Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The movies

Last week, I vented about turning 65 and my stages of denial and finally acceptance(maybe), but this week I would like to talk about the movies, how much I love them, and how they helped me to see the world as it really was and what I wished it to be.

Growing up in South Philadelphia, there were two movie theatres within walking distance. One was the Broadway Theatre located at Broad and Snyder and the much smaller one located on south 11th street, the Colonial. Every Saturday morning at 11, I left the house with my younger sisters and brother and we walked from Broad and Porter to Broad and Snyder. The streets were so much safer then, and we knew nothing about drugs, guns or pedophiles. They existed, we just didn't know about it. We each carried a brown paper bag that contained our lunch, consisting of a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, and a candy bar from the grocery store our family owned.

The price at the time for the Saturday matinee was 25 cents. Can you believe that? 25 cents got you cartoons and a double feature. I was ten years old and since I helped my parents in the store, I had extra money to buy my siblings some popcorn. Although we were in some ways, quite naive, the movies allowed us to see the world as it was. We learned from the creature double features all about monsters and that some monsters earned our sympathy such as King Kong, while others deserved our fear (Bela, you scary fella). Musicals were my favorite and there were plenty to see. By the time I was a teen, West Side Story was out and the price was up to 50 cents. I know all the songs and dance routines because I saw the movie twelve times within two weeks. I loved Bernardo.

The Broadway Theatre is also where I received my first kiss, from an usher who was two years older and looked a lot like Bernardo. Do movies still have ushers??? I don't think so, but they were there to quiet the noisy crowds and to help people to their seats and they looked so handsome in their little usher where was I? Oh yeah the movies. We learned what was really going on in the world outside of South Philly. We learned about racism and why it was bad, we learned about war, magic, dreams, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Movies to me were treasures to be cherished, loved as much as I loved books.

Tonight I treated my husband to dinner and a movie for his birthday. We went to see Hugo. Please take the time to see this wonderful movie because it is magical and you leave the theatre feeling like a child again. I believe in magic, but in today's cruel world we tend to forget, busy with the economy, Iran's threats, climate change, etc. etc. but there is magic, just ask a small child, and sometimes a good movie helps you remember there is.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Calling all Alumni of Saint Monica's School in South Philly

My sisters, brother, cousins and friends, all of us went to Saint Monica's School, located at 17th and Ritner Street in Philadelphia. We had it good, but I didn't realize how good until now. With all the problems discussed on television and in the newspapers about the failings of our education system, I look back and marvel at how one nun with no teacher's aid could manage 90 children in one classroom and still teach. The sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are super heroes and that is with a capitol "S".

Now of course I didn't think of them as heroes when I was in school because they kept a tight reign on us and God forbid if we got in trouble in school, our parents waited at the door with admonishments of "What did you do to that poor woman?" Believe me, with the sisters and parents working as a tag team, you thought twice before doing something stupid.

Saint Monica's put on elaborate school musicals every year and they were a big success in helping to pay the cost of running a parish, but the shows were also inspiring for the children. The sisters taught us the tunes and the dance steps and all the grades from 1rst to 8th participated. We learned all about art, and the different artists from the sisters, these women were multi talented.

What I enjoyed most of all was being part of the Saint Monica Waves. This was our school's version of the girl scouts, and all the girls were given official uniforms and every Friday we would practice our marching routines. We looked forward to marching in every St. Patrick's Day Parade. So any of you Alumni who were part of the Waves, give out a shout.

I know there are many of you who went to Saint Monica's Camp every year. My parents, eagerly...well more like desperately, looked forward to the peace and quiet they were lucky to have while their four active children spent good quality time at this wonderful place. This is where a city kid learns about "Daddy Long Legs" and lives to tell about them. Does anyone remember the camp song? I do.

Saint Monica needs our help. They need donations, and guess what fellow Alumni, this is a way for us to say thank you. I live in New Jersey, but still try to attend mass there at least twice a month and I promised Father Kelly today at mass that I would use my blog to spread the word.

Contact Sister Helen Marie Gates, IHM at 1720 Ritner Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19145  or reach her by e-mail at

and stop by and visit my blog, Gilbert Curiosities:

If anyone remembers the words to "An Army of Youth", one of my favorite songs, let me know.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How did I get so old?

A few months ago, I posted about my shock and denial when I had received my medicare card in the mail. I went through the stages of “How the hell did I get so old?” to “This has to be a mistake,” to the final acceptance, “Well this sucks.”
I was part of the baby boomers, born towards the end of 1946; I grew up during a time when life offered you a variety of great possibilities, but only if you were a white man. Bear with me on this.
Being a second generation Italian American, my sisters and I were expected to graduate from High School, get married and have children. College was not in the picture if you were female so my first job was as a long distance operator for Bell Telephone.
There were so many things happening as I grew up. The sound of music was changing and fast. We had our Motown sounds and we had the British Invasion, my favorite to this day is the Beatles. Change was also in the air with the Civil Right’s Movement and Women’s Liberation. We had the Space Program, landing on the Moon, but we also had an unpopular war, Vietnam.
My Generation found a way to be heard and to right the wrongs. We protested and we marched. We protested against Segregation and War, pushing instead for World Peace, Civil Rights and equality between all men and all women. We were supposed to set the World back on track. Did we?
If you read the papers and listen to the news from around the world, we seem to be going backwards and fast. Racism is alive and thriving, human slavery is big business, there are no jobs, the Space Program is flat lining and the American Dream is going down a rabbit’s hole. There are screaming matches between normally sensible people about the 99% and the 1% and as far as the Women’s Liberation motto, “You’ve come a long way baby,” we now have committee of men deciding on women’s birth control issues. Our education system is in the toilet because we just don’t have enough money…but somehow, there is always money for WAR.
So we have a lot of work ahead of us, and by us, I mean my fellow baby boomers. We need to inspire and lead this country back on its feet and we do this by stopping the clown acts being performed by our politicians. Campaigns should focus on getting this country back on track, not mud slinging, or insults against our President. We need to stand by him and face the world united, because our enemies are laughing at us, and we no longer frighten them. Why? We’re divided.
Get your sneakers ready, oil the wheels on your walkers, we need to get out there and say, “Enough is enough.”


Part Four of Lilith's Escape

Part Four:
“I was told, the person I want you to find, is now living in this time period. I have a photo, but it’s quite old, taken long ago without his knowledge.” She had released her hold on his hand and reached into the multi colored silk bag, which slung from her shoulder. After a quick search she removed the wrinkled black and white snapshot.
“It’s in bad shape, but I’ll see if I can have it enhanced a bit. May I keep this?” he asked.
“For now, but it must be returned as soon as you’re done with it.”
The sound of an approaching car caused her to turn around quickly. She seemed apprehensive, and he wondered why? After the car sped past them, she let out a deep sigh. “Is anything wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing I can’t handle,” she said, but then added, “I like to do things my way and have a tendency to upset the people in charge.”
He couldn’t help himself and began to laugh, “So do I. We’ll make a good team. My name is Edward Combs and yours?”
“No last name?”
“There is no need for one,” she replied, leaving him curious as to what and who she was. “Would you like a ride?” she offered.
Everything he ever learned in his years with Her Majesty’s Secret Service told him to run and not look back, but instead, he found himself saying, “Yes.”



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quarter Note Cafe

     Last week, due to a bad case of bronchitis and sinus infection, I missed the entertainment at the Quarter Note Cafe. This week, I'm on another adventure with the grandsons and will miss another entertaining Friday at the Cafe, but you can still make the show. This week's show is Subito Sounds, featuring students from the Camden School of the Arts. It starts at 7 and ends at 9.

     I'll be posting part four of Lilith's Escape from my flash fiction this Saturday. Let me know if you like where this story is going.

     Have a great weekend, be good, be kind, and be ready for that Zombie Apocalypse.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Continuing Saga of Lilith's Escape

     Hello dear followers of my blog. I've just posted the third part of the story and I will be adding much more. I have a great idea to include my readers into the ending. When I have reached the end of the tale, I will post three different endings, and you dear readers, will get to choose which one to go with. I'm thinking of a prize to hand out.

     I haven't put aside my stories and adventures with the grandchildren, there is always a steady stream of events to keep me busy writing about them, but I was helping to promote another writer and her book.
The Hungry Heart by Fran Metzman. Check out my blog on her or visit these sites:

The Hungry Heart Stories, Wilderness House Press
Barnes & Noble

     Keep humble, healthy and happy, and everything else will fall in place

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Part three of Lilith's Escape

Part three:
She was petite, a breath taller than 5’2, and the silk red dress she wore, clung seductively to her body, highlighting her curves. She had curly dark hair that hung down to her waist, but it was her complexion and her eyes that made him speechless.
“Thank you for meeting me,” she said, her hand tightly gripping his.
He was unable to reply. Her complexion was almost iridescent and her eyes were totally black, no white showing.
“I didn’t mean to startle you,” she said and quickly slipped on sunglasses. “I was told you were good at finding people and you’ll be paid handsomely for your work.”
“Yes…my contact explained somewhat…please excuse me for staring, but your eyes. I’ve never seen anything like them.”
She laughed out loud, a pleasant easy on the ears laugh. “I guess not. Will my appearance prevent you from working for me?”
“No,” he replied. She still held on to his hand and seemed in no hurry to let it go. “So that beat up caddy is your time machine?”
“It’s a long story, but yes, it helps me travel through time and space."
     On sabbatical from Her Majesty’s secret service, he jumped at the opportunity offered by his contact, especially after learning the strange circumstances of the case.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review of The Hungry Heart Stories

I would like to tell you about the author before I review the book. Fran Metzman is the co-author of the book, Ugly Cookies, with Joy E. Stocke. She has received several prizes and was nominated for a Dzanc Books Award, “Best of the Web” 2009. She received an MA from the University of Pennsylvania and BFA from Moore College of Art. A teacher of creative writing and memoir, she has led workshops at: Temple University, Pennsylvania State College, Bryn Mawr College and Rosemont College.
Fran is a fiction editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and also writes articles for the online journal, The Wild River Review.  Her blog, The Age of Reasonable Doubt, relates to women’s and men’s issues, relationships, and other topics of sociological impact.

The Hungry Heart. Each story is a feast both with the characters that grab hold of our hearts and the food which knits itself reverently through each tale.

I’ll start my review of the book with the story, My Inheritance. The characters reminded me of my own roller coaster ride of emotions with my mother, and Fran’s description of the daily give and take between a daughter and her failing mother was right on, especially the discussion revolving around the tea set.
          Myra’s garden, tells us about a dangerous obsession about a woman who tries to work her way into a neighbor’s home and heart with food. This story has a dark ending.

Hop Down Memory Lane is a tale of how a widow uses food as a memorial for her dead husband. I love the ending to this story.
Getting Closer is a peek into the ways a Mother can use food as a control tactic over her daughter. But it is the Essay at the end of the book, which gives us an appreciation for the preceding stories and the source of inspiration for the author.

I would recommend this book to everyone and I will be buying a few to pass around to family and friends. Thank you for visiting the different sites on The Hungry Heart Stories blog tour and please come visit our blogs in the future.  Welcome to hell by Glenn Walker  Gilbert Curiosities by Marie Gilbert  Writing-Art-Metaphysics by Shelley Szajner  Becca Butcher’s blog by Becca Butcher  the Author in training by Mieke Zamora-Mackay  A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers or Learn from my Mistakes by Jennifer E. Eaton.  The Dream Between by Robin Renee  Literary Debauchery by Krista Magrowski

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview with Author of The Hungry Heart Stories

Dear Readers,
Today’s blog will be about a book of short stories called The Hungry Heart Stories by Fran Metzman, and as a special treat I’ll also share the interview I did with her.
Let’s start with the book, first. The Hungry Heart is a delightful collection of short stories dealing with the universal search to fill a void. This author serves up a plate of quirky and disparate characters in her captivating tales. A grieving husband in the darkly funny, Right Seasoning, conjures up his deceased wife’s presence in the beloved kitchen they once shared. From My Inheritance, which tells the story of a grown daughter’s attempts to find the love and peace she has always craved with her dying mother to, Getting Closer, the story of a woman left with the violent legacy of food that defined her life. With these stories we find the characters reaching the low points and triumphs of human emotions. Particularly poignant is the story about a woman born into poverty who reaches the pinnacle of success, but with questionable sacrifice. Each of the twelve stories and one essay incorporates food as a means to some end or fulfillment, and presents fully realized worlds, leavened with passion and sprinkled with humor.
Fran Metzman’s book The Hungry Heart is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
And now, with great pleasure, please allow me to introduce Fran Metzman.
Thank you for this chance to learn more about you and the book. I’ll start with my first question.

What inspires you to write?

I'm inspired to write because I want to make sense of the chaos I find in the world. What makes people behave the way they do? I have always been fascinated with the motivation behind behavior -- especially with actions that go to the edge. Writing, for me, is also a way to heal old wounds -- sometimes present ones. Most often I do it with fiction which helps me distance myself if I'm extracting a tad from real events or from a trauma I've experienced. I can take a nugget of reality and fictionalize it. Some of these tidbits from the real world can instigate an entire story and it can come from someone else's experiences as well. To be a fiction writer one has to listen carefully to the undercurrents of what people say. It is just as important to observe the behavior as well as listening to the words. It is hard for a person to be objective about one's own inner world. I happen to think that is how most writers invent stories even if they say they are totally disconnected from the story.

          What are some of your favorite authors and books?

Favorite authors and books - here's just a smattering of novels: All of Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, I'll Take You There, Jonathan Franzen, Freedom, Anne Tyler, Saint Maybe, Alice Hoffman, The Ice Queen, Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres, and books on that order. I love literary works as well as high quality commercial. I look for psychological drama as well as insights about life. I want to know how the protagonist got through hurdles and obstacles to remain standing tall at the end. What did they learn about themselves that could help me in my life?

     From your essay, I know some of the stories from The Hungry Heart are from personal experiences in your life. Could you tell my readers a little more about this?

As for using personal experiences from real life: I said before, there are nuggets of reality that are then totally fictionalized. This helps lessen the ache of a painful piece of memory. In the end, what I write is totally fiction. It doesn't even have to be from my bank of experiences. It could have happened to a friend or acquaintance or even a total stranger. But it has to be something that resonates with me. For instance, one of the stories is about a woman who lived in an attic, spying on her ex-husband and his new wife who was the cause of the divorce. I never lived in an attic nor was divorced. The story emanated from a friend who had been stalked in a unique way by her ex-boyfriend. I found it so fascinating that it inspired an entire story -- of course with many, many edits.

     I love how food is somehow knitted into each tale. I love the idea. What made you go this route?

Having food intersect life is something that I experienced. My mother was a truly fabulous cook, but not eating every morsel could incite her to anger or bring her to tears. I had to eat everything on my plate. Once I sat for hours because I didn't want to eat something she cooked. Dieting in my house was a no-no big time. That was the nugget that developed into a story, Getting Closer. Of course, none of the actions in the story happened in real life. But that is how a seed of a story might be born and raised and become a fiction.

Is there any advice you would like to share on how to get published? What worked for you?

The advice I'd give to emerging writers is work on fictional structure. It is vital you have a working knowledge of how fiction is made seamless when read. Read how-to books, take workshops and then write until you drop. After you have that under your belt you can experiment all you want. My impression is that it is 30% talent and 70% work. Once the work is created than you must edit endlessly. It's in the editing that the story takes on a life of its own. All the while, observe, listen to conversations, watch body language and the way people look and talk. Rent or go to movies, and theater (dramas in particular). Listen to the dialogue and the interaction between people.

I’m hoping to get my trilogy published so I do appreciate your advice.

Getting published is difficult. I suggest a new author learn the short story form for within that realm you must make every word count. Then, once you feel you have learned that form adequately and have gone over and over the story with a fine tooth comb send it out to journals that are interested in your genre. For instance, if you write mystery, sci-fi, literary, psychological, commercial, romance or any other genre, make sure you send your work to a journal that is seeking your style. Don't get too uptight about rejections. It's part of the process, so keep sending and writing. Write as much as you possibly can for that keeps up a level of creativity. When I don't write for a period of time I find it hard to get back. Block out the time whether it's every day, 3 times a week or even once a week. Keep up a pattern and make it as often as possible. It also keeps the connections to your unconscious open.
Thank you Fran for sharing your time with my readers and you’ll be able to count me in as one of your devoted fans.

Readers, please feel free to visit Fran’s site at

And please visit Friday's blog and interview at: The Author-in-training by Mieke Zamora-Mackay at:

Here are some of the books reviews:
Fran Metzman's short stories are a feast, dig in and devour them quickly. Story after story, they will tease your palate, fill you with emotion, and keep you longing for more. Each character comes alive. This is a beautifully written book. -- Gloria Mindock, Cervena Barva Press

In Fran Metzman’s collection THE HUNGRY HEART we meet mothers and daughters, lovers, career women, wives and husbands, and feel that we know them all. 
-- Joy E. Stocke, founder & editor-in-chief of Wild River Review and author of a memoir, Anatolian Days & Nights

"THE HUNGRY HEART" is an apt and striking title because it reveals what centers this short story collection - the need for the heart to find sustenance and the gathering at a meal, which is so often the intersection of our lives. Metzman is a deft storyteller who gets into her characters to reveal them and tell us something about the world we live in. -- Peter Krok, author of Looking for an Eye
Wilderness House Press
Available Amazon, B&N and all fine bookstores
Barnes & Nobel:
Wilderness House Press:
The Hungry Heart Stories
Wilderness House Press
ISBN 978 0 9827115 52

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lilith's escape Part Two

    He thought it was a strange place to meet for a blind date...but he was told by his contact, this woman was a time traveler...and that her transporter was often he waited patiently. Thirty minutes later he caught sight of the dust cloud headed towards him and he began to question his reasons for accepting this case.

    After the caddy screeched to a stop, the door slowly opened and out stepped a young woman. She sauntered towards him, hips swaying to an unheard rhythm, until she stood before him and extended her hand.

More to come: photo inspiration supplied by The Author in Training, Mieke Zamora-Mackay
check out her site"

Next Episode: Lilith's Escape Part Three

Monday, February 13, 2012

New look and new stories

     My followers have grown accustomed to my blogs about the adventures I get into with the nine grandkids, my fight against human trafficking, my promoting Unicef, Somaly mam and End Slavery Now. They have also learned of my growing love for zombies, mostly because of book two of my trilogy, but also because the boys and I want to be apocalypse ready for any disaster, and therefore, my becoming a member of the Zombie Squad.

     Readers who are treated to my mostly funny blogs, are not aware of my dark side, which influences my trilogy in progress, short stories and flash fiction. With the help of two saintly co-writers, I have learned to use the blog site and now have a new look. Let me know if you like it?

     I'll still blog about the kids, ghost hunting, steampunk and anything else, I think you'll enjoy reading, but I'll also be posting some of my flash fiction and excerpts from my trilogy and short story. I'm working on my "about me page" and will be adding photos of my steampunk outfits, pictures of the desparados, and other interesting images. So enjoy the new look and read my post on Wednesday. I'll be doing a blog interview of Fran Metzman on her new book, The Hungry Heart.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lilith's escape

Lilith had always been a wild child and no one was able to control her, not God and definitely not Lucifer. Needing a much earned rest from the latest antics of his wayward child, the Creator decided to banish her to the realm of his adversary. Satan was not pleased with the decision.

“What did I ever do to get stuck with you, Lilith?” Lucifer hissed. She'd been nagging him for the last few centuries about her dislike of his stench, and even had the nerve to tell him how to run hell.

“Oh hush up, old fool. Am I not beautiful to look upon?” She teased as she sat on his lap. Am I not a worthier companion to you than the sinners that suffer in the pits,” she asked with a tilt of her head. She was mocking him.

 “You drove poor Adam crazy with your beauty and yet you would not let him touch you. Why?”

“I am the best of my Father’s creations, why should I be submissive to Adam, a mere human not much more evolved than the primates that swing in the trees of Eden?” She countered, as she gently removed the devil’s hand from her waist. “I thought my sister Eve a better mate for the man, but she was not able to stop the idiot from eating the forbidden fruit.” She gave the fallen one a yank on his ear.

“She wasn’t as strong willed as you. You were always able to out think me,” Satan countered, rubbing his ear. Up until now, Satan had been trying his best to woo her, but Lilith had always repelled his advances. Today she was playful. If Lilith was leading him on, Satan didn’t care. His only wish was for the smallest of kisses from this vixen’s ruby lips.

“I’m leaving. I want to find him.”

It was an argument Satan had heard one too many times. This immortal goddess had captivated the heart of every male that had the misfortune of glancing on her beauty. All who saw Lilith fell under her spell, but she loved only one. Satan had promised the Creator to keep Lilith in hell and away from her lover, but he felt her pain and was tempted to give in, “I could make you happy if you stayed here with me. Give me a chance.”

“I’m leaving old man,” she said, wrapping her arms around the fallen one’s neck. “You’ve been very kind to me, but I wish you would make up with the Creator. He would forgive you…Lilith planted a kiss on Satan’s lips and then slid from his lap.

“I’ll be in trouble for letting you go.”

“You’re in trouble already. What’s one more log on the fire?” Goodbye angel.”

She walked away from him. In his desperation to keep her near, if only for a moment, he asked, “Exactly how do you expect to leave hell?”

“Watch,” she chuckled, walking away from him and to her only means of escape, a pink convertible Cadillac.

This picture prompt was posted by Jen DeSantis on her blog site,
A Measure of Madness-Writing out my demons on her Friday Picture show page. Every Friday she'll post a picture and writers get a chance to come up with a flash story of exactly 100 words. I won this weeks contest. Check out her site at: 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another night of great music

      My followers are normally offered a story about my adventures with the grandkids and our love of zombies or about the many things I find myself involved in, but I had so much fun last night, I needed to blog about the Quarter Note Cafe, located at 57 E. Kings Highway, once again.

     We were entertained by Bill Corvino & Friends. Bill is a guitar instructor with the Conservatory of Musical Arts, which is located next door to the cafe. The trio included Bill Corvino on guitar, Kelli Campbell a vocalist, with the voice of an angel, and Christopher Davis-Shannon who played bass.

    The place was crowded and people were treated to a collection of tunes mostly the Blues, along with a few requests from the audience. Ms. Campbell had us mesmerized with some of the Billie Holiday songs she belted out. I hope to see this trio again at the Quarter Note Cafe, but they also appear at the Triumph Brewing Company located in Philadelphia on 2nd and Chestnut, every Tuesdays, except for this Valentine's Day.

     Our little town of Audubon is becoming a hot spot for some mighty good entertainment, with the Quarter Note Cafe on Fridays, the Tree house on Wednesday, and the Auction house, also on Wednesdays. Please check out Quarter Note Cafe on facebook and come in to visit. You often find the owner Pat Kenny or his assistant Gary Rooney there and they go out of their way to make their customers feel right at home.

     Here are two pictures which show the Bill Corvinio trio and yours truly with her ghost hunting buddies.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A good night out and great music

     There is a little cafe in Audubon, New Jersey and this friendly place has been hosting some great music. The Quarter Note Cafe, located at 57 E. Kings Highway and next to the brand new Conservatory of Musical Arts is making a name for itself with the excellent performers featured most Friday nights, starting at 7 p.m.

     This past Friday, my ghost hunter friends and I had the opportunity to hear the Erik Marley Jazz Trio play, and what a delightful night we had. The trio consisted of Teo Ortiz on sax, Erik Marley on drums, and Victor Caraballo on bass.These young men kept us entertained with their repertoire of old and new songs. They played so well, I felt like I was back at the Preservation Hall in New Orleans. I hope to see them featured again at this cafe.

     Also check out Mike Walton, a great singer and songwriter, who performs at the Quarter Note Cafe and  check out the Facebook page for The Conservatory of Musical Arts in Audubon. On top of the great entertainment and food, the staff is friendly and welcoming.

My next blog will be an interview with the amazing writer Fran Metzman on her collection of stories in The Hungry Heart