Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Beauty of a Smile..

I just completed a critique of a chapter of of a draft of Leigh Harris' upcoming book, “Metaphysical Mom”, and it completely piqued my brain.

During the chapter, she speaks of the power of a smile. This naturally slapped a smile upon my fugly, bearded face, but also reminded me just how underrated smiles truly are.

When was the last time you smiled at a stranger? Seriously, can you think back to a time you smiled at a stranger? I hope it has been recent. If not, do it, do it soon, do it often, and note the reaction. Let the record state that I smiled and thanked the pleasant old lady who handed me my to-go pizza for dinner tonight. She returned the smile..always a beautiful thing. And the pizza looked good, and its texture was sublime..Anyways..

Smiles are sincere. Even when I'm having a bad day, a smile from a stranger can completely lighten my mood. And spreading smiles can certainly lighten others' moods as well (and you don't even have to worry about STD's with smiles; whore yourself out and smile at everyone...Women, men, the elderly, children, kittens, goats..anything. Smiles are always free to give, and often priceless to receive.

So in the great words of Forrest Gump, “Have a Nice Day”, and smile away..

Friday, March 25, 2011

I say, Bring Back the Arts!!

© 2011 Frederick Doot

Americans, you disappoint me..Charlie Sheen lands millions of followers via twitter in a couple days, Chris Brown album sales skyrocket after his recent tantrum (after being questioned about his temper, go figure!), the abomination that is the Jersey Shore remains enormously popular, and trainwreck entertainers fill the news - who, in their defense, report what will score them ratings (Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan, etc..the list goes on..)

We've become a nation of enablers. The popular entertainers, ones we seem to follow and support most, are simply not good people.

What ever happened to supporting the arts? While we cut library funding (at least in NJ), throw teachers under the bus and try to cut their "exuberant" salaries (on a national level), and threaten to cut NPR and PBS funding (which embrace, highlight and encourage educational programs and higher arts), we, as a nation, continue to stay fans (truly fanatics) of the crap we continually see atop the NYT Best Sellers List, Billboard Top whatever.., Neilsen Ratings, and Box Office earnings..and that's where the money rolls..

I say, Bring Back the Arts!!

Dear Modern Family,

© 2011 Frederick Doot

Dear Modern Family,

It should go without saying, but your sophomore season has been..well...a typical sophomoric season, riddled with errors and mediocre (at best) performances. But last night, you redeemed yourself (for now..) Your batting average on the season had dropped below the Mendoza line (non-baseball fans, look it up), but with this sudden surge, I have hope you can become an All-Star again. Keep hitting multiple homeruns and keep your average up around .800 like you accomplished last night (and every night like you had done until the dreadful double header to end last season), and you can redeem yourself this season..and give us hope for a promising career. You're one of only two sitcoms I follow (and I'm still a season behind on HIMYM, but catching up), so keep me a fan.

Yours Truly,


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ya know what really soils my water?

© 2010 Frederick Doot

A war is being waged. Just over 100 miles from New York City, a war is being waged, and its outcome could affect over 15 million people, including the entire population of NYC. What is the war over? Fracking.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling technique that involves injecting the earth with millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand to release natural gas within shale deposits. In this case, it means drilling to an average depth of 8,500 feet into aquifers within the Delaware River Water Basin, which supplies millions of people with drinking water. Vast deposits of natural gas are believed to exist within the Marcellus Shale, an area deep within the earth made of sedimentary rock spanning from the finger lakes of northwestern New York, out to eastern Ohio and down through West Virginia and Maryland, ending at the western tip of Virginia. Gas companies are eager to tap into this resource for natural gas, regardless of its effects.

Land leases are being signed throughout rural poverty-ridden areas in upstate New York to allow gas companies to begin hydraulic fracturing. By dangling up to $3500 per acre to local residents, as well as offering royalties for extracted gas, the deals are hard to pass up. And many have committed without considering the hidden costs and consequences. Both on a local and large scale, the consequences can be severe.

In northeastern Pennsylvania, where fracking has already begun, groundwater has been contaminated with methane due to hydraulic fracturing, rendering well water undrinkable. In Texas, nitrogen oxide and other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted from wells are causing dangerous surface smog, forcing many residents to move. In Colorado and Wyoming, the contamination of wells is so severe, holding a match to the end of ones' water faucet causes a violent flame. Within the Marcellus Shale region, more than ten cases of fracking fluid spills have occurred. There have been five explosions between 2006 and 2010 contaminating both ground and surface water; over $3.5 million dollars in fines assessed to companies due to these violations. Yet despite these obvious, inherent risks, the path has been cleared so that gas companies have all the incentive they need to aggressively pursue natural gas extraction in the northeast.

In 2005, President George Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act (EPA) of 2005. The bill, nicknamed, “The Dick Cheney Lobbyist Energy Bill”, offers significant tax breaks to gas companies and exempts them from many regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act of 1977. Drilling in New York is a no-brainer for gas companies thanks to this Energy Policy Act. Consider the following:

~ The EPA allows independent companies to deduct fifteen percent of their sales revenue if the average daily production falls below a certain minimum – meaning gas companies get subsidies even if their wells do not extract any gas and no royalties are paid.

~ Legislation reclassified oil and gas as a manufactured good, allowing companies to claim $3.5 billion dollars of additional tax deductions.

~ Taxpayers subsidize 70-100% of the drilling costs (including wages, equipment, supplies, site preparation, etc.) due to the “intangible drilling costs” loophole, costing taxpayers another $3.5 billion dollars.

~ The EPA allows companies to deduct the cost of natural gas distribution over 15 years depreciated time, giving them almost free distribution. In addition, the EPA allows companies to deduct the cost of natural gas gathering lines over 7 years depreciation. Again, almost free distribution.

It doesn't end there. Each well uses approximately 80,000 pounds of chemicals (in addition to 2 million gallons of clean water per well.) Over 70% of the fluid used in every well remains underground and is not biodegradable. Researchers suspect that sixty five of these compounds are hazardous to human health. Furthermore, thanks to a loophole within the EPA, companies are not required to provide the ingredients of the fracking fluid, as the fluid is considered proprietary. And it's no surprise that one of the largest producers and profiteers from production and sale of the fracking fluid is none other than Halliburton.

Natural gas has been considered a “green” alternative as the United States tries to satisfy its energy needs due to its clean-burning nature. And with enough natural gas within the Marcellus Shale to provide the US with up to10 years of energy, it is a tempting option. But is it worth the expense? Local coalitions are urging authorities and politicians to force the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct further research on fracking and its effects on the region before drilling begins. Gas companies are stressing the need to drill today. The war wages on.

WTF is NaNoWriMo ?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month..and it's in its 10th day..yep..that's writing a novel in a month..at least a 175 page or 50,000 word novel in a month..I'm a lil' behind schedule, at only 13,000 words, but the story is percolating in my head and has already taken a few unforeseen detours. The quality of the writing still leaves a lot to be desired (December will be NaNoEdMo)..but the goal right now is quantity over quantity, and I'm off to a decent start..Updates will be more regular moving forward and might even include a couple samples and/or clues to the story..Stay tooned!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How 'bout a dose of Pavlov to Help You Write?

© 2010 Frederick Doot

This post goes out to my fellow writer's group friends who inspired me to start this blog and continually inspire me to be a better writer. Hopefully this can help you..

I'm in various stages of writing four short stories, a novel, a feature-length screenplay, and research for another screenplay. Just recently after downloading new music and enjoying it while writing, I've begun to affiliate certain music (specifically genres or playlists, albums, etc.) with each work I'm writing. I'm calling this the Putting Pavlov to Work for Your Writing..surely I'm not the first to think of it, but it's definitely working for me so I suspect it may work for others.

Now, even riding in the car, when my MP3 mix turns to Seraphim Shock or any other goth-rock/metal song, my mind immediately starts to churn ideas and scenes from the ghost story I'm working on. When Roger Clyne or Springsteen comes on, my mind switches into “My Friend Jack”-mode, another short story I'm working on. I'm fortunate to have a wide range of musical tastes, so I've actually created different playlists to listen to during each writing session. And ya know what, it's really working, and I'm excited.

I've found this even helps when experiencing writers block. I find it helpful to have a few stories to work on at once. If I've hit a block with one story, I'll try switching to a different story. If all stories hit a block, I'll go into research mode, which doesn't require much creative effort. But I've find that lately my research has taken a back-seat a bit, as my writers block is becoming minimized. Why? I'm finding the music is stirring my creative juicing (a salvation of the brain, if you will) and is really helping my writing. I hope it can do the same for you..

So give it a try. If it works, ring a bell and give yourself a bone, you deserve it!

Friday, July 23, 2010

या क्नोव वहत रेअल्ली तंग्लेस माय लाइन?

Ya Know What Really Translates My Titles?!?!

First off, my apologies for the foreign language title..I don't know why this post defaulted to it, but it did, and I can't figure out how to fix it, so let it be written (in Arabic or Hebrew or Yiddish would be cool, or some other language I have no clue about) and let it be done..

Anyways, as you can see, my promise of a few posts a week has already been broken. Rest assured, I will try to make up the missing posts with a whole bunch of posts over the next week or so on a myriad of topics and will catch up. I don’t think I have any followers yet, so it's no harm anyway. This post will be part of an ongoing series, “Ya Know What Really BLANKS my BLANK” Series..and in this inaugural post - Ya Know What Really Straightens my Curveball? My beloved but unhealthy on oh-so-many-levels, the New York Mets.

It's been widely debated that the Mets are most in need of a starting pitcher. We started the season with a stud in Johan; a potentially manageable but headcase in Pelfrey; the oft-injured and still iffy John Maine; 2nd year starter Jon Niese who was looking really good last year prior to his ugly hamstring injury fielding a throw at first base last fall, and the god-awful, dreadful Oliver Perez.

Well, Johan is still Johan, consistently well-above average but receiving no run support, hence the mediocre W/L record; Pelfrey had an incredible first half (Cy Young like numbers), buuuuuut, Steve Somers summed him up brilliantly tonight, "He's gone from the Yips to the Yikes!" and has regressed in the 2nd half..all Mets fans gotta believe we can get the 1st half Pelfrey back and get back the confidence he seems to be lacking today; Maine is injured again and seemingly forgotten..Don LeGreca says he won't even throw another pitch in a Mets uniform..we'll see..I like the guy, but he's never seemed to be healthy enough to reach his "potential"; then there's Niese, who had an injury early in the year that set him back for a bit but has really, really come through since, establishing himself as a solid #3 pitcher in the rotation, maybe even more..; and finally there's Ollie Perez..just back from the DL, his velocity is maxing out around 86, not the mid-90's that made him quasi-effective in the past (due to his lack of accuracy, he actually could get batters out as a wild pitcher confusing batters with decent speed, no command and the occasional sick slider..) now he's a pedestrian pitcher with no speed, no command, a 12mil per year contract, and a mindset that he's a MLB pitcher, refusing to go to the minors..this is the LAST THING the Mets need.

To replace Maine, the Mets called up RA Dickey, who was the butt of many-a-joke upon his signing this off-season as a washed up 36 yr old ineffective knuckleballer (he was the "Mets savior" I think I proclaimed at the time) who (despite looking like we pulled him from a Phish concert) turned out to be a veeeeerrrryyy effective pitcher for the Mets..ERA under 3, a consistency of quality starts AND the ability to go deep into games - he's been damn near a savior for the Mets..and it's sooo fun to watch knuckleballers when they're on (which he usually is..); and Takahashi who had some issues over the past few starts, but *may* have righted the ship (I still think he's best suited as a long man out of the bullpen). So we have a solid Johan; a potentially great, potentially horrendous Pelfrey; a seemingly solid Niese; a seemingly solid Dickey; and Takahashi (who should be in the bullpen) who may be replaced by the dreadful Perez (I vote no-confidence in Jery Manual's managing abilities at this point..bring me back Bobby Valentine, or heck even Wally Backman.)
What does that mean? We really, really need use a respectable professional starting pitcher. Aside from that, I'm content with our starting rotation.

With that said, it's now 12:15 and I'm sitting at Hooters watching the game, drinkin' a beer and eatin' a salad, very excited that the Mets actually learned how to score a run (3 actually..whoah! 3-1 vs the Dodgers in the top of the 8th..). Time for Parnell to throw a scoreless 8th and K-Rod make me queasy in the 9th.

Sooooo, next post on sports will be one of the following: Why one of the following suck/s (Jerry Manuel, the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, A-Rod, Lebron, Gary Bettman), the Mets offense, the Mets bullpen and why K-Rod needs to stop just pointing to The Man, and start asking for some divine intervention to actually make a clean save, or the Jets and why Jets fans might actually have a reason to be excited.

If you've gone this far, thanks for reading..and as always, feel free to comment. Until then, I bid you adieu..

- doot