Saturday, February 27, 2016

The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same

I don't remember the first time I heard the saying, "The more things change, the more they remain the same," but I've found it to be true several times in my life.

Take last Sunday morning, for example.

My sister Kathleen and I were returning from a mini-writing retreat on Fripp Island, South Carolina, where we were guests of my generous and gracious writing friend, Berta Rosenberg. During our three-day visit, we had a wonderful time: catching up, sharing family stories, writing, talking about writing, doing a writing exercise, walking on the beach, eating new foods, and relaxing.

After saying goodbye to Berta, as we drove from Fripp and headed toward Beaufort, Kathleen and I discussed the possibility of finding a church so we could attend Sunday Mass. Being in an unfamiliar town, we didn't know where that might be.

But I had a plan. I had visited the cathedral in Savannah a few years ago, so I thought we could stop in Savannah on our way home and hope to catch a service there.

First, I was on a mission to find South Carolina tee-shirts for my grandkids. Berta told us we might find some at the Walgreen's in Beaufort, so that was our first stop. No luck. A cashier told us we might find some tee-shirts at a sporting goods store across the street. After making a wrong turn out of Walgreen's, I made a U-turn and followed a line of cars which veered off to the left into a parking lot. (I later found out the sporting goods store was on the right.)

Can you guess where the cars were headed? Into the parking lot of St. Peter's Catholic Church on Lady Island Drive in Beaufort. My sister and I read the church's sign, looked at each other, and decided divine providence had a hand in my making a wrong turn. "It was meant to be," we said in unison, and headed inside the lovely church, where Mass was to begin in seven minutes.

Even more surprising was that the Mass was a Latin high Mass, complete with incense, three priests celebrating, and several altar servers. Sitting in the pew I flashed back to my high school days wearing a chapel veil for Mass, which was celebrated in Latin until Junior year when the Church switched to English.

After leaving Beaufort we headed home, with a side trip in Savannah for lunch. We stopped at a casual restaurant on Bay Street and had a spinach salad and a mouth-watering 77 Monte Carlo sandwich, which was topped with powdered sugar. It was like eating French toast with ham and turkey inside.

From there, we walked off lunch until we found the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Harris Street. A police officer stood at the front door informing visitors know Mass was in session. We were welcome to come inside but not for a tour until Mass was complete. Kathleen and I ventured inside and found a pew in the back of the magnificent cathedral. My ears perked up when I heard the priest conducting the Mass in Latin. Families attended, with moms and young girls wearing chapel veils.

So, within the span of a few hours, we had attended not one but two Latin Masses, where women wore chapel veils.

The more things change . . .

Monday, February 15, 2016

What Watching "The Walking Dead" Has Taught Me About Writing

Super Bowl weekend, while the guys were out in the country and my granddaughter was on the road back to college, I did something I never expected to do. I decided not to watch the Super Bowl -- too much senseless violence (the joke was on me - keep reading).

While flipping through channels, I stumbled onto "The Walking Dead" marathon. I’m not a fan of guts and gore, so I was surprised at how much I liked the program. TWD has lots of gore and graphic violence, but I usually look away at those parts.

As soon as the guys returned, they started watching too. Much to my surprise, my husband, who prefers listening to political programs, became hooked. Monday morning, he suggested we turn on Netflix and watch previous episodes. While binge/watching episodes of TWD last week, I puzzled over why the show is so good. My answer is -- the writing. The actors do a great job, but without the well written scripts or direction there would be no story for the actors to portray.
Here's why I think TWD works so well:

  • The writers are masters at suspending disbelief. (A zombie apocalypse, really?)
  • The writers are masters at suspense/cliffhangers.
  • Each episode starts with action, draws me in, and keeps my attention.
  • The characters are well drawn and realistic, ditto for the dialogue.
  • The writers make me care about the characters. (Although I get angry when a character I like gets killed.)
  • Most of the characters don’t have fancy names. (How refreshing!)
  • They are everyday people thrown into an extraordinary event.
  • The heroes have flaws.
  • The villains (most of them) have some redeeming qualities.
  • Every episode has a surprise.
  • The program makes me feel more than think.
  • The story gets to the heart of the human condition. (What does it mean to be human?)
  • The writers skillfully weave in the themes of courage, sacrifice, survival, resourcefulness, family, and loyalty.
While I'm a recent TWD fan, that's my take on why the program works. Any other fans out there? If so, what are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

At the Top of My Most-Wanted Reading List: "Legendary Locals of St. Charles" by Don and Dianna Graveman

I love reading about regional history. So it comes as no surprise that the latest book from my good friend Dianna Graveman and her wonderful husband Don is at the top of my most-wanted reading list.

Don and Dianna's "Legendary Locals of St. Charles" has recently been released from Arcadia Publishing and the History Press.

In my opinion, the Gravemans themselves are local writing legends, having published four previous books about local history.

Don is a former St. Charles County Historical Society board member, and Dianna's writing is solid gold. She is an award-winning author, an editor, and an amazing public speaker. Both are passionate and knowledgeable about the topic, so I know the book will be great.

I was also thrilled to learn that "Legendary Locals of St. Charles" is included as one of five recommended reads for February in Alive magazine, which features "the latest in St. Louis arts, culture, and community happenings."

Check back later this month for my interview with the Gravemans and a review of "Legendary Locals of St. Charles."

Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...