inspired bookmarks! (Done by a local North Carolina artist! i.e. me :) Yes, I also have a small art studio.)

Want to win a set of six original bookmarks inspired by characters in TGG?

Here's all you have to do:

-- Leave a comment mentioning the name of your first movie crush (well, one that you knew was a crush. Sorry, but characters like Mickey Mouse don't count. Has to be a real, flesh-and-blood, actor/ actress)
--Leave an e-mail where I can reach you. (I don't spam or sell your e-mail. That would be in poor taste, old sport!)
--If you'd like to leave a reason why this person was a crush (other than that they were just plain hot) that would be cool. But I'm trying to keep this blog PG-13. Just FYI.
---I will contact the winner via e-mail (and film the drawing).
--- YOU CAN LEAVE A COMMENT THROUGHOUT THE MONTH OF JUNE.
--DRAWING WILL BE JUNE 30.
--No purchase necessary, all legal disclaimers Gatsby's lawyers wanted us to put in there.
--NOTE: these are not OF the characters, but INSPIRED by the characters. We are not superseding any copyrights on Gatsby. Who do you think we are? Jordan Baker?

Your name does NOT go on some newsletter list. But FYI I sometimes give out free copies of my books, so if you want to follow my blog, I almost always announce free days here first.

D



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer of Gatsby No. 3 - Trailer comparisons -

I just thought it was cool to do this, to see them side by side.
And BTW-- I'm not sure if this is the "official" 1974 trailer... any feedback on others that may be floating out there (that were not created for AP English) will be appreciated.

It's kind of interesting to see how changes in videography / technology have changed movies.

My comments on the new vs. 1974 version will be coming soon...

1974 Trailer with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow


2012/ 2013 Trailer with Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan
(this isn't the trailer you see the most often, but I do love it.)

"There are great societies that did not have the
wheel, but there are no societies that
did not tell stories."

---Ursula K. LeGuin