Changing Attitudes

                                               Sharla Here

This week’s blog is going to be very different from past ones. Until now I have mainly focused on Myron’s novel, Twist; however, today I am going to introduce you to Perfect Fingers.

If you saw Myron’s post about the upcoming re-release of Perfect Fingers, you know that this novel is about a man in the 1970’s who gravitates to communes and tries to live a Zen life during that critical time when our country was convulsed by change and obsessed with self-discovery.

The 1970’s were, in many ways, the heart of the second wave of feminism: the US opened their first battered women’s shelter, colleges began offering women studies courses, the first women’s bank was opened, Title IX for equal education was passed, many organizations finally agreed to admit women, and for the first time in history more women entered college than men. While Perfect Fingers does not focus on The Women’s Rights Movement, many issues surrounding women and equality are prevalent in the novel.

One example is the way Perfect Fingers portrays sex and relationships, which mirrors society’s changing attitude toward these issues in the 1970s. In Perfect Fingers, men as well as women seek out non-monogamous sexual relationships. This idea, for women to want a sexual relationship, was taboo in the 1970’s, and still is in many circles today. Throughout the ’60s and ’70s this taboo was slowly releasing and many of the women in Perfect Fingers break out of traditional roles involving romantic relationships. However, not all of the women in the novel feel this way; some prefer monogamous relationships. Obviously, it makes sense that not all women feel the same way and want the same things. However, to use a religious metaphor, the mainstream attitude in society was that all women fell along two lines: the pure and holy Virgin Mary or the bad sinful whore Mary Magdalene. Like all dichotomies, this portrayal is over simplified and inapplicable to the real world.WomenWhile The Women’s Rights Movement sought equal pay, equal opportunities, fair treatment, and the end of inequality based on gender, they also sought to change societal attitudes toward women. By portraying women as individuals, instead of generalizing their beliefs and actions based on their gender, Perfect Fingers embodies a change in our society. This change represents a shift away from viewing humans as males and females—who must fit into a mold and only follow one path depending on their gender—and a shift toward seeing us all as human beings. Which is, in the end, the ultimate goal of anyone fighting for equality. Perfect Fingers explores the shifts of attitudes on how women and men are “supposed” to act in many more ways than just sex and relationships. However, that is a blog for another day.

That was just a taste of Perfect Fingers; hopefully, I didn’t give too much away. If you have anything to add to today’s blog please post below! Also, if you have any suggestions for next week post here or on Myron’s Facebook Page.

Lastly, Myron is having a contest and offering a FREE copy of Perfect Fingers, before the public release. Click here to read more about it. Well, that’s all for me today, I will see you next week.

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Ice to Lakes And Oceans To Steam

A vast expanse of sparkling snow and ice, a chill in the air that only polar bears can stand, and frozen water as far as the eye can see. This was the North Pole on April 30th. Global Warming

Clear water with only a hint of blue, the sun dancing off the surface of a lake, light reflecting back on all who approach. This is the North Pole now.

After reading that the North Pole has turned into a lake, it seemed like everything else I saw today was about some cataclysmic event. Next, I read this cheery article: Ice-free Arctic in two years. An Arctic expert, Prof Peter Wadhams, now projects that the Arctic will be melty slush and all the summer ice will disappear by 2015. While hard to believe, after seeing the picture of a melted north pole, this seemed plausible and holds a thread of terror for me.

Then, that thread turned into a whole damn sweater—the planet overheating, the oceans boiling, the atmosphere filling with steam, and the earth dying. This little scenario is what happened to our nearby neighbor Venus, and according to new research this maybe what’s in store for Earth. As the sun gets brighter and warmer our planet will enter a danger zone where runaway greenhouse effects take over. The Good news? This will not happen for at least 1.5 billion years, and it is unlikely that we mere mortals can cause this event without the help of a hotter sun.

Santa’s workshop may be screwed and the Arctic may disappear, but don’t worry, the oceans won’t boil quite yet.

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Everyone Digs The Rolling Stones, Even Whales

Whether we are hopping into our cars, going for a run, working on our computers, sitting around the house, or simply cooking, we all tend to turn on our favorite music and soak in the notes. All of us have a favorite band that we firmly believe exemplifies all we are about. When our favorite songs are played, we can’t help but tap our feet to the beat. Because of our appreciation of music we may think we are enlightened and exceptionally intelligent, but it seems Homo sapiens aren’t the only mammals who like to groove…

I read this article today, talking about a researcher, Dr. Paul Spong, and his orca friend Hyak. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Spong would lug large underwater speakers into Hyak’s tank, play music for him, and see his reaction, and he DID react. Hyak got to sample everything from Mozart to Ravi Shankar to The Moody Blues.

Working with whales in the Vancouver Aquarium, Spong soon discovered playing the same old shitty music over and over again not only annoys us naked apes, but also orcas. If Spong dared play a song Hyak had heard before, he would sulk in the corner of his tank and wouldn’t move until Spong put on some new grooves.

While all of this is interesting, the day Hyak heard the Rolling Stones for the first time was something else. When the LP of “Jumping Jack Flash” begun to play, Hyak swam at Spong, leaped out of the water, spun in circles, splashed, barrel rolled, slapped his fins, and kept on grooving. This reaction was unique and was one that he brought out only for the Stones.

I would say the morale to this story is: everyone digs the Rolling Stones, even whales! So give Hyak’s favorite song  a listen and see if  you feel the urge jump with Jack, or at least bob your head.

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$32 Billion And 2.4 Million People

                                                              Sharla Here!

Spoiler alert: If you are reading my little blog before you’ve read Twist, it may ruin a few surprises. Also, if you have not yet read it, some of this won’t make much sense. So, please read Twist before proceeding!

Human Trafficking

It’s Wednesday, so here I am again to offer my 2¢. Today I read an article about a thriving international business that earns $32 billion a year. This business is illegal, harmful, and ruins lives. How many of you jumped straight to drugs? Then maybe firearms? Wrong on both accounts. One of the largest black market businesses is human trafficking. So, today this is what I will be talking about.

While the bulk of modern slavery is often women and girls, thousands of men and children, all around the world, are victims as well. It is estimated that over 2.4 million people are shackled to this industry.

Despite the obvious illegality, inhumanity, and cruelty of this business, internationally, there has been a lack of investment to combat it. Does any of this sound familiar to Twist readers? Homeless children being lied to about a better future, being kidnaped, and used. If you’ve read Twist, you know human trafficking is still alive and well in Myron’s dystopian future. In Twist, Montrose was aware of the atrocities being done in his city, yet he refused to act against them. Adam Twist confronts Montrose, and finds out the truth:

“You knew about that?”

“I suspected,” said Montrose…

“You knew about the private little hunting lodge down below. And what’s in there?”

“There were rumors”

“You went along with it?”

“You don’t understand. I couldn’t stop him. There was nothing I could do.”

“C’mon. You’re the man in charge.”

This exchange is one I can easily see playing out in the real world. I fear if we do not do something soon about human trafficking, the corruption of 2075 is one we, in the present, will face. While following over $32 billion dollars across the world to find and end modern slavery is a difficult task, it is one that needs to be done. If you are interested in learning more about human trafficking, here is a resource about national human trafficking, and one about international human trafficking.

Well that’s all for today folks. I will be back next week to talk more about issues surrounding women in the real world and in Myron’s. Don’t be shy, comment below to talk about this week’s blog. Also, if you have any ideas for next week post below or to Myron’s Facebook page.

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Zero Gravity Coffee

You wake up, sleep is crusted in your eyes, your back aches from a night of tossing and turning, and you have a long day ahead of you. Then, you press the magic button that starts the flow of energy. Well, the flow of coffee, but they are one in the same.

I came across a video today, The Zero Gravity Coffee Cup. This grabbed my attention instantly, and I soon began watching a video that explained how coffee is literally an out-of-this-world beverage.

As we all know, there is less gravity in space, but have you ever thought about what that means for astronauts? Apparently, even their piss doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.

All liquids react differently in microgravity, but my friend coffee may be the most bizarre. In order to enjoy a hot cup of joe, astronauts must struggle through the following steps:

  1. Somehow manage to get the coffee in the cup. This is extremely difficult.
  2. Then, throw the years of experience you have drinking liquid out the space station window.
  3. Beware: if you bring the cup to your mouth, that dark liquid will stubbornly refuse to flow.
  4. Now, as your frustration builds, you should angrily shake the cup.
  5. Next, hope and pray that a few splashes will emerge and trickle into your mouth.

All you aspiring space travelers out there, do not despair! There is hope! Scientists have invented a microgravity cup. This cup may look like useless sheets of plastic glued together, but there is method behind the madness. The two surfaces meet close enough that liquid will naturally follow the line. This allows you not only the ability to tip a cup to your mouth, but also allows the liquid to flow into your parched lips.

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Free Sneak Preview For Early Readers!

                                          Free Sneak Preview For Early Readers!

Perfect FingerHere’s the latest news, hot off the digital press! The Booktrope edition of Perfect Fingers, my novel of ‘70s America, will be released in just a few weeks! The book follows a young man – one of the many who gravitated to communes after growing up in suburban sprawl – through that critical time of the Vietnam War and anti-war protests, when our entire country was convulsed by change and obsessed with self-discovery.

I am looking for people who are interested in joining an exclusive social marketing team dedicated to providing feedback and helping spread the word about Perfect Fingers. Your feedback is invaluable, and I am hoping you are interested in joining my team. As a member of the launch team, you’ll not only receive an electronic edition of the book before it’s available to the public but also gain special access to me and all of Team Myron via a private Facebook group. I will also hold a drawing for a free autographed first-edition print copy!

In return, all I ask is that you leave a short, honest review of Perfect Fingers on Amazon no later than 08/31/13, share the release date and your feedback with everyone and anyone, and provide your ideas, via our private Facebook page, on how to reach a wider audience. Interested? Send an email to myronnight@myronnight.com. with your name, email address, and a brief explanation as to why you want to join Team Myron, no later than 7/31/13. Those selected will be notified via email on 8/5/13 and receive their pre-publication electronic edition of Perfect Fingers.

Thank you in advance for your help in launching my most recent novel. Your support is greatly appreciated!

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Earth’s Crystal Ball

The Antarctic getting hot, ice sheets turning into slush, Colorado-sized ice slabs slipping into the ocean, and sea levels rising 65 feet. This dystopian picture is not just one from Twist, but is a reflection of the Earth’s past and her future.

“Who told us there was no such thing as global warming? Bye-bye L.A. Bye-bye New York, San Francisco, Miami—all the costal cities gone, and the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi valley right to our front door. If only I’d had a crystal ball.”

Adam Twist’s wish might just have come true: researchers seem to have a new crystal ball, Earth’s geological record. Lately, in environmental news, studies have been linking events from thousands of years past to our plausible future. A few weeks ago, I blogged about how evidence from weathering 93 million years ago shows the way our planet will recover from global warming in the future. Today, I read a new study that explores a time period, 5.3 million years ago, when the atmosphere had similar levels of CO2.  According to this study, the high temperatures and CO2 count 5 million years ago are what we expect the Earth to reach again by the year 3000. During that harsh period, almost no ice sheets survived. The ice sheets on Greenland and the West Antarctic were completely melted. They previously thought the East Antarctic was safe and cold; however, researchers discovered it was quickly liquefying too. This contributed to the rapid and high rise in sea levels. Scientists are predicting that if temperature increases remain constant and ice melts as it has in the past, the seas could rise 65 feet! To repeat Adam Twist,  “Bye-bye”.

globalwarming

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Overused Female Tropes

                                                        Sharla Here!

Spoiler alert: If you are reading my little blog before you’ve read Twist, it may ruin a few surprises. Also, if you have not yet read it, some of this won’t make sense. So, please read Twist before proceeding!

Hello again everyone! Last week, I talked about domestic violence, and the character Sal. Today, I’m going to be taking a slightly different angle, and will be blogging about how gender relationships are portrayed in Twist, as well as other media outlets.

Women

All too often in films, comics, novels, and video games men’s relationships with women are two-dimensional. Here is a link to a video blogger who entertainingly, talks about the unhealthy way women are portrayed in the media. Below are some of the repeated absurd themes we all know too well.

  • Men as the hero and as women the damsel in distress
  • Women as the hyper sexualized sub character to be conquered
  • Women as the evil seductress

Now, taking these three common tropes, let’s explore Adam Twist’s relationships with women. As I read Twist, I originally feared Dora would fall into the 1st category. However, I was greatly relieved when this wasn’t the case. While Dora is a woman in
trouble and Adam does help save her, she is not a helpless woman. She runs away from her home to escape Calley’s abuse. Even though her escape attempt lands her in another abusive relationship, she was not a woman who simply sat by and waited to be rescued. She took action to get out of her situation.

How about Sal? At first, readers may assume that Sal and Adam’s relationship is also an example of the first trope, but if you read a little further, the truth is revealed. Adam disapproves of how Sal’s husband treats her, yet he refuses to embrace the hero stereotype and step in gun’s blazing. Instead, in the end of the novel, Sal becomes her own hero.

Let’s talk about Kit, my favorite character. She is described as beautiful, young, and can kick anyone’s ass, although she is also a little crazy. I have seen far too many stories develop this character: a sexy, strong and independent women who the male protagonist chases after, and in the end, of course, she sees the error of her headstrong and cold ways and falls for the male hero. Thankfully, this is not the case with Kit.

“We could have fallen into the rustling grass and gotten naked and brought the two sad halves of ourselves together…But we didn’t. ‘Better get going.’ I(Adam) said.”

You’re so prepared for the cliche to play out, yet the relationship between Kit and Adam remains, mostly innocent. No conquest of the attractive, fierce heroine. In fact, the only one who tries to initiate any sexual relationship is Kit.

Finally, the last stereotype: women as evil seductresses. This character is so over played and unoriginal that I want to throw things every time it rears its ugly head. When was the last time you saw a male character wear a v-neck, excessively tight pants, and speak slow and seductively to get his way? Oh ya… NEVER! This seductress trope, which is applied almost exclusively to women, represents a very unhealthy attitude in society. It mirrors the false idea that a woman’s main attribute is her sexuality so she must use it to get what she wants. I was ecstatic to discover that no such woman existed in Twist.

Those are just the tip of the iceberg regarding women stereotypes in mass media, and only the tip of the gender relationships in Twist; however, that is all I have time for today. Thanks for reading, and I will see you again next week. Also, don’t be shy, comment here or on Myron’s Facebook page with suggestions or questions for next week.

 

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Creatively and Deliciously Eating Your Words

Hot coffee, sizzling bacon, steaming eggs, melting chocolate, and crisp bread.

Gothic 21 Condensed, Times, Comic Sans, and Courier New.

Until today, I had no idea in hell how these two lists related to each other: food and fonts.

Click-click-click: this is the sound that pours out of my keyboard while I write, well type… Strange isn’t it? I see my words, thoughts, and imaginations pop up on a screen, not in my illegible scrawl, but in Cambria. Have you ever searched through the copious amounts of fonts on your word processor? There are bold fonts, cursive fonts, curvy fonts, tiny fonts, and gibberish fonts. What is the purpose of all these fonts? Surely no human being could ever use them all, or even want to. Apparently, I am not the only loon out there who wastes cranial energy thinking about such things. According to The Huffington Post, a new purpose for this plethora of typed calligraphy is food. Someone looked at all these fonts, and decided they wanted to creatively and deliciously eat their words!

Kotryna Zilinskiene and Migle Vasiliauskaite, and Vytenis Zilinskas and Linas Mikoliūnas created a menu that paired their favorite fonts with their favorite cuisine. They cooked the food, served it, and gave a font history lesson in the process.

Here is a taste of their creativity.

1 kava-maz (1)coffee

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From Django Unchained to Adam Twist

The last couple of weeks, issues surrounding race have been blanketing the news, from the Supreme Court decision on The Voting Rights Act, to the racial overtones of the Zimmerman trial. So, this weekend I opened my copy of Twist,and revisited the issue of race in the year 2075In the world of Adam Twist which I created, many of today’s concerns are extrapolated into the future of 2075: homelessness, human cruelty, sexual violence, a ravished environment and government corruption, but not race. There is one mention that the major female character, Kit,

“…was a beauty, like some kind of rough-edged street goddess. High cheekbones, dark eyes and deep complexion. Mixed blood. Native-American, Hispanic or Afro, maybe all three.”

And that’s about it in terms of race. Even the protagonist, Adam Twist, is ambiguous – could be played by Harrison Ford or Denzel Washington, works either way. So not all is bad in the future – race may no longer be a hot issue.

After this happy realization about the future, I then switched gears into the past by finally watching Django Unchained. As the final credits rolled, I tried to put this film into a box. Does it have layers of social commentary? Is it about racial inequality? No, forget those nice words out of a sociology textbook – it’s about slavery, a merciless punch in our face with the raw brutality and human agony of one group of people capturing, tormenting and forcing their will upon another. Sure, the scene with the KKK halting mid raid because they can’t see out of their hoods is absurd and humorous, but what better way to expose injustice and cruelty of the past than by exposing the stupidity of the perpetrators? But then there is the scene in which the plantation master orders his men to release their dogs to rip apart a slave who tried to escape. Hard to watch? Make your lily-livered ass squirm in your chair? Too bad, because Tarantino is going to rub your face in the slime whether you like it or not. Remember the eye gouging in Kill Bill?

This film is genius writing, as well as casting. Samuel L. Jackson as the obsequious house slave Stephan, and Leonardo DiCaprio as the vicious, violent yet charming slave owner, added a whole new layer of humor, satire and irony to the film. You can’t help but laugh darkly as Jackson hobbles into shot, a mixture of yassuhs, boot-licking servility, and short-tempered obscenities.

Finally, I came to the realization I come to about most Tarantino films: Yes, it is a cocktail of spurting blood, exposed entrails, absurd plot, dark humor, fast action, and clever wit, but it also carries a hard kernel of truth, in this case tracing a trajectory from an ugly past which we try to keep hidden, into the present and, by extrapolation, into a future in which today’s confusion and stupidity about the issue of race will seem as monumentally boneheaded as that of Django Unchained.

DjangoUnchainedOfficialPosterPT

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