Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rehab, Schmehab

This just in: Jesse James has checked himself into REHAB. Seriously? First Tiger (okay, not FIRST, but you get the point), now Jesse James. So now, every time someone has an affair, we should assume therein lies a sex addiction? Every time someone screws up royally, or does something they know they should absolutely not do, they must have a “problem” – there must be a “name” for that problem, and it will take a week (heck, maybe a month) at a spa, possibly even an appropriately named pill, to cure it?

Everyone these days looks for an excuse, someone or something else to blame for their own decisions. When did we decide that we don’t need to hold ourselves accountable for our own actions?

C’mon folks. How big a collective fool are we? If that’s the case, then I am closing my MacBook right now and heading off to my own Rehab – shopping addict’s rehab, that is. I admit it. I can’t go a full week without at least logging onto Ann Taylor, J Crew, Gap, DSW…you name it, I’ve got a bookmark for it. I know I shouldn’t. I know I’ve promised myself that I won’t. I know that my bank account is begging me to STOP ALREADY! And yet, I am still unable to pass up that perfect pair of Lucky Brand jeans that – for the LOVE OF GOD – are on SALE – Today Only! How could I NOT? What right do I have to TURN AWAY from a deal like that? And oh, the SHOES! Don’t even get me started!

Let me get this straight: a day’s worth of shopping followed by a half-hearted apology and a week at a spa on the coast? Hmmm…somebody’s on to something here…

Hi, my name is Beth and I’m a shopaholic.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rap Lyrics I love (no, seriously!)...

My oldest son, Connor, introduced me to a new song by Fort Minor the other day. I usually play along - sometimes I like the song, sometimes not. But rarely do I enjoy the actual lyrics. I must admit though, that this one is totally stuck in my head. I was sitting at a red light this morning singing along, and realized that the bass coming from my car was attracting attention. Oops. I promptly turned it down and donned my sunglasses.

The song is "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor. The chorus:

10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will. 5% pleasure, 50% pain. And 100% reason to remember the name.

I love this! And so true about anything in life worth fighting for. I've come up with a revised version for us writers:

5% luck, 50% skill, 20% concentrated power of will. 10% timing, 15% pain. And 100% reason to remember the name. Yes, I took out the pleasure. There are those writers who might say the writing IS the pleasure.

B.S. The pleasure comes from the recognition, the contracts, the publishing credits, the by lines. Am I right?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Award...fact or fiction?

To the inimitable Linda O'Connell, I offer a heartfelt "thank you!" for bestowing upon me the above prestigious award.

As I understand it, this great honor is a license to be creative which, as all writers know, is akin to putting a Labrador Retriever in a room full of rawhide and commanding him to "Chew!"

Rules of acceptance require me to list seven wild and wacky little known facts about myself, at least one of which must be true (all may be true if I decide to let you in on my deep, dark secrets). You, buttercup, will have to decide for yourself which, if any, of the facts below are crazy truths or creative fiction:

1. When I was 17 (before cell phones!) I got lost driving alone out to a friend's farm house for a party. Scared out of my mind, and puffing on cigarette after cigarette, I almost drove into a swamp, backed out of a corn field and knocked on a trailer door at midnight. A grumpy old man in a wife-beater answered the door, holding a shot gun. I calmly told him I was lost, and he shut the door in my face. I found a black top road and stood in the middle of it waving my arms above my head frantically until a union worker on his way to work stopped and offered to lead me to the nearest highway.
2. At the age of three, I visited Universal Studios with my family. I was standing outside the men's restroom waiting for my dad & older brother, when a young Robert Redford walked by, patted me on the head and smiled before continuing on his way. I don't think my mom washed my hair for a week...
3. I saw Billy Squire in concert at the American Theater. He was dressed head to toe in pink leather. He saw me dancing on my table and pulled me up onto the stage. "Stroke Me" still brings tears to my eyes...
4. When I was 20 years old, I danced on the bar at a local sports bar, and had dollar bills stuffed in my jeans
5. Walking down Rush street in Chicago, I ran right into David Schwimmer and another actor (the first year "friends" was on tv). I didn't know his "real" name, so I just pointed at him and said "Hey! You're ROSS!" He rolled his eyes and kept walking.
6. The first time I flew overseas, I sat next to a very attractive guy a few years older than me. Unfortunately, I got very motion sick going through some turbulence, and went through four airline "puke" bags. Despite my unattractive behavior, my seat-mate asked me to dinner.
7. I've edited two books by local authors (a "how to" on sales, and a history of Ballwin).
Tag, Jean. You're It! Cut and paste the image and instructions to your blog and pass it on.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Treasure in Atlanta

Browsing through an antique store (aptly named “Classy Clutter”) in Atlanta today, I came across a typewriter. It was a 1920 Remington Portable with solid, round keys. I am a huge fan of antique typewriters. And first edition books. Journals and fountain pens. Anything to do with writing, really. I think I’m much more in love with the craft than it is with me. But that’s a story for another time. I have a dream of pounding out my first novel on round keys such as these. The clunk-ca-clunk cadence is so romantic to me. It has a “dark and stormy night” quality all its own.
I love the way a typewriter feels under my hands. The unmistakable outline of each letter, wrapped in a perfect circle. I love what a typewriter produces. Not the mind that creates what ends up on the page (although that, too, is a dreamy wonder to me), but literally, what it produces. The black letters that, if the buttons are not pressed just so, will create uneven print, the ink lighter by degrees in various curves and lines on the page.
Running my hands over its solid lines, I imagine a writer resting his own travel-weary hands on this one. Head bent, eyes closed, willing his fingers to capture the thoughts in his mind. I picture late nights in his one-room apartment over the corner grocery store pounding out short stories to sell to the local paper - light reading to offset the heavy economic news of the times (such as it is 90 years later...).
The sticker price asked for a reasonable $65. The sales clerk came down to $50. This isn’t the one I’ll use to write that novel. But it will have a place of honor in my living room/library. The worn case and broken leather handle a testament to its slow decay from over almost a century of bent heads and nimble fingers.
And so my collection begins.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

School really IS fun!

When I was 28 years old, I went back to school for the Bachelor’s degree I had only earned about 20 credits towards when I quit school to work full time. Then comes love, then comes marriage… well, you get the picture. The good news is that by the time I did go back, I really did know exactly what I wanted to do. A degree in Professional Writing (under the English department) at Webster University allowed me to study all the writing disciplines I could; sports journalism, entertainment journalism, business writing, creative writing… my dream education!

In my Senior year, I took a class called Writing for Advertising with a very talented writer and fantastic instructor named Sally Howald (props to you, Sally – you buy the first round next happy hour). Anyway, she had us write print ads, tvs spots and radio spots for various fictional and non-fictional brands. I was going through old files on my laptop today and found a few of them.

Like this one I wrote for a fictional preschool:

Title: “The Screaming Toddler”

Medium: :60 Radio

Producer: Beth M. Wood

Educated Man (in quiet voice): And now…a special warning brought to you by the educators at Smarty Pants Academy.

Sfx: toddler screaming/crying


Educated Man (in quiet voice): According to educational psychologist Maurice Fisher, "If the gifted child is not stimulated in infancy, preschool and early elementary education, they may lose their potential.

Screaming Toddler: STUPID CAR! AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME GO! NO! NO! NO! STUPID HEAD!

Sfx: sniffling, snotty nose

Educated Man (in quiet voice): “Age 3-5 is a critical period in which children develop their brains to their maximum ability.”

Screaming Toddler: DUMMY HEAD! AHHHHHHH!

Educated Man (in quiet voice): Send your little angel to Smarty Pants Academy. Think of how they might turn out if you don’t.

And this one, a :60 fictional spot for Goodwill:

Client: Goodwill Industries

Title: Capone’s Hat

Medium: :60 second radio spot

Producer: Beth M. Wood

Gangster: The year…1929. The head…Al Capone.

The three sounds of music were jazz, jazz and jazz. And the king was Duke Ellington.

Young Male: Hang on, you’re Al Capone?

Gangster: No, his hat.

Young male: His hat?

Gangster: That’s right. The wide-brim, black fedora.

Young Male (sarcastically): Your Capone’s hat.

Ga ngst er: Gangster: Okay, fine. I’m not actually Capone’s hat. But I am a wide-brim fedora. And at Goodwill you can find me, and a lot more vintage stuff from the 20s. Like those flapper dresses the dames used to wear in my day…

Young male: Dames?

Gangster: And stuff from the 30s and 40s…gabardine suites and sling backs. At Goodwill you can find Capri pants and leather jackets from the 50s and 60s, bellbottoms and ponchos from the hippy 70s…you get the picture.

Young Male: So, Goodwill has all those cool vintage clothes that are so expensive at the mall?

Gangster: That’s right, kid. Goodwill has the real McCoy, too – no fake vintage here. And Goodwill has nine locations in the St. Louis area. So scram to your nearest Goodwill store for the hippest vintage clothing…

Young Male: Scram?

Gangster: Scram, get lost, head out… to Goodwill.

Goodwill. Make it your own.

No wonder I miss being in school so much! I’ve been giving a great deal of thought lately to going back for my Masters in Creative Writing. I wonder if it’d be half as much fun...