earth day (g)

QofL Cover Amzn ver1a

For thousands of years, we’ve used and reused the same water as the dinosaurs, Galileo, Genghis Kahn, and Jesus. Until now. Now the water is chock full of contaminants that the ancients didn’t even know how to pronounce. That’s because Mama Nature doesn’t know how to remove radionuclides, usually held safely within the earth’s crust, and other chemicals found in the fracking wastewater that’s slowly making its way into Her rivers, lakes, and streams. Until now, we’d been sipping the same stuff as Adam and Eve. Until now.

Enjoy an excerpt from THE QUALITY OF LIGHT:

          She died that night. Doc attended the funeral along with dozens and dozens of ranchers and their families all come to pay their respects to this great woman, one of the “stickers” whose family had come in the late-1800s during the first boom and bust era of timbering and mining and oil and construction and who had stayed on to make a living. They worked the land for what it would produce – cattle. So when the time came and they asked if anyone wanted to say anything on behalf of this fine woman, Doc’s hand raised itself, his body stood up, and he took over the funeral.

“Twila’s great-grandfather was thrilled when the first oil men knocked on his door with a check and a promise. They may not have tamed the harsh out of the land, but at least they made it more hospitable. They built roads and paid well, and the ranchers loved them. That was the heyday when oil flowed like free love out of those great big underground reservoirs. Sweet gas, they called it. Back then a whisper could’ve coaxed that oil out of the ground.”   To read more of this post, click here…

earth day (e)

rainbow

Ten Things to Help SAVE THE PLANET

      It’s Earth Day, and you know what that means — Mom’s Birthday! Not your biological mother, but the Mother of Us All. Since it’s a holiday, we won’t dwell on all the intractable environmental problems that could potentially derail us as a species. We’ll save that discussion for another day. Instead, as a tribute to Mother Earth in all her, well, earthiness, here are ten things you can do to assure She makes it to Her next birthday and a few million after that.

1.  Think globally. Act locally.

2.  Eat organic.

3.  Conserve water, and drink more water, too.

4.  Walk more. Bike more. Drive less.

5.  Plant a tree or a pesticide-free garden (but not a rose garden; too much fertilizer).

6.  Sing. Yes, believe it or not. The planet is made up of sound so show your appreciation and join in Her song.

7.  Become consciously aware. Every moment spent rooted in the present is one more you won’t miss. Enjoy it to the fullest.

8.  Buy products that have a smaller environmental and carbon footprint, i.e. it’s okay if you can’t afford a Prius. Start small. Buying food sans excessive packaging that would end up in a landfill is perhaps just as important.

9.  Reduce, reuse, recycle. Not just bottles and cans, but clothes, shoes, appliances, electronics, whatever you can.

10.  Most importantly — vote with your wallet. As consumers, we hold tremendous sway over the products appearing on the shelves in our local markets. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them.  And if you really don’t like them, vote with your feet and walk to another store!

Over the next few months we’ll talk more about these things individually, but for now, Happy Earth Day.

Pam Lazos

4.22.14

 

Link

TerryTempestWilliam2_Credit_Debra_Anderson310

“I pray to the birds. I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day—the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.”
― Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place Read more

make a wish, baby

Quote

jinniWe’re all for diversity, including the natural and supernatural alike. Because sometimes, you know, a girl just feels like a golem, and that’s all there is to it.

“It is New York in 1899, and two strange immigrants have found one another. One is a Jinni, trapped in physical form by an evil wizard in ancient Syria and locked in a bottle for a thousand years. The Jinni is released by a hapless tinsmith as he attempts to repair the bottle in the slums of New York.  The Golem is a made to order bride, a woman created of clay and sparked to life with an incantation known only by her creator and by the husband who, minutes after bringing her to life in the hold of the ship bound for New York from Danzig, dies of a burst appendix.

Now we have: two super-humans, lost and made vulnerable by their “otherness.” We also have two strangers longing for connection to something not-human, and yet forced by circumstance to rely on humans and their strange customs. Finally, we have two beings, perhaps the last of their kind, who want more than anything, to live.”

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW HERE

high drama indie

 

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the movie I longed for all year without even knowing it.  It may be my favorite movie of 2013, not because of the high drama, indie chic, nail-biting tension, or classic one-liners, but for unraveling that tight knot inside my heart that I’d been carrying so long I no longer noticed its existence.  Directed by Ben Stiller and based on a short story by James Thurber, the movie tells the story of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an average guy doing a more than average job at Life Magazine, sadly on the verge of putting out its last issue.  Downsizing sucks, but that’s not Walter’s real problem.  His real problem is all those unrealized dreams that have been poking at him for years, adamant and demanding as they push to the surface, forcing him into a mini coma of a daydream.  Walter’s boss, Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott), a know-it-all nothing of a man laughs at him, not behind his back, but square in the face when this occurs.  Walter cares, but beyond daydreams of smashing Ted’s face in, does nothing.  It’s not that Walter’s a loser.  He’s any one of us who caught a bad break and once there, couldn’t make his way to a good one.

Walter’s bad break happened at 17 when his father died, forcing the former mohawk-wearing Walter had to stash his dreams to become the Man of the House for his mom and sister.  Years later, in his job as a “negative assets manager” Walter’s put out some of the greatest magazine covers the world has seen, thanks to the work of colleague and photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), without ever leaving the dark room.  O’Connell sends Walter what he calls possibly the best picture he’s ever taken for the final cover of Life as a gesture of their long productive working years together, along with a wallet engraved with Life’s motto: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” Walter is touched, but at a loss since the best picture ever, negative #25, is missing upon arrival.

When Walter’s mother, Edna (Shirley MacLaine) moves, and Walter’s sister, Odessa (Kathryn Hahn) finds Walter’s long-forgotten backpack along with a new travel journal, a long-lost present from Walter’s father, something infinitesimal shakes loose in Walter and he sets out in search of O’Connell to find what was lost — ostensibly negative #25, but we all know what Walter’s really looking for.  O’Connell proves a tough guy to find; he shoots photos of snow leopards in the Himalayas and straps himself to the tops of biplanes to get the volcano shot, all heady stuff for the risk averse Walter.  Thankfully, Walter is spurred in sideways fashion by co-worker and possible love interest, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristin Wiig), who gives Walter lift just being in the same room as he.  Soon, Walter is traversing some of the world’s most satisfyingly brilliant places while Life’s motto is displayed in snippets across the backdrop.  When Walter does find O’Connell, it’s worth the wait. “Beautiful things don’t seek attention,” O’Connell says as he watches the snow leopard.

In today’s world of reality T.V. and endless soundbites where everyone jockeys for attention, I need to believe O’Connell.  See this movie if you feel stuck.  See this movie if you have been toying with the idea of stepping outside preconceived notions of yourself.  See this movie if you want the world as your backdrop to expanding horizons, or if you just want to revel in the wonder of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things even if no one sees him doing them.  See this movie.

–Pam Lazos

sassy b*tches

high-priestessDon’t you just hate it when you spend the time looking for a yummy read, a book to fire your imagination and sooth your sense of adventure, only to find the heroine completely unlikeable in the end? We all know the pain of flirting with a book we think we will love only to break up with it half way between the covers because it’s a big fat dud.  What if the story is good, but the writing itself is dull or just one bald cliché after another?  Fear not, gentle reader. We have tools and search engines, and even clever strategies to make good book choices.

So how do you judge a book by its, er, cover? As in any endeavor, it’s important to know what you like. Just now, I pulled a Google search for “debut novels, 2013.” Many selections popped up. I clicked on the one entitled, “10 Dazzling Debut Novels to Pick Up Now” because I love to be dazzled, and it sounds like a promise. How do I choose? I know my limits. I know what I love and know what I won’t go near with a red hot poker.

Here is a small sampler of the “dazzlers,” a brief description of the storyline, and my reasons to adopt or reject them.   

  1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena:   “A neighbor saves an 8-year-old Chechen girl from the Russian soldiers who have taken her father, and together they seek shelter in an abandoned hospital.” Reject: too sad.
  2. Crazy Rich Asians:   “Opulence and zaniness reign when one of Singapore’s richest bachelors invites his American-born girlfriend to travel from New York to vacation in his native country.” Reject: Zaniness aside, I’m not terribly interested in fictional adventures of rich bachelors.
  3. The Golem and the Jinni:  “Two supernatural creatures accidentally unleashed in 19th-century Manhattan forge an unlikely alliance in this fantastical work of historical fiction.”  Adopt: Magic + historical fiction. Yay!
  4. American Spirit:In this first novel from the outrageously funny host of The Moth podcast, a 40-something media exec goes rogue after losing his job in the recession, taking up drunken residence in his car before embarking on a vision quest to Bali by way of Los Angeles and Yellowstone.” Adopt: Vision quest + Yellowstone + Bali. Oh, yes!
  5. The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: “In this grippingly off-kilter thriller, a young woman sits on death row after being convicted of murder until a high-powered attorney—the victim’s mother—intervenes, leaving everyone to wonder why.”  Adopt: a young murderess saved at the 11th hour? Hells yes.
  6.  Golden Boy: “A good-looking, athletic British teenager’s seemingly idyllic life gets turned upside down when his oldest friend betrays him, revealing a closely held family secret just as the boy’s father is about to run for political office.” Reject: Politics + betrayal. Zzzz.

And there you have it. Are my selections biased? Yes, without a doubt. I know what I like and life is too short for bad fiction. 

Cynthia Gregory

into the woods

n is for nature. and nurture. and nihilist.

read our coolest review to date. here.muirwoods6

and then, as if that wasn’t enough, we’re even blushing about the subject.