Archive | January 2013

The conversation

It's ok. I still love you.

It’s ok. I still love you.

Me sitting at Starbucks with a friend, 20 miles from my hometown. Cellphone rings.

Me: Hello, Gran. Is everything ok?

Gran: Yes, I’m just calling to tell your alarm has been going off.

Me: What alarm?

Gran: On your phone. It’s been going off for a while. To remind you to take your  medication.

Me (sigh, long pause) holding my phone: Gran, it’s not my phone, because I have my phone with me. I’m talking to you on it. It must be your phone alarm.

Gran (adamant): No, it’s not my phone. It’s yours.

Me: Are you on your phone now?

Gran: Yes.

Me: And do you hear the ringing still?

Gran: No.  But it’s not my phone that’s been ringing.

Me: Maybe it was your house phone and not your cell phone.

Gran: Well, look, I just called to tell you your alarm went off, ok?

Me: Ok.  Did you take your medication?

Gran: Of course.

Me: Ok. Love you, Gran. I’ll stop by on my way home. Ok.

Gran: Ok. Bye.

Me: Bye.

Chew on this a while


This is Chew Chew, in his Ching Ching (begging) pose.  Chew is from NY. I can totally relate to such adorableness. C’est moi! And his bio sounds a lot like mine too. Scary thought.

Ching-Ching pose is how ChewChew says greets everyone. Strangers think he’s saying hello or good bye to them. They are impressed by his begging. Silly strangers! Poor ChewChew is begging for your attention! That is so me.

Some say he could work on his anger. Uh, I’ll cop to that.

He really dislikes not getting his way. Totally me.

His happy place is work. Right on!

He loves nom-nomming on Chicken. Rosemary Garlic Chicken, mmmmm.

His guilty pleasures include playing with friends. Yep.

His dream is to one day be able to play with all the puppies and humans in the world…. It’s a big dream, but doable.

You know, you could die doing that


I hear this a lot from people. I’m not sure why they bother to point that out. Odds are, I’ll be doing something when I die, so why not “that“? So long as that is something I love or want to do.

Eamonn Kilbride (age 46) collapsed with chest pains at his office Christmas party in Blackburn while performing the dance moves from Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video. The father of three subsequently died. Middle-aged men in the UK have since been warned against dancing Gangnam Style.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Professor Bernard Keavney, a cardiologist at Newcastle University, warned older men not to “stray outside your comfort zone. The chance that you’ll come to grief is very small. But as with any form of untypical exercise… be somewhat measured.

Sorry, Bernard, but I love to stray outside my comfort zone and if I come to grief, so what? You blokes can live a measured wall-flower life you want. I’d rather die on the dance floor living an all out Gangnam Style full one.

A Tolkien of My Affection


I like to play this game (which I invented) with friends and lovers. It’s called Tolkien of My Affection. To play you’ve had to have read Tolkien (not just watched the movies), so you’re up on all the characters. But beyond that, it’s pretty simple. Recently I played this with Fling while at a cafe.

It consists of two questions.

  1. Which character is (the person your playing with)?
  2. Which character are you?

After you type your answers, you simultaneously text each other those answers. Then you explain why you chose each character.

My answers were Narsil and Isildur.

  • Fling is very much the man who cut the ring from Sauron’s hand and paid for it. (Though I like to think he’s currently being reforged).
  • I, alas, am very much the person who can do great things, but never the one small most important of all things.

Fling’s answers were Bill the Pony and Samwise Gamgee.

  • Fling said I’m brave, but I’ve been with bad men. Yet I’m wiser now and in good company with someone who cares and would not drag anyone into needless danger.
  • He sees himself as dependable, down to earth, closest of companions, and occasional protector. A through thick and thin, to hell and back sort of guy.

I have to say Fling’s answers were a bit worrisome. Sam turned Bill loose at the Gates of Moria. True, they were reunited, but . . . . Are the Gates of Moria on our horizon?

Tolkien of My Affection is a dangerous game. On the surface of it, the object is simply to understand the other person and yourself a little better. However, very often you find out a lot about yourself, and the other person, and what sort of relationship you think you have with them and they think they have with you.

You know, like, why did both Fling and I see ourselves as humanish creatures (semi-elvish royalty; rude hobbit) but each other as non-humanish creatures (magical sword; intelligent pony).  Why did each of us see the other as something subject to our power: Isildur owns and uses Narsil, Sam owns and uses Bill. What does this say about us as individuals? About our relationship?

This game is a bit like the Ring itself. Once you pick it up, you can’t stop playing with it. So if you haven’t picked it up, For Galadriel’s sake don’t. It will drive you mad.

The Art of Failure


Presumably Her Grace will live long time and over that span have her portrait painted many times. This means she can afford to give the odd bad portrait a gracious overlook. But I do find it very sad she didn’t put a little more effort and thought into her first royal portrait for  . . . oh, so many, many reasons.

As an Art History major, she must know the above is a bad portrait. This is not to say it’s bad art. There’s a difference. Freedom is something artists should have — when they do with their own individual art. It is not something they should have when doing portrait. Otherwise, the resulting work is “an art work by . . . .” rather than “a portrait of . . . .”  It becomes about the artist not the sitter.

Her Grace’s portrait is all about the artist, not the sitter. That’s partially Her Grace’s fault. She was only able to give Emsley 2 sittings, so he had to work primarily from photos — always a bad thing. But it’s mostly the fault of The National Gallery, which commissioned Paul Emsley, winner of its BP Portrait Award in 2007, to carry out the first official painted portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Now, I understand that  a wealthy and well-known art dealer agreed to paid for the portrait. And Her Grace could hardly have objected to adding a portrait by a famous artist to The National Gallery (of which she is patroness), especially as it could be obtained for nothing more than 2 sittings. But Paul Emsley isn’t known for beautiful color (most his works are grey) or his composition (always the huge head in the dead center of the canvas).

Barring some strong guidance by the sitter (Her Grace) any expectation of something other than a “Paul Emsley” was foolish. Left to his own devices, he did what he always does as an artist. And he’s a very good artist (born in Glasgow, but raised and from South Africa), but he’s really not a portrait painter. Great portrait painters capture the essence of a person in a way that will resonate through the corridors of time and will make the subject known to all who look upon him or her.

I understand Her Grace’s only instruction was that he wished to be portrayed “naturally,” but naturally simply means as who she is. Who the Duchess of Cambridge is — and has always been, even as Miss Catherine Middleton — is a young, beautiful, stylish, intelligent, fashionable, charming, warm, caring, funny, smiling human being. Yet none of this comes through.

This portrait could have been a statement about herself and about modern British democratic, equality, the elevation of “commoner as royal.” She should have been portrayed in totality, as the beautiful, stylish, intelligent, fashionable, charming, smiling young woman she is. But the artist actually decided she was “too beautiful” and apparently purposely painted her ugly. He also decided she shouldn’t be smiling because “most portraits don’t s show teeth.” I’m sorry but Her Grace is beautiful and she naturally smiles. This should have spurred the man on to do a portrait of a royal that was “ground breaking” — in that it showed her smiling!

There were so many things that could have done and said with this portrait, the portrait of a commoner who will one day be queen, and will soon be mother of a future king or queen. So many missed opportunities to speak to people (for generations) via this portrait. It’s tragic. I could have made a better natural portrait of the young duchess!

See, even I could make a better modern, unsmiling potrait!

See, even I could make a better modern, toothless potrait!

He might have portrayed her outdoors, beside a large oak (representing England). He could have shown her in the city of London, or at the cottage she and Prince William live in Wales. She might have been near an object that represents Africa (a place she and Prince William love and where they became engaged). He might even have gone for a little humor and painted her beside a spray of wisteria (the British press referred to Kate and Pippa as “the wisteria sisters” — ie, social climbers).

That this portrait above was the end result of 6 months work is just sad. This work makes Her Grace look 20 years older that she is, dowdy, and not a little drunk. A friend of mine that saw it wondered aloud if the artist “hated all royals or just Kate?” It would seem as though Emsley felt Her Grace’s personality equivalent to wallpaper. What other explanation for the way her dark dress and dark hair blend into the dark background? It’s as if he is wishing she would just disappear.

This is just an epic fail by a great artist.

One never places the subject of a picture, let alone a portrait, in the dead middle. It’s poor composition. Or worse, no composition. The eye has nothing to draw it, no reason to linger. The use of color is awful. She’s a brunette, in a dark blue dress. She should be on a light background so one can see her hair and clothing. And for heaven’s sake, a person’s posture, gestures/manner, their personal dress sense, the things/places they love . . . all of that belongs in a personal portrait. That’s what tells you about the person.

Just compare the above “natural” portrait of Her Grace to the natural style portrait by Gainsborough (c. 1760) of his 2 daughters below. You barely see their clothing or their cat, but their posture, expression, attitude all comes through. You know who these girls are, despite their youth. You relate to them, despite the fact they lived 275 years ago! This is a glorious natural portrait. Too bad the Duchess of Cambridge couldn’t hire Gainsborough!


The Last Holiday

Last Holiday Premiere 13

Christmas was my last holiday. My resolution for 2013 was to throw holidays out with the tree. Needless to say, there was no traditional New Year’s Day Feast at Chez Indra. To the shock and horror of all, I just packed my bags and went skiing — in Europe. I left a note on the door however: “On Holiday.”

I think holidays are great. I love the what they are about in essence. I feel the same about birthdays, bridal showers, baby showers, graduations, anniversaries, weddings, wakes, . . . the lot. They can be joyful good fun, but typically not so much. So I’ve instituted a new protocol for the new year:

  • I shall only be attending or throwing true parties (ie, those thrown for a particular good reason — such as the winemakers’ end of the harvest party),
  • AND, at which the majority of guests will be strangers (people to whom I have little or no connection).

I believe it’s ok to draw the line under things you wish to be no part of. Really. Something may have been your reality, you may even have believed with all your heart it was reality. But in reality, it was only one version of reality. You can create a new reality. At any time.

People tend always to extrapolate their current reality to all time and all peoples. So foolish. Things are always changing. Things can always be different, be better, be more wonderful. You just need to live your own life, your own way. Forge your own version of reality. It’s ok to do that. No matter what anyone temporarily existing in your current reality might say!

I love Queen Latifah’s Last Holiday. One of my favorite holiday films! And yes, I spent my holiday at the Grandhotel Pupp!

I love a really glaring Hexenbiest of an error

Hello, this is your Hexenbiest calling!

Hello, this is your Hexenbiest calling!

The other day I found someone had read a copy of a book I wrote a few years ago, The Extra Man (Book 3, set at Easter).  They’d given it 5 stars, which amazed me. So I went, with a bit of a spring in my step, to the stack of books to be mailed out to the December giveaway winners and . . . I was missing a book!

I had accidentally mailed a winner an old proof copy that was riddled with errors.  Yes, sad but true. And since I don’t know who got the bad book, and Goodreads doesn’t allow authors to contact winners  . . . .

Proof Copy?!” screamed I. “Holy Frack! That’s going to make for a bad review!”

How on earth had I missed that? Moi! I cursed; I stomped my feet; I thought about tearing my hair out (but alas, I have really super hair). In short, I flew into a rage.

Then I laughed.  Really, did it matter that much?  No one who’d won a book had posted a review yet. If I ever they did, I thought, I’d just comment that I accidentally sent a proof copy. But I’m not crying over spilled milk at this point.

All I can say is what Fling recently pointed up (via a text from a great distance):

Tempest + Teapot = Typical Indra

so true!

For anyone that cares, I decide to make the first 3 books of my old series free to download through January (ePub format) for readers as a semi-atonement to whomever  I gipped out there. These books can be read as stand alones, so if you want to read Book 3 first, or only, no matter.

Let Those Leeches Go!


See this bowl of leeches? Would you ever pull a leech out and stick it on your person? Ever?

No? I didn’t think so.

But many people walk around covered in leeches. Some they put on themselves, some others stuck to them. And the thing about leeches is, as long as your willing to feed them, they not only hang on, they grow.

This year, do yourself a favor. If you find yourself being sucked dry by a physical leech (some person/friend/intimate/coworker) or emotional leech (of fear, hatred, grief, regret, bitterness) pluck it off and walk away.

It’s that simple.

Original sin, or why I love plagarism


The Countess di Castiglione dressed as the queen of hearts for a Paris ball, making an allusion to the fact she was Napoleon III’s mistress. Her husband was not best pleased. She was. She took this photo several years later, after she broke up with Nappy III. Apparently fame by scandal was something she enjoyed, and lacking a current scandal fame by a scandal relived was just as good.

Here’s a smattering of facts I recently came across.

The wedding day of Prince Amedeo and Donna Maria Vittoria was marred by the following tragic events:

  • The best man shot himself.
  • The palace gatekeeper slit his throat.
  • The King’s aide died after falling from his horse.
  • The bride’s wardrobe mistress hanged herself.
  • The colonel leading the wedding procession collapsed from sunstroke.
  • The stationmaster was crushed to death under the wheels of the honeymoon train.

The Wikipedia article’s author (quoted verbatim here), references Roger L. Williams, Gaslight and Shadow: The World of Napoleon III, 1851–1870 (NY: Macmillan, 1957), 156–7, as the source of the information. But, realistically, these are facts. Mr Williams probably got these facts from others’ accounts of the wedding, which he in turn probably credited in his book.

I understand Mr Williams is writing a highly academic book, and footnoting the devil out of it. Academics have their tenure and their careers to think of. I understand Wikipedia wants to be taken seriously as an encyclopedia. But, realistically, for everyone else in the world “facts is facts.”

Neil Zawaki, of the Blog of Bad, rephrased Prince Amedeo’s wedding this way . . .

To start with, the best man shot himself. This was followed by the gatekeeper slitting his own throat, and the wardrobe mistress hanging herself. Why these people chose to end their lives in such a dramatic fashion is not clear, but it appears they did not approve of the nuptials. The military official leading the procession then suffered from sunstroke, though he fared slightly better than the stationmaster, who was mangled to death after falling into the gears of the honeymoon train. Oh, and the king’s aide died after getting thrown from his horse.

Neil restates the Wikipedia material in a different way, so no one can call it plagiarism. However, he leaves out (or worse changes) many facts. And that’s my issue with “anti-plagiarism” proponents.  They push writers into creating convoluted fictions instead of stating clear facts.

  • The PALACE gatekeeper. Not the gatekeeper.
  • The BRIDE’s wardrobe mistress, not the wardrobe mistress.
  • The COLONEL, not the military official. The WEDDING procession, the not the procession. COLLAPSED, not suffered sunstroke.
  • The king’s aide FELL from his horse. He wasn’t thrown.
  • The stationmaster, was CRUSHED under the WHEELS, not mangled in the gears, of the train.

And by the way, the wardrobe mistress killed herself way before the wedding — and the bride insisted a new wedding dress be made because of it.

The colonel collapsed leading the procession to the church, thus delaying the event.

The palace gate then failed to open for the procession — and people thought gatekeeper had refused to open as a snub to the bride and a further delay of the wedding — but then they found him a pool of blood.

The best man accidentally shot himself, just after the wedding, with his ceremonial weapon. If you’re asking why a ceremonial gun carried at a wedding was loaded, it was because the groom was widely hated people and an assassination attempt was a real possibility.

The official in charge of the wedding documents had a stroke.

Then the station master was crushed to death so the King, the groom’s father, suggested the wedding party return to the castle, however, the Count di Castiglione was thrown from his horse.

He fell under the bridal carriage, which rolled over him. He might have lived had not the weight of the wagon wheels pushed a ceremonial medal through his uniform and into his chest. He died a day later — though probably not unhappily as his much younger trophy wife/royal whore had spent all his money and ruined his reputation by that time!