Throwback Thursday: All-Star Converses

When I’m so inclined, I will catch a rerun or two of “That ’70s Show” to relive my youth and see how close they come to getting it right.

Yes, I grew up with hot pants, tie-dye shirts and platform shoes, which by the way I should have kept. Who knew they’d be back in this millennium?

I grew up watching the Knicks (when they were worth watching) and stars like Walt Frazier, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, Bill Bradley (now Senator Bill) and Dave DeBusschere.

But when I really want to relive my ’70s days, all I need is a pair or two of All-Star Converses. Oh yes, I’m a Converse girl!

Back in the day, I wore them until the soles were hole ridden, the color faded or until my mother found them and threw them away! And, I am–along with countless others–dedicated to carrying on the genius and comfort of salesman and basketball player Chuck Taylor’s mega endorsement.

So, I’m starting to rebuild my collection with the four pair pictured above. And my eyes are focused on three more pairs: the pink, purple and brand-new all black leopard pattern.  There’s even the Wonder Woman pattern!

A while back my daughter and I saw the movie, “The Judge,” and afterwards wouldn’t you know–a showdown ensued–in the middle of the parking lot–between Converse or Vans!

Who won you might ask? I’ll let you decide. 🙂

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Volunteers: the true superheroes …

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”
John Ruskin

Most of you know me as an aspiring romance author. But from 9 to 5, I dash into my car and come out wearing my day job disguise as a volunteer and employee programs coordinator. One of the best things about my job is that I come in contact with a group of amazing people. Volunteers.

Volunteers have a special place in my heart. They’re ordinary people doing extraordinary things not because they have to, but because they choose to.

For the past six years, Anderson Cooper has done a segment called “CNN Heroes of the Year,” where the global public chooses to recognize 10 extraordinary people who devote their lives to making the world a better place. A recent announcement on CNN revealed the 10 heroes for 2012.

I love this segment. It’s touching, and makes you remember the good in the world–not just the horrific, the upsetting and the ugly.

I’m fortunate to come in contact with many of these extraordinary beings on a weekly, if not daily, basis and my life is richer for it. Although I volunteer on a couple of non-profit boards, my efforts seem minimal compared to the CNN heroes and a few extraordinary people I know personally.

One such volunteer rescues Labrador Retrievers from all parts of the country, and he’s nicknamed, “The Dog Whisper.” He has such a way with dogs, that the most frightened and abused dog, trusts him almost immediately.

Another volunteer, reminisce of Sally Field, in “Norma Rae” and Morgan Freeman, in “Lean On Me” led the charge to rid her neighborhood of drugs, and crime to provide a safe place for children to play, study and live.

One woman, who as an unbelievable rapport with children, donates her time by helping them deal with the grief experienced by the death of a parent.

These are just a few of the amazing people I meet during the course of my job, and I’m honored to know them.

As with the volunteers I meet everyday, I wanted to pay tribute to all these heroes in some way. So sharing this story with all of you seemed like a good way to start.

Batman, Superman and The Avengers step aside and meet the real superheroes.

TGIF: Writing, Finding Nemo and Richard Gere

Do you ever noticed that after a four-day workweek (that happens because of a holiday on Monday), you’re exhausted because you’ve crammed five days of work into four?

Since Labor Day, I’ve been trying to catch up and it has taken me until today to feel like I’ve accomplished something. Thank goodness the next big holiday isn’t until Thanksgiving (I can’t include Veterans Day because I don’t have off). I’ll be almost normal by then.

Anyway, Happy Friday!

The weekend is looking good. I have my writer’s group on Saturday. If you haven’t joined a group, think about doing so. It’s the best thing you can do for your writing career. I belong to an amazing group: Romance Writers of American-NJ Chapter (NJRW). I look forward to each meeting because I know we’re going to learn something different or we’ll learn to look at things in a different way. Our program this Saturday is on pitching your book and honing your PR skills to promote your work.

Finding Nemo 3D hit the big screen, and although I’m not a huge animated movie lover (I do love Toy Story though), I’m thinking about seeing Finding Nemo, particularly since I never sat through the original one. I may go with my daughters and grandson. Watching my grandson juggle those huge 3D glasses on his little nose is worth the price of the movie!

I really want to check out Arbitrage, the new thriller starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. Of course, I’ll be taking mental notes. Something may trigger an idea for a book.

I loved them in “Shall We Dance” and their on-screen chemistry is great. Jennifer Lopez also starred in the movie and played the dance instructor. This clip is one of my favorite scenes in the movie because they danced the sexy tango!

Hope you have something good planned—even if it’s just kicking back and relaxing. Whatever you do, make sure you leave time for you.

See you Monday.

When in doubt …consult your crystal ball or (critiquing partner!)

As you may recall from a previous post, there are a few ways that I try to get over “writer’s block.”

Another way to get over the “non-writing hurdle” is to talk to your critiquing partner. If you don’t have one, I strongly recommend getting one. My critiquing partner suggested going back to a story that I wrote a few years ago, and see if it will work as a novella or short story.

Brilliant idea!

Sometimes, when we’re writing a full-length novel, and particularly the sequel of another book, it’s hard to get the thoughts to flow properly. It probably doesn’t help if you’re still trying to publish the first one. (I know it is with me as of late.)

We’re usually so close to our projects, we tend to miss what someone from the outside, looking in, might see. Your critiquing partner is the best person to offer advice, because they may be going through the exact same problem.

However, working on an unrelated project, can get your creative juices flowing and you may actually be able to finish with a minimal amount of angst.

I will go back to my second book, a sequel. But for now, my novella, which takes place in Puerto Rico …yum!) will keep me moving forward and keep writing top of mind.

Today is August 17 and the premiere of “The Expendables 2.” I’m psyched because I as mentioned, I will be taking mental notes of all the bad ass characters. Hey, you never know what might work in a WIP!

Have a good weekend. See you Monday.

Television commercials and the abnormal dependency on their power

It’s Friday. It’s been a long week and I need to ramble a bit. So, here it goes.

Last night, I’m clicking through the channels and spot Old Navy’s back-to-school commercial featuring Jennie Garth, Jason Priestly and Luke Perry from the ‘90s show Beverly Hills 90210.

Whoa. Just bring in Shannen Doherty and it’s a homecoming. (By the way, Gabrielle Carteris, who played Brandon’s (Jason) stalker/admirer, Andrea Zuckerman is in another Old Navy commercial, still stalking I might add.)

In addition, Old Navy’s campaign reunites Mayim Bialik and Joey Lawrence, former siblings in the show, “Blossom.” Another ’90s show.

Are these actors planning comebacks? Are there any fall shows on tap featuring them? On the other hand, the snarky me thinks, they need money. (But who doesn’t?)

Okay, now the old brain really starts to rattle.

We all know that hundreds, maybe thousands of actors and actors have graced (should I use that term, loosely?) the small screen doing commercials before making it big.

I wanted to recall some of the famous faces who did commercials prior to their big break. So, I did what I love doing almost as much as writing: I Googled.

I ran across an article from Woman’s Day magazine, which featured 12 Old Commercials Featuring Now-Famous Stars. Very cool article with video clips.

Most of the commercials listed were a surprise, and quite cool to watch. However, I do vaguely recall Bruce Willis in a Seagram’s commercial.

Okay, so I refer back to the Old Navy commercial with the Beverly Hills 90210 gang, and start to realize (for the hundredth time) how embedded this medium is in our society. So much so, that even actors can’t get away from them.

For actors, commercials are a paying gig, something to add to a resume, and a means for celebrities to get one’s feet wet or come in from grazing in greener pastures.

Television commercials may promote a wide variety of goods, services and ideas, and influence what we consume, and how we behave. But they clearly possess an abnormal power to satisfy the need for celebrity types and athletes (can’t forget them) to stay in our lives for years, decades, centuries. Hmm …but then again, there are reruns.

Enough rambling. I’m going to Old Navy. Enjoy your weekend.

Why Olympian medalists and writers could be BFFs …

While enjoying the 2012 Olympic games, and all the wonderful achievements, I became a little nostalgic and in serious need of inspiration.

So, I decided to do some digging to find out what type of history was made on August 8.  Immediately, I was reminded of two events: the 1984 Olympics Games in Los Angeles, which I watched with intensity, and the achievements of one Olympian in particular, Carl Lewis.

On August 8, 1984, Lewis won his 3rd (200m) of 4 gold medals in the Summer Olympics.  I remember being glued to my television, watching history unfold as my two daughters (then, ages 4 and 2) sat nearby, playing. 

I didn’t answer the phone or the door because at that moment, nothing was more spectacular than watching Carl cross that finish line. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I wanted to celebrate his victory because I know what it’s like to want something so bad, you can see it in front of you.

Some of his other achievements during that Olympic year include:

  • August 11, 1984 – Carl Lewis duplicates Jesse Owens’ 1936 feat, wins 4 Olympic track gold metals
  • August 6, 1984 – Carl Lewis wins 2nd (long jump) of 4 gold medals in Summer Olympics
  • August 4, 1984 – Carl Lewis wins gold medal in 100-meter dash at LA Summer Olympics

Wow.  He was fierce. Dedicated.  And probably, at times felt very much alone.  Sound familiar?

Every four years, I look forward to watching the Olympics.  It’s a sort of “kindred spirit” period for me. Through the games I learn about people who know firsthand, what it means to sacrifice a life considered “normal” to pursue their destiny and their dreams. Many of these fantastic athletes negate friends, family, relationships, movies, books and yes, dessert, to stay the course that may lead them to Olympic gold, silver or bronze.

If not for the Olympics, we may have never heard of the obstacles and challenges experienced by Olga Korbut, Nadia Comăneci, Mary Lou Retton, (also a 1984 winner), Katarina Witt, Shaun White, Usain Bolt,  Michael Phelps,  Rafael Nadal, Gabby Douglas, Sally Pearson and Florence Griffith Joyner (affectionately remembered as Flo Jo).

While the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was filled with controversy and boycotts, it was still an inspiring and memorable event. And the issues surrounding the games, didn’t take away from the achievements of those who competed. In the end, it was still a testament to those athletes who—day in, and day out—pour their souls into their craft—their calling.

Just like writers.

To Carl Lewis and Olympians past and present, I salute you. Maybe one day we can shoot the breeze, talk shop.

To writers enduring rejection letters, submitting your work, revising your manuscripts, and waiting to review your first or fiftieth galley, I applaud you. We’ll get there.

An Affair to Remember: I Met Joe Black in Australia and he became my Bodyguard

If you haven’t guessed from the blog’s title, I’m a movie nut.

Okay, let me start over. (Remember, confession is good for the soul.) I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic.

Ahh …just breathe. But hold on, there’s more.

This condition has been perfected over the years. When I was a pre-teen, I kept a notebook (five one-subject brown notebooks to be exact) of all the movies I’d ever watched, rated them and noted (with stars, in ink) whether or not I would watch them again.  My records were so meticulous that Siskel and Ebert, now Roeper, would be jealous. Yeah, I know no life. (Hmmm …I wish I knew where my old notebooks were.) 

But later on, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. For most of us, movies—like books—are a means of escape. Movies often deliver messages, influence behavior, spark reflection and literally change lives.  

Now, that’s a powerful medium.

I also find that movies serve as a vital and (wonderful) source of information and research. I recently blogged about my favorite fictional heroes and heroines of the silver screen who influence my writing. However, there are a few movies that also get me in the mood to write romance. They have a way of continuing to make me believe in happily ever after. (I also have to keep a box of tissues nearby.)

I tried to limit my list to the top 27 movies for writing romance and I can’t tell you how difficult that was.  Why 27 movies?  Because everyone always does the top 25, and I wanted to stay below 30. 🙂

So, here’s my list of favorite romantic movies. Each are special and have had an influence on my writing, and in some respects, my life. Perhaps there’s a few here on your list of favorites. If so, tell me about a favorite scene or line or why you could watch it over and over again.

  1. The Way We Were, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand
  2. Somewhere in Time, Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour,
  3. Australia, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman
  4. An Affair to Remember, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr
  5. Bridges of Madison County, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep
  6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton
  7. The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta Jones
  8. Sabrina (remake) Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear
  9. Someone Like You, Hugh Jackman, Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear
  10. Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt, Julia Ormond, Aiden Quinn
  11. Meet Joe Black, Brad Pitt, Claire Forlani
  12. Love Jones, Larenz Tate, Nia Long
  13. The Notebook, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams
  14. The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston
  15. The Wedding Date, Dermot Mulroney, Debra Messing
  16. Romancing the Stone, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner
  17. A Walk in the Clouds, Keanu Reeves,Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
  18. The American President, Michael Douglas, Anette Bening
  19. Message in a Bottle, Kevin Costner, Robin Wright
  20. The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez
  21. Pretty Woman, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts
  22. Sweet Home Alabama, Josh Lucas, Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey
  23. You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan
  24. City of Angels, Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan
  25. Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Dougray Scott, Drew Barrymore
  26. Hitch, Will Smith, Eva Mendes
  27. Out of Africa, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep

Uh oh it’s only the beginning of the week and I feel a movie weekend coming on. Better go stock up on popcorn. 😉