Monday, March 30, 2015

Of Lemons and Life . . .

So.

I just finished watching the Israeli film Lemon Tree and WOW! I had to write a review before I forgot it all, although I don't think I could. Not for a very long time. This film opened my eyes to Israel and Palestine, as well as the care taking of the lemon tree, and I know I am better for it.

The story is thus: a Palestinian widow named Salma Zidane is the owner of a lemon tree grove, having taken care of the land after her father and husband have passed away. She lives a simple life with her lemons, until one day, the Israeli Defense Minister moves in next to her - his house is on the border between Israel and the West Bank. The Defense Minister, seeing the lemon grove as a potential place for Palestinian terrorists to hide, orders for the lemon grove to be cut down. However, with the help of attorney Ziad Daud, Selma fights to keep her land and her lemons safe and sacred. Even the wife of the Defense Minister, Mira, is on Selma's side as lemons take the stage for the entire world to see.



I will admit that the only information I knew about Israel and Palestine came from my watching of the news or reading newspapers and The New Yorker. However, this delicately made film helped me understand the world in a greater way. No matter where one lives, we are all connected and affected. Perhaps people will think me to be "hippie" in my thoughts, yet I feel that it is true. At times while watching the movie, I wanted to walk through Selma's lemon grove and smell the tart fruit. I wanted to ask Mira if she felt better for choosing her side in the "battle". I wanted to ask Selma if I could have one of her lemons; they looked unreal under the sun.

I highly recommend this film to everyone. Please, watch it at least once. You'll never think about lemons the same way again.

By the way, I loved the song in the beginning of the film - here is the refrain:



Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat

(taken from the website forlifepersonalchef.com)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Realm of Indigo - Flash Story

On the mantelpiece was the book I swore to forget about, thanks to him.

         When we first met, he saw the book I clutched to my chest and when he asked me what it was, I told him the title with a smile on my face. He laughed then took the book from me. Now that he was in my life, I no longer needed my Book of Lost Dreams, as I called it when I received it as a child. When I asked him just why I had to leave it, he took my chin in his hand and lifted me up to kiss him. His kisses reminded me of an Autumn day when the winds began to cool and the trees scratched the sky with their skeletal arms. He came to me when I was fragile and dangerous to myself, when the world needed to be careful in speaking about me behind my back. I heard the whispers and felt eyes upon me and it took many nights of sleeping with my eyes open in order to chase the nightmares away. When he appeared, I felt as though I was still dreaming. He told me his name was Sylvain and that he had come to wake me up. So, I let him. His lips touched mine and I felt the burn seep through my skin and prick my eyes. He then took me away to his realm in which the sun never rose and the skies were in constant shades of indigo. There were shadows of trees as far as my eyes could see, each with a nocturnal glow that pulsed with every breath they took. He carried me to his lair and loved me completely that night.

With every touch, I felt myself twist and split into many pieces, only to form a different body with a different need. He whispered my name in my ear and I felt something die within me. Was it my soul, or perhaps my walls? When at last I fell to the floor, he gently picked me up and carried me to his bed and told me to sleep. When I slept, I did not dream. When I later awoke, he stood over me and told me that he had to take me back. I nodded and soon, with a flurry of raven’s wings, I soon stood in the room with the mantelpiece. I picked up my book and saw the sticky dust crawl across the cover. As much as I wanted to open it, I remembered his words of telling me not to. It was my book, my lost dreams. Every time someone had done me wrong, I wrote it in the book. Every time I felt my heart break after giving it to someone who did not deserve it, I wrote it in the book. My pain covered the pages, moments of angry revenge that would never come true. Sylvain loved me and told me that I no longer had any need for such emptiness. He burned my book in a fire then swept me back to his realm for good, where we drank absinthe and stared at the moon hanging low in the sky like ripe fruit. When his stained lips brushed across mine, I felt the cold bitter breezes blow through my hair and realized then that I was dead. 

(Thinking of a Former Life - photograph by Kimberly B. Richardson, copyright 2015)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Hands of Art Photo Project RETURNS

Well, after taking a break to work on other matters, dealing with the crazy winter weather, celebrating my 41st birthday and handling that thing called LIFE, I am happy to announce that I have returned to The Hands of Art Photo Project! This time, I am more than ready to show the spotlight on someone who is quite the teacher, writer, animal lover and pet psychic - Missa Dixon! Missa is the author of several awesome Steampunk stories in the Dreams of Steam series, as well as the author of the story A Twist of Fate in the urban fantasy anthology Realms of Imagination. Her interests are varied and it shows in her energetic personality; be sure to look for her at a con!

May I present to you, The Hands of Art Photo Project - Missa Dixon.



Missa is the co-author of the book, Interviews From the Ark, a collection of true stories as told from the animal's point of view. Missa is a pet psychic who will tell you the real deal when it comes to the thoughts of your cat, dog or even rooster.


Although this has nothing to do with her creative hands, this tattoo does prove that she is filled with creativity and a colourful spirit.


Missa is quite the capable woman when it comes to being a pet psychic, although I wonder what a Squirrel of Mass Distraction thinks about when it is not at a convention . . . . . 



Another of Missa's tattoos - love this one since I am an amateur lepidopterist!



What is the Plot Bunny thinking of? Is it hungry, sad, or maybe just . . . stuffed?



The small yet sturdy source of her role as a school teacher. Make no mistake, Missa is a woman prepared for anything!



Thank you, Missa!








Sunday, March 8, 2015

Princess With an Attitude!

Now that the snow and ice has finally melted with a lovely threat of Spring on the way, we can breathe a sigh of relief. It's also time for another book review! This time, I'm making the trek to the planet Yord as I watch a "princess" kick some serious butt and kill a lot of people.

A lot of people.

Michael D'Ambrosio's book Princess Pain needs to have a counter for every time someone dies. I bet if I shook the book hard enough, blood really would come out. Yet, the killing is all part of the bleak planet Yord as well as the life of hard-ass courier Marina. She is a tough and cold woman who is also quite beautiful; yet this beauty can be quite deadly as she gives the reader a sample of her "abilities" within the first couple of pages. That was enough of a hook for me to continue reading the book and eventually finish it in the same day.



Princess Pain is about a young woman who has walked away from her former life to live one that she does not care for yet barely lives it anyway, thanks to much consumed whiskey and adrenaline shots. She refuses to feel any kind of emotion and especially refuses to think about her past that involved her being abandoned by her parents when she was a child. Yet, as she unwillingly spends more time on Yord, she comes to begrudgingly realize that there was more to her past than she realized, leading to events that will ultimately change the planet and more importantly, herself. From page one, we are strapped into a world filled with treachery, killing, survival, really cool dreadlocks (loved them, Michael!), flash grenades and women who fight harder than men! Princess Pain is a good mix of science fiction, action, suspense and a little humor, thanks to D'Ambrosio's talent as a writer who makes you FEEL every knife wound, every pulling of the entrails, every moment of betrayal and even every kiss freely shared.

Buy your copy today through the fine folks at BlackWyrm Publishing!

EX LIBRIS!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Blood and bones. . . if you like that kind of thing!

So.

The second day of being in my apartment thanks to Winter Storm Thor and it has been quite productive. Mopping the floors, editing my new book Open A and now working on a new book review! This time, I'm happy to review the action packed book published through Pro Se PressThe Pulptress vs. The Bone Queen: Of Blood and Bone by my friend and talented author, Andrea Judy!



Once a priestess to a Death Goddess, The Bone Queen is now consumed with her obsessions of Death and power. After arriving in Georgia, she quickly makes her presence known with scores of the undead suddenly coming to life and wreaking havoc! Time to call The Pulptress, sworn fighter of evil as well as the defender of justice and all that is right in the world. Of Blood and Bone brings the two women together once more in a final battle that will leave only one of them standing as victor!

Andrea Judy shows her mad skills as a talented and prolific author as the characters of The Pulptress, The Bone Queen, Jackson, the no-nonsense coroner, and The Pulptress' "unusual" assistant Aramis come "alive" in the book. When I finished reading the book, I immediately told Judy that I was enamored of Aramis even with his "condition"! Although the book is slender in size, it is packed to the gills with action, mystery, great fight scenes and awesome characters that you'll remember for a long time. Welcome to the world of New Pulp!

I highly recommend getting a copy of Of Blood and Bone - you will not regret it!

EX LIBRIS! 

PS - the tea in the photo is Bengal Spice herbal tea by Celestial Seasonings - great on a cold day with a good book!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

To Transcend . . . .

So.

Thanks to Winter Storm Thor, I have a snow day and so far it has been quite good. As part of it, I have just watched the film Transcendence starring Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman. For those of you who have not seen it, the film is about scientist Will Caster who, as the result of a terrorist attack, is left with only weeks to live. His wife, Evelyn, "saves" him by uploading him into PINN, an AI system created by Will. Will soon transcends from mere supercomputer to something quite different that will literally change the entire world.



As many of you know, I love studying quantum mechanics and will ask question after question to those who are far more knowledgeable than I. This movie reminded me of those conversations, for even now, while I am typing out this blog post, my brain is still trying to ask more questions. When I first read then later saw Jurassic Park, I knew that creating animals that had long been extinct was NOT a good idea, no matter how much money you would make if you put them in a park. However, with Transcendence, I wonder . . . .

Is there a line between human and machine and the "relationship" we strive to have?

Can a machine truly feel, even with the memories and essence of an uploaded human?

Are humans truly creatures of chaos and is living in utopia a fantasy?

Is it acceptable if nanotechnology could save the world through creating a universal collective?


And on and on.

I read many posts about how people trashed the movie for various reasons - too slow, plot holes, unbelievable acting and so on. Yet, I also read posts of those who praised the movie, claiming that it was "too intelligent" for the masses and that it asks questions that people refuse to acknowledge within themselves. Can we live without the Internet, a system designed to connect everyone in a greater awareness? Can we strive for a better world on our own, or does it take an AI to make it happen?

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and strangely enough, felt somewhat hopeful at the end. I highly recommend this move for anyone who enjoys cyberpunk films or for those who wonder if we as humans are possible of becoming something more, something that will transcend what we could not possibly know now.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Review - Julia Paradise by Rod Jones

As I have stated so many times before, I love going through used bookstores, for you'll never know what you'll find. So it was while during a jaunt through Burke's Books in Memphis, Tennessee on a rainy Saturday, that I located several used yet lovely books that I knew had to go home with me. One of them was the book Julia Paradise by Australian author Rod Jones. This was the first time I'd ever heard of the book and the author, yet for $2, I was more than willing to give it a shot.



It is Shanghai in 1927 where a Scottish analyst named Kenneth Ayres discovers his latest "patient" - Julia Paradise, the wife of a minister. After studying under Freud, Ayres takes her on as his latest challenge, only to realize that there is much more behind the sometimes skittish, sometimes demure woman. Flights of fancy, constant visions and a past that continues to haunt Julia are only the beginning, leaving one to wonder where does reality begin and fantasy end?

Although I did finish this book and quite enjoyed it, I did find it lacking as well and felt that Julia's psychotic world needed to be delved into more. However, the story still carries its own weight and the final resolution, while not the one I had hoped for, was still satisfying. Then again, I do enjoy reading books about people who suffer from various mental problems and had even considered going into the field of psychology as a therapist. The human mind is a fascinating thing to study, in my opinion.

Thank you, Burke's Books, for your continued display of literary treasures!

EX LIBRIS!