Last night I watched many of my instructors and one of my students get inducted into a Martial Arts Hall of Fame. It was all done over belated Chinese New Year celebration and a Kung Fu & Tai Chi Reunion banquet. I took kiddo to the first half so she could enjoy a little bit of culture and learn a bit about what my life was like growing up in a Kung Fu studio.
Where you would have found me in a Kung Fu uniform or a simple banquet dress, little girl is all about the princess attire and insisted on wearing her princess dress to the ‘party’ where she also insisted on having cupcakes. In the car she told me that it wasn’t a real party without cupcakes and that she wasn’t sure about going unless there were cupcakes because, “I don’t really like people.” So expressive for a three year old.
No worries, the girl got her cupcakes. She got interviewed from so many black belts I’ve know through the years… “Do you know your front kicks yet?” “Let me see your center punch.” Even princess need to learn to protect themselves and their loved ones. She also got to hear a pretty stellar drum (The Lion Dance by Lee’s Golden Dragon) performance and see real Chinese New Year dragons. One came right up to the table.
Shortly after that she went home with her Grandmom and Grandad – it got a little late for little princesses and she was about to turn into a Chinese Pumpkin – leaving me to my own devices for a few hours.
Ran into Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. I used to adore going to his seminars and it was good to see him again. It’s been a little over a decade since I worked out with him last.
I’ve gotten fatter, he’s gotten older, the world turns. It would appear that I’ve gotten taller, too, but really I’m wearing five inch heels. Last night included an announcement and celebration of the fact that this amazing 10th degree black belt has his very own DAY in the city of Houston.
Annise D. Parker, Mayor of Houston, proclaimed March 8th as Grandmaster Bill “Superfoot” Wallace Day. My grandmaster, the late Grandmaster Victor Cheng, has his very own day as well – March 3rd. I don’t have any digital pictures of us over the years, but I can say it was a pleasure to learn what I could from him while he was still with us.
Above and on the right is a picture of me with my amazing FIFTH degree black belt friend, David Barnes. He got his fourth degree the same day I got my third, and has just kept on going. I’m so proud of him. I have no doubt one day he’ll have his own day proclaimed by the mayor.
There were so many present last night, people who have been training for 50-70 years, people like me who have been training for 20 years, and people who just joined the martial arts community in the last year. Young, old, new student, grandmaster, and everything in between – it is inspiring to see how influential martial arts is to the community at large. We are authors, booksellers, instructors, teachers, pastors, lawyers, rotary club members, small business owners, nurses, doctors, surgeons, police officers, cyclists… we are everywhere. We are parents, grandparents, wives, husbands, children, Black, White, Asian, and everything in between, Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic… we are everyone, peppered throughout generations, all over the world.
One final thing I think I should mention – being that this is, after all, a book blog – all of us have read Kung Fu: History, Philosophy, & Technique by David Chow. Most of us also probably own and have perused Dynamic Stretching & Kickingby Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. An interesting thing to note about martial artists in general: many may not read for pleasure, but most are avid students and will read for research. The very definition of Kung Fu is “to perfect through practice” and we will go above and beyond in any field we pursue to be perfect – even if that means being a non-reader and picking up a book to learn how to get better at something. We get our energy from knowledge and training.
Title: I Love Dirt!
(52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature)
Today, we went for a much needed walk in the woods. When the weather is nice, we’re out there five days a week. When the weather is too hot to be nice, we’re out there four days a week. When the weather is obnoxiously freezing cold, wet, and completely unnatural to a born and bred Texan, we hide indoors and rock back and forth holding our hot coffee and teas. Well, not quite, but close. We actually sit by the window and watch the birds eat bits of things we’ve left in the yard, name the squirrels that live in the trees out back, and read stories by the fire burning in the fireplace.
Today, the sun was out for a bit. It wasn’t quite so cold. We needed the woods and we needed it bad. There was cheering involved.
So, we loaded up our trustee going out bag and went for a trek. Tucked inside was our copy of I Love Dirt and as soon as we hit the trails we read from chapter two: Bouquet of Color.
Bouquet of Color is an exercise in finding flowers and identifying how many colors we can see. It’s a purely natural I Spy game.
We discovered more flowers we would call purple than I would have supposed. Lots of purple field pansies, baby blue eyes (that look more purple than blue), and even some butterfly peas. We saw a lot of pointed phlox, but that is categorically considered a ‘red’ wildflower… so maybe we’re a little colorblind because they looked pinkish purple to us.
Of course, there was a lot of yellow in the form of dandelions, but not as many as I would have guessed. We found a lot of dewberry patches sporting their telling white blooms, and took note of where they were so we could come forage berries come summer. Yet, tt seemed Kiddo was still shouting “I see purple!” more than any other phrase.
Click this photo to find out…
Sometimes on the trail we get distracted from whatever task is at hand and just enjoy ourselves. Here she said, “I want to put the sun in my mouth!” I couldn’t resist snapping that picture.
Maybe I read too much dystopian fiction. Maybe I was a little too brainwashed by my very paranoid grandfather as a child. Maybe it’s a reasonable theory… maybe it’s not. Either way, as soon as I read the news about the man who got off the hook after taking an upskirt photo, a story idea presented itself:
It all started with an upskirt photo. A man on a subway sneaked a picture of a girl’s panties under her skirt and got away with it. The media went wild, the girl was indignant, the government smiled.
You see, it perpetuated a ball that had been rolling for decades. The government already had their talons in the news room, swaying stories in their favor here and there. But now – in the name of privacy and public safety – the right to take pictures on subways would be eliminated. In the name of protecting innocent bystanders from having their ‘public privacy’ violated – of course – the government gained more control.
From no camera subways came no camera buses. Then planes. No photographs could be taken by a non-government official or civil servant anywhere where fifty or more gathered.
Suddenly government didn’t just control how a story was told and which stories were the most important, they could eliminate the ability to tell a story at all. Bloggers and documentarians could no longer cover protests that major media groups were not covering. No visual documentation could be made against the wrongs of any government official. It evolved from having no fight against police brutality or civil servants on power to trips to far worse things. The police and military could be sent somewhere at any time to detain or massacre anyone at any time without fear it would be captured on film and shared via social media. In a time of technology and the globalized internet, the government brought the sharing of information and relevant news back to the 1700s.
The worst part was, the people asked for it.
In the name of safety – and privacy – of course.
Maybe that’s a far fetched story premise. Maybe I should branch out and write some dystopian fiction. Maybe not. Maybe we should watch very carefully how this legal situation is handled.
My extroverted self relates. My introverted self laughed at the whiny-ness of it all. I’m a 50/50 crap shoot on whether I’m an introvert or extrovert on any given day. People label me as extroverted (because that’s typically what I am if I’m bothering to be around people), but I always test out as introverted. Yes, people ALWAYS think I’m more flirtatious than I actually am. People always think I *should* be more outgoing if they’ve met me in a scenario where someone needed to be the outgoing one. If I sit back and observe, they think I’m a moody psycho. People almost never think I have any sort of reasonable IQ at all. I’ve known many people who at some point say, “I didn’t know you were smart, I just thought you read a lot of novels.” Moral of the story = I relate to ALL the lists for both introverts and extroverts and therefore feel like I belong to everyone and no one. It’s an odd place to live in society. Maybe I should write a half-bitter blog about it.
Originally posted on Thought Catalog:
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Over the past few years I’ve noticed a growing number of articles exclaiming, “How To Take Care of An Introvert” or “10 Things Everyone Should Understand About Introverts” and while I have no real problem with introverts and introversion, my issue is with the fact that people of the internet seem to have romanticized introversion in a way that turns any possible social impediments a person might have into desirable quirky traits. Not only this, but extroverts are suddenly the bad guys for not understanding introverts or mistreating introverts, etc, etc.
New Etsy Shop from a fun little chick I know. Check it out.
Originally posted on CoffeeScribble:
Remember, I do commission work as well so if you see anything you like on here or my shop just message there and we can figure out how to create what you would like!
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (An Imprint of HarperCollins)
Length: 487 pages
So I finally took that leap onto the [fad] train.
When I worked full time in the bookstore, chatting with customers, recommending books in person, I would have read this as soon as it was a thing for the sole purpose of finding something on the shelves that was similar when we were out of stock. It was published in 2011, the year I left. That last year was also one spent handling more inventory and displays as the store’s SIM than handling people and their whims and desires in the book world. So though I was vaguely familiar with the title I totally missed the need to devour this title in a day and come back with a list of titles to hold over disappointed customers until we could get this one in their hands.
Somewhere along the road in my stay-at-home-mom life I discovered Hunger Games, and fell in love. Though part of a huge fad, Hunger Games was no Twilight Saga or Vampire Diaries series. Hunger Games was epic and beautiful and insanely well written.
So when I saw the preview for the movie Divergent, I thought, ‘What the heck? Let’s see if it will surprise me too.’
Color me surprised – again! I really liked this one. I read it in one day – nearly one sitting. It tends to be easy to do that with contemporary young adult novels, no matter how long they are.
I found Hunger Games more moving, but I was able to relate more to the main character of Divergent more. I’m nervous to see how they portray her in the movie, the book version is a person I feel very in tune to. Katniss Everdean is someone I admire and look up to as a literary character, but whom I share very few similarities. Tris’s story feels as though Roth dropped my mind into her version of dystopia. Tris feels how I feel and tends to react in ways I am known to react. (So far anyway.) Many of her fears were my fears at 16, actually I can’t think of one that is different.
For that it was incredibly enjoyable and easy to get into, and despite this being completely entertaining fluff fiction, I consider the hours spent reading it time well spent.
I’m interested to see how the rest of the books go (it’s a series), as well as the movie adaptation in theaters this month. Although I’m a little nervous that it might be too easy to amp up the cheese factor for the big screen – but I guess I’ll have to take a flying leap onto that fad train as well or I’ll never find out.
…became “figure out how to make my car run by book club tonight” Monday. Sort of.
This involved coercing my husband into taking the battery out – because I hate dealing with the stupid under-the-hood-cover they throw on new cars these days. I am one of those truly-85-in-every-aspect-not-just-books-and-my-FLIP-phone people. In that I was more than happy to work on my car myself… alternators, spark plugs, shocks, struts, the whole shebang… as long as it was from 1987 or older. This business I’ve driving now… well, it might be all nice and cushy and have air conditioning and defrosters that work; and maybe when it rains my feet don’t get wet because there’s an actual floor board, not just a carpet… but I HATE IT. I hate it because as soon as I pop the hood it looks like a Russian space station from a disaster movie set in the future to me, not a car.
So, yes, despite women’s lib and all that – I coerced my husband into unhooking the dead battery for me. I still took it to AutoZone, carried it in myself, and had it replaced (for FREE! It was under warranty, thank goodness). But I still came home, handed my husband the keys to his truck and told him the new battery was where he’d left the old one. Pretty sure he wasn’t too keen on hooking the new one up, but neither was I. I married a mechanic for a reason! I CAN work on my car, but I’d rather read a book.
Or, in this case a literary journal off my personal shelf.
McSweeney’s Autumn 1998
My copy is a 3rd printing from 2006, “Created in darkness by troubled Americans. Printed in Iceland.”
I always like their little subtitles and witticisms. Reminds me of Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail and the majestic moose biting their sister.
I’ve read McSweeney’s before, issues one through three in their entirety to be exact; the rest of the issues I’ve just peeked through. I collect them and have a whole shelf of them all my own to be perused at my leisure and today I picked up issue one again. How can I not when it’s filled with goodies like this:
“Come close [...] because I’m going to tell you a secret. Ready? Here it is: Each and every one of us, and I mean everyone, has a tiny little troll who lives in our heads and controls our thoughts.” – pg. 12
The letter section just kills me. It’s too wonderful.
Neal Pollock’s bits are always fun, too. Like this one from issue one:
“My life is not private any longer, but neither is it really public. Rather, it’s a kind of quasi-private-psuedo-public life that could only exist in the netherworld of the Internet. I have given myself up to the web, and like a beast in a cage that eats meat all the time, the web insatiably demands more.” – The Burden of Internet Celebrity, pg. 22 of “Gegenshein”
All in all, it wasn’t a bad day spent, despite the hiccups. I got to re-read an old essay involving Man-Bats on the Moon by Paul Collins (featured in issue two as well), whom I love, and that is never time badly spent. And yes, I said Man-Bats. On. The. Moon. If I haven’t imparted some sort of desire in you to go discover the glory that is Paul Collins’ knack for discovery weird history, then I have seriously failed as a book blogger over the last few years.
The kiddo and I also ate through nearly an entire crock pot of corn chowder, half a block of Swiss cheese, and a container of cayenne pepper. (Also there was a vat of coffee and a jug of V8 Fusion involved, so you KNOW it was a day well spent.)
Oh, and then, I went to book club. Because we got my car running just fine and in plenty of time. I spent a little under two hours discussing Herodotus with book clubbers. And now, moments after midnight (moments in Tuesday!), my brain kind of hurts a little.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading Jeff Hodge’s Road Trippin’ over the last few months. I’ve been plucking through, taking my time with this delightful memoir, trying to get to know this comic and his world one day at a time. I’m so excited about this former Houstonian, I was able to talk him into doing an interview with me!
1. Describe your book and its inception. What was your muse so to speak?
My book, “Road Trippin…The Life And Times Of A Comic On The Run,” is pretty much a compilation of short stories of incidents that happened to me back when I was out on the road performing as a young comedian in the early 1990’s. Over the years, I would share these stories with friends and fans and people would suggest that I write a book. I never took it seriously until one day in 2011, a buddy of mine, who is a big Chelsea Handler fan suggested I read her book, “My Horizontal Life”. After reading the book, I said to him, every comic have stories like that. He suggested I write a book and so I did and that is how “Road Trippin…The Life And Times Of A Comic On The Run” came about.
2. Many authors are heavily influenced by their environment when they write. Where is your safe space? Do you have mood music?
I am a night person so most of my writing takes place late at night when everyone is asleep and I am up watching the ID Channel. Usually turn on soft music (I prefer love songs because they help me think better) and just get to pecking away on my laptop.
3. How does writing for the stage differ from writing for a book?
Writing for the stage is different from a book in that when I write for the stage, I get feedback immediately as I perform it. With a book, I have to wait until the book comes out. Some one reads it and then I get their feedback. The long wait time can be tedious and frustrating.
4. What do you find to be the easiest of the writing and editing process? What is the hardest for you? (Both in comedy and for publication.)
To me, the writing process is easiest because I just write the words as they come to me in my head. I hate the editing process because by the time the book is actually published, I have read my book 100 million times from reading and re-reading it making all the edits I need to make! (Hahaha)
Road Trippin’ is an accurate representation of just part of my life when I was on the road touring as a comedian back in the early 1990’s. I will be following up Road Trippin’ with more books on other aspects of my life.
6. Did you learn anything about yourself or the world you live in by writing this book (that isn’t included in the book itself)?
Yes. The thing I learned about myself while writing this book is that I have come a long way since I started doing comedy. Sometimes as comedians, we get so focused on defining success as being on a tv show and selling out auditoriums but we lose focus on the journey that we’re on and miss out on a lot of the little things along the way. Writing this book really took me back to venues and places I had performed in earlier in my career that I forgot about after all these years.
7. How have your friends and family reacted to your story content?
My close buddies took the book in stride because they had heard some of the stories in the book over the years. My other friends and family were shocked. They didn’t know one could do all those things on the road as a comedian if you weren’t a star. My mom is still waiting for her copy! (Hahaha)
8. You’re a very different sort of writer than I usually feature on my blog – most are novelists who are passionate for the written word in general. I know you are passionate about comedy and the stage, but are you a reader? What are your favorite books? Your favorite authors?
Yes, I am a reader, but I don’t get to read as much as I would like to. Too busy performing, producing shows, auditioning, writing, etc. I am what you may call a binge reader, I don’t sit down and read all the time, but when I do, I might read 2 or 3 books in one sitting. My favorite kind of books to read are autobiographies, biographies or military or spy thrillers by authors like Tom Clancy.
9. What have you been up to professionally and personally since the publication of this book? What are your future plans?
Since Road Trippin… has been released, I have been actively promoting my book by making appearances at book club meetings, doing interviews and doing shows in the LA area. My future plans include writing a couple follow up books to Road Trippin… that go more in details about my life living in Texas & California.
10. If there is ONE thing you’d want fans to know about you, what would it be?
One thing I want my fans to know about me is that I’m a hard-worker, funny and love to create and entertain.
There was also had a bowl of colored Gold Fish at the table with a pretty nifty sign of the book cover. Each kid got a party bag with an HPB cup inside so they could scoop goldfish from the bowl.
I got the idea for Truffula Tree Cupcakes on Pinterest. It’s chocolate cupcake mix, icing dyed green with food coloring, I added dark green sprinkles for fun, and cotton candy on a kebob stick. Do the cotton candy last minute, I tried to do it too soon and the humidity of Houston caused the cotton candy to crystallize and shrink. We had to buy a second batch of cotton candy and redo it right before the party.