Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best concert, book and movies of 2011

Since the year is over. Thought I would share my views on 2011 with respect to music concerts, books and film.

            This year I was lucky enough to see Eric Clapton at the MGM in Vegas. Jeff Beck at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Rod Stewart in Vegas at the Forum and Andrea Bocelli in Tampa.

Winner for best concert – Jeff Beck.
            An incredible performer at age 66 emits high energy and is considered one of the best guitarists in the world. Beck is one of three noted guitarists to have played with The Yardbirds; (Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page). He also formed The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart and Beck, Bogert & Appice. Interestingly he does not use a pick but instead gets incredible sounds from his fingers and the vibrato bar on his Fender Stratocaster. Curious fact: Jimmy Page played bass for a short time with Jeff Beck in the Yardbirds.

Winner for best book – Top Secret America: The rise of the new American security state. Dana Priest and William Arkin.
            Both authors are relentless reporters. Priest has won two Pulitzer Prizes for her work. In this book they uncover the explosive growth of America’s secret world since 9/11, it’s staggering. The waste, redundancy and domestic surveillance steps the government is taking is scary. The novel focuses on the Pentagon’s secret army that has killed more terrorists than the rest of the US forces combined. After 9/11 Congress gave a blank check to America’s secret security agencies with no public accountability. We worry about the government checking our email…oh it’s much worse than that. All the money, in the hundreds of billions and over 800,000 employees doing “Top-Secret,” work and guess who they’re focusing on next??? Us…!

Winner for best movie – Martyrs
            Okay, this is not a new movie (2008) but new for me. I saw it this year, heard about it for a while and it is the best horror to come out in years.
            This is a disturbing movie!!!!!
It’s a French film written and directed by Pascal Laugier. It is being ranked as one of the scariest movies ever made. The last 30 minutes is gruesome, some say the most intense ever filmed. It’s not the bloodiest but it’s intense. The reason why the torture is happening is so unexpected…it’s brilliant.

As a side note here’s a few of my favorite Netflix streaming movies:
            Let the Right One In
    The Horde
    High Lane

Norm Applegate author of:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Improve Your Writing Right Now: 5 Steps

Lately I've been posting some tips to improve your writing, these five are excellent.

1. Avoid cliches like the plague: You can’t omit them altogether — and you shouldn’t try — but take care when recasting a tired word or phrase into something fresh and new. When calling attention to hypocrisy, instead of reciting the cliche “This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black,” you could write, “Keywords: pot, kettle, black.” You can also play with words, referring to an especially distraught drama queen as a trauma queen.

2. Avoid filler phrases: Delete content-free wording like “be that as it may,” “to all intents and purposes,” and “in the final analysis.” These prolix protrusions pop up naturally in speech to bridge a gap between one thought and the next, but although you’re forgiven for including them in a first draft, there’s no excuse for letting them pass inspection when you review your writing or edit someone else’s.

3. Avoid verbosity: Watch for wordy phrases like “in order to,” unnecessary words and phraseslike currently and “that is,” and smothered verbs (constructions in which a noun can be transformed into a verb, such as “offered an indication” when indicate will do.)

4. Avoid redundancies and repetition and saying the same thing twice: Take care to avoid doppleganger words in stock phrases — common, like filler phrases, to spoken language but inimical to good writing — like “actual fact” and “completely finished.”

5. Avoid repetitive sentence structure: Craft your prose in such a way that phrases, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs flow smoothly (avoid a Dick-and-Jane style of writing reminiscent of text in primary-grade reading books) — and consider the visual impact of your writing.

Norm Applegate author of:

Source: Dailywritingtips

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This Book is a Gem

This book is a gem. It’s about zombies. It’s well told. It’s how the Victorian upper class deal with the undead.

I’m impressed by an author who can stay true to a time period like R.G. Bullet has done. But first a little bit about him. R.G. Bullet was born in Berkshire, UK. After living in nine different countries he has finally settled in Miami Beach, USA. He is addicted to tea, reading, writing, motorbikes and shamefully, Call of Duty.

Having published five novels, two are of The Keeper series and the other three; The Caldecott Chronicles, I suspect he’ll have another out shortly.

I had the pleasure of reading The Caldecott Chronicles Excerpt 1 of this short story series. I read the Kindle version and the graphic drawings; which are only a few come across excellent. The paperback is 120 pages. But it’s what’s in these pages, a hilarious, unique take on the zombie genre.

This is a tale of the undead set in 1899 from the Earl of Rothshire’s journal. It’s fun, graphic, very detailed and the references to the British era are brilliant. Here’s a sample of how R.G. Bullet describes a scene.
The undead and certainly unwashed are traipsing across overgrown lawns intent on ripping the very flesh from the Earl’s body, scooping his brains out and eating his remaining horse.
Very nicely done. Hard to imagine a zombie book written better than this.

Bottom line, The Caldecott Chronicles are a special find. 

Norm Applegate author of:

Monday, December 5, 2011

5 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Writing

Here are five quantitative quick tips about improving your writing functionally, before you even get into improving the quality of your prose:

1. Always Use Serial Commas

The policy of preceding every item in a list but the last one with a comma is commonsensical (read a previous article about the serial comma). Confusion is possible when you don’t and highly unlikely when you do. What if, using a non-serial-comma style, you write about more than two things when one of the things consists of more than one part or ingredient? (“The choices are roast beef, turkey, and ham and cheese.”) Do you insert a serial comma for clarity (and introduce an inconsistency) or leave the sentence as is for readers to stumble on? Adherence to serial-comma style eliminates the dilemma.

2. Minimize Capitalization

Job titles are capitalized only before names. Names of academic majors aren’t capitalized unless they are already proper nouns, like names of languages (“English”) or references to regions (“Asian studies”). Generic names of entities (“the hospital,” “the organization,” and so on) are lowercased. Yes, capitalization is a minefield; when in doubt, look it up, and search on this site for “capitalization” for many articles on the topic (including this one).

3. Repair Comma Splices

A comma alone cannot separate two independent clauses in a sentence. Break the clauses into distinct sentences, or separate them with a semicolon or an em dash — or a comma and a conjunction (and, or, and so on) — but not with a comma alone. For more information on this topic read 5 Ways to Fix the Comma Splice.

4. Omit Extraneous Hyphens, and Insert Necessary Ones

“Decision making,” “problem solving,” and similar compound nouns require no hyphen, unless they precede a noun as a compound modifier (“decision-making procedure,” “problem-solving aptitude”). “Near collision” and other similar constructions don’t, either, with the same exception (“near-collision statistics”). Established compound modifiers usually don’t require a hyphen even before a noun (“high school student”). Confused? Here’s a simple rule: Look it up. (And check out this DailyWritingTips article and find others on the topic by searching on the site for “hyphens.”)

5. Limit Displays of Emphasis

Words can be italicized to indicate that they are being used to refer to themselves, not the things they stand for (“Note the word emphasis”), or to signal a foreign term (“Wunderbar” means “wonderful”), or to make sure the reader understands that something is really important. Words can be initial-capped to indicate irony or other humorous intent. (“The rent-a-cop exuded the air of an Authority Figure.”) Boldface is appropriate for introducing new vocabulary or otherwise calling attention to an unfamiliar term but is best limited to textbooks and guidebooks. But all-caps are invariably excessive, “scare quotes” are seldom necessary, and be judicious about otherwise calling attention to words and phrases.

Norm Applegate author of:


Into the Basement

Source: Dailywritingtips