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Indie films offer originality and escapism

In Business, crafts, Entertainment, Media, Movies, Opinion, Uncategorized on March 25, 2017 at 8:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

“The Movies are great medicine. Thank you Thomas Edison, for giving us the best years of our lives.” – The Statler Brothers

In 2010, I wrote one edition of Deer In Headlines that discussed how a good movie can transport you to a colorful land somewhere over the rainbow, show you what it means to have true grit or take you into the final frontier of space. At the movies, you can travel through time in a DeLorean, see pirate ships battle on the high seas or even visit a galaxy far, far away. But in the short time since my first, brief exploration on the subject of film, a lot has changed.

The first known film production ever recorded was a British piece called Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed in 1888 by inventor Louis Le Prince. When first introduced, people hardly took notice of motion pictures as they were more a science experiment in optics than an entertainment medium.

Shot at only 12 frames per second, on highly flammable celluloid plastic, that first grainy movie lasted a mere two seconds but pioneered what would become one of the most lucrative industries of the 20th Century and beyond. From silent features starring Douglas Fairbanks, to the first talkies, movies have a special place in the history of American culture.

Many lines from feature films have worked their way into our cultural dialect. Who can forget Sean Connery’s first delivery of, “Bond, James Bond,” or Roy Scheider’s astonished look as he calmly noted, “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What about Clark Gable’s straight-forward parting line to Scarlet O’Hara, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a,” well, you know the rest of it.

Today, however, while I believe movies still offer a level of escapism, I don’t believe they’re as well done or memorable as in the past. There was a time when, whatever your taste, someone out there was making a movie just for you. For all of us there is that one, special movie or that single line of dialogue that we carry with us our whole lives, but it just doesn’t seem like the most recent generation of films have the same staying power.

One of the reasons, at least in my opinion, is Hollywood’s complete and total disregard for originality. Everything seems to be a reboot, either of a previously successful film franchise or television program. The best movie I’ve seen in a while was the “Lego Batman” animated film. It was entertaining, full of nostalgia, and just a fun movie. Oddly original too, despite its familiar characters and settings.

If you want originality today, you have to get away from the mainstream box office and explore the countless number of independent films being produced around the country. Distributed on a much smaller scale, indie films can offer the same escapism as the summer blockbusters, but usually with original stories told in a much more creative way.

Created by small production companies, and lacking the mind-blowing budgets afforded to mainstream movies, an indie film must be more solid at the story level, unable to depend on “whiz bang” special effects to keep audiences engaged. And they’re not really geared toward moviegoers with short attention spans. These films tend to be rich in storytelling and move more slowly.

Independently produced films are tough to find at your local multiplex, so you’ll have to scan local newspapers and event websites for listings. And if you’re a streamer, Netflix and Amazon Prime both have a great selection of indies, from romantic comedies to more dark features. You’ll have to read some reviews and get some background before choosing one because the titles are not always as descriptive as they could be.

So my advice is that if you want to see high quality movies with great storytelling and an emotional hook that really makes you feel and think, you’ll have to look outside Hollywood. Great, new films are still, and I was skeptical too. But indie films offer a great alternative to the unoriginal, one-dimensional movies now flooding the cinema. See you at the movies.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More atdeerinheadlines.com

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Yellow Springs creative agency hosts December writers event

In Books, crafts, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Uncategorized on November 27, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Yellow Springs, OH – The Yellow Springs creative strategy firm, The Bricks Agency, will host the next session of the Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 8 at the company’s headquarters complex at 888 Dayton Street. This writing workshop and critique session is open to all area writers for a $6 door fee that includes a one-month membership to the organization.

12523171_10153637326689342_7047777894206660975_n The WOWA was founded in October of 2008 to provide resources for writers in Southwest Ohio, North Eastern Kentucky and South West Indiana. From monthly critique sessions and guest speaker presentations to special networking and educational events, WOWA offers support to writers of all genres, from hobbyist to professional.

Dayton area entrepreneur and business writer, Gery L. Deer, is the Executive Director of the Western Ohio Writers Association. “Our organization offers honest critique, peer support and networking opportunities as well as real-life experience to help guide our writers toward whatever goal they’ve got in mind,” he said. Annual events include guest speakers, author workshops, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) support and more.

“We have a diverse group of writers including novelists, poets, journalists, screenwriters, and copywriters,” Deer continued. “We’ve launched a few up-and-coming professionally published novelists over the years and all of them credit our group as a major factor in that success.”

According to Deer, the goal of WOWA is to offer, “consistent educational and networking

The monthly critique session of WOWA will be held in Yellow Springs at 7PM, Thursday, December 8.

The monthly critique session of WOWA will be held in Yellow Springs at 7PM, Thursday, December 8.

opportunities” for all members. They enjoy a regular schedule and professional, supportive meeting environment along with other membership perks such as sponsor discounts and access to special events such as the Beatnik Café, a quarterly live public reading.

The Bricks Agency is a creative subsidiary of DMS ink. Western Ohio Writers Association is an educational outreach program DBA of GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. designed to encourage the success of local writers in the art and business of writing. For more information or to register for the December Yellow Springs meeting, go online to westernohiowriters.org or email wowainprint@gmail.com.

 

WOWA’s Beatnik Cafe, “Here Be Dragons,” Jan 16 at Books & Co.

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, State News, Theatre, Uncategorized on January 5, 2015 at 9:50 am
Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Beavercreek, OH – Once upon a time, sailors threatened to hang their captains from the yard arm if they ventured beyond a certain point in the sea. Venturing out into the unknown is something about which writers are far too familiar. At 7PM on Friday January 16, authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association will perform their own original tales of uncharted territory at their Winter 2015 Beatnik Cafe event at Books & Co. at The Greene. This quarter’s theme is, “Here be dragons, stories of adventure, exploration and uncharted territory.”

The WOWA Beatnik Cafe reading is a quarterly presentation that pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Performing original work, each writer will take the mic to dazzle audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what. The event is free and open to the public.

Jamestown writer, Barbara Deer, is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says. “The Beatnik Café offers the public a chance for a glimpse at some of the most talented writers in the region as they showcase their work, in person, to entertain and enlighten.”

“Our group consists of professional and hobbyist writers, all of whom check their egos at the door,” Deer continues. “All are willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

600_376854182Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly workshops, critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

About to embark on its seventh year, WOWA members definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Loconeal Publishing (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to http://www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Watch the Video Interview from October’s Beatnik with co-founder Barbara Deer on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

WOWA-LD_MASKS_SCREENSHOT

 

The creative process cannot be quantified

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Entertainment, Local News, National News, Opinion, Print Media, Technology, Uncategorized on November 10, 2014 at 1:04 pm

If you haDIH LOGOve any friends who are aspiring novelists and you haven’t seen them for a while, I may know why. November is National Novel Writing Month, a time when writers – hobbyists and professionals alike – forsake virtually everything else in life to get down at least 50,000 words towards a completed novel in just thirty days. As executive director of the Western Ohio Writers Association I am, like many of our members, one of the anticipated 400,000 worldwide participants in the event. But attempting to pen a full-length novel in under a month is not for the faint of heart.

“NaNoWriMo,” as it’s known for short, is a non-profit organization started in 1999. In 2013, more than 310,000 participants signed up, spanning six continents. In the 2014 official press release, NaNoWriMo Executive director Grant Faulkner said, “Every year, we’re reminded that there are still stories that have yet to be told, still voices yet to be heard from all corners of the world. NaNoWriMo helps people make creativity a priority in life and realize the vital ways our stories connect us. We are our stories.”

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Given their commitment to the encouragement of writers as a whole, the NaNoWriMo folks certainly seem to want to keep people motivated and working and that extends beyond the November event. The organization also promotes youth programs, writing camps and other writing-focused activities throughout the year.

NaNoWriMo’s organizers insist the purpose of the 30-day novel challenge is to inspire and motivate authors to actually finish something, a common barrier for new writers. To hit the goal, writers must pen approximately 1,667 words per day, regardless of quality. But the “just keep writing” approach doesn’t sit well with some and there are those who say that it instead may be more counterproductive than helpful.

Opponents believe that the idea of such incredible pressure of deadline and competition undermines the inspirational process; robbing the author of the creative time necessary to be more selective of words, phrasing and flow.  Classic American author Mark Twain might well have been in agreement with this thinking.

In a letter dated October 15, 1888 to English minister George Bainton, Twain wrote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

nanologoBut those who are regular participants seem to really enjoy a process that they say gives them the opportunity to stay focused and inspires a bit of healthy competition. Throughout the month, each writer updates a public profile on the NaNoWriMo website which includes word count to date; a practice largely appreciated as one of the most motivating aspects of the exercise, or the most discouraging, depending on how you’re doing.

Whether you are a writer or a reader, this is probably a good time to point out that the creative process is not something that can be qualified or quantified. It is different for every artist. While there are people who are proficient with grammar, punctuation, style and general mastery of the English language, there is no such thing as an “expert” writer. Most successful authors – and not just in the commercial sense – will insist that good writing cannot be taught, it has to be practiced and that the creative process is ongoing.

It may very well be that a 30-day novel, after editing and revision, could end up the next New York Times best seller. It is just as probable that another manuscript, in the works for many years, might turn out to be the worst 300 pages ever put to paper. It’s really a coin toss.

Truthfully, the process really doesn’t matter. Although the value of art rests with the audience, its quality depends on the talent, determination and hard work of the artist (writer), rather than the method used for its production. As for those of you typing your way to 50,000 words this month, we who are grateful to get out 700 words every week salute you! Good luck.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and executive director of the Western Ohio Writers Association. More at westernohiowriters.org.

Long-arm quilting services now available at Crafters Lodge in Sugarcreek Plaza

In Business, crafts, Education, Entertainment, Senior Lifestyle, Technology, Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 9:05 am

By Gery L. Deer

IMG_7258 Sugarcreek Twp. – A homemade quilt can be a treasured and very personal family heirloom. From the earliest American settlers, the craft of quilting has been passed down from one generation to the next, each adding a new creative style to the process. Once the top of a quilt is completed, it must be stitched to the back with batting in between – a detailed and painstaking process if done by hand. Fortunately, Crafters Lodge in Sugarcreek Township now offers long-arm quilting services and certification classes for those who wish to learn to do the work personally.

A long arm quilting machine is an industrial sewing machine similar to those used in the mattress industry.  It moves along a track or rails and sews the three parts of a quilt together. “We have the American Professional Quilting Systems (APQS) Millennium or Millie as it’s also known,” says Crafters Lodge co-owner, JoBeth Bryant. “The Millennium is the top of the line long arm quilting machine.”

JoBeth Bryant of Crafters Lodge demonstrates the Long Arm Quilting Machine nicknamed, "Millie"

JoBeth Bryant of Crafters Lodge demonstrates the Long Arm Quilting Machine nicknamed, “Millie”

Bryant says the store currently has two certified long-arm operators on staff and walk-ins are welcome. “When you bring your quilt top to us it will be measured and checked for any issues that may affect the quilting process.  Then you can choose the type of quilting you want done and the thread color.”A fifty-percent deposit and signed contract are required at time of drop-off.  Customers can also choose any additional services they may want, such as binding, a hanging sleeve, or a label.

To make the process go as smoothly as possible, Bryant notes that customers should properly prepare the work. “Make sure the backing is square, backing must be at least six inches wider than the top,” she says.  “There are some materials, particularly generic brands from chain stores, which may not be suitable for batting, and they must be clean and odor-free. Check with us for details on acceptable batting and backing materials, both are available in our store.”

Certification classes are also available for those who wish to learn to use the long arm machine and handle the IMG_7254quilting job personally.  Students are given expert instruction on how to load a quilt, threading the machine, wind and load bobbins, access the various features, use of the pantograph, and how to create basic “meander” quilting pattern.

Crafters Lodge is located at 6056 Wilmington Pike, just behind Fazoli’s in the Sugarcreek Plaza in Sugarcreek Township. Regular store hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 am to 8:00pm, Sunday noon to 6:00 pm and closed on Monday. For more information and a schedule of classes, visit the store’s website, http://www.crafterslodge.com or call (937) 470-2649.