My First Year Of Blogging

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A year ago today, I wrote my first blog, even though I was sure it would be an exercise in futility. Because that’s what being a writer is largely about. I don’t mean to be negative, but a large part of being a writer is about rejection. So I was ready to have my blog spurned. I didn’t think anyone would read it. Based on decades of trying to push my writing on people with little success, it would be crazy to think this would be different. No, like nearly all of my writing, it would be ignored, unread, unwelcome, just more verbage tossed on the old word pile.

6256130025_79e67c2556_bBut that part didn’t bother me. I’ve been rejected by women, friends, employers, and credit cards, and my writing has been rejected by lots of magazines and publishers. I’ve been rejected so many times, I’ve accepted rejection.

I had a hard time coming up with a name for the blog. I tried a bunch and they were already taken. I ended up calling it bridgesareforburning, because I think I’ve burned quite a few bridges in my life, so many that I’m no longer allowed to play with matches. Actually, I took the name from a song, Walking Man, from one of my favorite songwriters, James Taylor.

I started the blog for three reasons. First, and foremost, an angel named Madison Woods invited me to join a group called Friday Fictioneers and you had to have a blog to participate. It was a group of writers from all over who write a weekly flash fiction story of 100 words based on a photo Madison posted on Wednesday. Then we read each other’s stories and offer comments. It sounded like fun and I decided to join in. I’m always trying to figure out a way to coerce anyone with brain activity into reading my drivel and the Friday Fictioneers sounded promising. It has proven to be as much fun as riding a roller coaster naked.

Secondly, I thought my blog could be a kind of journal, a place I could spew my endless opinions about everything. If nothing else, it would maybe relieve others of having to listen to me rant and rave about all the things that drive me crazy. I could blow off steam on the blog, relieve some pressure, get it out of my system.second-thought-burning-bridges-demotivational-posters-1346154076

Also, as a kind of journal, I thought it might turn me into some kind of Emily Dickinson. She never got any recognition in her lifetime, but now, she’s an icon. Sure, nobody was going to read my blog, but maybe someday, when archaeologists were trying to re-create the history of the twenty-first century, maybe they’d come across my blog, and I’d have recorded something there that was helpful in understanding this ridiculous time in which we live in world history. One thing about the internet is that anything you say has a kind of permanence. It never goes away. Or at least it hasn’t so far. It’s a kind of immortality, in a way.

So it came as a complete surprise when visitors started showing up at my blog and reading my writing. And these weren’t just Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons showing up at my door because they were obligated to try to save my soul. These were real readers whose only agenda was that they wanted to read what I wrote.

I’m not sure why this happened, but I think  it was because suddenly the middleman was removed. There was no editor, gatekeeper, publisher, or censor blocking people from my writing. I took my words directly to the people, and the people came.

6252782872_183e5a640e_bAbout half of my posts have been the weekly flash fiction, but the other half have been all over the map. I’ve written about books, movies, television, all kinds of things that bug me, personal experience, music, my roots, language, all things that are important to me. It’s been gratifying, engaging and uplifting all at the same time.

My only regret is that I didn’t start blogging sooner. This will be my 97th post, not bad for my first year. And as of this writing, I’ve had about 8,100 visitors to my blog. I know bloggers who have lots more, but I think this has been a good start. My visitors came from 81 different countries worldwide.

So I’m launching into my second year of blogging with great hope. I know I’ll never run out of stuff to complain about, or books, movies, TV and  music to analyze, or exhaust my feelings on the absurdity of the human situation.

For maybe the first time, I feel like a have a voice, and somebody is listening

Let Them Eat Cake – Flash Fiction for 12/28/12

If you would like to come out and play with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and the Friday Fictioneers, click here.

Photo copyright Jean L. Hays

Photo copyright Jean L. Hays

I’m sitting in Cake Man Raven in Brooklyn eating a $7 slice of red velvet cake. I try to eat slowly, savoring every bite, but it’s too rich, delicious, delectable. I gobble. I scarf. I lick the plate. I don’t care what people think. I order another slice.

On my last birthday, a friend suggested it. “Go, they’ll give you a free slice of the best cake you’ll ever taste.”

Now I can’t stop. I’ve gained forty pounds. I waddle. It takes all my willpower to walk for the door.

The baker smiles at me. He knows I’m coming back.

The Christmas Cat – Flash Fiction for 12/21/12

If you would like to come out and play with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and the Friday Fictioneers, click here and follow the instructions

Photo copyright Scott L. Vannatter

Photo copyright Scott L. Vannatter

It was the Christmas I was out of work and Milly was pregnant with Travis. The cat showed up a week before Christmas and I got a job at a Christmas tree lot the same day. Travis was born just after New Year’s and I found work at a warehouse and the cat disappeared.

When Travis was eight, Milly was abed with pneumonia at Christmas. The cat arrived again. Milly started improving and was well a week later and the cat departed.

Yesterday Travis didn’t come home from school. We were frantic. Then he and the cat came home together.

This is the best thing I’ve read about the horrible shooting tragedy in Connecticut. Thanks Rich.

brainsnorts inc.

I know the next shooter.

man-watching-tv-in-darkHe’s white, between 19 and 25.  He is thin and doesn’t do much with his hair.  It usually looks kind of messed, wavy, but he might have a buzzcut now.  It’s hard to say because he doesn’t leave the house much.  I think he’s an only child, not from a big family.  He is known to be very smart, perhaps brilliant, but socially awkward and withdrawn.

He enjoys computers, where a virtual world is more comfortable.  He either has been or is about to begin seeing a therapist, maybe even takes some medications to help him cope.  He either argues with his parents or just seems indifferent to them.  Classmates from high school barely remember him because he did very little to stand out.  He feels ignored, unwanted, and disliked.  Nobody notices him much.  Few remember his name.  He feels insignificant, as if he doesn’t…

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10 Good Books To Curl Up With

Winter is upon us. Depending on where you live, the cold is coming or is already there. For the next few months, you may be stuck inside quite a bit.

It’s time to snuggle into your favorite overstuffed chair with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. I can’t provide the soft spot or the hot beverage, but I can recommend some good reads. Most of these books are selected from books I read during 2012, though a couple are throwbacks and I’ll explain later why they were included in the list. It’s an eclectic mix and you should be able to find something here you haven’t read to kill the chill.

My Cross To Bear– Gregg Allman with Alan Light

519iQjM92SL__SL300If you’d like to take a look inside the southern fried rock and roll heart of the legendary wailers that were, and still are, The Allman Brothers Band, open this book. It has everything you’d expect from a sweeping chronicle of a life playing rock music, sex, drugs, death, famous musicians, triumph and tragedy. Gregg Allman gives an unflinching view of his life and the long strange journey of his bandmates. For more information, read my previous review.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much– Allison Hoover Bartlett

book_shadowThis is a story that could have been a great novel, but it’s not. It’s the non-fiction tale of John Charles Gilkey, a man obsessed with rare books who managed to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars of them, not for financial gain, but because he lusted to own them. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. In telling this story, journalist Bartlett takes the reader into the subterranean world of book junkies, a fascinating subculture of collectors and dealers.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter- Tom Franklin

crooked-letter-crooked-letter-book-cover-tom-franklinA dark, gothic southern crime novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a finely written page turner that will leave you sweaty from the heat and humidity of Mississippi. It’s a story about a man living a shunned life in a small town as a result of one damning night when he was in high school. It’s also the story of his childhood friend, now a police officer, who suspects his former playmate is responsible for a wave of killings he must solve. Can’t put it down reading charged with atmosphere and secrets. For more information, read my previous review.

Provinces Of Night– William Gay

provinces-night-william-gay-hardcover-cover-artThe world lost a great writer this year when William Gay died. I’m including this book in the list as a homage to one of my favorite writers and if you haven’t read it, you should run, not walk, and seek it out. Few authors can match the beauty of Gay’s prose. A disciple of Cormac McCarthy, Gay may have eclipsed his idol as a southern literary stylist. He also was a compelling storyteller, and in this, his best novel, he tells the tale of a banjo player who abandons his family to become a traveling minstrel and returns decades later when he is dying. Gay has this astounding ability to mix humor and tragedy while laying out the arc of a life. More about Gay is in my tribute to him earlier this year.

The Architecture Of The Arkansas Ozarks– Donald Harington

architecture-arkansas-ozarks-donald-harington-paperback-cover-artDonald Harrington died not long ago, and I’m including my favorite book of his, not because it’s new, but because he’s a fine writer who isn’t well known and deserves a bigger literary following. Though, the title of the book would make you think it’s non-fiction, it’s a sweeping novel. The Ingledew brothers found a town in the Arkansas wilderness in the early 1800s and Harington traces the progress, or lack of it, over generations into the late twentieth century. A rollicking write, the book has rare moments of absurd humor that may remind you of Twain, high praise indeed for a writer who is fairly obscure.

In A Shallow Grave– James Purdy

shallowgraveStrangely moody, this short novel by Purdy is a darkly melancholy journey uniquely wrought in a quirky writing style. It revolves around a returning veteran who has been so seriously maimed in war that people are repulsed by his appearance. Hiding out and nursing his pain, the novel gets heart-rending when he attempts to gain the love of a nearby widow. Purdy is a force unto himself in his choice of material and writing methods.

The World Made Straight– Ron Rash

imagesCAZ121KTSometimes you come across a writer that grabs you so forcefully your reaction is, God, I wish I could write like that. Rash is one of those writers and this is my favorite novel he has penned so far. You won’t find many writers that are more masterful storytellers. This book is typical. When a teenager finds a patch of marijuana and proceeds to steal it, he is plunged into a dangerous world that culminates in a heart-racing conclusion that is guaranteed to raise your blood pressure to unsafe levels.

That Old Cape Magic- Richard Russo

that-old-cape-magic-203x300Russo is one of those rare writers who can bridge the gap between commercial and literary fiction. In his latest novel, he has created a charming, funny and touching story about a man in mid-life crisis trying to figure out which way to turn. Raised by two combative college professors, Jack Griffin feels lost, his marriage in trouble, his career choice in question. He can’t even decide where to spread the ashes of his dead parents, so he hauls their remains around in his trunk on a return journey to Cape Cod, his parents’ favorite place. It’s a trip you’ll enjoy sharing with a satisfying destination.

Life– Keith Richards with James Fox

book-articleInlineIf you’ve ever fantasized about being a rock star, this is the right read for you. The Rolling Stones are legends, icons of their genre, and still rocking as Richards approaches 70 years of age. For more than 500 pages, the Stones’ original guitar player tells how they rose from lower class obscurity to become one of the most famous bands of all time. Richards observations are as much about his musical journey as they are about the band’s misadventures and rowdy reputation. There’s rock history in the book you won’t find anywhere else.

Red Means Run– Brad Smith

red-means-run-novel-brad-smith-paperback-cover-artCanadian born Smith has been producing good suspenseful fiction for years, and this is his latest offering. This book is a slight departure for him, in that it is pretty much a straight up who-done-it mystery. Though it’s not his best book, probably previous novels like Crow’s Landing and All Hat are better reads, it’s well worth spending some time with for the ensemble cast of interesting characters he always creates. His continuing protagonist Virgil Cain is back and on the run from the law for being falsely accused of a series of murders. Smith’s writing is always a pleasure to read.

2012 Blog Of The Year Award

I’m grateful to be included in the 2012 Blog of the Year Award. I started my blog in the final days of 2011, so it’s been less than a year. When I started bridgesareforburning, I didn’t think anyone would read it. I thought it would be more like an online journal, something I did for my own satisfaction. So I was suprised and gratified when I found readers actually coming to my blog, offering comments and support. In less than a year, it’s become an important part of my life. So it is with great joy that I join with other bloggrs in celebrating the satisfaction that blogging  brings. Thanks to Mikaela and her blog, backfromtheedge for sharing this award with me. Her blog is fun, inspiring and honest and provides a portal into another world.

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The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Awardhttp://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

I have selected three blogs for the 2012 Blog of the Year Award

brainsnorts – Rich Voza’s blog is always good reading, whether  he’s writing about personal experience, movies, books, or politics. He also uses his blog to share fun things like The New Yorker caption contest and Friday Fictioneers flash writing group.

everydayclimb – Lea Milford writes powerfully about struggling with depression and overcoming life obstacles. Always an inspiring read.

thehonestcourtesan – For being on top on current issues and sharing some of the most  interesting  stories you’d never find on your own.

Aloha – Flash Fiction for 12/14/12

If you would like to come  out and play with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and the Friday Fictioneers, click here and follow the instructions.

Copyright Douglas MacIlroy

Copyright Douglas MacIlroy

“What’s that thing?” asked Doug’s girlfriend.

“A model of the planet Aloha.”

“Aloha?”

“Yeah, it’s where my sci-fi novel happens. It’s a world where evil surfers enslave young girls on pineapple plantations. Sort of like Hawaii.”

“Sounds dark and . . . gnarly.”

“There’s romance too. A hula girl falls for an old submarine captain and he rescues her from the surfers.”

“How could an old guy defeat all those young buff surfers?”

“He has a laser-guided Frisbee loaded with toxic poi.”

“That reminds me. Are you coming to the luau tonight?”

“Can’t. Too many Friday Fictioneer stories to read.”

Marilyn, My Marilyn

The real Marilyn. This photo was taken by Bert Stern just six weeks before her death. A copy of the photo is estimated to be wroth about $3,000.

The real Marilyn. This photo was taken by Bert Stern just six weeks before her death. A copy of the photo is estimated to be wroth about $3,000.

Who is the most iconic movie star of all time? Stupid question. I’ll bet you already know. There’s really not much competition.

The legend that is Marilyn Monroe just keeps growing. No other movie actor, living or dead, has her fame. Though she died fifty years ago this year, her celebrity endures. Other stars have faded, but Marilyn keeps shining like a supernova.

The proof? Marilyn has been resurrected more times than anyone else by far, at least 25 different times—and counting. Nobody else has been so widely imitated, but never duplicated. Here’s a list of all the reincarnations of Marilyn that I found.

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Michelle Williams earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Monroe in My Week With Marilyn.

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Ashley Judd play the young Marilyn in Norma Jean and Marilyn in 1996.

MiraAsMarilyn

Mira Sorvino played the older Marilyn in the same movie.

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Lindsey Lohan recreated the 1962 Marilyn photo shoot for a cover for New York magazine.

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Nicole Kidman did a photo shoot as Marilyn for the cover of Australian Harper’s Bazaar in 2008.

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Misty Rowe of TV’s Hee-Haw, did two movies about Marilyn, Goodbye Norma Jean and Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn.

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Anna Nicole Smith was Marilyn in an advertising campaign for PETA.

catherine hicks

Cathine Hicks played Monroe in 1980 in the TV movie Marilyn: The Untold Story.

Melody Anderson was Marilyn in the 1993 film, Marilyn and Bobby, Her Final Affair.

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Barbara Niven had the part of Marilyn in the 1998 made for TV movie The Rat Pack.

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Australian actress Poppy Montgomery had the part of Marilyn in the mini series Blonde in 2000.

sophie monk

Another Australian actress, Sophie Monk portrayed Marilyn in 2004’s The Mystery of Natalie Wood.

 

charlotee sullivan

Charlottte Sullivan was Marilyn in the 2011 TV movie The Kennedys.

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Pam Anderson dressed up as Marilyn for an appearance on Dancing With The Stars.

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On Gossip Girl, Blake Lively did an number as Marilyn.

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Jennifer Lopez appeared as Marilyn on Tonight to sing a birthday song for George Lopez.

susand griffiths

Susan Griffiths was Marilyn in the movie Marilyn and Me.

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Mariah Carey mimiced Marilyn for her music video I Still Believe.

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Lucille Ball dolled up as Marilyn for an episode of I Love Lucy.

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Madonna morphed into Marilyn for her music video Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

naomi watts blonde

Naomi Watts plays Marilyn in the yet to be released movie Blonde.

connie sex symbol

Connie Stevens played a thinly disguised Marilyn in The Sex Symbol.

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Uma Thurman is one of three different actresses who portrayed Marilyn on the recent TV drama Smash.

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24, Katharine McPhee also played Marilyn on Smash.

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25. And Megan Hilty was the third actress to portray Marilyn on Smash.

Doors – Flash Fiction for 12/7/12

Copyright Rich Voza

Copyright Rich Voza

This wing was simply called THE PAST. The first door opened to dinosaurs and tree ferns. Inside the next room, Neanderthals roasting an animal over a fire. More doors, more scenes. The pyramids being built, Roman armies, the Spanish Inquisition, Pilgrims, Valley Forge, a Civil War battle, the Wright brothers flight, flappers, Okies fleeing the dust bowl, Iwo Jima, a nuclear explosion, Kennedy shot, man on the moon, Viet Nam, the space shuttle, New Orleans underwater.

The door at the end was signed THE FUTURE. It opened to vast, barren, dead landscape stretching as far as the eye could see.

If you would like to come out and play with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and the Friday Fictioneers, click here and follow the instructions.

Book Review: My Cross To Bear, Gregg Allman with Alan Light

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If you’re a fan of the Allman Brothers, I think you’d dig reading this biography by Gregg Allman. For 378 pages, Gregg recounts in detail his life and career, and he talks frankly about his drug use, alcoholism, sex life, his marriage to Cher and five other women, his liver transplant, and all the famous musicians he has known and played with. Just published earlier this year, even if you’re a die-hard Allman Brothers fan, you’re bound to find out things you never knew.

One of the best things about the book is its conversational approach. Reading the bio, you feel like you’re sitting there with Gregg listening to him pour out the story of his life. And considering the massive amounts of booze and drugs he consumed, his memory of things that happened decades ago is both sharp and focused. Of course, in telling his life story, Gregg can’t help but tell the story of the Allman Brothers Band, his brother Duane, and the other bandmates like Dickie Betts, Butch Trucks, Berry Oakley, Jaimoe, Derek Trucks, and Warren Haines.

Other famous folks who have cameo appearances include Eric Clapton, Jackson Brown, Jim Morrison, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Jimmy Carter, Jeff Beck, Bill Graham, Buddy Guy, Steve Winwood, Marshall Tucker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stephen Stills and Aretha Franklin, and, as they say, many, many more.

The cover shot of the Fillmore album. The book reveals it was taken in Macon, Georgia, and also what everyone in the photo is laughing about.

The cover shot of the Fillmore album. The book reveals it was taken in Macon, Georgia, and also what everyone in the photo is laughing about.

You’ll also be surprised as some of Gregg’s opinions of other legendary rockers, and he doesn’t pull any punches and says some nasty things about some iconic bands. He also shares his take on everything from God to education.

Another plus is that the book is lavishly illustrated with photos that begin in Gregg’s childhood and follow him and the band to the present.

Personally, I’ve been a big Allman Brothers fan since the 1970s, and I have a collection of vinyl that I’m proud, of, much of it played so much it’s just about worn out. But there were revelations in this biography that floored me. I could tell you what they are, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I have to say I was impressed with Gregg’s openness. He’s willing to talk about things that many celebrities wouldn’t touch. The only place the book disappointed me was that Gregg didn’t really elaborate on the motorcycle wreck that killed his brother Duane. There have been so many legends that have grown up around that event and I thought he might set the record straight. Of course, he does talk about it, but he doesn’t go over how the wreck happened. But I can’t fault him for leaving that out. It was probably the most painful event of his life, and the fact that he’s willing to talk about it at all is to his credit.

To me, the most interesting part of the book was about how the band struggled before they hit the big time. Their determination, dedication and sheer guts in sticking to playing the kind of music they believed in is an inspiration to anyone trying to make it in the arts.

The book also can be seen as a comment on the celebrity lifestyle and its dangers and how the temptations brought on by fame and money have killed so many in the music business. Over and over in the book, people die from drugs and alcohol, or commit suicide.

It’s rare to get this kind of inside look at the private world of someone who was on the front lines of rock and roll history. It’s probably the closest you can come to knowing what it was like without actually having been there in person.