Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blunt Force Trauma


BuckingHorseNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

No, this isn't about TiVo (although it could be, what with all the murder going on in my home these days.) Have you heard that new singer James Blunt? He sings a song that starts out, "you're beautiful...." (OK, so, I know that really doesn't narrow it down much but...) and he has an unusually high, squeaky voice. Ear shattering high is how I would describe it actually. (Take two pointed sticks. Place one in each ear. Stab profusely. Now you get the idea. What's that you say, you're deaf? Poked your ears out with sharp sticks? Well, you'll thank me when you come to realize that you can now no longer listen to James Blunt.)

Now, I'm usually one of those "live and let live" kind of consumers. If I happen upon, say, a book I hate, a movie I dislike, or a song I just can't stand, I don't usually rant about it. (As you probably know, I've got plenty stockpiled up in the "rant about me" department-all raising an ugly hand and dancing around like a kid in the back row of a fourth grade class who has to skip to the bathroom and needs a hall pass.) No, I like to think that, being an artist myself, I judge fellow creative types by their best work. And, if I should happen upon something that's, well, let's just say, "less than Rembrandt-like," I just sort of let it pass. Let it go. Drop it. There's no point in stewing over mediocre artwork, the world's too small a place for that and somebody, somewhere else will appreciate it.

But, not James Blunt. James Blunt, you see, is following me.

At first, I kept hearing his song on the radio. OK, no biggie. Change the channel-it's easy enough to do. Push button "2" in the car or turn the fat knob on my radio dial to the left a bit. Piece of cake.

But then, he started cropping up in odd places. He was in the supermarket, playing over the PA system. I heard him at the bank. That annoying "you're beautiful" high pitched warble, there it was, as I was waiting in line at the Post Office. I heard the muzak version of the song in the elevator. Ugh. I had enough. I felt like I was being attacked by James Blunt. It was like some kind of Japanese water torture involving an uber-annoying male falsetto voice embodied by a super skinny British "neo-emo" singer-songwriter.

Finally, and I do mean *finally* he shut up. The "You're Beautiful..." song went away. For a few days, there was peace and quiet in the kingdom and all was right in the world (well, OK, there was the "pesky" Iraq thing going on, but, well, you get the idea.)

Then, something happened. Just when I thought it was safe to go to the bank, the Post Office, ride the elevator again, what happens? He releases another song. Yes, it's true, there' a new James Blunt song out and, well, hate to say it but, it's as bad as the first one. I think I'd rather be kicked in the head by a horse than have to listen to that song again. And you know, you just know, it's going to be all over the place in a few weeks.

What's next, James Blunt does Christmas carols? Oh, Santa, save me!

Until next poke in the ear with a stick...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ah to be Young Again


SpongeBobOnCanal, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Isn't it just a little bit immature to be wandering around the canals of Venice with a Sponge Bob Square Pants balloon? Don't you think that Bob the Builder would have been a much better choice?

Ok, so maybe her taste in balloons is questionable. She's still a fashionista in the making. Just look at those fab red pants, that dark coat and that perky backpack.

Until next time...

PS Just how do you say "Sponge Bob" in Italian?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Charge!


ChaseChasing, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Sometime last week (in the middle of November I think) they opened up a new Ikea store in Austin. It's a giant blue and yellow building that sits on the corner of the intersection of FM1431 and interstate 35. It's actually not in Austin proper but rather located in Round Rock, Texas. It's situated about eight miles from my house and, if you had to clock it, is probably under a ten minute drive, even with the lights.

It's been so crowded that most sane (or relatively sane) folks have avoided it completely. It's was so packed on opening day, a day that featured people lining up at midnight to get into a store that opened at nine a.m., that the good folks at Texas DOT (that's "department of transportation" for those of y'all who don't speak proper "Texan") had to redirect traffic from the interstate.

Today, we braved the crowds and took a peek inside.

It wasn't that crowded, actually, and they had parking attendants in the lot to help folks find a parking spot. We didn't have to walk far from our parking spot to the large brightly lit entrance. It's a big store and it was still somewhat crowded although, for the most part, you could walk around and peek at things. I ended up purchasing a few things but plan to go back to get some shelving and possibly a chest or some storage items.

The staff was exceptionally helpful and friendly. I was surprised by this since shopping in discount stores in Texas has lead me to believe that all discount store personnel were rude at worst or non-existent at best. Not so at Ikea. Even with the crowds, they seemed friendly and welcoming.

On the whole, I'd have to say I'd go back again, but will probably wait until mid-January when it will be crowded but not crazy and the holiday rush isn't in full swing. I didn't get to check out the doggie bowls or bedding while I was there, although I'm sure that they have them, as I've spotted them in the catalog.

Speaking of dogs, Chase is up to about 18 pounds now. He's growing up so nicely, in fact, he's almost the same size as Austin, although it's hard to really tell, since he's so curly and Austin's so sleek. Even so, Chase is almost up to my knees now. Quite a change from the eight and a half pound "baby" that he was when I first got him.

This is what he looks like running through the yard at full speed. Just like the checkout lines at Ikea, it's full Charge! ahead.

Catch him if you can.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Evil


VoodooCrossesAndSkullP, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Crosses like this are used by Voodoo masters to ward off evil spirits.

What I want to know is, what do you use to ward off the scary looking crosses?

Until next time...

Giving Thanks and Eating Too Much


PluotsNo4-1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

In the US, today is the day we give thanks by sharing food with our family, sitting down at home, eating a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, resting, and relaxing. Today is Thanksgiving.

I got up early, walked the dog, and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I also ate way too much at my parent's house before coming back home to rest. There's no work today or tomorrow so horray for a four day weekend.

I was quite surprised to find out how commercial the Thanksgiving Day Parade has become. Sure, it was always sponsored by Macy's, and nobody really minded the Macy's logos flying around (they go to great cost and lengths to bring us the parade each year) but, this year anyway, I got really sick and tired of seeing all the celebrities there. Why do we need to see some chick from ER pimping and whoring her show? She has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, she can't really "perform" being a TV star and all and why was she even there to begin with? Seems like NBC had to have the cast of every recent show there plugging away at the home-based captive audience, who just wanted to see floats, eat a bird, and enjoy a day off for a change.

Julie Andrews rocked even if she has a hard time singing because of problems she's had with her voice-we all still enjoyed her semi-classical "hip hop" singing. It's fab and so is she. Sarah McLaughlin was incredible too, I could listen to her sing all day. Some of the marching bands were great. NY was wet and cool but not horribly cold. The Rockettes rocked the house and had the cutest costumes I've ever seen them in. They looked like peppermint candy and kicked with precision that continues to amaze me. Every leg comes up at exactly the same instant, making me wonder how exactly they do that. This year, they even had to dance in a puddle, but, luckily, nobody fell or lost a step. All in all, not a bad day.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a turkey. Gobble gobble.

Until the leftovers begin...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gothic Revival


TrentReznorsHouse2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

As if their "wrap me in a serape and call me Maria while posing me next to giant white crosses on a hilltop as mission bells toll" video were not enough, my favorite of "murdering" bands as of late, The Killers, have a new video out. This time around, they go Gothic on us-the video was directed by the Goth-master himself, Tim Burton and features an array of dancing bones the likes of which the sleepy Mexican village of Oaxaca has not seen since, well, since that Dia de los Muertos heyday back in the 70's.

No bones about it, seems like lately anyway everything Gothic is new again. Even The Killers, warring "It" band of late, My Chemical Romance, have gone Gothic in what I would have to call a freshly spawned wave of neo-Goth, the likes of which, I haven't seen since, well, since that incident with Grandmother and the pitchfork. Yes, it appears to be true, everything Gothic is new again.

The Killers, really pulled it over on the My Chemical Romance, folks, if you ask me though, as Tim Burton, quite the master of the genre, came up with a Gothic playground scene in the video. Dead kids, bones, mermaids in the afterlife, what looks like a psychotic drive-in theater, it's all there, man. Wow. I'm impressed. To quote the great philosopher Keanu Reeves, "Woah, dude."

Speaking of Gothic, I got an email the other day telling me that this Gothic-style house, once belonging to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame, was in fact sold to John Goodman, an actor whose work I was completely unfamiliar with until I received yet another email explaining that John Goodman is, in fact, the lollygagging fisherman/judge from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. This would be the same judge who was attempting to convict a fake Jesus of having some dope in his jacket (Call me crazy but "...He doesn't look a thing like Jesus, but he [smokes] like a gentleman..." somehow doesn't have quite the same ring to it.)

Ah Ha! Now we're getting somewhere. You, my snowflakes, are finally starting to comprehend how dense I really am in terms of current "hip" events and happenings and have resorted to hurling pop culture references that even somebody as out of it as me can comprehend. Way to go, snowflakes. I'd thank you from the bottom of my little, cold, black, neo-Goth heart, if I could find it.

And, since we're on the subject of all things Gothic, I should tell you that this is a dead Polaroid. I did it last year, fully intended to blog it at some point, and then never did. But, it's Gothic, it's in style yet again, and it's as close to Tim Burton as I can probably get, although I do now wish I could do something dark and edgy with a swing set.

That's killer, man.

Until next Gothic Revival...

Friday, November 17, 2006

We're Off to a Boopingly Good Start


TheScreamNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, I get my new TiVo, and I plug in it and I start watching TV. I "boop" up Law and Order, I "boop" up a couple of other shows that I routinely watch. I'm thinking, "ok, this is not so bad. It works well enough. So far, no wild Nicolas Cage obsessions, bad soaps, or like Pauley Shore re-runs..."

And then, it hits me. The first show it recommends from it's grand list of suggestions: The Dead Zone.

Yipes!

Until next time...

Here are some updated stats:
# of words: 1636 (I was pretty close when I said "about 1500" wasn't I?)
# of late night half-hearted attempts at actually turning on the PC to write something: 0
# of coffee drinks: 2 (but they were almost normal, so I'm seriously thinking about re-setting this counter)
# of Christmas muzzies: about 7
# of times I've written Nicolas Cage into my novella: 0 (but, if I run out of time...Hey, you never know. A pesky Mechapixel contest contending annoyingly boopable actor could come in handy.)
# of penguins: stands at 2, although they freeze to death in transport. (They can actually freeze to death. I googled. And wiki-ed. And, like, somehow, just knew.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Be Strong Little Buddy


TwoWarriorsDance, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Last night, I hooked up the new TiVo in the bedroom. Chase was afraid of the "booping" noise. At first I thought, what a crazy little dog, he's afraid of a TiVo "boop."

Then, I thought about it and realized how smart he really is.

Until next time...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Get the Picture?

You might be wondering, right about now, "but...where's the picture? I want to see today's picture." And you'd be right. There is no picture today. Well, there's no picture from me, but there's a picture.

You see, my snowflakes, I've always made it a policy to post to this website only images taken by me. Love them or hate them, they are, uniquely "mine." They are part of what makes up Carol's Little World. They all come from the hand of Carol. And, I enjoy that. I love giving you my view of the world, actually a view of my world, day after day. It's a fun hobby. I think you enjoy it too. You get to catapult yourself, out of your cubicle, or maybe away from your desk at home, off to someplace like New Orleans, Texas, Venice, or, who knows where? And you've grown used to checking in, checking back to this site, day after day to see which exotic local or interesting viewpoint today brings.

But, every now and again, I happen across a picture that I didn't take, but I wish I had taken. A picture so beautiful, so moving, so incredible, so inspiring, that I stop in my tracks and I think, "damn! Why didn't I take that?" Maybe it has the colors just right, better than the most perfect sunset you've ever seen (even in "real life.") Maybe it has a composition that's so striking it left me in awe. Maybe I was moved to tears by the beauty it possesses. Maybe, somehow, in some magical little way, the pixels aligned in such a way as to make it the most striking, most beautiful, most moving, most evocative image I've ever seen-in my entire life.

Those of you who know me know that I sometimes like to spend time "goofing off" on flickr. It's fun and I probably do it more than I should. Maybe, what you don't know about flickr, is that it allows photographers to pick out "favorite" images, or images from the photo streams of others that they prefer, like, or enjoy for one reason or another. We single these images out as "favorites" and they reserve a special place in our flickr hearts (at least until we "un-click" that little "fav this" button anyway.)

What you might not know about me is that I'm a bit of a fussy photographer. I don't have many favorites. Possibly 20 or so images on flickr have moved me enough to make me push that little "favorite this" button, and many of those, if I had to look at them again, well, truthfully, I'd ignore upon second glance. I've been a photographer for a long time and it takes a lot to impress me with a camera. It doesn't take much to make me look at an image and decide it doesn't warrant my attention.

But not today's image. Today's image is special. It's magical. It's what happens when magic lights hits divine subject, mixes with creative composition, and blends together to bring that special smile to my face. Yes, my snowflakes, today's image brings a smile to my face instantly. It's my favorite of favorited images. It's one I come back to time and time again. It's beautiful, magical, timeless, elegant, and has that rare "special" quality that gives it that extra "Wow!" factor.

What's that? You want to see it? Ok, click here if you must.

(Ahem. This might be a good time to remind you that I do, indeed, have a sense of humor. In case you, like, forgot or something.)

Until next time...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Cooke, a Murderer, His Plea, and Two Moore's


FeatheredPaintBrushNo7, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Rachel Cooke left her home on FM 3405 in Georgetown, Texas (about 5 miles from where I live) on the morning of Thursday, January 10, 2002 to run her usual 3 or 4 mile morning jog. Sometime, near the end of her cross-country run, possibly within 200 yards of her home, she disappeared. She has not been seen since. A petite, young, then 19 year old blonde college student, her story has been featured on Unsolved Mysteries, John Walsh's TV program, a multitude of flyers and posters in and around Georgetown, and on several other news shows. Her parents have even appeared with the President at the White House in support of missing and exploited children.

On September 23, 2003 Christina Moore, a resident of the nearby Avery Ranch sub-division in Round Rock, Texas, was murdered in her home as her then 15 month old daughter rested in a crib in the next room. Christina's throat was cut. She was 14 weeks pregnant. Due to the nature of the crime and her status as a visibly expecting mother, the State of Texas decided to bring her murderer to trial on charges of capital murder, which carries with it a death sentence upon conviction.

What do these two cases have in common? Apart from each happening within a 5 mile radius of my home, the alleged killer of both woman is one Michael Keith Moore (no relation to Christina.)

What's even more shocking about this case, what takes it from "ordinary" crime and murder (if such a thing can exist) to unusual gruesome cruelty, is the fact that Michael Keith Moore, while being faced with a conviction in the murder of Christina Moore, first freely confessed to the murder of Rachel Cooke. He confessed, citing details only a killer, or someone in close personal contact with Rachel, would know. He admitted that he killed Rachel by means of a blow to the back of the head with a hammer, he admitted that he raped her, and he admitted to prosecutors that he wrapped her body in a tarp and dropped her remains into the Gulf of Mexico. But then, when it came time to enter a plea for Cooke's murder, when it came time for him to stand up in court and confess, in front of a packed courtroom, Moore backed out of the deal. He plead, "Not Guilty," stunning even his own legal team and throwing the court proceedings for both trials into turmoil.

But this is not about Michael Keith Moore. This is not about his terrible crimes, his fate, his justice, or his cruelty. He is a murderer. We know that now, and he is not going to change anytime soon.

This is about strength, about hope, about light. This is about Robert Cooke, Rachel's father.

The textbook definition of the word "strength" includes the ideal, "the power to resist or endure." For almost five years now, Robert Cooke and Rachel's family have endured the media spotlight, the massive searches, the highs and lows, the promise of maybe finding her, the agony of having another body turn up that isn't Rachel but is some other father's daughter, waiting for a proper burial. A missing tennis shoe, an injured search and rescue worker, police dogs and district attorneys. 48 Hours, local news crews, and police tape. A wedding, a birthday, and a handful of Christmas holidays. A trial with the promise of a plea, a polite, quietly whispered "not guilty" entered into the record books. And so, the Cooke case goes on.

During this time, during this trial, before, during, and after this plea, Robert Cooke has gone to court. He's thanked the Sheriff's Deputies, fed the search and rescue workers, politely granted interviews to the 48 Hours investigators and the reporters from the Austin newspapers alike. He's kept an on-line diary, where he poured out his thoughts for the world to see. He's held firm in the belief that, one day, he will find out what happened to Rachel. He continues the search for Rachel and for answers to her disappearance. And he continues to help other families search for their missing loved ones.

On Thursday, November 9, 2006, Robert Cooke announced his families full support for the District Attorney and Sheriff's Offices, along with the new family motto: "We're not done yet!"

Until next time...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

These Boots Were Made For Walking


MocassinWalk, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

"...And that's just what they'll do...."

It's been a little crazy lately and I'm feeling a bit "under" it all. My 'fridge broke and I need to call the repair guy who wants some information so he can buy a part (or something) I haven't been writing damn near enough to finish off my nanowrimo novella yet, and I've started looking at, actually drooling over, laptops.

What's really happened to me is that, I have some great ideas for the novella. So great, that I want to type non-stop. I want to turn myself into a lean, mean, verbiage machine. But, I don't have anything to type into. And this is frustrating me. I want to type, I sit there thinking about typing, I dream about typing, my fingers flying over ghost keyboards floating out into space, but, alas, no keys, man, no keys.

My computer lives at home, you see. And I travel about in my day (and night) so I seldom sit down at it. I go to work, I go out, I go here, I go there. All the while, secretly wishing I had a place to type. Some quite time to jot down my ideas and bring my characters to life. And they are great characters, believe me. You would not believe the wild sordid lot I'm writing about this time. But, no, I have nothing because my fingers sit and wiggle at pure emptiness. So, day after day, night after night, I stop and think, "I got nothing." Not because I can't write, not because I can't put pencil to paper, or make up some crazy ass story about some guy who got a flat tire and now finds himself in the wilds of Mexico sipping cactus juice, looking at the stars and night, and whistling Dixie, no, I can't write simply because I can't start writing. I can't get my groove going. My fingers don't want to move but my mind's working overtime. And it's frustrating.

I started looking at laptops and one of the women I work with came by and laughed at me. She said hers cost $2500 and I was like, "Um, I want to spend about $600." She said, "you start looking at the cheap one and think, yeah, that'll do. But then you look and you see that, 'oh, this will cost only $100 more' and, before you know it, the price is up there." She's right. I started low, the price started creeping up, and now I will probably end up not getting one at all. But I have to drool, right? And throwing technology at my "finger's block" is sure to solve it, right?

This is a new one on me. Instead of writing, I sit her drooling over the "pencil" I wish I had.

Until next time...

Stats:
# of words: single digits (well, ok, the 1500 still stands, I guess)
# of penguins: down to 2 (4 was way too high. No self-absorbed fetish neo-goth rock star would ever keep 4 penguins in his basement. What was I thinking?)
# of coffee drinks: 2
# of Christmas Muzzies: up to about 5 (and every day brings more.)
# of times I've written myself into my novella: 0 (well, there's still that. Hope springs eternal! Bah, even I have standards.)
# of times I've spec'd out a laptop and not actually bought one, because I looked at the price and went, "Ugh!": 3

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tribal Knowledge


FeatheredHeadDressNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

From yesterday's pow-wow, I'm uploading this so that I can test to see if my newly sized (larger) images break my blogger or not. (My guess is that they do but there's only one real way to find out, and, um, you're looking at it.)

Of course, I'll probably have to delete this if it really doesn't work so then you wouldn't even really be reading this, so then it doesn't make that much sense that I'm still typing now, does it?

Crazy, crazy me.

Until next time...

PS The pow-wow was fun. I got a couple of ok shots and enjoyed it. I'm still nowhere near where I need to be on the novella and Chase is still growing like a weed. Nothing much new this Sunday, that's for sure.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Are We Afraid Yet?


Two Hanging Heads, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Do you believe in ghosts? How about wind chimes? (That's what this is actually. In case you could not tell from the picture. And, no, they don't gently blow in the breeze.)

Here's an updated status:
# of words written: More than 4 pages.
# of caffeinated beverages: 1 (I'm a writer now!)
# of penguins: 4
# of penguins slated to be frozen to death by being locked in a freezer sitting in a boxcar on a moving train: 2
# of plots: -8 (we're sinking!)
# of subplots: too many to count

Not having to watch Nicolas Cage re-runs on a psychotic TiVo: priceless

Until next time...

It's Pumpkin Man


ItsPumpkinMan, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Oh the joys of leftover candy. Boo!

I got invited to attend the Pow Wow this year and, this year, I'm going with a press pass. So, maybe, just maybe, if I'm lucky, I won't have so many shots with railings and weird lights in them. Not to mention really small native Americans dancing around in wild costumes. We'll see.

For the writing challenge, I'm supposed to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. Phew. That's a lot. I probably won't make it but it will be fun to try. The Austin group has a separate challenge in that we're supposed to somehow work a penguin into our novellas. A penguin. Hmmm. (The good news is that this gets me down to 49,999, the bad news is, "a penguin. Hmmm.")

Here are my (updated) statistics:

# of words written: About 1500. (Can't count yet, need to type first.)
# of main characters killed off: 0
# of caffeinated beverages: 0 (well, only like 1 but it was normal)
# of wealthy oddball Hobos who live with penguins in their homes characterized: 1
# of penguins appearing in actual text: 0
# of plots: 0
# of subplots: 49 and a half

Ah, writing. Sometimes I think it would be easier to poke myself in the eye with that pencil.

Until next time...