Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Things I'd Like Millennials to Know About the 80s

I can remember looking through my sister's yearbook and laughing. My sister graduated in 1977. This was the 80s, and I was totally mortified by the long, straight, hippie hair everyone had.
"Just wait," she said. "Some time folks are going to look back at your 80s styles and laugh."
"Never gonna happen," I said.
After all, how could you NOT love the 80s: Neon. Hair teased to heaven. Parachute pants. These things would be trendy forever, right?
Okay, I stand corrected.
Each year, college professors are given a list that lets them know about the world of incoming freshman. The point is that not all of the students are going to get cultural references. After all, this is a generation that has ALWAYS had computers, and never remembers a time when Bill Gates was not the richest man in America.
Stirrup pants aside, honesty though, there are some things I'd like Millennials (such as my niece) to know about the 80s:

1. First and foremost ---and I think this is pretty darn cool-- I remember when things were transitioning to using the computers as a regular part of a classroom. No, incoming college freshmen weren't required to have computers, but there was always a computer lab in each dorm. I remember in 7th grade, so fascinated by the first Apple IIe . Of course, in 7th grade, all I did was this program that moved a mouse around a maze to get cheese, seeing this transition was cool.

So, 80s folks are not amazed by the new technology---we are amazed that the new technology doesn't doesn't $8,000 grand a pop. 

2. We were absolutely convinced that, at some point, the Russians were going to nuke us all to Kingdom Come. Just watch Fox's "The Americans" if you don't believe me. 
One of the things that blows me away is that my niece (born 1996) HAS NO CONCEPT OF THE COLD WAR. It was starting to warm up a bit in the 80s.

3. Yes, esp. looking back at the movies of that decade, we had some cringe-worthy lack of political correctness. And yet, for the most part, in my community, everyone still got along. 

4. We all remember where we were during the Challenger disaster.

5. Teachers put the fear of God into us that by 1990 the U.S. was HONEST TO GOD going to be on the METRIC system. 

6. What Lady Gaga is doing now, Madonna did back then. And with male dancers. In cone bras.

7. Our music was better. Sorry. It just was. 

 8. I clearly remember seeing my first cell phone. A friend's dad had one for business and we were carpooling and he let me use it to call Mom. It cost like a gazillion dollars a minute. I thought I was so cool.

9. Republicans and Democrats still threw bricks at each other, but it was almost tame compared to the   level of things now. There was a lot of voter apathy in the 80s (I remember doing a speech about it for a class assignment). Now it seems folks are gearing up to vote a whole year before the election. People were passionate about politics but they weren't bonkers over it.

10. Millennials   will never know the sheer joy of wearing parachute pants.  Sorry. I pity you.

11. Yes, we really did wear neon and parachute pants and HUGE glasses and "jams"  and yes, we really did think it looked great. And while I confess that pictures of me from way back when make me think "what was I thinking?" I always get a bit sentimental when I watch "Halt and Catch Fire" on AMC.

12. Our high school had a special session where teachers taught us about AIDS and how it was spread. I'm not sure if this was a state thing or CDC or health department thing. The "press" over AIDS was like the coverage of breast cancer now. It was a big scare and teachers were trying to eliminate a lot of confusion over how it was spread. 

13. We loved computers, but movies like "Wargames" and "Tron" gave us a healthy dose of skepticism. If the Terminator worldview has taught us anything, we know that all machines eventually become self aware and enslave us all. Hey, hear us now and believe us later.

14. The first floppy disks for Mac computers sometimes got stuck in the drive, and you had to uncurl a paperclip and stick it in this hole to trigger a spring to pop it out. 

15. The suckiest printer of 2015 is gold compared to the best dot matrix printer of the 80s.  We used to link different sheets together to make banners. 

16. Millennials: You don't remember the joy of reading the new "Calvin and Hobbs" cartoons. I had college friends who got a newspaper only to read that comic.

17: Flying was not common. I mean, people did it, just not on the level they do today. And airport security was, of course, nothing like it is today. I think that was the last time I actually enjoyed flying on a plane.

18:  Atari video games required a good bit of viewer imagination to make them work. And we were fine with that. 
19: I remember watching Michael Jackson (when he was black) doing the moonwalk at the American music awards. Mom rarely let me stay up so late when I had school the next day, but she had a feeling this would be like my generation's Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Of course, now everyone has seen the moonwalk, but when you saw it, for the first time on TV, it looked like this dude was defying the laws of physics. I remember thinking "how is that happening?" Of course, I shortly got out my penny loafers and learned how to do it myself.

20. I think this is one thing that really makes me pause: not only will my Millennial niece not understand the Cold War, she will NEVER remember a time of EAST and WEST Germany.  I was in college (in the 90s) when the wall came down. I was blown away. It was something I never thought would happen.

In closing, I'd like to leave this AWESOME poster by Stephen Wildish. It's an 80s movies alphabet.
See how many you can name and check out the answers and his awesome cool stuff here http://www.stephenwildish.co.uk/images/Film_Alphabet_Answers.pdf

So, what do YOU want Millennials to know about the 80s?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is mental health the only remaining stigma? My mental health heroes (and a free book!)

May is coming to a close, but before it does, I wanted to share some information for Mental Health Month. May is Mental Health Month, designed to promote education and awareness of  mental health issues. Recently, John Nash, the schizophrenic mathematics genius featured in the movie, "A Beautiful Mind," was killed in a car accident, along with his wife, Alicia.

Mental Health is an issue near to my heart. My first novel, "Saint Jude," dealt with a teenager with bipolar disorder, and I have had dear friends struggle with this disorder. I have been amazed and dismayed that, at a time when it seems like nothing is taboo, that mental health still seems to be one of the few, remaining conditions for which it is "acceptable" to stigmatize. Angelina Jolie takes a preventative mastectomy, and she is on the cover of Time. Catherine Zeta-Jones takes a preventative hospital stay to deal with her bipolar disorder, and the response is something more like what you would see in a gossip tabloid.  (Before someone makes a statement that breast cancer is fatal and bipolar disorder is not, please remember that suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young adults and teens. I mean no disrespect toward either woman.)

I wanted to share some of my mental health heroes. Some folks who inspire me, and some pieces of information. Read down to the end of the article where you can get a FREE coupon for my novel, "Saint Jude."

In no particular order:

1-- Kay Redfield Jamison
Not only is Dr. Jamison one of the leading experts on manic-depressive illness, but she also has the disorder. Her book "An Unquiet Mind" is a brilliant perspective as a clinician and a  patient.  Here's a clip from a UVA interview... 

2-Vincent Van Gogh
While his artistic temperament seems to be synonymous with the troubled artist stereotype, the bottom line is that he was a troubled, talented man during a time when there were few, if any resources available to help him.

I'm a huge sci-fi (and Dr. Who fan) . One of my all time favorite Dr. Who episodes was "Vincent and the Doctor," where he goes back in time and meets Van Gogh . It does a good job of showing the struggle with mental illness. Even if you're not a sci-fi fan, you'd love this episode. It's all over Netflix and several areas for free viewing I believe. Here's the full episode on You Tube.

3-- George Handel
Handel wrote one of my all time favorite pieces of music, the "Messiah." (which , btw, is actually supposed to be performed at Easter instead of Christmas, which is when many places present it. ) Handel wrote this is a little over two weeks in what was believed by many to be a manic episode

Here is one of my favorite pieces from it - "And He Shall Purify"

4-- Nellie Bly
While Bly did not have a mental disorder (at least, not one that I am aware of). As a reporter in the 1800s, she went undercover in a mental institution to expose the conditions there. It was a breakthrough for investigative journalism. It shed light on many atrocities I will not go into detail here.

5-- Winston Churchill
"Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished," wrote Anthony Storr about Churchill's bipolar disorder in Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.
This is by no means, an exhaustive list. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has a list of famous people who had mental illnesses.

And now for the free book.
If you would like to get a copy of my novel "Saint Jude" (which was rated one f the "best 100" books books for teen readers in a guide by librarian Nancy Keane) you can order it on Smashwords. Enter the following code for the coupon before June 6, and when you check out, the book should register as free.

Here is the page for the book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/58667
And the code is: TR27J

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ice-T--- Sweet or not?

Without doubt, this is, quite possibly, the coolest sign I have seen in a restaurant. Period.
Props to Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn of Wilmington, NC.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Is your website mobile responsive?

I confess, as a writer I never gave this much thought until I started doing some research for this blog post. Don't know what a mobile responsive website is? Well, it's a website that is designed with mobile devices in mind, so the website looks equally appealing on your laptop and your cell phone.

Not sure if your site is mobile responsive? Google has a handy tool where you can test your site. Just click here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

On meeting David Tennant

I confess, the last time I had my heart flutter was probably at some point during the Clinton Administration. But I was totally thrilled and, yes, a bit fan girl giddy, at the prospect of meeting David when he came to Wizard Con in Raleigh this year.  

Meet is probably a stretch.  I was one of the tons of people who lined up for an autograph, I was one of the few who got to ask him a question. 

" He smells so NICE" said the girl in front of me, who was waiting to  ask a question.  
"He really does," said someone else.
"So, is it a cologne or something?" I asked.
"No... he just smells so nice."

Well, because of my chronic allergies, I cannot attest to the scent of Mr. Tennant. However, I can say he is an incredibly gracious guy. I confess, it hasn't been since high school that I felt my heart race like this, totally teeming out over someone. 

Below is a link to the session where I asked him a question.  I am the girl with the radio voice at 13:00. I ask him about his role in the BBC TV movie Recovery, which was brilliant..


That is me in the blue, trying to suppress a fangirl squeal....
I know my interaction with him was probably a whole 30 seconds, but from what little I saw, he seemed like such a classy guy.  

Thank you Mr. Tennant.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Real-time blogging from Raleigh's Wizard World Comic Con - And top five David Tennant roles..number one may surprise you....

Hi all,
I am right now at a Holiday Inn in Raleigh,  gearing up to go to  the Wizard World Comic Con.  No, /i wasn't there yesterday, because I had to drive in from the coast, but I am gearing up today and will post periodically (with a hopefully great internet connection) and upload photos from the evening. 

I am thrilled because I will get  to meet David Tennant, one of the most popular Doctors to take on the lead role in Doctor Who. But aside from being a science fiction celebrity, Mr.Tennant has some serious acting chops.  

Following are my favorite David Tennant roles--hint, Dr. Who is only #3!

5. Peter Vincent in "Fright Night" -- for totally reinventing the character and doing it with humor and panache.  Following is the link (I hope it works)

4. Alex in "Broadchurch"-- while theAmerican version of this didn't fair so well, the BBC version is absolutely wonderful. Tennant brings such depth to the  character. 

3. The Doctor in "Doctor Who."
How you could not love him?  Not only did he take the role at a pivotal point in the series, but he broadened its audience, and I think was responsible for paving the way for a lot of new American fans....
here is a tribute post..   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cSXc9qkESkM

2. Hamlet
Just playing one of the most iconic characters in all of literature. No pressure there...

1. Recovery
Seeing Tennant as a man recovering from someone with a traumatic brain injury was so powerful it was almost
physically painful to watch...

More anon...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Rise of Telemedicine

The use of telemedicine has increased exponentially. More than half of U.S. hospitals use some form of telemedicine. In addition, there are 200 telemedicine networks in the U.S., with 3,500 service sites....

...read more on my guest blog post for Proclaim Interactive.

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