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art creative writing fiction women writing

The Lotus (Short film): Meet Australian filmmaker Bernadette Walsh

The Lotus: Short film by Bernadette Walsh

Thank you for viewing The Lotus, a short film by Australian filmmaker, Bernadette Walsh. It has been a while since the last short film Friday. When I caught up with Bernadette in Twitter Spaces the other night, I knew her activism would resonate well with you. Read on as she opens a window into her project.

The Lotus: Behind the scenes with director Bernadette Walsh

My name is Bernadette Walsh and I wrote and directed the short film, The Lotus. The film tells the mythical story of a brother and sister who were rescued from the darkest of places, and given a future with hope. I wrote the story in 2019, because I was inspired by the work of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an NGO based in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Bernadette Walsh and her sister, Kate Walsh

The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was founded by Australian philanthropist Michael Brosowski in 2004, when he saw the need to rescue children from exploitation by labour and sex traffickers. Michael founded the NGO to provide these children with the care and support they would need to help rebuild their lives. In 2020, Blue Dragon rescued the 1,000th survivor of human trafficking. Today Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is still working with over 10,000 children and youth from around Vietnam.

Transforming the lives of children who were trafficked is hard work. And I knew that I wanted to support the NGO in any way I could. Working together with Blue Dragon, I raised funds through the Australian crowdfunding platform, Pozible, to make my film project a reality. My family and friends also chipped in to offer support.

The Lotus was brought to life by sand animation artist, Kseniya Simonova who rose to prominence in 2009, after winning Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009. Ten years later, she participated in The Champion on America’s got Talent. And on Britain’s Got Talent, she was the only act to receive two Golden Buzzers. Kseniya is an extraordinary artist who brings to life moving stories through incredible sand art. Having previously seen her work online, she immediately came to mind as the person who could breathe life into the story.

Sand art by Kseniya Simonova

The other wonderful, creative and talented people working on The Lotus included fine artist Kate Walsh, who created the storyboard visuals for Kseniya. The original music was created by Australian film composer, Robert John Sedky. And as the narrator, my 11-year-old son, Michael, was happy to offer his voice.

I enjoy testing new narrative styles in storytelling. This is why my next film project, Navigating a Pandemic will be testing more boundaries. For this project, I will be using artificial intelligent software to animate pandemic-related data into a 3D pigmented sculpture. I am fortunate to have the support of a high-performance computer company, which is supplying me with the computing power I need to render the project.

Kseniya Simonova meeting with King Jigme of Bhutan

Next stop? Raising funds to produce the project, and I will do that via the sale of non-fungible tokens. For me, token sales to multiple buyers works in the same way as traditional fundraising platforms. Supporters will be funding the project with the proceeds of their crypto investments. In the meantime, I am working to focus my fundraising activities within the community of crypto investors. The possibilities are both exciting and daunting. Wish me luck.

The Lotus has received the following awards:

  • Special Jury Animation Award at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles (Oct 2019)
  • Finalist at the Rome Independent Prisma Awards (March 2020)
  • Award of Merit at Best Shorts Festival in California (Apr 2020)
  • Finalist Mescalito Biopic Fes (Nov 2020)
  • Finalist JellyFEST Season 6 (Feb 2021)
  • Humanitarian Award at the Best Shorts Competition 2020 (2020)

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Categories
art men

Hendro Soetrisno: Chasing Perfection

LIFE by Hendro Soetrisno

Hendro Soetrisno’s his art is easy on the eyes. He has spent 25 years chasing perfection. His second collection of crypto artwork, LIFE, is on Sloika. Before we start, you can follow him on Twitter or find him on Instagram. And now, let’s get to know him.

Pelican Mood

What does it mean to be a visual storyteller?
My fine art nature images are real and also a part of my imagination, where the color of the water is sometimes pink instead of blue, where birds and other animals speak to me when I speak to them. My work is a result of more than 25 years of photography, thousands of captures, endless waiting for a single perfect moment followed by months of post production to bring my world of imagination to you.

And your signature style?
There are a lot of talented photographers in the world, and I was told that I needed to distinguish my work from theirs. So, I chose not to be known as a nature photographer. I wanted to see myself as a visual story teller who uses animal fine art to share my imagination.

Lavender Cupid

In other words, you paint images in your imagination and bring them to life in photos. And how long have you identified as a photographer?
I have been doing photography for 25+ years using a large and a medium format film before switching to digital. I was a landscape photographer at the beginning but then my interest expanded to include wedding and portrait before settling down in fine art nature.

Twilight Curtains

You enjoy photography competitions. Tell us more about those.
One of my proudest moments was being chosen to represent the United States in the prestigious World Photographic Cup. Olympics of professional photography. I brought home a gold medal in Nature category and also won the Best of Nations. But I remember where it all started. I entered my first professional competition in the Australia Institute of Professional Photography where I got my first awards. Then, I began entering major professional competitions like the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, Professional Photographers of America, and Master Photographers International. In total, I’ve won 150 awards so far.

Primrose Seal

One hundred and fifty awards is quite an accomplishment. You must have many adoring apprentices.
Thank you, it is an honour to be considered a mentor, and yes, I have helped fellow photographers to develop their skills. The feeling I get when I see them doing very well has been satisfying.

Is there a signature style we can see with you and your students?
My current photography style is a combination of what I learned and experience as a landscape and wedding/portrait photographer. While landscape is quite dependent on natural light, wedding/portrait can be manipulated using man made. I “light” my animals using the same principles as how I would light a human either using natural or artificial light. The event that brought me to my current style was actually a casual conversation with one of the most reputable wedding photographers in the world. I attended his workshop and during a break he told me that I needed to be my own not just a copy of him. This is something I tell the photographers I mentor, too.

Follow Hendro on Instagram

And how did you enter the world of cryptoart? How have you done so far?
I started minting NFTs in mid January 2022 after receiving an acceptance letter from the curated photography marketplace @sloikaxyz. I sold out Vivid, a collection of ten photographs, in four weeks. And now, I am presenting my second series on the same platform. This collection is about celebrating life. The collection is brought together from thousands of captures, and the endless wait for a perfect moment. This life is my unique vision.

Categories
celebrity creative writing entrepreneurs men news writing

Curtis Richardson: Rihanna’s multi-platinum music producer chats with Charles Myambo


Happy Saturday, everyone. In this post, you will meet the multiplatinum music producer Curtis Richardson, who has written songs with Jennifer Lopez, produced music for Rihanna, and worked with David Guetta, Tiësto and John Legend. He is speaking with the fabulous celebrity interviewer, Charles Myambo.

How was it working with Jennifer Lopez?

Well, I first started working with Jennifer Lopez before she was mainstream. She came at a time where the world was itching for a breakout Latina star. At the time, its safe to say that Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer, not only in the US, but also around the world. To date, she is one of the biggest stars worldwide, but it was not always this way. Jennifer was extremely hardworking and determined when I first started working with her. She had a day job and needed to balance that with recording music. Combine all that with the pressure of being a Latina entertainer during a time where not many like her were global superstars, and you can see how Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer. To this day, she is one of my favourite artists to work with. 

Curtis Richardson

What are your thoughts on musicians becoming huge without the help of a record label?

You have to understand that record labels are like machines when it comes to artist promotion. The top tier record labels are exceptional at branding artists and giving them exposure to a global audience. If your question is whether artists can be filthy rich without record labels, then the answer is definitely yes. ChanceThaRapper for instance, is independent and extremely well-off. However, if your question is whether an artist can become as big as Nicki Minaj or Drake without a record label, then I have to say no. Not impossible but it is extremely difficult.

The room on Clubhouse

What tough-love advice would you have for aspiring musicians today?

It’s not easy. The music industry is very much cutthroat. You can gain or lose relevance so quickly. The volatility of music fans is simply astonishing and without careful planning and strategy, almost any artist can start becoming irrelevent very quickly. Obviously, you have your Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, and JLo, who are household names globally and they are unlikely to ever become irrelevant. However, that’s part of the issue.

Fight about it

We have young artists who try and mimic exactly what these huge stars are doing while failing to understand that it took years for those superstars to be able to produce one album without promoting it on Instagram and it becomes a hit. Today’s artists need to understand that the music game costs money, requires time and effort, demands creativity, and also social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook to promote upcoming tracks. Artists also have to be willing to adapt to trend changes in order to become relevant and perhaps even one day become the trendsetters.

If you don’t feel like quitting, your dream isn’t big enough

Do you feel like a celebrity?

No not really. Never feel too comfortable. You can always achieve more. Pride is the enemy of progress.

What was the most difficult part about the pandemic for you?

I love travelling, and I couldn’t travel as much as I really wanted.

It’s not that deep, baby

What is one major thing still left on your checkbox?

I’d love to travel more. I’d like to explore more of the world than I have already. Gain more new perspectives through learning about different cultures, music, ethnicities and heritage. 

👀

Thank you for reading this interview, which was provided by Charles Myambo. Follow him on Instagram. Charles is an actuarial scientist by day. And by night, he is founder of the celebrity networking community, Team Smooth. Since 2019, he has worked with hundreds of celebrities from all over the world. Team Smooth has a vision of presenting the community outreach of celebrities and some of the world’s most notable names and brands. Their mission is to spark positive change in the world by bringing awareness to worthy causes and communities.

Categories
art men opinion

Jelly Doods by Ron Schippert: Journey to Recovery

Piano Dood by Ron Schippert

Intro
Greetings everyone, and happy Thursday because I have another guest post for you. Yesterday, February 23, was the Emperor Reiwa’s birthday and a national holiday. And I thought, what would it be like to spend 12 hours cohosting a Twitter Space for artists? Starting at 11:00 JST, I did just that. The energy in the space was warm, vibrant, and supportive. Because of that, I felt revived after three long weeks of burnout and autoimmune flareups.

One of our guests in the fourth hour was artist and community activist named Ron Schippert. As I listened to his story, I knew you would warmly welcome him here. Please read his story, and enjoy the cute Jelly Dood characters he created for a worthy cause. Thank you.

Skater Chef Dood

Hello everyone, my name is Ron Schippert and I am a 45-year-old artist from Pennsylvania, USA. I am an addict in recovery and I celebrated 10 years clean on February 10. At an early age, I never felt like I fit in anywhere, whether at school, sports or just outside playing. As years went by and I got older, I turned to other substances to feel like I belonged. In reality, I was walking down a path of self-destruction. After spending years in and out of hospitals, detox clinics, psych wards, and rehabilitation centers, I decided to go into treatment one last time. I had no idea what the future would hold. That day, February 10, 2012, marked the day of my rebirth.

Piano Wizard Dood

After completing full treatment, I moved to South Florida. There, in the early days of my recovery, I felt a strong desire to help others who were struggling with addiction. That meant spending sleepless nights sitting in waiting rooms, and driving people to detox clinics or hospitals. Doing something to help others made me feel whole again. Because of that, I continued my work with recovering addicts. I have supported hundreds of addicts as they got clean but unfortunately, some of my friends did not make it. In spite of that, I am committed to doing whatever I can to help.

Football Dood

Even today, ten clean years later, I still see the many obstacles that recovering addicts face with health insurance or finances. There should never be a reason for someone to be refused the help that they need. This is why I have created a fundraising project using non-fungible tokens. The artwork is called Jelly Doods NFT. Proceeds from sales of these tokens are used to pay for addiction treatment for people who cannot afford it.

And why did I choose art? Ever since I was young, art has helped me settle my mind and feel all right with myself. Making art takes me to a place of peace and serenity. This is the purpose of the Jelly Doods characters. They are simple, fun characters created to bring a smile to your face. If this project can help one more person receive treatment for substance abuse, then it will have served its purpose.

Blue Dood

In life, I have only a few passions. Art has remained number one because it is something that I do for others. And my dearest wish is to use my art to give someone their life back. I live by the motto, “I can only keep what I have by giving it away.” And I give you Jelly Doods.

Follow the Jelly Doods on Twitter

Outro
Thank you everyone for reading this presentation and for viewing this gallery of art. Ron may be reached on socials at the links below. Please be sure to follow him. I imagine that you were sending him your positive thoughts of appreciation while you were reading. I know that Ron appreciates the support you have given him with your attention today. Thank you.

Jelly Doods website

@JellyDoods on Twitter

Join Jelly Doods on Discord

Full Jelly Doods NFT Collection

Categories
Ancient Past art men

A spark of renewed antiquity: Artist Alberto Ballocca

Italian fine artist Alberto Ballocca

Hello everyone, I am Alberto Ballocca, a self-made contemporary painter from Italy. Through my art, I am trying to catch my spark. I work to emulate ancient customs and combine them with my futuristic ideas. In the present, I attempt to breathe new life into antiquity by balancing dimensions of time within myself.

My work lives on the Ethereum blockchain and my first exhibition of art is already live in South Africa. Follow me on Twitter for highlights.

Primeval Rah

On a technical level, my process is based on the mixing of different types of mediums on canvas, panels, glass, aluminium. My pigments include wall enamels, acrylics, oil, natural pigments, charcoals, graphite, collage elements and gold foil.

Throughout symbols (closeup)

If you are familiar with digital image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, you could imagine that I am emulating that process by applying one layer on top of the other as I allow interesting shapes to appear. As I paint, I am trying to catch these new shapes on a spark of intuition. For me, creating art is a game of balancing abstract themes and realistic figures.

Gallery of physical works

On a conceptual level, I read a lot of books and meditate on what I’ve read. My favourite subjects include Aristotle’s poems, ancient Egyptian symbolism, Greek mythology, Plato’s writings and anything concerned with the deep nature of reality.

Using that energy, which I believe is the source of our modern-day culture, I try to crack emotional codes so that these energies can resonate within my paintings. And from then on, I pass these to the observer. Follow me on Instagram to see more of my creative process.

Working with natural pigments

As for showcasing my work, I am in love with the interactions on Twitter Spaces because I have met a lot of amazing new people. I can interact with people all over the world with very little effort. I believe it is super important for us as artists and creative people to be connected in this way.

As for the future, I am looking forward to collabs with well-known and respected artists in the art world. Many of them are my friends in the Metaverse.

Thank you for taking a walk with me today. I hope to see you again soon.

.
.
.

Postscript: Digital versions of my physical paintings are listed on several sales platforms. Each collection is separated by theme, and you can find links to the galleries below.

Known Origin

Foundation

Open Sea

Minty Art

Hodooi

Categories
entrepreneurs news opinion technology

NFT Marketplaces: A Competitive Megathread

Creative photography entitled Burning Issues. And NFT collection by Raecreateart.
From the collection Burning Issues by Raecreateart


Hello everyone. I hope you’ve had a great start to 2022. To start my year on a productive note, I have done lots of reading and talked with prominent players in blockchain technology investments. No two investors agree on the best investment approach, so my solution has been to try and understand their mindset. In my opinion, it is really important to grow a strategy play based on your own knowledge, connections, and risk tolerance.

Why is this important for creators? We should be thinking about investing some of our income to fund creative projects or startups and to build a nest egg for retirement. Eventually, I will be publishing informative posts on NFTs (digital assets stored in smart contracts on a blockchain), blockchain infrastructure, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies. Each of these topics exists in its own ecosystem. The main ideas here are registration of ownership, a decentralised protocol for validating transactions, and platforms for creating and trading tokens. At the end of this megathread, you will see links for further reading.

None of the views expressed here are financial advice. Please do your own research, as always.

January 7, 2022 recorded conversation on passive income via Twitter Spaces

Intro
One of the first questions I am asked after “What are NFTs?” is “Where should I sell them?” Today’s post will give you some guidance through a discussion of NFT marketplaces. This presentation was first published on October 13, 2021 by Mide, an angel investor and crypto trading expert I met on Twitter Spaces. He published a megathread on his Twitter timeline to discuss his outlook on marketplaces for non-fungible tokens. So far, players with real world skills are entering the community. And they are bringing marketing expertise, professional teams, and networking skills to a market that is saturated with art. These newcomers will be competitive if they can offer tangible value to collectors. Marketplaces will then compete to provide a platform for the most popular project owners, and depending on the outcome of the negotiations, primary market collectors will benefit.

The original thread by Mide published on Twitter

Megathread
NFTs. They are everywhere these days. And if you’ve ever bought or sold one, you probably did it on Open Sea. The world’s largest NFT marketplace has handled a whopping $8 billion worth of transactions since the start of 2021.

The success of NFTs is no longer a point of discussion. Rather, it makes sense to think about the continued success of Open Sea as a marketplace. In the latter months of 2021, there was a surge in rival NFT marketplaces, many aiming for the top spot. So, is Open Sea under threat? That is what I want to explore today.

In the summer of 2021, the earliest sign of an Open Sea competitor came from one of the largest decentralized exchanges, SushiSwap. Sushi has announced its own NFT platform called Shoyu (meaning soy sauce in Japanese). The platform is currently in the final stages of development. Shoyu’s main advantages are integration with existing Sushi Swap protocols and the distribution of transaction fees to SUSHI token holders.

However, from the SHOYU NFT teasers released so far, the marketplace looks more like a competitor to Super Rare than OpenSea. This is because it targets individual artists and art collectors rather than NFT flippers (people who buy NFTs and resell them for a bigger profit).

The next marketplace that caught my eye is the newly launched Infinity. Entering the scene in October, 2021, Infinity has been trying to lure Open Sea users to its platform with the promise of a token airdrop (free tokens sent directly to wallets visible on the Open Sea platform).

Anyone who has spent more than 0.02 ETH ($US 62) on OpenSea can claim a bag of Infinity tokens if they spend an equal amount of ETH on the Infinity marketplace. Additionally, Infinity aims to be community-driven and completely decentralized, with user governance coming from holders of the airdropped tokens. Infinity even admits that it uses the same smart contracts as Open Sea. The Infinity developers are transparent about trying to lure users away from Open Sea in a so-called “vampire attack.”

On the centralised exchange side, there is a new offering from FTX US. The exchange’s latest marketplace launched in October. It offers a much-needed improvement to NFT trading on Solana. It also provides a safer and more intuitive way to discover NFTs. At present, FTX only supports Solana NFTs but has said it intends to add support for Ethereum-based NFTs soon. FTX already runs an NFT marketplace and users can bid on experiences like a match in the popular League of Legends game.

Finally, we have Coinbase NFTs. Nasdaq’s first cryptocurrency exchange says that it will help creators to flourish on the exchange. In the announcement of its waitlist, it said that “by fostering connections, Coinbase NFT will help creators, collectors, and fans build community.” However, despite the optimism of this presentation, it is newcomer FTX that has the biggest chance of dethroning Open Sea, in my opinion. The platform has proven that it will get what it wants. It has also spent millions on marketing and promotional partnerships. It has already made a name for itself as a provider of cryptocurrency derivates, and I believe that it will be able to achieve the same level of success with NFTs.

Fin

Further reading

Ethereum Whitepaper
Ethereum Foundation

The Year in Ethereum 2020
Josh Stark and Evan Van Ness via Medium

Why I’m bearish on Ethereum
Tascha Labs

Solana: A new architecture for a high performance blockchain v 0.8.13
Solana Project

$LUNA Investment strategy discussion on Twitter Spaces (recorded)

Categories
art fashion opinion TV women

Light giver: A passion for diversity

Brissa “Breezy” Marina Page, co-founder of Cricket Ranch, is today’s featured filmmaker. She is an independent creative director, producer, stylist and content creator based in Los Angeles, California. She shares her outspoken love for civil liberties and social justice with friends, family and collectors alike.

From the filmmaker herself:
Light Giver was a passion project for the Cricket Ranch, a production boutique and studio rental location. The Cricket Ranch is a five star location space I created with my partner, Coop Grafik. We are happy to work with artists in Los Angeles looking for a versatile location to shoot and create.

Follow our enchantress as she dances with the light as she reunites with her King at the end. Starring Aisha Anderson and featuring music remix by Therdchild. Shot in one night, we had a great time every second of the shoot and during post-production. I wanted to highlight my beautiful friend Aisha, and her belly dancing, costume and skills. She was brilliant.

My partner and I decided to create the Cricket Ranch as a location after noticing a need for more diversity on our social media timelines. The boring, thin cis-white model format was repetitive and we knew that we needed to be the change and inspire more photographers to do the same when they shoot here. We needed to see more black and indigenous people of colour, as well as strong, healthy body types from all walks of life.

Outro
You can learn more about Brissa on her website. Or, collect an edition of her Bottoms Up NFT creative photography (caution: nude woman) on Hic et Nunc for about $22 or 3 tez. You can also follow her around on the web via her Link Tree profile. See more of her beautiful body as well as the causes she supports when you follow her on Twitter. The featured film, Light Giver, was directed by her and her partners at Cricket Ranch.

Categories
about me art creative writing fashion fiction news women

All Hallows’ Chic

Sylva and Tee Nightmare

Recently collected is the spectacular nonfungible token from Keith Allen Phillips on Hic et Nunc. The blurb reads, “Sylva and Tee – Nightmare. If you wake up to this at the end of your bed, do you run or do you stay? This is Sylva Hattington with Tee Marie modeling some of Sylva’s amazing creations.”

Will be checking my stats in about six hours to find out exactly how many eyeballs were clapped on this image, all 7MB of it. If you thought your eyes were going to fall out, wait until you see the rest of Keith’s collection. (Don’t look.)

And if you want to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I was drawn to the portraits because of the headdresses. I love headdresses and finding out these were designed by a woman made this token a must-have. Maybe it’s because I’m such an introvert and I need a shell in which to retreat.

Tea Time by Gimme

Then, collected last Sunday, was Tea Time by Thai artist GIMME because I have a thing for skulls carved out of crystals. The artist was featured in an earlier post on 3D NFT artists. I thought that nothing could make them scream, but they freaked out when I told them I was going to collect this token.

Now, if you want a nightmare story for Halloween, it should be about my dysfunctional love life. Without making a confession of any sort, I’ll give you the rundown as if it were the treatment for a work of fiction.

The story goes, a woman who looks disturbingly young for her age has run away from her gilded cage where she is being courted by dozens and dozens of extremely handsome suitors. As night draws near, she stumbles upon a tower at the edge of her world. The steward of the tower is a monk who has lived there, alone, for nearly thirty years. Seeing an opportunity to have all of his knowledge recorded, he seduces the woman with a promise to share his ultimate secret.

In exchange, she must work with him to write down every miracle he has ever performed. The woman agrees because she is in love. And as she studies his alchemy, she suspects that his insights are pedantic filler. His proclaimed power over the material world could be the stuff of fantasy. In order to save herself, she embarks on a search for her true soulmate. Does he exist, and will she find him in time?

Have a safe and blessed Halloween.

Categories
men news opinion People TV writing

On Leaving (Short film)

On Leaving is a short film by Sagar Kapoor (India)

On Leaving (07:45) is a documentary short by Indian filmmaker, Sagar Kapoor.

Synopsis
Lockdown in India had just started to be lifted, however, due to job loss, increasing COVID19 cases, and other circumstances, the narrator is forced to vacate his rented room. This short film tries to express the feeling of the narrator visiting his room for one last time and how spaces can be personal and important parts of our lives.

Bio
Sagar Kapoor is a filmmaker from India and he grew up in Lucknow, a city known for its delicious cuisine, history, art, and culture. At La Martniere College, he was first introduced to the world of art and photography. Today, he works as a independent filmmaker and illustrator. His documentary films are introspective and empathetic, as they focus on our relationship with the environment. In his free time, he loves to read, write, travel, and cook. 

His upcoming projects are: 
1. Eating clouds, a documentary on a local delicacy from Lucknow.
2. On Death a City; how the uniqueness of a city dies with time and our need for modern infrastructure.

Follow Sagar Kapoor on social media:

Instagram
YouTube
Twitter

How many of you have friends who make films? Well, you have one now. And you will make another filmmaker friend next week. On October 22, 2021, drop by and greet South African poet, voice actor, and performance artist, Marinda Botha. Stay tuned as I feature more filmmakers and creatives over the next few weeks.

Categories
art People technology women

Storm chasers, assembled

MEET THE Adventurous women
(and men)
flashing througH
THE METAVERSE

Shannon Bileski
A little about me. I am a storm chaser, aurora hunter and all around adventurer, living life to the fullest, every way I can. As a child, I was always fascinated with the weather and that is why I got into photography. At first, I struggled to get a photo of lightning when I was eight years old. And four years later, when I was twelve, I did. All that was missing was the right equipment. And after witnessing Canada’s only F5 tornado in 2007, up close and in person, I bought my first DSLR camera. Then, I started capturing everything and anything I could, including storms.

My passions quickly evolved into storm and aurora photography (and a dash of newborn photography). My work has been featured in magazines and has won awards. Most importantly, my work has kept me learning, growing, adventuring and discovering. There is no better feeling than staring down Mother Nature, and this marvelous gift she throws at you. Being in the middle of it, the complete awe, is an indescribable feeling. It is a special moment in time that I love to capture and share with everyone.

Melanie Metz
I was born to chase tornadoes, just as some people are born to sing or become medical doctors. I have been drawn to the storm, wanting to understand it, watch it, and feel it. Standing in the wind of a passing supercell is where I truly feel alive. I have had a passion for storms since I was a young girl living in Arizona. There, I would stare in awe at the incredible lightning shows and dream about tornadoes. As I entered high school, photography became my other love. I began actively chasing tornadoes after earning my bachelor’s degree, and I have been on the road with my camera every spring for over twenty years now.

During my earlier years of chasing storms, I partnered with Peggy Willenberg. Together, we became known as the “Twister Sisters” with a reality TV show on the WE Network. We also worked as Chasers for FOX 9 News in Minneapolis, taught Skywarn classes and did many severe weather presentations for various audiences. For the past several years, I have been living my dream as a solo storm chaser, as Melanie Metz Storm Chasing. I work to capture the power and beauty of storms on film.

I am just now beginning the journey into the world of non fungible tokens, where I hope to offer my work and support other artists in the community in a new and exciting way. And, let me share one more tidbit. After many years of hard work, one of my tornado photographs was recently licensed for commercial use in the cover and poster of the upcoming film, “13 Minutes”. The film is about survival. A community works together to rebuild when their town is hit by a tornado. There are several strong female characters in the story. I can’t wait to see it, because it is a huge honour. For more info about my work, please visit my website to learn more about my work.

Lori Grace Bailey
I am a professional wedding/portrait photographer who also enjoys capturing extreme weather and extraordinary skies. My work has appeared in major publications and television outlets including the March/June issue of Backpacker Magazine. I am also a brand ambassador for F-Stop Gear.

I enjoy chasing tornados in the mid-west, haboobs in the southwest. Or, when conditions are right, I captured elusive sprites using my intimate knowledge of a storm’s lifecycle. I believe that my work stands out because I can consistently get shots most people only dream of.

One of my other roles is Director of Monsoon Con, an annual convention in Tucson, Arizona. The convention brings together photographers and weather enthusiasts with an emphasis on storm chasing with success.

Jessica Moore
I am a female storm chaser of nearly 10 years, making a living from NFT photography and video. I am a meteorologist, professional photographer and videographer, and passionately involved with NFTs. My storm footage and photography has been aired on The Weather Channel, ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS, WeatherNationTV and FOX News. I have also been featured in several national TV news stories about women in storm chasing and meteorology. My non-fungible tokens can be found on Foundation and Open Sea under the handle name @DopplerJess as well.

Natasha S
Who says ‘thunderbolt’? Hi, everyone! My name is Natasha, a photographer by passion from Bangkok, Thailand. And here is my favourite shot of a city thunderbolt. One thing I love the most is nature of all kinds. As a kid, I always enjoyed watching lightning dancing in the sky and was never scared of it. For me, it was a light show from nature. So it becomes my passion whenever I see the light flashing from the sky, I always grab my camera and go after it.

In a city like Bangkok, finding lightning is challenging. Most properties in the city are private so it becomes difficult to find a location for the perfect capture. Great meeting you. You can find me everywhere.

Erin AKA GhostTrainPhoto
This chase was one of the best chases I’ve ever had. This supercell danced in front of me for almost an hour.

I am a psychology researcher with a passion for storms. I grew up on the western edge of tornado alley and have always been fascinated by the power of weather.

I got into photography as means of justifying the countless hours I found myself driving to experience storms. Photography has now turned into a passion of its own.

Hello, my name is Stephanie. I am a storm chaser and landscape photographer based in Oklahoma. I have spent the last ten years traveling the plains chasing Mother Nature’s fury. I grew up in the heart of tornado alley, so I have always been fascinated my weather. When I’m not chasing a storm, I spend my time traveling and hiking. I love to explore new places and push myself to new limits.

Willard Sharp
I am a storm chaser and astrophotographer based in Iowa. The 2021 chase season was really good to me this year and capturing most photogenic tornado of the year in west Texas this past spring was the highlight of my chase season.

Ujwal Puri
Hi. My name is Ujwal Puri. I am a photographer and storm chaser from Mumbai, India. My lightning photos have been featured in some of India’s leading newspapers and magazines. I have, as of now, one non-fungible token of a lightning shot. Looking forward to minting more of my storm chasing work on Foundation.

Adam Orgler
Hello. I’m a storm chaser based out of central Iowa. I’ve been chasing for 3 years now. I am currently a senior at Iowa State University studying computer ccience. What you will see is the result of an impromptu chase this summer in central Iowa. Over the course of the evening, I stumbled upon two highly photogenic, rotating supercells. The first cell was a fast mover which I had to outrun in order to avoid the large hail it was producing. It had an awesome bowl-shaped shelf cloud along its gust front. After the first cell dissipated, a second, slow moving cell formed to the north. I was able to set up my shooting location in a wind farm as the cell moved right towards me. It was spectacular.

Thomas Knepshield
Here is one of my favorite tweets from the year. I sat through a nighttime hail core in Garden City, KS trying to dent my car up and shatter a windshield. I achieved both of those goals here. I am an adrenaline-structure junkie storm chaser from Kentucky. This was my first year hitting the road to chase and I spent six weeks chasing storms along my 16,600 mile road trip. I saw five tornadoes, sat through a bunch of hail cores and captured a lot of lightning on camera. A childhood dream come true. I am twenty-two so that means I have seventy-eight more years of chasing to go (or more if possible).

Tim Slane
As a storm chaser and photographer, I chase storms, tornadoes, and lightning in the High Plains of the United States. Through photography, I share the beauty, uniqueness, and power of both storm and landscape.

Hunter Fowkes
This is one of my best storm chases I’ve ever been able to undertake in thirteen years chasing tornadoes. This was extremely close to home. What a day. There were many times this tornado felt like the ones I witnessed in Lockett, Texas, Ashby, Minnesota, and Tipton, Oklahoma. The tornado went through many phase changes and was such a sight to behold. I love this state.

Oh, my goodness. I was so enraptured by this presentation that I almost forgot to close it down with a big thank you. I was thrilled to have storm chasing superheroes featured here today. I am grateful to you for sharing your stories and being hard working and passionate, which is what we need to keep us inspired. And by now, you know the drill: Find them on Twitter, and follow them. They are going to look really cool in your timeline.

Thank you, everyone, for viewing this presentation.

Categories
about me opinion

Sunday at the coffee shop

Some tumblers and reusable cups at a local Starbucks.
The top shelf of my “office”


This afternoon, I had the brilliant idea of attempting to upgrade my account. However, WordPress wouldn’t let me enter my postcode on their PayPal payment page. I switched keyboards twice and used the number pad. They were kind enough to ask why I was cancelling my order.

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

Dessert - strawberry mousse in a glass display case
Designer mousse – I ordered extra whipped cream instead

I see what the matter is with the new block editor. It literally depends on the time of day. At 11.00, 13.00 and 16.00, I couldn’t use the backspace key or CTRL + X to delete images or blocks of text. It’s 19.01 or two hours before this post goes live. Now, I can do all of those things. But the earlier function of accessing arrows on the left side of the block to move text around, has gone.

Social distancing notice in a Starbucks coffee shop.
Table top – a fifteen-minute visit turned into a two-hour battle

At first, I thought the editor was not iPhone friendly, but typing on a desktop is equally frustrating. It’s not that the block editor lacks functionality, it is that the removal of user control means that poorly rendered backend code can really ruin your day. I wanted to switch out the following two photos. It was impossible on my phone. When I got home, I found a tutorial online and was able to do that.

Screen capture of the block settings feature for images.
A “killer” app

Again, the block editor is rubbish on my phone. I uploaded medium-sized images but they were huge when I viewed them on my laptop screen. Searching through the side bar and finding the image resize tool was exhausting. I like to edit HTML because if there are any issues, I can always look at the code and fix it there. I’m not being stubborn. Look at this:

Some html code from the new block editor. Screen capture.
Okay …

Pretty straightforward. But the block editor returned an error message when I tweaked the code. I needed to do this to embed images from the Google Photos app. The app doesn’t give me a .jpg link so I used a different app to create an embed string. I could not embed that into this block editor. My workaround was to upload photos into the media library in WordPress. It will get full fast, so this workaround is not sustainable. Not that I could pay for extra space even if I wanted to.

Have a great Sunday.

Categories
creative writing fiction women writing

How did you meet your husband?

Praia and Augustine

“How did you meet your husband, Praia?”

“It is a very long story.”

“Start and keep going until you get to the end. My brain is saturated with work stuff. Cleanse me with your tale of true love.”

“I met him in Bhutan five years ago. I was already in country for three months when we met. I was a field tech volunteer with the Yoon-Kim Foundation. I was involved with Xu Ming, the film director. You might have heard of him?”

“Who hasn’t?”

“He was there to film a documentary about the Yoon-Kim Foundation. My boss asked me to guide him and his crew high up in the mountains. He wanted to capture some nature scenes. It was pure lust. At least, for him.”

“What about you? What was it for you?”

“I thought he was the one. He was humble, thoughtful and attentive. While I was deeply infatuated with Ming, I met my husband. He was taking a year off after finishing an internship. He decided to be a volunteer medic in Bhutan  while looking for fellowships. Everything was platonic. We went on hikes, explored some parks, had picnics, took photos. We didn’t hold hands or kiss or anything. He had a girlfriend back in Canada: a commercial pilot.”

“Hot stuff.”

“I was crushed when I saw her photos. Former Air Force pilot, two engineering degrees, speaks five languages, double D cup, skinny as a toothpick, super long legs, the type of creamy platinum blonde hair you only read about. He won the lottery ten times over, right?”

“Depends on what he wants.” 

“Good point. But I never thought that at the time. Well, one day, while we were waiting for a ride to pick us up from a remote village, he looked into my eyes and said he wanted me to run away with him to America.”

“What?”

“I thought he was joking. So I said what you just said.”

“What did he say?”

“He repeated what he said.”

“What did you do?”

“I asked him about the genius supermodel genius. I didn’t care if he thought I was insecure. She was dynamite.”

“What happened to Ming?”

“A few days after that shocking declaration, Ming called me from Shanghai. Anyway, I told him I loved him and he seemed happy. But a day later, I texted him to ask if he was coming  to Bhutan to see me. He told me he had to  be in Kyrgyzstan for a location shoot for that big budget film.”

“Nothing unusual about that.”

“When I told him I missed him, he laughed out loud and called me a silly girl.”

Ahh …”

“Yes. I don’t remember what I said to him, but I felt stupid, thinking it was serious.”

“Then you ran into your husband’s arms?”

“No. The last thing I needed was a rebound fling from a non-thing. I found the most remote village in Bhutan and hid out there. I don’t think I showered for the first six weeks.”

“Rejection is pain.”

“I was ashamed and angry, and I took it out on myself. I believed that Ming was into me. It makes me cringe even now.”

“And then you ran into your husband’s arms?”

“Not yet. It’s a really long story. While I was outdoors rolling up tents one morning, my tablet lit up. It was Ming. He wanted to video conference but I had no makeup on, my hair was dirty and pinned up, I was in baggy pajamas, three parkas and mucking boots.”

“Sounds like you were having the time of your life out there.”

“Oh, I felt happy and free. Smelly, and … free. I looked at my tablet and for a moment thought about pressing the accept button. Let him see me looking destroyed.”

“How long was that moment?”

“It was long. But I chucked it in my bag and finished up my morning work duties. When I came home for my lunch break, I saw that I had a video message. Ming said he missed me and wanted me to fly to Paris to see him. He had an awards ceremony and wanted to bring me on the red carpet.”

“And?!”

“After what he put me through? He should have sent me an apology. I laughed out loud. I’m sure the entire village heard me.”

“Was it the kind of laugh you hear in movies when the villain realises he trekked across the universe, wiped out dozens of civilisations to retrieve a box, only to open it and realise it was empty the whole time?”

“Exactly. And I was laughing at myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He rejected me and there he was, begging me to drop everything and run to him.”

“Right? Was it a rebound summons?”

“Maybe? I didn’t think about that at the time. I remember thinking he was hideous. That’s when I finally took a shower. I had to scrub him off me.”

“Was it like waking up from a trance?”

“Not really. I think I started to feel better after accepting that I was being silly. He was  right about that. Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for.”

“Wait, I need more juice. All right… Go.”

“All right. So I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, after scrubbing a month’s worth of dead skin off my body. My hair is fluffed out and all over the place. I hear a knock on my door. I open it, thinking it’s one of the villagers …”

“Wait … it’s your husband at the door.”

“Yes. Accompanied by … genius supermodel genius.”

“Ugh…”

“She sparkles, by the way. I am sure it was the loads of highlighting primer she had on but let me say, she was the design template for hentai fantasy. She had translucent teeth, skin and hair.”

“Ugh….”

“They got a ride up to the village and wanted to ‘explore the area’.”

“How smug.”

“The way he looked at me though, you’d never believe he’d ever seen a woman before. I felt scared for a minute.”

“And, how did you react to the way he looked at you?”

“I pulled my ‘best bitch’ face and told them to see me at the village tuck shop after my work duties were done. It was only after they walked away that I realised I was wearing a pair of huge, neon yellow room slippers, a bright pink dressing gown, and no bra.”

“Please … stop. You met your supreme love rival, GSG, in a bathrobe?”

“And don’t forget that my nipples were poking through.”

“Crushing.”

“I face-planted on my bed. Anyway, when we all met up later, he was asking me if I was with someone. Like, a love interest. I thought he was looking for some sign that I wanted him, so I took a shot. I said that romance was elusive and that I wanted to run away to America, where I could meet people who understood the words coming out of my mouth.”

“What did GSG say to that?”

“She smiled sweetly, in her computer-generated-waifu way, and squeezed his hand. She was saying something inspiring, because she’s also a guru and totally into keeping it simple with her feather-soft complexion. But I could barely hear it because her engagement ring blinded me. It blinded me because it was that big.”

“Oh, no! Not again … This is not a romantic story, Praia. It’s a suspense horror thriller.”

“Believe me, a week later, I was this close to throwing myself off the side of a hill into a gully, when my phone rang. It was him. He was on his way to see me. I hung up.”

“How on earth did you both get married?! Wait a second. I need blueberry popcorn.”

“I’m getting there. When he shows up, we have a quarrel. The gist of it is that I ask him if he thinks I’d be grateful to let him get on me because he’s engaged to every otaku’s wet dream. I say I’m not interested in running away to America to get dumped. Not that I could even consider moving unless I had a job waiting.”

“Right on, babe.”

“So he pulls out a tablet with an electronic marriage license application. Downloaded it from the Canadian High Commission’s website. And filled in his part of it.”

“Where were you when this was happening?”

“In a staff lounge in the free medical clinic set up by the foundation.”

“So, he was engaged to someone else a week earlier, but he wanted to marry you right then, to prove he was serious about you?”

“It felt weird for sure, but I didn’t ask him about … GSG … because I was insecure and jealous.”

“But you signed the marriage license?”

“Yes. Two days later, the license cleared, we signed some forms and we were married.”

“So in other words, you really liked him?”

“I did.”

“Wait, you didn’t have a bash after you moved here.”

“Nope.”

“You must let me plan your wedding. I’m a disgraced ex-fashionista. I’ve got you covered.”

“All right! Go for it.”

( ◠ ‿ ◠ )

Have you made it to the end of this very long story?  This is a chapter from a work of fiction I’m writing. Reread a few chapters recently and I see there is lots of polishing to be done. Hopefully, time is on my side.

If you’d like to stay in touch with me on Twitter, this  is me: @dotjp_n. Or send me a message on this blog’s contact form. Have a great Tuesday.

Categories
creative writing fiction writing

Kissing

Temple kissing

Her face was fully inside his mouth when she realized that his hands had clamped her head in place. One of her eyeballs plopped out and dribbled along the teeth lining his lower jaw.  As it settled into a jagged crater, the eyeball surveyed an astral grey amalgam of filling. A nerve ending in the retina swapped that image with the screenshot of a scene from Robocop. The tiny hairs in her nostrils weren’t quite so swayed. This was a human, and the tiny hairs proved it by enhancing the coffee stains and cigarette smoke emanating from his lungs.

Her right shoulder chipped in to help. Twisting to the left, it wrenched her face from his grip. Taking the hint, her left hand pulled open the door of her car. She had been standing with her back to it so she was able to slide in, gracefully, bottom first.

As she steered her car right, to exit the driveway, the man’s narrow body flattened out in her rearview mirror. His knees and elbows were still bent. His hands flopped down at the wrist. His tongue was stuck to the roof of his open mouth, as if he had been rudely interrupted, mid-hunt.

“Eat or be eaten” sustains the appetite for the short term. But human tribes, under threat, preemptively culled predatory populations (of animals and cannibals) so that they themselves could thrive. She wondered if this had happened to the dinosaurs before they went extinct.

Image: Lakshmana Temple depiction of couple kissing, dates back to 950 AD.

Categories
art artificial intelligence creative writing fiction science fiction writing

Strawberry Sea

Lords of the Fallen

Christian fell out of the wormhole and landed flat on his back. Overhead, his hovercraft exploded. The blast appeared to freeze as it was swallowed up by the singularity.

Within moments, shortwave radiation activated his solar plexus. The nerve endings shocked his heart into rhythm, and his lungs billowed open. His first breath was a revelation. Air, in three-dimensional space, tasted sweet and astringent.

The first light of that morning prized open his pupils and flooded his eyes, enabling him to see his surroundings. He convulsed, fingers scraping at the ground, as his brain recalibrated itself. A phalanx of trees looked him over. Their leaves nodded lazily as they cast off the raindrops that weighted them down.

As a comic book hero, Christian’s circumstances were limited by whatever someone else decided to print.

“I can’t live to my fullest potential acting out roles others are scripting for me.”

An illustrator had scribbled those words near Christian’s mouth. They were cruel and ironic.

“There are advantages,” Christian thought, while battling a Bandroid in volume 91, on page 316. “My victory is guaranteed.”

Eight pages later, he changed his mind. “Please someone,” he pleaded, “write me a way out of here.”

On page 326, someone drew him into our cryptic universe. That was how he found himself stretched out on the eastern bank of the Ganges, dreaming of a strawberry sea.

+_~

Notes: Keep calm and rebel on, rebels. With special thanks to Lilian Wong for including me in her Twitter poetry campaign, which started on September 4 – @LilianYWong. Image Credit: Playstation Europe. Lords of the Fallen, via Flickr, used with permission.

Categories
creative writing fashion People women

Shame-free Romance (PG 16+)

 German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi doing the tango
Photo courtesy Chigirev

If romance were like sports, winning would be easy. A game has rules and a clear winner. But as Grace Dent elegantly states it, “real love with actual humans can be an arduous task.” That is why, if you’re bashful, like me, you will be appalled by the idea of approaching a person and saying, “Please, like me, please.” It seems pushy and even rude but lots of men and women do this with no fear whatsoever. I wondered if I was missing out.

Over dinner, a friend helpfully suggested that I try to be bouncy. I thought she meant I was to change into a thigh-split dress and hurl myself from a moving car.

 Rebecca Ferguson in Rogue Nation
Photo courtesy Business Insider

I liked the idea, as it is a subtle way of asking to be introduced. Until another friend explained that she meant I should mislead witnesses with a padded bra.

While my friends discussed these details, I recalled three attention-grabbing techniques favoured by women Glampions. I’ve seen these tactics in sports: The Wedge, the Lob and the Shirt Pull. They are 100% shame free.

Wedge | When a woman is talking to a man you want like, wedge yourself into the conversation with a tango style pasada, and body block. Slowly caress his thigh with your thigh, à la Gisela.

 Lonestar Rollergirls, Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Lobbing | Pretend to misunderstand information.  Lob a series of pointed and penetrating statements at your rival’s pride. For example, Fantastic Bachelor says, “Ai, you look lovely this evening.” Ai says, “Sorry I’m late. I stopped for gas.” You respond, “Oh, no! Go home and get over your case of bad gas, that’s happening right now, at this moment. Remember? You mentioned it in la toilette yesterday!” Keep at it until she evaporates.

Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open
Photo courtesy Fansided

Shirt pulling | Pull up your shirt and expose your tummy, on which you’ve scribbled your phone number. This may cause Fantastic Bachelor’s brain to short circuit. If it does, he will text you over and over until he passes out.

 Photo: London 2012 Olympics

All right. I’m not sure I’ll ever be 100% shame free. But the tango looks enticing. It is a contact sport and it has a very dressy uniform.