Who’ya gonna call?

Logo used by the "Ghostbusters" in t...

Logo used by the “Ghostbusters” in the film (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When there’s something strange, in the neighborhood,” sang out Kiddo at the dinner table. “Who’ya gonna call?”

“Ghostbusters!” his brother shouted.

I looked at my youngest child. “How does he know that song?” I wondered aloud.

“We were playing Ghostbusters at Nana’s.” Kiddo replied before launching back into the song’s refrain. “You know Nana’s house has ghosts,” he added once the song ended.

“Is that so?’

“Yep. We heard strange sounds in the attic last time we played up there.”

Kiddo has been hearing strange sounds everywhere recently, a victim of his overactive combined with perhaps not my finest parenting choice. Over the weekend Lamont and I took Kiddo (and only Kiddo) to see the updated release, so controversially featuring female leads (oh, the horror!) I say perhaps because apparently the casting choice wasn’t supposed to be the most worrisome part of the movie – there were ghosts in it too.

When I originally heard they were remaking Ghostbusters, I thought it was simply more evidence that Hollywood in general, had run out of either a) original ideas or b) courage to risk producing them. When I read that the casting choice, I rolled my eyes. It was nothing personal against the actresses themselves, I find them multi-talented as well as funny. It just felt gimmicky in this case, as if Ghostbusters name wouldn’t be a draw enough. I had no intention of rushing out to buy tickets to see it in the theater. Waiting for the DVD would do.

Then, LT was invited to go and play elsewhere leaving Kiddo alone with Lamont and myself on a dangerously hot and sticky afternoon. Let me pause to say that I have a newly reinforced respect for parents of only children. Therefore as the day progressed and Kiddo mentioned that he was actually interested in seeing a movie that didn’t feature talking animals or thirty-year-olds pretending to be teenagers fighting costumed monsters, I found myself suddenly a lot more open-minded.

This is not a movie review site, but for what it is worth, I enjoyed the show. While it could be considered a remake of sorts of the first Ghostbusters due to similarities in the high-level plot, there were plenty of differences (even excluding gender reversals) for the movie to stand on its own. I will warn you that the opening scenes are fairly intense, especially for younger viewers. If you have some of the smaller set in tow, you may wish to linger by the concession stand a while longer. That is unless you really don’t care about enforcing bedtimes or enjoy engaging in conversations about alternate realms of existence.

Back to dinner.

“Now remember Kiddo, the movie was one hundred percent fiction. We talked about this.” And we had. At length. Both before the movie started and after the closing credits. We talked about it again that first night when Kiddo begged me to stand in the doorway after lights out. And then again when he thought he heard a knocking sound (which was just the TV downstairs), and again when he wondered what the dog was barking at (Lamont hadn’t given Her Royal Highness her evening treat fast enough). I’d known before I bought the tickets that the evening would be rougher than most, but, just like the movie, Kiddo’s performance well exceeded my expectations.

“I know mom.”

“And none of the ghosts were real. Someone made them up with a computer.” I’ve been teaching my son how to layer photos and stitch videos together. Could I turn this into a teaching moment?

“I knnnnoooowww.” (cue eye roll)

“Okay. Just making sure.” That’s a no.

“I got it, mom.”

Yeah, I thought, until bedtime. Even though we had the discussion about what is real and what is not and what goes on behind the scenes, the movie had achieved what all movie makers hope to achieve – the magic of suspended belief. As far as Kiddo is concerned the actresses who played the characters in this version are Ghostbusters and not just some feminine stand-ins for a thirty-two-year-old classic.

And this makes me happy (okay a little old too, but mostly happy).

Did you know that the movie makers actually tried to make the story true to science? Well, as much as any paranormal horror/comedy can be. And when they used words in the script like quantum and superfields, they weren’t just making up them to sound smart like the term, unobtainium, found in some other scripts, or using the terms in the wrong context. The filmmakers actually bothered to pick up the phone and called MIT physicists. Female MIT physicists.

Yep. It’s good to know that my boys are growing up in a time when women in science aren’t the ghosts they once were. Maybe, in thirty years time (or less) when Hollywood decides it is time to remake the movie, again, a casting choice like this won’t seem nearly as gimmicky, and a whole less controversial.

Because in the words of LT, “I no ‘fraid of no ghosts.”

 

What do Golfers and Writers have in common?

Golfing child's play

“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.” – Dave Barry

We decided it was time to introduce LT to the salesperson’s staple, golf. Or at least we decided it was time to take him to the driving range. It is an outdoor activity, but one somewhat protected from the summer’s sun. Once there, Lamont placed a ball on the tee and handed LT a child-sized driver. The club might look like a putt-putt club that should consider laying off carbs for a while but it was nevertheless adorable in LT’s hands. Lamont then wrapped his own hands around LT’s and demonstrated proper form. Tap. The club connected sending the ball all of a foot or so. LT, emboldened by such a clear display of his natural talent, announced he no longer needed any additional parental support. “I do it myself.”

Lamont and I moved over to give LT enough space to continue to master his long game while we alternated taking some swings of our own in another stall with the supervision of our budding Rory McIlroy. “Is this right?” LT asked. The ball was on the rubber tee, but LT now gripped the club upside down. Not waiting for an answer, he swung shaft at the ball. Whiff. He swung again. The breeze created by the shaft as it passed was enough to knock the ball off the tee but not much farther.

“No honey. Hold it from this end.” I flipped the club over and handed it back to him. “See? Watch what Daddy does.” Lamont approached his own ball and sent it flying with a whack-ping. LT grinned as I returned the ball to the tee. He then proceeded to run toward the ball, swinging the club as a weapon, as if recreating a scene from the movie, Happy Gilmore. However, I should mention he also did so starting from the wrong direction.

I picked up the ball he’d been so kind to send my way (thankfully, he still has to work on the force of his follow through), depositing it once again in front of him. “No honey. Like this. Watch Mommy this time.” Tap. “Okay. You try.”

“Like this?” The club head was on the ground. His body faced the correct way. But… the flat face of the club head was now pointed away from the ball. Once again, he swung before I could stop him. Chaos theory was demonstrated in real-time as the driver’s curved back-end made contact with the ball. It is appropriate that LT’s age is four.

What do the Golfer and Writer have in common? They both can benefit from a good Titleist. (ba dum dum) Did I not tell you I enjoy bad puns

If you are now done groaning over my very creative segue, I am happy to report that I have entered into the back nine of my current manuscript’s draft in progress (actually I am further than that, but back five doesn’t exactly work with my metaphor). This means it is probably time to start considering giving it, at least, a working title beyond PGA2 (not to be confused with the Professional Golf Association).

According to publishing experts, the best titles contain no more than two or three ideas and include at least once PINC component: Promise, Intrigue, Need, or Content. They should also include precise nouns and/or action verbs and the best titles also make you think about their meaning once when you first see it on the cover and again when you finish the book. Finally, you want to make them stand out in their genre, but easy enough to remember (and be able to say) when it comes time for your reader to recommend a book to a friend. However, even when you follow the expert’s instructions, coming up with a good title is harder work than you might think.

The Fair & Foul’s original working title was Progressions of Titan. While I was writing, I thought it was a pretty great title. Less than three ideas? Check. Who or what was the Titan? Initial intrigue – check. My story contained characters who sought to be leaders of industry and improve the human condition only to become modern Titans in the mythic sense. Double meaning – check. Progression is development toward a more advanced state. Precise action verb – check. I performed several google searches and Amazon searches. No other similarly titled books were out there. Unique – check.

Then I said the title out loud to a room of my friends and family.

Always say the title out loud before you settle on it. I thought I’d understood the rules, however, the look on the faces, and awkward “er that’s nice”s of my impromptu focus group was proof enough that, much like LT and his golf swing, my title could benefit from a little more work. It took several more attempts, but eventually I found the one that stuck. Thinking I knew the rules wasn’t enough. I still had to practice.

You never know what you don’t know until you, at first, try.

 

The Happiness Tag

First off, I would like to extend belated well wishes to my Canadian friends on Canada Day, my Hong Kongese friends on Establishment Day, my American friends on Independence Day (or Treason Day as I saw one UK based friend post), and early well wishes to my children’s stuffed animal friends on Teddy Bear Picnic Day (apparently this is a real thing on July 10th).

I’d like to apologize if I missed anything else in these first two weeks of July. If I did, I would love to hear about what it was and how you celebrated.

Speaking of celebration, the lovely Diana Wallace was kind enough to let me know that I’d been tagged in one of the best sort of online games – The Happiness Tag. For those who are unfamiliar with Diana, she is the author of Myths in the Mirror, The Dragon Soul Trilogy, Melding of Aeris, Sunwielder, the Bone Wall, and the Sorcerer’s Garden (all available on Amazon), as well as being a busy grandmother to boot, so I am more than a little honored that she’s found a way to squeeze reading my writing into what spare time she last left.

Now onto the game. The rules are simple:

List:

  • 5 Things that make you happy
  • 5 Songs that make you happy
  • 5 Bloggers that make you happy… (Let them know that you have nominated them).

5 Things that make you happy

  1. Mentally storing away all those goofy things my children say or do now which I completely intend to use against regale them with later, especially in that distant future when they start bringing dates home. Case in point, while visiting my dad this weekend, my eldest son asked me to help him change his clothes. Now, he is more than capable of getting himself dressed (although his fashion sense needs some work), but for some reason he was most insistent that I lend a hand in the process. When I asked him why he wasn’t able to do it himself on this particular occasion he replied, “Because I am on vacation.” Clearly by Kiddo’s logic, mom obviously doesn’t have the same vacation benefits package and should consider renegotiating her contract. Oh, Kiddo, payback is going to be so much fun.
  2. Friday Night. We are a household built around routine and my Friday Night now comes with the expectation of pizza, a beer or two, and the parade of ‘awesome’ moves also known as the family Dance Concert (I tried teaching Kiddo that the word was contest and not concert, but he is rather determined that his version is the proper one and, well…, see #1)
  3. Dinner with friends (aka the best kind of Saturdays and/or Sundays). I love good food as much as I love good stories and it’s even better when you can share both at once.
  4. This is a two-parter. A) Stumbling on a book I don’t want to put down and B) actually having the luxury of time to do just that.
  5. Terrible, eye rolling, groan worthy puns. A bear walks in to a bar and over to the bartender. The bear says, “I’ll have…” and the words trail off. After an uncomfortably long wait, the bear finishes, “… a beer.” The bartender immediately fills the order, but while handing the bear the glass says, “Here you go sir, but may I ask, why the large pause?” The bear cocks his head, looks at his paws and says, “I don’t know, I guess they’ve always just been that way.”

5 Songs that make you happy

  1. “Safety Dance” by Men without Hats (See List 1, #2) 
  2. “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers (See List 1, #3)
  3. “Birdhouse in your Soul” by They Might Be Giants – “Istanbul” and “Particle Man” were also strong contenders, but I decided I could only pick one song by a single artist.
  4. “All I need is the Air that I breathe” by the Hollies – This song was featured near the end of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which is also one of my favorite movies and is such a beautiful scene (don’t click on the link if you haven’t seen the movie) that I can’t help but smile to hear it now.
  5. “Lava” from the Pixar Short of the same name and by James Ford Murphy, Kuana Torres Kahele, and Napua Greig. This is always the closing act of our family’s Friday Night Dance Party as it gives us all a chance to settle down before the kids go to bed. Even better, LT typically sings along and it makes me tear up nearly every time to hear him say “I lava you,” while pointing at me (this may also be why he gets away with so much).

5 Bloggers that make you happy

  1. Bun Karyudo – who would have know that a man with a bag for his head could be so funny
  2. Betsy Kerekes of Parentingisfunny – because it is. It really, really is.
  3. Mark Petruska of Mark My Words – Bonus points to Mark for using a pun in the blog’s title.
  4. Ally Bean of The Spectacled Bean – We Allies need to stick together.
  5. Geoff Le Pard of TanGental whose posts “defy categorization,” but never fail to entertain me.

This particular list could have kept going well into next week, so I guess it is a good thing I was limited to only five. For those of you who have been tagged, please do not feel at all pressured to participate in the tag game. This was just my way of saying how much I’ve enjoyed all of you and hope that others might click on the links I’ve embedded in this post and do the same.

 

July’s Guest Storyteller, Allie Potts

Thank you Sarah once again for inviting me to be a guest storyteller this week. I had so much fun revisiting these characters, especially from a different perspective, and hope your readers enjoyed the story as well.

Sarah Potter Writes

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I’m delighted to welcome as my guest storyteller this month, fellow blogger and author Allie Potts.

When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24 day or chasing after children determined to turn her hair gray before its time, Allie enjoys stories of all kinds. Her favorites are usually accompanied with a glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand.

Allie is a self-professed science geek and book nerd. Today, she’s going to share an excerpt from her novel, The Fair & Foul (Project Gene Assist Book One), which, as the title suggests, is science fiction of the cyberpunk/genetic engineering variety.

The following scene takes place a few weeks after Dr. Juliane Faris and three others have taken part in an experimental procedure granting unprecedented knowledge and cellular control over their bodies, but this same procedure could also very well cost them everything.

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Get a grip: a painful lesson on when to hold on

Grip

Image courtesy of Flickr

The outside temperature had cooled from volcanic rim to a more comfortable Amazonian jungle as I embarked on a walk around the block with Her Royal Highness, my dog. Within seconds of exiting the house, the soles of my flip-flops were slick from the trapped humidity. Still, it was a beautiful day for a walk and HRH was happy enough to trot along by my side.

As we rounded the corner, I noticed a group of teenagers on bicycles approaching. I raised my hand in greeting. As one of the girls passed, she politely said hello. I was thinking to myself what nice kids when WHAM! The next thing I knew I was experiencing the joy of flight. My arm was nearly pulled out of its socket while my feet simultaneously left the ground.  Unfortunately, my air time was only short-lived as I found myself next lying on my back in the grassy area that separates sidewalk from street looking up at a blue sky.

Super hero dog

Able to pull trains and leap buildings in a single bound, it’s Wonder Dog!

Whimper… *blink blink* Owie… It turned out that HRH, having noticed me greet the teenagers decided it would be a grand idea to introduce herself to them as well. Without delay. So what if they were now already several yards away? HRH typically has impeccable manners and so now and then I forget that she also has the natural strength to hoist the remains of the Titanic off the sea bed floor and the speed of a cheetah running from a bee sting. She was kind enough to remind me. She’d taken off at full tilt, ignoring the minor detail that we were still technically attached.

As feeling began to return to my arm I realized that the leash somehow remained gripped firmly in my hand. I had remained strong even though the same could not be said about gravity. I felt the grass by my side as attempted to sit up and had to wonder at my luck to land in the soft earth when my head could have, should have come in contact with the concrete of the sidewalk.

One of the girls shouted from up the hill, “Are you okay?” I guess they’d witnessed my amazing aerial acrobatics and pulled over to assess the situation.

“I’m fine,” I replied as HRH returned to my side and began licking my face. “But she may not be,” I joked as I rubbed HRH’s head with my good hand to assure her I was okay while attempting to look stern and scolding. I turned the leash over as I regained my footing. I realized that hadn’t been a polite response. Though there was still a dull ache in my arm, overall I was okay. Why wasn’t my skull now cracked on the ground much like Humpty Dumpty?

I hadn’t let go.

If my hand had only held the leash loosely and I’d let go at the initial snap, I might not have lost my footing, but HRH could have successfully reached those polite kids on their bikes and who knows what sort of injuries might have resulted. If I had let go the minute I realized my feet were parallel to my head I may well be writing this from a hospital bed. But I hadn’t, and because we were still attached, the momentous force that is Her Royal Highness on a mission carried my airborne body just far enough away from the sidewalk to land in the grass with only a minor scrape to show for my experience.

Of course, I would have preferred not to fall at all, but HRH was a stray up until February and the occasional mistake is still to be forgiven. Although, even if she’d been with us since a pup and had years rather than weeks of training, I know a mistake could still happen. No path is without the occasional ill-advised temptation or other misfortune. The point is, that when these speed bumps happen, you have to keep your grip on that which matters most. While your world may, for a time, seem upside down, if you hold on long enough, you too might just find yourself landing safety.