Pro-Age Flamenco + AIDS + Iran + Books + Pod: M. Alfieri on Story

Titling over photo of Flamenco dancers Elisabeth Fruth and Alina Coman Coman-Rodriguez.
Flamenco is fierce at any age: Elisabeth Fruth, left, with Alina Coman Coman-Rodriguez. Photo: Justine Grover, owner of Naranjita Flamenco school.

Discovery + Connection in Stories by Maria Alfieri Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #Writing #Wellbeing #Women #Community #MentalHealth What do peer support and community mean to you? Author/blogger Maria Alfieri's mission is to create peer support and community for our mental and emotional wellbeing. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 Discovery + Connection in Stories by Maria Alfieri My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Maria Alfieri, author/blogger. Cover of “The Silent Scream Anthology,: by Maria Alfieri. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is “Discovery + Connection in Stories by Maria Alfieri.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

Fiction writing, from short stories to novels, is woefully underrated. When people ask me about my writing, I ask if they like reading. Eyes bright, they answer that of course they do. Argh, then they list their fave non-fiction titles. Any discussion of fiction elicits sighs about their lack of free time.

Folks in my circle muscle through books, gobble self-help and cookbooks and how-tos the way they do bitter greens and vitamins. Fiction, to them, is dessert, chocolate that isn’t even in the dark anti-oxidant range.

I beg to differ.

In keeping with the food/nutrition analogy, self-help is great in the way of popping supplements. Fiction, on the other hand, is whole-food goodness, nourishing in ways that defy science.

Cover of "Like a Love Story," by Abdi Nazemian.

“Like a Love Story,” by Abdi Nazemian, is an exquisitely told novel. Ostensibly, it’s for young adults, but don’t let that keep you from reading it. In it, an Iranian-American teenage boy comes to grips with his gayness amid 1980’s AIDS. The audiobook also features a terrific cast of great narrators.

In the way only fiction can, “Like a Love Story” evoked memories, feelings, and thoughts. A couple of nights after finishing it, I dreamt of a beautiful young man, David Fradkin, who I knew back then. He was wise, fun, talented, full of life… and got sick… Here’s a bit more about him.

Some liken AIDS to Covid. Hardly!

Yes, Covid involves ugliness, including squabbles between maskers and vaxers. However, the early days of AIDS were completely hateful.

With AIDS, people from government officials on down — and unfortunately they still do! — blamed victims and refused to help. Countless lives would’ve been saved if it had been handled with even half the urgency Covid inspired, false starts, mishaps, and all.

Besides my prior post’s mentions of experiences with AIDS, at another job during the early-ish AIDS era, this one as a temporary administrative assistant at an advertising agency, there was a man who impressed me because of how truly kind and professional he was. I worked many of the agency’s desks, filled in when full-timers were on vacation or sick leave. This man was a dancer in his real night-and-weekend job, and we liked to talk about our involvement with the entertainment industry. When I eventually subbed at his desk, days turned into weeks into months. The office was smallish and everyone lamented his absence. When I couldn’t find one of his computer files, one of his bosses insisted I phone his home.

Oh, how I wish I hadn’t. Everyone knew he had AIDS, that he was home dying. But I called and this good soul answered and then promptly hung up on me when he found out why I’d called Good for him.

On another day back then, I parked my car to temp at another office. (Most likely I was running late, having gotten lost, asked for directions at a gas station, and searched the Thomas Brothers map book under my seat, haha.) In the lot, a gaunt young man gasped with exertion, trying to get out of his car, then sat back down to catch his breath as he rested his forehead on his steering wheel. No, I couldn’t help, because yes, I knew…

In my heart’s eye, we’re all lucky for any gay man who’s still with us, having survived those horrible times. In my circle, by comparison, Covid seems like nothing, nowhere near the overwhelming number of deaths. Regardless of real statistics, senseless deaths due to hatred define AIDS, whereas politics and stupidity define Covid.

Read “Like a Love Story” because it’s hopeful — also, in ways that non-fiction can’t, it lets readers step into history to see that always, we’re more alike than not, when it comes to confusion and fear. Nazemian’s “The Authentics” is a great read too!

Cover of "Cat Brushing," a book of short stories by Jane Campbell.

“Cat Brushing,” is a book that Jane Campbell at age 80! Among her radical collection of short stories, no topic is off-limits. Each vignette of noir humor illustrates how, to put it mildly and without revealing too much, we don’t ever have to stop surprising ourselves or anybody else.

While I’ve got your ear or rather eyes, if you haven’t already heard, a young woman in Iran was killed merely for not wearing her head scarf modestly enough. People there are so angry, so beyond fed up with government oppression, that the murder has lit the fuse to numerous public outcries.

To censor protesters, the government has closed access to WhatsApp, a major international internet phone/text/video app. You can help their voices be heard by sharing this video… 

Were you around to remember or hear about AIDS in the 1980s? Then or now, what’s your most potent impression?

My Audition Video + Pod48: Why Pigeons Rock by Novelist K. Rooney

Freeze frame of da-AL from audition video.
Freeze frame from my audition video for pilot of America’s Next Great Author.

16 Reasons Pigeons Need Celebrating by Novelist Kathleen Rooney Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #Pigeons #WorldWarI #Books #Writing Do you like pigeons? (It’s ok if you didn’t before this episode.) Novelist Kathleen Rooney’s historical fiction novel called, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey features real-life heroic pigeon! Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 16 Reasons Pigeons Need Celebrating by Novelist Kathleen Rooney My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Follow Kathleen Rooney at @KathleenMRooney Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Kathleen with her book and a pigeon friend. Cher Ami, WWI heroine, at the Smithsonian. Pigeon couple, Coo d’Etat and Walter Pigeon, at Kathleen’s home. Coo and Walter's babies, Feather Locklear and Molly Wingwald, under Kathleen’s eaves. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of Novelist Kathleen Rooney’s post here, “16 Reasons to Celebrate Pigeons.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

Progress — oh, you thrilling and unhinging thing — I finished writing my book, yes, I started recording an audio version via a compact homemade audiobooth (thank you, Mother Nature, for cooler days), and then there were setbacks of sorts.

All last week, I couldn’t figure out why, oh, why, my voice sounded hollow and flat on the audio recordings. Each day, I made changes that improved the sound, but only a little. When I was ready to chalk it off as “that’s just how I sound,” I hit on tweaks that, thank the goddesses, made the needed difference.

Yay! But — what a sinking feeling, too — should I or shouldn’t I start all over and re-record everything? Ugh… the idea of putting in all those days again…

Monday morning I awoke in a “give ‘em hell” frame of mind and took it from the top. I was rehearsed and felt not fully confident, but stronger. Whad’ya know, over that single day, I caught up to where I’d left off!

That same night, I got an email from Shut Up & Write. through Meetup. It was a call for entries for a TV pilot about writers.

Normally, I click contest notices into the junk bin. This time I actually opened the email, read it, and decided, “Okay!” Call me masochistic? Ordinarily sure, but in this case, much of the attraction was that the deadline was in two days, meaning I would give it my best shot without torturing myself for an extended period. Moreover, I now have the video to use here and to show you!

Besides a very specific type of video, they asked for a brief autobiography, a synopsis of the novel, and the first ten pages. Mind you, I am very-very protective of my novels. Fortunately, these people appear quite legit and they didn’t ask for a social security number, a bank account, or any other suspect info.

The TV show/pilot is called America’s Next Great Author, which the producers liken to The Great British Baking Show, in terms of goodwill among participants and all involved. All the people in charge are authors who’ve published many books as well as carved out careers of teaching others to publish.

Anything to do with authors, especially of fiction, I’m all over, so I wish them the best of luck, with or without me.

Here’s what I put together after countless attempts. I also tried to somewhat pretty up the finished clip for you, in terms of color and sound correcting, and adding titling. Dang though, no matter what I did, iMovie muted the ending, so this is it in its unvarnished glory (and I cringe each time I watch it, wish I had time for yet another take). If you want to follow along, the script follows beneath this YouTube window…

Script to the above audition for America’s Next Great Author

(ANGA’s pitch video strict instructions: 1:15 maxm and must include, in this order: name, where from, catchy autobio detail, book pitch.)

Hello, my name is da-AL, which is spelled d-a-A-L. I’m from many places and currently reside in Los Angeles.


Most people are interested to know that my father invented my name. And — that no one else on this planet shares it.

Okay, now let’s get to my novel!

Flamenco & the Sitting Cat is my love letter to anyone who thinks they’re too broken, too old, too whatever to find happiness.

In it, heart-cynical Lali Catala shows how every single one of us, at all our many coming-of-ages, deserves happiness, with others and alone.
Closing on forty, her career as a journalist is bombing.

She aches for a life partner. However, the mere mention of the love-deadening convention called matrimony gives her hives.

She’s so lonely that she’s even writing to Abuela, her deceased grandmother.

Whad’ya know, Abuela answers!

How do you feel about writing competitions?

Videos plus Happy Un-Father’s Day by da-AL

Screenshot of Josh's video from No Dad? No Problem! shoutout for me!No Dad? No Problem!‘s” shoutout for me — get yours too!

Whenever a holiday looms, my first reaction is to gag at all the goopy generalities that pop up more vigorously than do the weeds in my lawn. At least those I can pull up. But what do I do with celebrations that dictate only one way to feel?

Take, for instance, Father’s Day. Everywhere, right about this time of year, are messages of how wonderful dads are. Okay, let’s say that some fathers are. And a bunch aren’t, right? The same goes for Mother’s Day and “blessed is the family” designated events such as Xmas, Thanksgiving (and don’t get me started on other sundry celebrations).

Back to Father’s Day. No matter how relentlessly someone tries to gaslight me into their parallel universe, the fact remains tht mine wasn’t “nice,” to use a shorthand for all the ways he was relentlessly “awful” (an understatement). Writers who go into detail about stuff like that deserve the utmost respect. But if I elaborate further now, my loved ones will be stuck with a glum me for the rest of the day.

Besides, my purpose here is to, a) remind you that it’s okay to not get warm fuzzies over any kin-dedicated day — and, b) to let you know about a way to enjoy an avatar father! A do-over of the very best kind!

Some people are scared of strangers. From childhood on, they were most comforted “in the bosom of family” (a term that for me conjures only snarky innuendos). My growing up was the other way around. I love strangers. Some could be dangerous, but ditto for relatives. Better still, with strangers, there are no expectations. Moreover, they don’t have to be in my home.

Any nicety from a new person warms my heart better than finding treasure on the sands of a long-deserted beach. Ta dah! Enter Virtual Dad!

During my ongoing education that’s poised toward a future podcast of my novels, I googled some things about microphones. After bumbling upon Josh’s Youtube channel and thanking him for the info, I saw his offer to record personalized fatherly praise.

Cynic that I can be, I almost didn’t ask, figured nothing (or worse) would come of it. Then, to prove my own point to myself, I typed in a request…

Waddya know?! — within a matter of days, he answered with this. Basically, all I’d said was that I was working to publish my first podcast episode. Clearly, he researched my blog so he could get the shoutout just right. Plus he pronounced my name perfectly…

…and wouldn’t you know it, I surprised myself by how it bowled me over! He doesn’t ask for cash, he doesn’t proselytize, and thank goddess he’s neither racist nor bigoted — he’s just — dare I type this? — a decent person.

His Youtube “about” page tells how he — wait for it — basically wants to be a good father to his own four kids and to help others along the way. He describes everything from how to shave and how to avoid scammers, to the three best ways for young people to succeed in life and how to whip up easy eats like a grilled cheese sandwich golden and crispy enough to smell through the screen.

To be clear, dear readers, I’m not into guns whatsoever. In your interest, I watched his episode on them. Hallelujah, he wasn’t promoting gun ownership and he prefaced his talk with extensive stats on how truly dangerous they are and seriously they must be taken. Having served in the United States Air Force for twenty years, some of his duty in Afghanistan, and losing many friends, his weapons experience is vastly different from mine.

In addition, despite that I’m a vegetarian, for your sakes I sat through his chicken grilling DIY. His interspersed recount of a near-killing incident was in no way self-aggrandizing, was totally sober and compassionate. He’s obviously from a different culture than I was raised in and definitely overly young to be a real dad to me — but that’s just fine. I don’t ache for a father, not in the least. That said, the aforementioned sincere kindness of strangers has always served me well.

Essense of dad? Eau de dad? Dad-ness? It’s all good. Maybe it will be for you too?

If you’re not into father stuff, but appreciate something vaguely in the same vast range, here’s this…

There you go, friend. For anyone anywhere yearning for kind words from a father-ish nice adult any time of the year, and for whom Opie’s dad character on the Andy Griffith TV shows isn’t interactive enough, consider a virtual alternative.

Have you ever felt Happy Un-Father’s Day-ish? If you know of anyone or want someone to understand, please share this post. Maybe they’ll find comfort in that Un-Father’s Day, any day of the year, is okay.

Sloths and Surfing at Costa Rica’s Puerto Viejo Beach, Manzanillo: videos included!

Costa Ricans are among the happiest people in the world, according to scientific studies.

That explains how pura vida (pure life or good life) has come to be used by all Costa Ricans to greet, to encourage, and to convey all around friendliness.

Some other interesting facts about Costa Rica:

  • Just about everyone there speaks English.
  • The country has only two seasons – rainy and not as rainy.
  • Temps are 80’s and 90s Fahrenheit year ’round.
  • Every day of the year, sunrise and sunset are at 5:30.
  • It’s easy to get sunburned due to its being closer to the equator.
  • My husband and I used citronella wristbands and natural bug repellent, yet received fewer bug bites than many of our fellow travelers.

Take it from me — seeing a happy sloth close up definitely contributes to my sense of wellbeing!

Hover over or click photos for captions and to enlarge them.

 

Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna, Plus Videos

Volcanos, waterfalls, and sheer fun abound in Costa Rica.

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

Hum a little tune as you watch these fast motion photos.

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

Videos: Costa Rica animals, food, money, and plants

A mere 0.1% of Earth’s landmass, Costa Rica harbors 5% of Earth’s biodiversity. Environmental protection is Costa Rica’s middle name. Ecotourism rewards Ticos (Costa Ricans) with jobs and commerce. Other countries take note: caring for Mother Nature pays off in $mucho$ $dinero$.

25% of its land is nationally protected. Compare that to the developing world’s average of 13% and the developed world’s average of 8%. Each Costa Rican drains the Earth a third less than each North American does.

Crops include coffee and sugar cane.

Tap or hover over photos for captions and to enlarge them.

What do you think about when you think of butterflies?

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

Call for Writers, a Quickie Tango Video, Plus it’s Day 3

Old Hermes typewriter courtesy of Wikipedia. Forever green, runs on finger and brain power.
Old Hermes typewriter courtesy of Wikipedia. Forever green, runs on finger and brainpower.

Fingers itchy with needing to express yourself? Guest post on my blog! Click here for guidelines.

Today is my third day of a 30-day personal challenge to post daily for a month. Here’s a little video of my honey and me working to get a new dance step just right. We’re students of the Tango Elegante style of Argentine Tango.