Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Vampires in the Lemon Grove: StoriesVampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the second book of short stories I read this year. Like the first one, I forgot this book was a series of short stories and not just one (super confusing when I started the second chapter/story). I really loved the first story about the vampires in the lemon grove. I could have read a whole book on that. I liked it so much, that I was disappointed with the other stories. This reminded me of a trip to the amusement park where I tackle the biggest, scariest ride first and am disappointed by all the other rides. This wasn't terrible. I wanted to love it. I liked it. Mostly.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Addicted To Photo Apps

My current obsession is photography apps. Here's what I have on my phone right now.

I'm not actually good at taking pictures, but my iPhone is. And when I don't think my pictures are great, I put them in one of those apps and pretty them up.

Total faker, I know, but it makes me document the fun, random and boring things I see every day. (Apologies to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers for the nearly daily posts)

If you're photo challenged, check out some of my favorites:

I took these ordinary photos and jazzed them up using Beautiful Mess.

I used a filter on each - the picture on the left was made a little brighter; the one on the left is using a 'vampire' filter (because I thought that sounded cool.

The text on the left is one of the available words to place anywhere with any color. The text on the left was my own creation. I did use the fishhook arrow they included, I just made it pink.

See? Not so boring anymore!
This one is a fun collage app I use probably too much.

It's called Diptic.

It has a whole bunch of templates. You choose one that will hold however many images you want. It will let you place the images in the little collage box. You can zoom in/out. You can add borders and even adjust them. You can also add text.

It really is simple. In this picture, I did a screen grab of a text my mom sent me and included a (blurry) photo she sent me with it.

I still don't know if my mom is being serious, if her doctor is playing a prank or if mom got a hold of a doctor's pad and is just making stuff up. Any one of those options is possible.

The one on the right also uses Diptic, but I made it a little fancier with Typic Pro.

I adjusted the filter on this collage of my tomato plants and their little darlings. I've been taking a photo every week because I'm so excited that I haven't killed them (yet).

I used the text and put a little ribbon-like background on it.

Have you ever seen gardening documented in a more adorable way? DON'T DISAGREE WITH ME!

The photo on the left is Uncle Ruslan (he's the guy who called the Boston bombing suspects - also his nephews - losers). I send that picture to my friends when they're doing losery things. Because I care.

This is one of about a million pictures I made using The Walking Dead Dead Yourself app.

I seriously went crazy with this.

I zombied myself at least six times (that I saved).

I zombied friends.

I zombied my cat and dog.

I had a few people tell me I should delete this app so I'd stop doing this. I did not listen to them. I will zombie everything when this show returns later this year. Maybe I'll zombie you if you're nice.

This PopAGraph makes me feel like a bit of a photo genius!

I took this picture of a lady bug which was really not so special in full color.

But the after is all ABRACADABRA KAPOW! Look at how that little ladybug pops in full color with everything else in black and white!

Sure I could do this in Photoshop if I practiced a few hours daily. But this app made my quick nature snap look like art. I will sell you a print for $100. It's a worthy investment. You won't regret it.

I have a few other apps I use mostly just for enhancing the colors or for other effects. These are my favorite apps that do more than that without taking up too much time or making me yell at my phone like a crazy person (which I am NOT - stop judging me).

I hope I'm not missing out on any other apps. I have my fingers crossed that I'll find one that turns my pictures into a hologram. That's really all I'm missing right now.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pigeon In A Crosswalk

Pigeon in a Crosswalk: Tales of Anxiety and Accidental GlamourPigeon in a Crosswalk: Tales of Anxiety and Accidental Glamour by Jack Gray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jack Gray is my favorite kind of crazy. Harmless (well, to others - mostly). Funny. In need of a good glass of wine.

While that combination turns up in just about every newsroom I've worked in, none of my friendly coworkers are Jack Gray. And that's not just because they don't have Anderson Cooper's number in their phones.

Jack's book is a nice combination of family tales and office happenings - the kind that make people think the news business is SO glamorous and exciting even though it's rarely one of those and almost never both.

If you've never worked in a newsroom, this book will make you think one of two things: I wish I had that job OR so that's where all the crazy people go when they're not sent to a nice, padded room. If you've worked in a newsroom (or know someone who has), you won't be surprised by the stories about some of the really big names Jack drops. You will not be surprised by the loose security at CNN. I mean, I'm sure it's not THAT easy to get into the building, but once you're in, what's stopping you from wandering into a studio to see Wolf Blitzer's beard up close (I think it holds some kind of magical powers).

Jack is an excellent storyteller. It's no wonder Anderson has kept him around. Unless Jack is like that guy from Office Space who was fired and keeps showing up for work and no one tells him he's been fired. And Jack, if you're reading this, please tell Anderson I love him. I know he doesn't get that enough.

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And here's the part where I embarrass myself by posting a recent text exchange with a photographer.

See? Harmless adoration. Apparently my photographer disagreed. He didn't pass on my message. :(