October 29, 2012

Land of Make Believe

Sometimes when I write here, I feel like a Johnny come lately. My children are teenagers. I've been there, did that, folded the paper, pasted the project.

I am a "mommy blogger" (despite my aversion the label)... I write about my offspring and the skills required to parent them. I resist the pull to grab all my younger blog friends and say...'Get over it, do your best and rely on me to confirm that". I want to be the "senior parent". Except for the part where I confess I don't know squat.

At a certain point, we are required to throw up our hands to the winds. Or maybe the gods of parenting. Or someting  We just accept that we've hit that place. We have done our best and at this point, our job is to observe. 

Last Friday was my firstborn's last halftime performance ever. Greatness, as defined by high school is finite. That doesn't mean I won't take it. I am beaming. They were glorious.

But I want to focus more on their song choices and the reason this year was a touching season beyond my personal bias. Barely. The day our marching band performed at the local fair, I was able to visit the fair before the performance. We had a decadent lunch of fried food with a table of folks from a local retirement village. I told them during lunch that our HS band would be performing soon, that was why we were there. 

We went to the show in the grandstand... and on the track, were our friends from lunch ready to watch the show. 

Within moments of the show starting, one of their aides encouraged one of the residents to get up and dance. I watched them trip the light fantastic and enjoy the bands while I sat in the stands. Humbly, but tearfully, watching a show that bridged young and old, strong and weak, worker and employer.

I watched them dance with joy. 

It was no Land of Make Believe. 

It exists. 
Join me. You're always welcome.

October 16, 2012

PBS and the Big Picture

I would like to take a few minutes to offer some personal thoughts on this Big Yellow Herring known as the Republican plan to cut funding for public television and radio AKA firing Big Bird, while the Democrats want to save him and his friends on Sesame Street and the rest of the Public Broadcast Shows.

Both sides are being played like a fiddle in this game.

The amount of the budget that finances public radio and television is minuscule compared to our national expenses. But just to keep things interesting, here is a different way of looking at it.

Children do not NEED television to learn anything. Nor do adults. We need books, newspapers, and perhaps even that real live experience of getting out and about and meeting the people who will shape our future. Go to a rally, attend a town meeting, listen to it happen live.

While I am no fan of commercial television, I also am  hard pressed to find programming, even public television, that isn't selling something. If you think that PBS doesn't sell things, I refer to 1997's rush on Tickle Me Elmo dolls that were being resold for as much as $1500, when there was a shortage during the holiday season on the toy.

Meanwhile, we fight over whether or not the government should fund PBS and our nation divides itself further.

It is not about whether our children will learn to read or not without the help of supposedly non-commercialized letters and numbers that sing and dance their way into their heart with fuzzy cute puppets. It is not about guarding our little ones from consumerism. If that were the case, there would not be consumer goods plastered with the Sesame Street characters, there would not be theme parks to spend spend spend money, there would not be traveling shows, and there would not be potty time apps to keep track of all the sewage surrounding this nonsense.

It's not about whether we need television, or whether that television is selling us something or not. It's about finding the right sort of president to lead us forward. It's about finding someone who will represent all of the United States, not just a vocal minority. It's about caring enough to exercise our right to vote and not flushing that vote away. We don't need an app for that.

October 14, 2012

Cleveland Boo at the Zoo & Madagascar 3 event

In honor of the Blu-Ray/DVD release of MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED, Radio Disney will be be on-site at this year’s Boo at the Zoo event at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Saturday, October 20th from 6PM to 8PM with music, dancing, games, activities and more.

Join the fun as Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are still trying to get home to their beloved Big Apple and of course, King Julien, Maurice and the Penguins are all along for the comedic adventure. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar style.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to win the DVD/Blu-Ray Combo pack (below) and other fun prizes.

Boo at the Zoo Cleveland

October 9, 2012

Stand with Walmart Workers: October 10, 2012

from: Corporate Action Network, CAN Action Center


On October 10, OUR Walmart members, along with community leaders and supporters will be standing up to Walmart executives in Bentonville, AR.

As Americans debate the future direction of our country and decide on which candidate has the better vision to fix our economy, Walmart retail workers are looking to Walmart—the world’s largest company and private employer—to help set standards and create decent jobs to turn our country around.   However, when workers from Walmart’s stores and contracted warehouses speak out for improvements and change in the workplace, they’re faced with retaliation, and even fired, for speaking out. 

Yet through OUR Walmart, these brave workers are starting to make real change by standing together with faith and community groups, elected officials, and other supporters and speaking out at work. But Walmart hasn't gotten the message.   That’s why on October 10, OUR Walmart members, along with community leaders and supporters will be standing up to Walmart executives in Bentonville, AR, calling for improvements in the workplace, an end to retaliation against those speaking out for change, and to urge the retail giant to work in partnership with community stakeholders to bring decent jobs to our neighborhoods. 

As these brave workers take on the largest private employer in the world, community allies and supporters can show their support and stand with workers by taking action at Walmart stores on October 10 across the country.

October 8, 2012

Dark Shadows Giveaway!

Campy fun in time for Halloween! Want to win a DVD combo? You have one week to answer in the comments why. It's simple and fun and even if you don't win, play some of the games.

Submit your comment by October 15, 2012 at midnight EST. One commenter will be chosen randomly to win. Must have a US mailing address to be eligible.

This message brought to you in cooperation with Warner Brothers.

GK, please contact me before the end of today (10-16-2012)(FreshGreenKim@hotmail.com) to claim your prize, or I need to draw another number. 

Because I never heard from the original winner, I'm going to choose my first commenter to win this prize. Chris, congratulations!

Every story has a writer and every writer has a story

Yesterday ranked very high on my personal brush with "fame and fortune". I spent the afternoon with a friend of mine who has cracked the New York Times Bestseller list with her debut novel, written two more novels and has a contract for another two. It's been incredible to have a front row seat to her success and I want to share some of the things I learned in our afternoon together.

In case you wonder who I am referring to, it's a writing colleague, Taylor Stevens. I first introduced her in February 2011, about a month before her first novel hit the book stands. In the year and a half since, her debut novel has received accolades and awards from literary groups and fans alike.

After attending the Bouchercon 2012 with authors and fans in Cleveland, Ohio, we had an opportunity to catch up with Taylor at an intimate Meet & Greet. It was an impressive afternoon for all who attended as we simultaneously marveled in her gracious hospitality and gratitude for her fans. After spending 4 days surrounded by discussion panels, industry insiders, and throngs of fans, Taylor personally scheduled time to meet with her fans one on one to just visit and talk.

The intimate gathering for about 15 fans was truly appreciated by all who attended as we were able to see and touch her Barry Award, for best first novel.

We asked questions and learned more about the craft and business of writing a novel. A few notes I would like to share.

Taylor is incredibly open about anything and everything relating to her education. It was endearing when she described how difficult math is for her compared to writing, which she needed to and successfully mastered.

If you are a fan who wants to see a favorite author continue a career? Here is advice for us, the fans.

  • If you love an author? PRE ORDER the next book to be released. Publicity is largely a numbers game. It's not necessarily fair, but a lot of sales decisions are based on how well a book is initially received. Case in point? If you are a Taylor Stevens fan who loved The Informationist and The Innocent? Please pre-order The Doll. Her career depends on it. Which in turn means our reading pleasure also depends on it. 
  • If you're choosing a pen name, pick one that starts with A, to position your book near the top of the shelf. Or find a fan who is willing to rearrange books at every bookstore. Not that it's been done, but rumor has it... 
  • Tell people about the book. Tell them repeatedly. The best publicity a book can get is word of mouth, as evidenced by the Barry Award, voted on by the fans. Take a moment to tell your friends about a book you love, suggest it to a book club, ask your book store or library to carry it. Like it? Talk about it. 

The publishing business is a brutal one. As the business side of writing is in a seemingly constant flux, the best way a fan can make an impact is to follow the steps we shared. If you don't think it matters, I only want to remind you that in this case? It did and does.

To illuminate my point without taking anything away from Taylor's personal drive and success, I was one of the first people in the world to read her first novel, in a Word Document. I was so enthralled that I took the book to a copy shop and printed it out on paper so I could mark/note/react to the words I saw. I am not so arrogant to believe the book wouldn't have succeeded without me, but I do believe that I have helped bring hundreds of fans and readers in this direction. You can, too. If you love something you read, involve yourself. It makes a difference.

Be part of the process. Don't be a passive reader. If you love it, shout it. Make it happen.

Congratulations, Taylor and many wishes for continued success! 

Taylor Stevens, The Informationist

Taylor Stevens, The Innocent

October 5, 2012

Luxury at home

More and more folks are opting to stay home instead of vacation. This past week, I had conversations with three different folks who did a home improvement project in lieu of going somewhere on a trip. The reasons vary, but a common thread is that it's easier to bring a little luxury home where it can be appreciated every day of the year, than travel somewhere that is done in seven days. My own spouse travels so frequently for work that the last thing he wants to do when he has time off work is go anywhere. The key purpose of a home remodeling project is to make the house more livable and enjoyable.

bathroom spa luxuriesOne of the most common renovations folks tackle is bathroom upgrades.  A comfortable bathroom is something that is used daily. With the styles of sinks, tubs, shower enclosures, faucets and even unique bathroom ceiling lights available, any homeowner can bring a sense of style and spa living to their own space.

In a bankrate.com survey of over 2000 homeowners undertaking a remodeling project, bathrooms were far and away the most popular room to redo. Older fixtures and tiles can be modernized, faucets can be upgraded, and lighting can truly reflect the personality of the owner. In regards to popular remodeling projects, a bathroom remodel can also increase the home value by offering approximately an 85% return on the investment.

By remodeling and enjoying the upgrades daily, and still recouping the money on the value of the home, the savvy homeowner enjoys a chance to bring a bit of vacation into each day and still get some return on the investment.

This post is brought to you by a sponsor. To learn more about sponsoring a post on one of our blogs, please click here

October 4, 2012

Lincoln: Coming November 9th!

Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln” is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media, releases in U.S. theaters exclusive on November 9, 2012, with expansion on November 16, 2012.

Here is a trailer for the movie. It looks incredible. 

October 2, 2012

Campaign Finance Reform

There is a movement that is getting a lot of attention in the media lately, the StampStampede. The premise is simple. Stamp your paper currency with a political statement about getting the money out of politics. 

Fresh Daily Bread thinks it's a bit gimmicky, BUT the reasoning is sound. Why are we letting money dictate how we run this nation? Why are lobbyists and corporations able to wield more power than common people? It's the money, which screams louder than any voice. 

From the StampStampede site: 
  • Unlimited donations by billionaires and corporations to SuperPacs have drowned out the voice of ordinary Americans.
  • When you confuse money with free speech you give the wealthy and their corporations enormous megaphones that drown out the rest of us. A constitutional right to free speech for all is worthless if no one can be heard except members of the .01%.
  • It’s important to note that no other major democracy in the world allows for the unfettered spending on elections by private individuals or corporations. 
So whether you actually physically stamp your currency or you work to reconsider how our nation finances campaigns, it's time to bring the power back to the people. 

(thank you to Stamp Stampede for the use of their infographic)
Stamp Stampede


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