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by Karen Fayeth

Right In My Wheelhouse

For just over a month I have been participating in a Flickr group called Macro Mondays, the intent of which is to create a new Macro photo each week based on a specific theme.

This group is a lot of fun and it is a pretty good challenge for me to create something new every week.

This week’s theme turned out to be right in my wheelhouse, combining two great loves of my life.

Our theme was to create a macro photo based on a favorite book. The rules said no showing the cover of the book, no obvious photos of a book. No, the photo needed to represent what the book is about.

Many an hour was spent thinking about what book to choose and how to best represent a story. I wanted to do Red Sky at Morning, but was unsure how to create that in the small space of a macro photo. I considered Lonesome Dove, but didn’t feel I could do it much justice.

So I finally settled on Something Wicked This Way Comes. After many brainstorming sessions with The Good Man, much thinking and agonizing and not being happy with what I was producing, I think I finally landed on something that does justice to Mr. Bradbury’s fabulously creepy story.

Here’s my photo:



Inspired by Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Copyright ©2018 Karen Fayeth

This weekly challenge gets about 1,000 entries this week, and I look at every one of them so I can learn and get excited about the work of fellow photographers.

Here is some fun trivia: What book do you think was the most represented this week? Any guesses?
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By far, a Clockwork Orange. I don’t know what that says about this group…..

Followed by Lord of the Rings, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Fantastic books, all. Just not on my personal top ten.

I won’t even get into all of the instances of 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight.

So while this week’s photo took a lot of planning and setup, I am completely excited about this idea and (mostly) happy with my photo. I would love to take a stab at some other books too. Fun idea. Now I look forward to next week’s challenge.





Where To Swear Your Oath

As a sort of minor and mildly entertaining footnote to Tuesday’s Congressional election in Alabama, there was a CNN interview where the spokesperson for the Republican candidate made a spirited argument that Muslim politicians should not be allowed in Congress because they’d be required to swear on a Christian bible.

The CNN host went on to utterly decimate the spokesperson’s assertion by letting him know that not only is it not required to swear on a bible, if you are swearing an oath of office, you can technically swear on anything.

Something about that pesky separation of church and state, I suppose.

Look, I’m not here to wade into political waters. What I am here for is to wade into this debate:

If you became an elected official, upon which book would you swear your oath of office?

As a lover of books, this question intrigues me. One might suggest that the book used for an oath of office would have some meaning, some gravity. Something that matters to you.

So where to start? I mean, what are the books that made me who I am today? That have, to me anyway, a sacred meaning. Something upon which an oath would really matter?

Okay, I’ve had a noodle on this, and decided that here would be my top five picks, in no particular order:

  1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry


    This is the book that made me want to be a writer. It’s seminal to my creative life and had particular meaning for me years ago to read an author from the west write the west (and not some east coaster’s idea of the west, I’m looking at you Cormac). This book is in my DNA and it’s the perfect book upon which to swear, because Gus and Call do an awful lot of swearing in the story.

  2. Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford


    When I was a kid, my mom suggested I read this book and I am so glad she did. I’ve opined plenty on this book, and it’s perfect for swearing an oath because this was the first book to make me feel like it was not only okay, but pretty damn cool, to be a New Mexican. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s no one knew where or what New Mexico was, nor cared. Heisenberg putting us in the media spotlight was years away. This book is me and I am this book, I give you my oath on that.

  3. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore


    The story of the Son of God, as told by his best friend Biff. It’s historical and hysterical. This book will make you laugh right out loud as our man Biff pulls his somewhat clueless friend Jesus out of scrape after scrape. It’s outright blasphemy which makes it the most logical choice to swear my oath of office.

  4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

    As noted before on this blog, Las Vegas is something well woven into the fabric of my life. I got my start in life there and spent an awful lot of time there as a kid. I have a much different view of Vegas than most. It’s a strange sort of indescribable thing. This book is on my list because, uh, it’s Hunter S. Thompson. What better FU to the whole swearing an oath to the government?

    But mainly, it’s because of this part:

    “A little bit of this town goes a very long way. After five days in Vegas you feel like you’ve been here for five years. Some people say they like it — but then some people voted for Nixon, too. He would have made a perfect mayor for this town…” — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    C’mon! This is the perfect oath of office swearing in book.

  5. Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, or maybe Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, or possibly Ball Four by Jim Bouton, or, or, or… It’s a long list.


    The right choice for swearing in because baseball is my religion.

Okay, now that the book question is sorted, the next item to tackle is what music is going to be played at my swearing in? I’m going to assume I will be elected to a low-level office with no budgets for live acts. So, assume a bumpin’ sound system. Who gets to warble under my swearing? Ooooh, that’s a good one…..

If you have a mind to, holler at me here or on any of the social medias and tell me what book you want to swear your own oath on. I’d love to cuss and discuss.

———————




The exact moment where the one on the right realized his whole argument was just verbally punched to the ground


Story source.





Winning Is Like…Better Than Losing

Now that I have been a member of the photography club at my place of employment for just over a year, and have been attending meetings and listening hard, I think I maybe kind of sort of have earned a teeny tiny bit of respect.

Because this month, both of my submissions for the monthly photo contest made the cut. BOTH!

The rules each month are that you get to submit two photos. We review and critique all the photos in our monthly meetings and then there is an anonymous voting app we use. When votes are tallied, the top four vote getters are published internally at the company.

So yeah baby! I have had one of my photos make the cut before, but never both. It is a little unprecedented. Woo hoo!

The theme this month was double exposure and my two prize winning photos are below for your perusal.

The first one feels really special to me. I took both of the photos in the image while I was in Dublin. It was at the end of my one lone day of tourist time after an intense week of work, and I had walked for miles. I was exhausted and it was raining like it only can in Ireland.

Tired and soaked to the bone, I was bound and determined to find this sculpture of Oscar Wilde. This was after I had stood in a very long line (in the pouring rain, a nice lady shared her umbrella) at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. That exhibit was exhausting in itself. Way too many people jostling around.

The park where Oscar resides is about half a mile from Trinity college and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. It was driving rain and windy and I was so tired that a nice warm cab looked like a good idea. I stopped to rest twice on the short journey, but forced myself to keep going and once I arrived at the park I was glad I did.

The small, lush, green Merrion Square park was silent as I stood there getting drenched looking at this remarkable statue of Oscar Wilde. A small tour group came by and the tour guide said the artist sourced these incredible and colorful stones from all around the world. It is a beautiful statue and so unique as it reclines on a rock.

When it came time to figure out something to use for double exposure, I thought of this statue and of the very old books I had seen at the Trinity College library (I had watched a video about the method used to bound the tomes and was endlessly fascinated).

Using some tools I had learned in a recent photography class about overlay for textures, I fiddled around in Photoshop and came up with this:

Title: Author


Photograph Copyright © 2014, Karen Fayeth



I was unsure if the photographers in the club would find the image too discordant. It’s almost jarring, but I love it. It’s hard to photograph a statue and have it be anything more interesting than a photograph of a statue. This to me brings depth and texture to the photo and I am so happy with the results.

The other photo I submitted was something I had been visualizing for quite some time.

As I continue to hear all of the news reports about the drought here in California, I was pleasantly surprised that the lack of rain didn’t halt the springtime explosion of California wildflowers. I am mildly obsessed with California Poppies (the state flower) and I love the yellows, reds and purples of other flowers growing in medians, between sidewalk cracks and at the edges of yards.

I picked several of the flowers and shot them using a technique I learned from photography master Harold Davis. Then I took a free stock image of textural dry and cracked ground and combined it with my flower photo. When I look at it, I think of many things I could (and should) go back and tweak, but so far this photo is garnering nice attention.

Title: Drought


Photograph Copyright © 2014, Karen Fayeth


When submitting both of these photos, I wasn’t sure how my surly team of scientists would respond. Both of these photos are kind of arty, but they also show I have some Photoshop chops, and I think they liked that. They had a lot of questions for me on technique since I used a different approach for each photo.

Also, I think the club as a whole struggled with the idea of double exposure. It’s too messy for their orderly minds. I had a film camera in high school that I liked for making double exposures. It can either look weird or really cool. Doing a double exposure in Photoshop gives me more control over how the two photos overlap and how the double exposure looks, and I like it.

Anyhow, thought I’d share my winning photos with you.

Next up, travel to Amsterdam. Wonder what treasures I can find to photograph there?






Both images, Copyright © 2014, Karen Fayeth. Shot with a Canon G10 and combined in Photoshop. Stock image of dry ground from Free Stock Textures.




Tints My World View

Lately I am all about my Kindle. I had an actual Kindle eReader for a while and then I migrated to using the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone.

Love, love, love it.

As a writer, I am interested in the people who manage to self-publish and get a little traction on Kindle. As in, who are these people who are making it into the Kindle 100?

As a commuter, I like quick, lightweight and fun reading to pass the time on long BART treks.

With all of this in mind, I went and scoured the Kindle 100 list for downloadable fun. On the top seller list, I found mostly genre books, and most of the genre stuff falls squarely under romance.

Hey, look, cheap romance novels and I go way back. I was reading Harlequin paperbacks when I was in mid-school. My Grandma loved those inexpensive books so much. She’d read one and then my mom, sister and I would pass it around when she was done.

Not much has changed in the romantic genre since moving to Kindle. I looked at all the cheap and tarty romance eBooks and paid anywhere from $1.99 to $7.99 for three different titles.

I have made my way through two of them and am working on the third. I find that immersing myself into this world of genre fiction has sort of tinged my world view. The real world and actual human romantic relationships look a little weird after living in genre world.

In no particular order, what I’ve learned from $13 worth of literary cotton candy:


Everything old is new again.


The basic formula for a good Harlequin romance goes something like this:

There is a dark and brooding man. There is a troubled and innocent woman. Their worlds collide in some fashion. Usually the man is some brash worldly guy like a sea captain or an army general (most Harlequin’s are set in a historical era).

She hates him or he hates her or they hate each other and they fight. He curses the headstrong woman, she alternately loves and hates how manly and forceful he is.

One or both of these characters has a secret. This secret means they can never truly love. That said, a little roll in the hay and it turns out that the love of a good person can cure all their problems.

Cue riding off into the sunset.

Yeah. Not much has changed. Instead of sea captain insert Chief Operating Officer of a big marketing firm, CEO of his family’s insurance company, and famous rock star.

I’m not making any of these up.

Apparently the new brash sea captain wears a tie and worries about his stock portfolio.

Also, apparently male victims of sexual abuse seem to be the new theme. In one it was his step mom, in another it was his foster mom, in the third there was physical but not sexual abuse because his mom was a junkie who died thus preventing him from ever truly loving a woman…blah blah blah.

*sigh*


One really cringe worthy success spawns many, many more. Like evil bunnies.


I am learning about this phenomenon called Fan Fiction, which has been around for ages, dating back to early Sci Fi books, and perhaps older than that, even.

In a nutshell, people love a book and then take the same characters or the same setting or both and write a new work. Rarely is the fanfic sanctioned by the original author. It’s written largely for other fans of the original work.

Just so you know, the author of the weirdly successful “Fifty Shades of Gray” series admits that she took her inspiration and characters from Twilight.

Hackdom begats hackdom begats hackdom.

I realized post-purchase that the authors of one of my three eBooks also took their inspiration from Twilight. Edward is now named Jake and wears a suit and is a surly corporate executive. Bella is now named Chloe and is an MBA intern.

Yeah. I might note here that I got through one and a half of the Twilight books and hated them immensely. So fanfic based on a series I can’t stand isn’t really working for me, but oh damn is it working for a whole lot of other people.


Careless disregard for the English language, grammar, readability, and formatting does not prevent the sale of books or degrade the author’s credibility.


So that book I just referenced, the Jake and Chloe one? Reached number nine on the New York Times bestseller list for fiction (and higher than that on the ebook list).

This, despite the fact that it was riddled with formatting issues, typos and grammar errors.

Just cuz ya popular don’t mean yer quality.

Whooo doggies. The language abuses I’ve seen.


Character development? Pfft! Who needs it?


Apparently writing about lots and lots of sex, in rather graphic detail, trumps the need to actually develop the characters.

Usually when reading a book I can “see” the characters. They take on fully formed beings in my head and in a book I like, they become like friends I get to visit with for a while.

Not from this book. I know very little about the characters other than he is tall and has tousled hair. She is short and skinny with dark hair. And has big boobs.

There you go. Characters for the ages.


Euphemisms! I got your euphemisms right here!


This is the most awkward part about reading these books. Look, even Harlequin used euphemisms for body parts and particular actions. You’d think some thirty to forty years later we’d be better at providing color commentary.

Nope. We’ve graduated past “towering manhood” and “her most delicate flower” but not by much. Now the in-favor euphemisms seem to be “his sex” and “her opening”.

I cringe just typing those words. Ew.

Can we just agree that “thingy” and “hoo-ha” are the generally accepted nomenclature and be done with it?


Everything ends up “happily every after” unless, of course, the author is working on grinding out a series of books.


And then it makes sense to leave your character lying in a pile of leaves in the woods, distraught over a break up (ahem, *coff*Twilight*coff*) and the fans begging for the next book.

Nice work if you can get it.

I had a rather in depth conversation with The Good Man last night over whether I have it in me to crank out some of this genre stuff. I *can* do it, meaning I have the skills and capability, but somehow it feels, to me anyway, a little soul deadening.

So this was a good sashay into the current state of publishing. Not sure what it means for my writing. Though my commutes have never been hotter, all that thingy on hoo-ha action!

Or, you know, not.

I guess at this point in my life, you gotta make it GOOD to get this old girl rolling. And by rolling, I mean something other than my eyes.





“Coffee Flavored Kisses” — java, my true romance!




Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone 5 and the Camera+ app, and sweetened by a little iPhoto touchup and an Instagram filter.




And Around. And Around. And Around.

While sitting on my tuchus being completely idle this weekend (yay!) I flicked through my Twitter stream to get caught up on what is happening out there in Interwebs land.

I came across a tweet from Penn Jillette (one half of the famous duo Penn and Teller) that said, and I quote:

“You might not want to watch this. You really might not. It’s kinda sorta dangerous funny. It hurts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpfQSqfpuac

(if you are feeling like a laugh, go on and do a click for yourself).

So because I love and trust Penn and I needed a laugh, I clicked the link. What I found was a Taylor Swift video for the song “I Knew You Were Trouble” and in some of the high wailing parts, someone had substituted a bleating goat for the vocals.

I watched it three times. It was indeed very funny.

Just for the sake of reference, I then watched the actual video from Taylor Swift for “I Knew You Were Trouble” (well most of it anyway) and as I watched her writhing around in the dirt, I wondered to myself who this song had been written about.

It’s fairly well known that Ms. Swift likes to write such songs about broken romances. A quick Google search led me to the answer. Mr. Trouble turns out to be Harry Styles from the Brit pop boy band One Direction.

Now, as an over forty year old woman, Mr. Styles doesn’t look like an ounce of trouble to me, but I suppose I understand where she’s coming from. Who among us ladies hasn’t written pages and pages of journal entries about a romance gone wrong and maybe even some bad poetry too? I certainly have, I just didn’t have the platform that Ms. Swift enjoys for such endeavors. But I totally support her right to say what’s on her mind and be super angsty about it too.

So now that I knew Harry Styles of One Direction (by the way, doesn’t Hairy Styles sound like an awesome name for a barber shop?) was the object of this sad song, I recalled that my kid sister-in-law (not so much a kid anymore, she’s 13, it’s a long story) absolutely looooves One Direction, though her affections tend to lean toward one Mr. Liam Payne.

Then I noticed that YouTube suggested that after watching the Taylor Swift video I should watch the super hot OMG hot hot brand new song from One Direction called “One Way”.

“Why not?” I thought and gave it a click.

What presented itself to me was a video of five boys who probably aren’t old enough to have pubes singing a bee-boppy rendition of the kick ass Debbie Harry song “One Way or Another” from 1979.

You know? “One way or another, I’m going to find ya’/I’m gonna get ya’, get ya’, get ya’, get ya’/One way or another, I’m gonna win ya”

(To all whom I’ve just earwormed, I do apologize. It couldn’t be helped.)

So as these boys wriggled and mugged their way across London, I felt a sadness in my heart. I emitted a sorrowful sigh.

The tough as brass song written by the beautiful and punk rock Debbie Harry is now being autotuned and smoothed up for a boy band. The catchy lyrics written in the wake of a stalking ex-boyfriend are now fodder for little girl swoons and cutesy thoughts of dating a One Direction lad.

Oh boy. Er. Boys? If the song had been redone and there was a new or original take, then by all means go for it. I am not against remakes, I am, however, against remakes that take the soul out of a great song.

Certainly Ms. Debbie Harry, as the co-writer of the song is enjoying much windfall from the pop redo of her music, but damn. It hurts just a little, in my soul.

Later over breakfast, The Good Man and I discussed this song and video since it was still very much on my mind.

“I suppose it shouldn’t bother me that teens are listening to this crap because I listened to some poppy boy bands in my era. Like, for instance, Duran Duran,” I said.

But then I realized something…yes, Duran Duran was a schlocky boy band and yes I swooned over the poster I had of the five of them on my bedroom wall (John was my favorite) but at least they 1) actually played their own instruments and 2) wrote many of their own songs.

Ok, yes, fine, I know that remaking songs is a common occurrence and in some cases, the remake is WAY better than the original (Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” for example). I also know that in the history of music there have been hundreds of over engineered boy (and girl) acts doing their soulless little dance with deadened eyes and walking down a life map that probably leads to either ultra-thumping-Christianity or deep and abiding drug use…or both. And I know I can’t stop it, nor should I try.

But I also can’t help seizing up a little whenever I hear great music so profoundly bastardized.

My thirteen year old sister-in-law is actually an excellent musician in her own right and I have to trust that over time she will learn to see that you can have both quality music written and played by the musican AND a hot guy to look at. Jim Morrison springs to mind, but let’s see if I can come up with someone more current….I know, how about Bruno Mars or even Jason Mraz?

Losing argument, I know. As long as there are dollars in auto tuning them thar children, the shlock pop is always going to keep coming around.




Shaddup Grandma! One Direction is the best band ever!




Image from the spydersden blog




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