Sunday, January 29, 2006

But before I go ...

I have some recommendations for y'all.

Spooky movie recommendations:

- "The Grudge" starring Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy"!). LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie! It's spooky as hell and a great homage to the original.
- "Ju-On" starring I'm not sure who. This is the movie "The Grudge" was based on. It's even scarier. And leave the subtitles on, because nothing is lamer than bad American dubbing. The story is more in-depth than the American, so watch the American version first. Then scare yourself silly with the second one. Ghost story prime awesomeness!
- "Haunted" starring Aidan Quinn. Great ghost story! A fun, old-fashioned ghost movie.

Book recommendations:

- "Grave Intent" by Deborah LeBlanc. Her writing will get under your skin. This is her second book. Give her a read! Plus, she's a total peach! A real sweetheart of a Cajun! ;-) I'm hoping she'll have a book signing up here in Moline.
- "Harry Potter and ..." by J.K. Rowling. Love them all. Love every one. I can't WAIT TO SEE "Goblet of Fire" on the IMAX screen next weekend. I'm counting down the days!

TV recommendations:
- "Lost" - What a great show! Rent the first season, though. Catch up. You'll be, well, lost if you don't.
- "House" - How can Hugh Laurie be so British when he's so arrogant American? What an interesting, intelligent show that is also kind of playful in a weird way. I love the characters and the medical mysteries.
- "CSI" - Speaking of mysteries, this one has them. It's a great show that makes me feel like I'm let in on a really smart secret. It's also probably why I think I should buy Urine Gone, which is not only seen on TV but also comes with a blacklight so you can see where exactly your cat has peed. Note: I watch the original "CSI" but not the Miami one. David Carruso is weird.
- "Boston Legal" - My new addition to my faves. I started watching it when Michael J. Fox was announced to have a four-episode arc. Not only is he wonderful, but the rest of the cast is brilliant. It's quirky enough to get me to watch a lawyer show, and William Shatner is a hoot!

That's it for today!

I finally think I know what I want to be when I grow up.

And it's a celebrant.

I just discovered this today. A celebrant is "is a person who has been trained and certified to meet the needs of families during their time of loss. They serve by providing a funeral service or tribute that is personalized to reflect the personality and lifestyle of the deceased," according to They are not religiously affiliated, but provide services for all kinds of people. This is exactly want to do! Aside from writing, of course. I even looked into becoming a funeral director at one time because I wanted to help people through their grief. But I really have no desire to embalm people. I don't have a problem with the practice, but it's just not my thing. Plus, being a funeral director is a tough job--aside from prepping bodies. It's hard work with tough hours.

Anyway, check this out: "According to the American Religious Identification Survey, Americans who answer 'none' when asked to identify their religion numbered 29.4 million in 2001, more than double the 14.3 million in 1990. If unbelievers had their own state--the state of None--its population would be the second largest state: California, 34.5 million; None, 29.4 million, Texas, 21.3 million." George Will, Washington Post 5/5/05

This is fascinating stuff. How I found out about this profession is through a link one of my e-mail listmates sent out (thank you, Stephanie!). It was to a story on Richard Pryor's memorial service. Being spiritual but not religious, the Pryors did not want a religious service. Instead, they hired Pam Vetter ( I was immediately intrigued and had to learn more. That's when I went to the site. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

If I get a chance tonight when the cats (three of 'em!) are quiet and not being nosey (yeah, right) and Bill is downstairs drawing, I think I'll give my podcast recording a go. We'll see!

For those of you in the Quad-City area, I highly recommend you visit Crazy Wok. It's an Asian fusion restaurant on 53rd in Davenport (a few blocks east of Brady Street--not down on the Borders end of town). It's fabulous! I got the Mango Coconut Fried Rice with cashews, raisins and tofu. Oh my gosh, is it ever good! I'm going to have my leftovers right now!

Gotta run! Delectible Asian food awaits!


Friday, January 27, 2006

Movies and how people screw everything up

I just read an article on AlterNet ( about how Steven Soderbergh is releasing his new movie "Bubble" in theaters, then showing it days later on HDNET, and then releasing it on DVD only days after that. Why? Because he wants to beat movie piraters at their game.

Beating movie piraters is something I'm all for. With sticks and such. Too many people work too hard to have people steal their work. And I'm not talking about the Steven Spielbergs and the Jerry Bruckheimers of the industry that have more money than the world. I'm talking about those long lists of people in the credits most people bail out on. My husband and I stay for them after every movie we see in the theater. Everyone deserves some recognition.

But back to Soderbergh's new brain scheme. It's not helping matters. Here's the deal. People are not going to movies because they can't afford them. In little Davenport, Iowa, and little Moline, Illinois, movies cost $9 for an adult ticket. A few years ago I visited a friend in Minnesota, and we saw a movie at the Mall of America, the biggest tourist-trap shopping extravaganza in the Midwest. At that time, the movies there cost the same amount at the movies in my much smaller hometown. How disgusting is that?

Why are movie ticket costs so high? Is it the evil movie theaters? Partially. But you can't totally blame them. When it costs $50 million dollars for a movie to be made (and a lower budget one, at that), someone has to pay through the nose for it for the investors to get their money back. "King Kong" didn't do nearly as well at the box office as predicted, not because no one wanted to see it. I'm betting it's because people really didn't have the spare cash. I know a bunch of my friends didn't. One of my good friends loves movies. But times are tight, and movies are now low on his priority list (Thanks, George W., for your tremendous presidenting skills).

So, are people pirating movies because they are broke? Probably some are. Others like the thrill of "getting to see something first." Or of doing something bad but not "really" bad. I know someone in his early 20s who thinks he's awesome because he can get a hold of some movies before they are even released. Why? Who cares? Why would anyone want to watch a crappy bootleg copy of a film on a computer screen or TV? Just to say they did? Whatever. Sounds like a loser who needs to get a girlfriend or boyfriend to me.

Anyway, this article made me want to vent. If people in Hollywood want to make changes that are really going to matter, don't dumb yourself down. Don't lower yourself to the lowest perceived common denomenator. It's insulting. Step up and take real action. The fact that Soderbergh only spent $1.7 million on making this film (which is still, yikes, a lot of money to a poor sot like me) is much more impressive. Keep it real, Steven. And that goes for all filmmakers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What's Your Epitaph Say?

Take this quiz at

Just a little fun thing sent to one of the lists I'm a member of.

I'm half-way done with the book proposal. I've also started a paper proposal for the Museum of Funeral Customs 2006 Symposium. And I'm going to send in a proposal for the Association for Gravestone Studies annual conference. Gotta get out there! There's info about these conferences at, if anyone is interested in checking them out.

I've been going to the fitness center at the college I work for off and on for the past month or so. I went yesterday. It's pretty nice. Eliptical machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, stair-steppers, etc. And there's no charge for students or employees. I brought my workout clothes today again, but I've been feeling kind of crappy most of the day. I don't know if I ate something that didn't settle well with me or what. But I know that I don't feel up to getting on a treadmill after work, that's for sure. I think I need a nap.

Otherwise all is well in our little end of the world. I hope it is in yours.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New book on the way

It has been ages since my last post--over a month! What a slacker.

Here's what's been brewing in my cauldron while my blog has been idle. I held a book signing at Readmore Book World in Moline, Ill., on Dec. 10. There was Christmas and New Year's. I started volunteering for the Animal Aid Humane Society, which is a no-kill shelter near my house. I was on break from my day job for the holidays, which was totally awesome even if I was a little under the weather during a good part of it.

I've been working on the second issue of "Epitaphs Magazine," which is slated for a February release. Kristine, our designer, is working her magic right now.

The main thing I've been working on is the proposal for my second book. I will not be self-publishing this time. This time I am going for it and submitting it to an agent. It's been an interesting process trying to narrow down my topic for the book. At times it's been downright painful. It's tough to figure out your next step. Especially when I'm still working on promoting my first book. It's a major juggling act.

Yesterday I spoke to an advanced class of six students at Bettendorf Middle School (Bettendorf, Iowa). They have taken on the project of creating a walking tour brochure for Oakdale Memorial Park (where I co-directed the cemetery walk last September) in Davenport, Iowa. It was a lot of fun. They were so into what we were talking about that they asked their teacher if they could stay through the next class period.

This weekend I will be teaching a class on "The Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing." If I can help some other people wade their way through the process, then rock on. It can be daunting. The whole process of this book stuff can be daunting. I have enjoyed it very much and continue to, but I won't try to fool you into thinking it's easy and fun. You've got to have a lot of determination and time to get things done. I still need to do some legwork on getting a Borders signing lined up.

In other news, I'm working toward hosting a podcast for If you have any ideas about what you'd like to hear about on the podcast, let me know! I'm open to suggestions.

I plan to blog a little more often, so please stay tuned. Thanks for your continued support and happy cemetery haunting!