Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Feedback



Feedback

     Arthur submitted a blog that reviewed the latest action-packed movie of the Summer. He really did like the movie and hoped that he did it justice by highlighting some of the better parts of it. He said the leading lady was a good match for the hero and of course the hero’s quest was one of many that his young life had embarked on lately. He also wrote about the way the period costuming was very authentic and how it showed off the feminine side with the long dresses and tiaras for the women.
     Much of the blog was only for the local web pages, but sometimes when word got around, that there is some genuinely meaningful content in a review of either a book or a movie, it will be read beyond the nearby circle of eyes. Time has a way of filing away a lot of text that nobody really thinks was pertinent to anything that was dynamically going on. That fear of obscurity hit home for Arthur a few months back, when he attended a car show, reviewed it and got some negative feedback on it.
     Therefore, now Arthur sticks to movies and books that already have a high approval rating. He feels that in writing about things people have already approved of, that he wouldn’t be risking getting an inferiority writing complex. A friend of his, Jane noticed this and called him in on it. She said that there was a symphony performance that was going to take place in two weeks time and she was encouraging him to go with her and then write a review on his take of it.
     At first he said no to the whole idea and then he reconsidered. He still had the fear that his words would be swept away, under the proverbial literary rug. He waited the two weeks, then on the evening of the symphony performance, he picked Jane up and they drove to the music hall. They found their seats and settled in for the next two hours while the orchestra played Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” There was also some original scores that were being debut that evening, they were going to be parts of the new animation film coming out soon. It was also a glorious night of song because they had a couple of tenors join in on the music.
     The evening ended quite nicely as they headed to the local cafĂ© for a bite to eat.
     “I’m certainly gonna do a good job, critiquing tonight’s performance, by that symphony. I’m really glad you made me come along!”
     “It was my pleasure to have been escorted by you,” Jane said.
     “In time, my courage will work its way up and I’ll be able to really review most anything that I become an audience of, it’s just lately, I’m scared of being taunted be the naysayers.”
     “Hey, did the naysayers have the great time that you had tonight? Did they have the special treat of a live performance by some of the greatest musicians out there. Plus, did they get to hear that famous tenor offer a rendition of a song that will be part of an animated film, due out soon?” Jane asked.
     “You sure got me there, I’d say if any of the naysayers saw any part of the performances tonight, that they would quickly change their minds about the way that they kick around meaningful reviews.”
     “That’s the spirit!” Jane added.
     The following night, Arthur wrote down what was on his mind about the symphony performance from the other night. First of all, the entire orchestra was impeccably dressed. The ladies were dressed in their finest black dresses, some of which had sequins on it. The men were dressed in their black-tie finery. Everyone took direction from the conductor, from the string section, to the wind section, to the percussion people, all the way to the singers.
     The music selection was fast and lively, which dispels rumors that symphony performances are slow and boring. The singers were on their toes and didn’t miss a beat. They were right on cue in every note that they belted out. Arthur also described how the general crowd in the audience was dressed and how everyone gave the orchestra, the conductor and the singers a standing ovation. The two tenors received the most applause.
     Arthur filled in the gaps of his review with some opinions of what he hoped the general public would come away with, based on his perceptions. He openly made a plea for some positive feedback for his review of the symphony. He had never tried that way of connecting with his blogging audience before, but he came right out and said that, the symphony is not for everybody, but that at least people should be willing to go see a similar musical performance at least once in their lifetime.
     In closing, he wrote that he hoped his review would reach the eyes of a wider circle of readers and that given a positive enough response from everybody, that he would do a similar review again very soon. He acknowledged his lady friend Jane for inviting him to the symphony and to not play it so safely when it came to reviewing the different acts in the local city.
     Then the comments started poring in:
     “What kind of reviews are you doing when it comes to music acts. I want to hear what you think of rock n’ roll bands…”
     “I appreciate that you like the symphony, but how about the proverbial book review of a good novel, once in a while?”
     “The symphony sounds like something I would take my mom to… it doesn’t sound that exciting!”
     None of the comments came right out and put down Arthur’s review, but some of them did nearly give him an inferiority complex. That was something that he was scared of experiencing and about halfway through all of the comments, he phoned Jane to ask for help in finding some positive perspective in all of what he got as feedback. Jane quickly did some damage control and told him that what really mattered was that he, Arthur had fun and that he, Arthur would probably watch a symphony performance again, and finally that he, Arthur was at the helm of his blogging reviews and that if he showed any signs of weakness from an inferiority complex in his writing, people would bite back in their comments.
     Arthur knew that Jane was right in all that she told him, so off he went to the bookstore, oblivious to everything else that people were saying about his symphony review and bought himself a novel to read and critique. Time had a way of healing old wounds, especially ones that affect our egos, because although they don’t show any visible battle scars they are nature’s way of testing our mettle. In reality, Arthur is the boss of his writing and no one could have appreciated more the gift that Jane gave him in finding the courage to review things other than popular books and movies and that although those two types of reviews are what he falls back on, in order to reach a wider circle of readers, sometimes you have to go across the pond to find things to review about.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Travel



Travel

     Cassandra was going out of town and the girl who was going to house sit for her, asked her if she could label things around the house. Cassandra of course, wanted to comply, so she used her label maker (the one whose labels could be easily peeled off) to print out some labels.

     She started with the home office. She labeled the desk adjacent to the computer, to be the ‘main desk.’ Within the desk, she labeled a pouch to house ‘extra pencils.’ She also had a pouch container for ‘erasers,’ ‘paperclips’ and ‘bookmarks.’ Then she labeled the closet within the home office to be the ‘main home office closet.’ Next, she had a reference table/desk, that she labeled as such. On that desk, she had a group of books and on one of the bookends, she put the label ‘reference books.’ In between those bookends were dictionaries, even a set of current encyclopedias.

     She labeled the main computer in the home office as ‘the family computer.’ Inside the home office closet was a bin labeled ‘copy paper for the printer.’ In there were also rolled up poster tubular containers that Cassandra labeled ‘rolled up movie posters.’

     Cassandra purposefully skipped labeling some of the other things in the home office, in favor of moving into the kitchen. On the door of one of the kitchen cabinets, she labeled it ‘pot and pans.’ She labeled the glass door to one of the cupboards as ‘drinking glasses.’ She labeled another kitchen cabinet to have ‘casserole dishes’ and ‘cake platters’ as well as ‘pie platters.’

     Next, she moved onto the hallway and labeled the side closet as the ‘hallway closet.’ Within the closet, she labeled many of the shelves as ‘towel shelves.’ She quickly went back to the kitchen and labeled some jars filled with ‘chocolate chips’ and ‘peanut butter chips’ that were in the refrigerator. She then moved onto the nearby utility closet and labeled the handle of the mop as ‘the swivel mop,’ one of the buckets as the ‘mop bucket,’ and the shelf where some rags were kept as ‘the cleaning rags.’

     Then Cassandra took a break from labeling and decided to go over her to do list. On this list, she wrote that she still had to go to the hair salon for her bi-monthly trim, color and highlights. She had to send flowers to her mother. She also had to remember to pay the gardener and stock the refrigerator for her house sitter Jasmine. She would only be gone for a week, but Cassandra wanted to make sure that everything of importance was taken into consideration. She just really wanted to be organized.

      Cassandra categorized her morning as ‘hectic.’ She went to the nearest coffee shop and sat there and made conversation with one of her neighbors as she waited for her blended mocha drink to be made. Her and her neighbor talked about property taxes and he reminded her that they would due to be paid very soon.

     Gary said, “Cas, can you believe it? My mother paid of the mortgage to our house and yet there are still property taxes to be paid. Personally, I thought we would be free and clear…”

     “Gary, you are so lucky that it’s just the property tax that you have to pay, I just recently re-financed and so my monthly mortgage is going to be for the next twenty years yet.”

     Cassandra had ordered two blended mocha coffees, and so as she sat there drinking one while she was conversing with Gary, she brought the other one home with her, so that she could enjoy it as a reward to herself later on that morning. She summed up her coffee shop time with Gary as a ‘glad-to-have-gotten-out-of-the-house-moment.’

     After putting the blended mocha coffee into her refrigerator, next she drove to the gift shop to browse their store. No one was in there at that time of the morning. In fact, they had just opened up for the day. Cassandra’s vacation trip was to go see her aunt in Florida, and she didn’t want to go there empty-handed for her aunt and two cousins. She looked around the store. She saw some sundresses that her cousins would like. She and her cousins were roughly the same size, so she seriously thought about buying them each either a sundress or some other warm weather outfit. She was thinking of a hat and some jewelry for her aunt. There was so much to choose from. She wanted to label that moment ‘confusing.’

     Then her cell phone rang. It was Jasmine on the other end.

     “Hi Jasmine, I’m just here at Gifts are Us looking at some stuff, what’s going on with you?”

     “Hi Cas, I wanted to ask you if you had a ride to the airport tomorrow?”

     “I was just going to take the airport shuttle,” Cassandra said.

     “Cas, I can take you and that way, you won’t forget to give me the keys to your house right after I drop you off.”

     “Sure, we could do that. I have to leave the house by 7:30 in the morning. Can you be here by then?”

     “I’ll be there Cas, I’ll see you tomorrow!”

     Jasmine hung up her phone and Cassandra finished her gift buying for her aunt and two female cousins. She ended up buying a few different things, then she went home to finish with her labeling duties.

     Cassandra wrote down some things for Jasmine as a reminder list for her to do during that week. She asked Jasmine to water her rose garden every day and to do some light dusting and vacuuming because her schedule had been so busy that she hadn’t come around to doing it herself. She wanted to describe that list-making experience as ‘strictly-adhering-to-what-has-to-be-done.’

     The next morning, Jasmine was at Cassandra’s door by 7a.m. They loaded up Jasmine’s car with all of the luggage and then off, they drove to the airport. It would be a non-incidental flight from California to Florida. During the flight, Cassandra enjoyed snacks and a light lunch. She even watched a romantic comedy movie. It was a smooth flight and their plane touched down in no time at all.

     Her aunt and cousins met her at the terminal and they all drove home to her aunt’s house excited to catch up with what was new with them.

     “Cas, Jill is graduating from college next month and Cathy here, has just started working at the local hospital. As for me, since my retirement, I’ve just been taking it easy” Aunt May said.

     “Well, yay! for all of you. It’s so nice to finally be here. I can’t wait to get settled in.”

     “Of course dear, but first we’re gonna take you out to lunch at a favorite diner of ours. It’s called Food on My Mind and they have the biggest portions this side of the Mississippi. Oh, you are going to be stuffed full.”

     Jill and Cathy pointed landmarks out to Cassandra during the trip to the diner. They all had big portions of hot dogs and hamburgers, milkshakes and cheesecake for desert.

     When they got to Aunt May’s house, Cassandra showered them with gifts – a sundress for each of her cousins and a California shirt and shorts outfit for her aunt. That summed up Cassandra’s week of adventure and she labeled it as ‘I’m-a-travelling-gal.’



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Marion's Computer Argus



     Marion had a yellow lollipop stuck to her hair. Argus, her mobile computer, suggested that she take a picture of it for her PlaceBook.com fans. Argus was a small cube with a plastic handle on top.

     “Argus, what would I do without you? And you’re right, folks might get a good laugh out of seeing that lollipop stuck to my head,” Marion mused.

     Marion used a soapy wash cloth and got the lollipop out of her hair (much to her relief).

     Marion wanted to publish a book of people and places around town in the style of the Internet site PlaceBook.com. She wanted to have the pictures set in each page in different angles with photographic corners attached to them. She had written various articles on people in the city she lived in, and now she wanted to feature those stories in a scrapbook-style-book.

     She took Argus with her to the coffee shop and snapped a few pictures of the place and posted this caption under the pictures:

     “Hi everyone, this is where I hang out practically every morning. I usually have a bagel or two, with cream cheese and some coffee to go with it.”

     After an hour or two, she took Argus to the flower shop and took several pictures of the different flower arrangements. The caption under these pictures was:

     “Isn’t it a marvelous day? Imagine seeing a whole slew of bouquets of these flowers at your doorstep first thing in the morning?”

     Argus laughed because he had a good sense of humor.

     Marion then, walked around the block and here again she took pictures of the houses and the trees that lined them. Argus interrupted her reverie:

     “Marion, you have a blog to write this morning, please don’t forget about it,” Argus pointed out.

     “Don’t worry Argus, I’m still sorting my thoughts out,” Marion responded.

     When Marion reached her home, she donned on a comfortable shirt and sweat pants with socks and started to type away at her computer keyboard.

     “Argus, please use your WiFi connection with this stand-alone computer to record a copy of this blog that I am currently typing,” Marion requested of Argus.

     Marion’s blog was about a student rally at the local college to build a new bookstore within a revamped University Center. The Center was going to have a facelift, and was going to include a pizzeria and sandwich counter. The students wanted to make their books and supply buying experiences to be happy ones by giving them a larger area in which to maneuver in.

     “Argus, please spellcheck and seal it off with my signature and send a copy to the Dean of the University. Then post it as a regular literary contribution to the blog spot forum,” she said.

     “Will do, also would you like me to order lunch from Luigi’s? And if so, will it be your usual Wednesday lunch order? It is after all, Spaghetti Wednesday! Would you like to substitute ground turkey meatballs in place of the beef ones?” Argus inquired.

     “Yes, to all of your lunch questions, and ask them if they deliver,” Marion requested.

     “Will do, M’am.”

     “Argus, we need greeting cards for a few family events coming up soon. Can you bring up some sites on the computer where I can customize each card with a picture of a bouquet of pink and white roses?” Marion was excited about this particular greeting card project of hers.

     “Marion, the Dean at the University has emailed you. You might want to read it, because it’s marked urgent,” Argus said.

     Marion brought up her email browser and clicked open the Dean’s email. The gist of the email was that the University was experiencing budget cuts and it was questionable whether they could foot the bill to enlarge the bookstore. However, a committee had been formed to look into the matter and the Dean hoped that the matter would be resolved in a timely matter and that everyone, all around, would be happy with the final decision.

     “Argus, please send a quick reply to the Dean to thank him for the update on the University Bookstore situation.”

     An hour and a half later, the delivery man from Luigi’s showed up at Marion’s doorstep with her spaghetti and turkey meatballs. After finishing off her hearty lunch, she began to plan out this photo journal book that she was writing. The format she knew, would be like PlaceFriend.com, with the photos in photographic corners and branded with wacky captions. Then Argus interrupted her train of thought.

     “Marion, you forgot to take your vitamins this morning, perhaps you should do so now,” Argus chimed in.

     “Thanks Argus, where would I be without you?”

     Marion contributed articles to Leah, a friend of hers at the local Women’s Journal. Anything, from cupcake recipes that she had experimented in baking, to reviews and ratings of the newest books, music and movies were fair game for article contributions.

     “Argus, call the library and ask whoever is available to compile some women’s magazines, so that I can research the latest articles on exercise trends,” Marion requested of Argus.

     “Duly noted M’am, I’ll get on it right away!”

     “Argus, thank you for getting the website for customizable greeting cards up on my screen. I have the perfect graphic of the pink and white roses that I will upload in the blank space of each greeting card,” Marion said.

     “Marion, you can also send the cards directly from that website,” Argus helpfully commented.

     “Thank you Argus, I shall take them up on that. I believe that you have my sister’s address on file, along with the other recipients?” Marion asked.

     “Yes, I have populated all of the blank spaces with the pertinent names and corresponding addresses. All you have to do is to press the purchase button to finalize the sale,”Argus instructed.

     Marion did what Argus told her to do and the purchase transaction went through without a hitch. She decided to phone her friend Leah at the Women’s Journal offices to ask if she could rummage through some of the pictures that had never been in print before.

     “Of course, you can look through them…feel free to use any of them for the book that you’re compiling,” Leah said.

     The offices were walking distance from her house, so she put on her tennis shoes and trekked over to the Women’s Journal Headquarters.

     Leah said hi to her. She led Marion to their basement that acted as a repository of bins for the extra photographs. Some of them were of landmarks, others of the ocean, others of the sky scrapers, still others were of monuments. Marion already had some thoughts on some of the creative captions that she was going to tag some of these pictures with.

     Leah also showed her how to bring up some background designs for her scrapbook-style-photo-journal-book. In return for all of her generosity, Marion treated Leah to a casual dinner along the busy boulevard.

     In retrospect, Marion had never thought to ask Leah about the use of the photographs. She credits Argus, for keeping her on her toes.

     Marion’s next project was to support the University Bookstore cause. In the following week, a petition was supposed to be circulated to officially make a request for the expansion of the University Bookstore. Argus made sure that Marion didn’t miss her opportunity to put her John Hancock on the petition.

     After many weeks, Argus had done some Internet research and he verbally told Marion, that the University Bookstore, would indeed be expanded.

     All’s well that ends well…