Sunday, August 12, 2018

Writing With Passion – Falling In Love With Words

Write your first draft with your HEART. Don't think or analyze it - just write. The passion with which your idea comes from is your driving force.  It’s your ignition.  Turn it on, let it quicken your heart and give you goose bumps.   Do you over-think when you first fall in love or see your newborn for the first time? Discover a new piece of music or food you like?  Not at those first moment s of discovery.   You’re swept away by your passion and feelings.  There’s magic in your passion.  Let yourself get excited by your ideas and your words.  Let yourself fall in love.  It’s a journey.  Enjoy it. 


The second draft is the time to engage your mind.   This is your re-writing process.  You’ll see what works in your story and what doesn’t.   This can be difficult, because we all have egos.  If a particular paragraph or sentence is awkward and doesn’t fit, you may need to put your ego on the back burner and re-think it.  Does it serve your character(s) or story?  If not, take it out.  If you feel lost, go back to your beginning.  Think about what you’re trying to say, what your objective is.   Your passion is where it all begins.  It’s the birth.  If you need to, take a break and step away for a few hours or a few days.  You’ll be surprised by what you’ll see when you return.


 When you think you’ve got it just right – you’re ready to edit.  Although this is the final stage it’s one of the most overlooked.  A writer, as in any other occupation, needs to know the tools of their trade – proper spelling, punctuation and grammar.   Your work represents your integrity and professionalism.  If you’re unsure, look it up.  I do.  Or, if you feel the need, take a class at night school or your community college.  It is well worth your time and an investment in your future.   You don’t want to grab your reader with your passion and enthusiasm, and then lose them because of poor spelling or punctuation.    Learning the mechanics is easy, but you can’t teach the passion.  That’s your gift!  So, begin your piece with passion and polish it off with proper spelling and punctuation.   


Good luck, enjoy falling in love.  Let me know how it goes!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Slow Burn


Photography by Kimberly Mack


The rain had barely cooled off the city. The suffocating heat was a killer. I was driving back from visiting an old pal of mine in Echo Park. I left an hour later, twenty bucks lighter and wishing I’d never gone. I decided to step into my favorite watering hole to shake the heat and my mood. Fifteen minutes later I stepped through the door of The Formosa. The place was quiet. It was early.  I waved to Joe. He was wiping down the bar. I took a seat.

He nodded. “Hey Mick. How are things?”

“Not bad,” I said reaching for my cigarettes.

“What’ll ya have?”

“Give me a bourbon, would ya Joe? Heavy on the ice.”

He nodded, threw the bar towel over his shoulder and moved away. I lit a cigarette and turned to check out the scenery.

The Formosa was a favorite of mine. Even if you weren’t thirsty, it was a great place to people watch. Nobody really bothered you. If they did, Joe would throw 'em out. Or, if you were broke somebody would always loan you a couple of bucks. If you got really lucky, somebody would pay you back. I was hoping I’d get lucky.

So, there I was, minding my own business, working on my second bourbon when I saw her. She was sitting in the back booth facing the door. I could tell just by looking at her she didn't belong.  A voice in my head said, “Careful Mick.” I didn’t listen and moved further down the bar. She lifted her eyes and looked directly at me. Her eyes were the deepest blue I’d ever seen. Like the color of the sea on a hot summer day. I stopped breathing. She looked away. Somebody fed the jukebox and the music of Miles Davis floated out. I heard the front door slam and laughter. It echoed down the bar and off the walls. I watched her nurse her drink. She had small, well manicured hands with red nail polish. There was no ring. She looked at me again. I nodded. She gave me a little smile. That was my cue. I took it and moved towards her table.

“Mind if I sit down?” I asked. She shook her head, her dark hair floating around her shoulders. I sat.

“Would you like another drink?” I asked. She shook her head. Her hair danced again with the movement.

We looked at one another across the table. A few seconds passed. Her eyes had flecks of green. She wore no makeup, other than red lipstick. Her skin glowed like freshly polished porcelain.

“You have a name?” I asked, trying to get the ball rolling. She nodded.

“Leonore,” she whispered.

I leaned towards her to hear.

“Mick,” I replied, offering my hand. She hesitated, then quickly placed her hand in mine. She was trembling. I watched her.

“You okay?” I asked.

She looked away and rummaged in her purse. She pulled out a handkerchief.

“Please,” she said raising her eyes back to mine. I saw the threat of tears. “Would you get me out of here? she whispered. "I'm afraid I'm in a bit of a mess."

I nodded. I was in big trouble. I was about to go down for the count. We left The Formosa and walked out into the muggy night air. The heat was suffocating. I couldn't have cared less.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Perfect Daughter

Courtney stood in the doorway.  Her heart pounded with the frenetic energy of a trapped Hummingbird fighting for life.  She tried to concentrate on her breathing.

“Mama?” she whispered in the darkness. “Mama? Are you awake?”

She peered into her mother’s bedroom hoping today would be a good day. As she stepped into the disheveled room, with the smell of illness permeating the air, she approached her mother’s bed. She held her breath. She could see her mother’s pale face upon the pillow and her chest rising and falling. She leaned down and gently laid her hand lightly on her mother’s frail, thin shoulder.

“Mama?” she repeated softly.

Her mother slowly opened her eyes and focused on Courtney.

“And cut!” cried the director. “Damnit Courtney!  What is with you today?  You moved off your mark again! Now let’s try it one more time and please do it like we rehearsed okay?"

Courtney cringed and felt her anger rise. She knew she hadn't blown it. But, she didn't argue and moved quickly back to her starting mark for another take. This job was a nightmare. Had she not been so desperate for the work, she would have quit. The director, Al, was sadistic in demanding needless takes and lighting changes. He was deliberately malicious to crew and talent alike. He had created an atmosphere of almost unbearable tension on the set. Word had it he was a frustrated actor himself and on a steady diet of coke, and God knew what else. At first, she thought he had bad allergies or a cold. But on her second day of shooting she’d found out from a second-line-prop man it was drugs.

“Just try and stay under the radar kid, and you’ll do fine,” said one of the production assistants.
“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen,” she murmured. She was in three more scenes today.
But, she made it through her second day, and then, her third and fourth. Today should be her last day and she’d make enough to pay her rent and buy some food. The utilities would have to wait a little longer. God, how she hated living like this. She was in a constant state of anxiety and there were times she had to concentrate just on breathing. To make matters worse, she wasn’t feeling well, probably due to lack of enough sleep. She moved to her first mark and concentrated on the scene. Prop men and gofers swirled around her. A makeup lady touched up Courtney’s face.

“You’re doing fine, honey,” she whispered to Courtney. “Just hang in there one more hour and we’ll break for lunch.” Courtney nodded. At least she’d get fed today, that was some comfort. She had no food at home other than a can of tuna, a couple pieces of bread and two tomatoes.

“Okay people!” hollared Al. “Let’s get moving! Time is money!” Courtney wiped her sweaty hands on her skirt and concentrated on her character. Al’s grating voice echoed through the soundstage. “Lights! Speed! And…ACTION!” Courtney moved forward into the room.

“Mama?” she whispered in the darkness. “Mama? Are you awake?”

And, as Courtney whispered her lines she was suddenly transported back to her own childhood in Illinois. She was seven years old and walking into her mother’s dark, depressing, cave-like bedroom. Her mother had been drinking again. Courtney could smell the liquor.  The depressing aroma was forever hanging in the air. How she dreaded those mornings. She never knew what to expect.  Her memories of always trying to be the perfect daughter came flooding back.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Living in Hollywood Heights and the Mystique of the High Tower


Photography by Kimberly Mack
by Kimberly Mack
Living in Hollywood Heights in the early 1960’s as a child with my father was exciting. He had a two bedroom apartment at the top of Rockledge Road, off of Camrose, nestled in the hills behind the Hollywood Bowl. He would often entertain. His guests consisted of creative and colorful personalities, ranging from advertising executives, to directors and actors. Many nights I would lay in bed listening to their laughter and the clink of glassware, too excited to sleep. His apartment offered a panoramic, breathtaking view of Hollywood. At night, the twinkling lights of the city below would stretch out like a carpet of sparkling, colorful jewels. His rent was $150 a month. What were once apartments surrounded by obscure stairways and bougainvillea, are now multi-million dollar homes.

I went to visit recently with my camera in-hand. It was early. The heat the forecast had promised for that weekend had yet to arrive. It was the perfect time of day for my hike, and visit, to my childhood stomping grounds.

Hollywood Heights was my own personal playground growing up. It is a treasure of hidden stairways and paths. I was free to roam wherever my adventuresome spirit and inquisitive nature would take me. And, it was on one of my explorations that I discovered the High Tower and the elevator.

The High Tower was built in 1920, and is clearly visible from Camrose. Its image was designed by Architect Carl Kay (1892-1973). It is well named, and looks like something out of a gothic movie. The tower houses a creaky elevator with an iron gate that takes its passengers to the high-rise apartments above. Today, the elevator is accessible only to residents who have a key. But, in 1963, I use to play in it. My sister and I would venture into the dark mysterious cavern, holding our breath. We’d close the heavy iron door and press the button, waiting in the eerie quiet. Then, groaning and shaking like a tired prehistoric beast, the elevator would slowly climb up to Broadview Terrace, and let us out at the juncture where Broadview and Los Altos Place meet.

Today, it is as though time has not made any mark here. The views are still breathtaking. The four homes that surround the High Tower, designed and built by Kay between 1935 and 1956, remain. The only evidence of recent activity is at 2186 Broadview Terrace. In February of this year there was a brief electrical fire. It is the same house Elliott Gould’s character, Philip Marlow, lived in when he starred in the 1973 movie “The Long Goodbye.” The inside suffered the bulk of the damage. The slight smell of smoke still lingers in the air. The house only waits to be restored.

As the years have passed, the notoriety of the High Tower and the Hollywood Heights area has grown. Not only is it a popular filming area, but is mentioned in the book “Walking LA,” by Erin Mahoney. The well known mystery writer, Michael Connelly, also mentions the High Tower and the surrounding neighborhood in his 1993 book “Echo Park.”

I begin the last leg of my journey as I search for Alta Loma Place. It is tucked around a corner, appearing at first glance to be a dead end, deceiving its visitor. I persevere and follow the walkway. It makes a hard left, and I begin my descent down the steep incline to the Hollywood Bowl. It is quiet, with an occasional resident carrying their groceries. The heat that was predicted is beginning to kick in. A lone lizard scampers across the path into the colorful gardens. I smile at his presence. His oasis is a rich treasure for him to explore.

As I make my way up Camrose to my car, I pause and glance up. I can see my father's old apartment high up on the hill. The sound of laughter and music floats out over the street. Someone is having a party.

Reprinted from the Tolucan Times

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Under the Boardwalk

Hungry for the beach?  Check out my Under the Boardwalk shot I took at Santa Monica. 

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/under-the-boardwalk-kimberly-mack.html

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Monday, April 9, 2018

We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym - A Special Place for All Kids

By Kimberly Mack

Dina Kimmel, a successful entrepreneur, is giving to the community, and word is spreading. She is giving strength, love, patience, and acceptance. Kimmel, president and owner of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Tarzana, has designed and built her kid’s gym with a specific clientele in mind. Thirty percent of the children that come through the door are children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. It all started with a little boy named Gabriel.

It was in 2009 that Kimmel learned that her youngest child, Gabriel, was Autistic. He was two years old. Kimmel and her devoted husband Tim, feeling overwhelmed at this news, set out to learn all they could about Autism.

The Kimmels discovered that no two children’s symptoms are alike. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms. There are approximately 46,000 children born every year in the U.S. that will be afflicted. But, when detected early enough and treated, many children go on to lead more fulfilling and independent lives. There is hope.

Motivated by her love and drive to help her son, Kimmel then took over the space of her son’s previous gym, and designed the only Open Play occupational sensory gym in Los Angeles. All of the equipment and games are colorful and beckoning. Great care was taken to avoid any possible sensory overload. Everything was designed to enhance and improve sensory skills, strengthen coordination, and teach crucial communication skills and social interaction. There is an arts and crafts room, and an abundance of sensory-fun toys. Everything is designed to provide a fun and safe learning experience. It is a happy place and a gym children love. Kimmel’s seven-year-old daughter, Sophia, is a regular visitor, and Kimmel is thrilled she has been able to discover games and activities that her two children can do together.

This sense of togetherness seems to be at the root of the gym’s mission.

“My gym is a place where all kids – despite their differences — can have an equally fun time,” Kimmel says. “The gym has the best top notch occupational equipment in it that is essential for kids on the spectrum and just good old fashion fun for typical kids.”

This month marks the gym’s one year anniversary. “I love it,” Kimmel beams, looking around. “So many people need to be given a safe place where they feel comfortable. It’s my home, and we’re all family.”

Kimmel has also built a dedicated team of licensed therapists, each highly accomplished in their own field of expertise. Her support staff consists of licensed occupational and behavioral therapists, social workers, and language and fitness specialists. They are all compassionate professionals. They work tirelessly with parents to reach their child’s goals in both group and private sessions.

Regularly scheduled Youth Fitness classes held by Coach Kee, a certified children’s fitness specialist, are popular and contagious. Her classes are designed to build self confidence and improve self esteem, as well as help the children to develop agility, balance, cardio, courage, and leadership. Her women’s fitness classes are equally popular.

“I have an amazing staff,” Kimmel states. “I’m very blessed. I’ve gotten such a welcome in the area, and I’m very proud of what this has done for the community.”

And We Rock the Spectrum is a bona fide deal. “To use a gym with the equipment I have in it usually costs $150 an hour, and we simply charge $10,” Kimmel says.

In addition to their regularly scheduled classes, they also have special events, private play dates, and birthday parties. They offer their own online store of toys and gluten-free snacks.

“With Autism on the rise and not everyone able to afford to pay the expensive prices for private therapy, We Rock makes it easy for just $10. It’s a place where special needs kids and their family and friends can play too!”

Reprinted from the Tolucan Times
..

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Bill Dauber Tells Journalism Students “Bring It to the Table”

By Kimberly Mack

Bill Dauber, professor of journalism at Los Angeles Valley College, and advisor of the Valley Star, tackles the question: “What is the future of journalism?" as guest speaker of LAVC’s Journalism 108 class Tuesday night.

Journalism is changing the way we get our news,” confirms Dauber. “New media is moving in new areas, becoming more democratized. Digital media has been eating away at advertising profits and cutting into the number of print jobs. Those jobs are disappearing.” Ten years ago, the Los Angeles Times had a news staff of 1,300. Today, that number is closer to 720, making it one of the hardest hit newspapers of our time.1 In 2010, the LA Times daily circulation of 600,449 was down from the previous year’s figure of 657,467.2 Revenue and circulation continue to make a downward descent, as papers struggle to give birth to new sales strategies, such as inserting links into their on-line editions to increase readership.

Dauber shares an interesting fact. Although, advertising revenue and circulation for newspapers across the country have been negatively impacted with the evolution of digital media, such is not the case for college newspapers. The opposite is true. “Because,” says Dauber “advertisers are trying to specifically reach the students.”

Dauber further shares that one of the things he does like about digital media is that it offers much more access to newspapers. He is an avid and consistent reader of The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Atlantic Monthly.

Having been a reporter for the LA Times, and The Orange County Register, Dauber’s advice to journalism students is “Be familiar with social media. You need to know it, and read about it. Write a blog. Find out what you are interested in. Develop an expertise, and ask what can you offer that is different.” Dauber elaborates, citing Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish, as an example. Sullivan, a political commentator for The Atlantic Monthly, provides people with an analysis, posting what he thinks about each news item. Sullivan found a way he could contribute. “You need to bring something to the table with whatever you are doing,” Dauber tells the class.

His final piece of advice was take advantage of the many journalism and mass media courses at LAVC and other colleges.

Yes, the future of journalism is changing. But, wherever digital media takes us going forward, Dauber’s message is clear. “Bring it to the table.”

Professor Dauber has been teaching at Los Angeles Valley College for nine years. He graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in history. He’s been a reporter for the LA Times, the Orange County Register and is author of “The Real Las Vegas: Life Beyond the Strip.”


1. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/business/media/03paper.html


2. Retrieved from http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Newspapers_24/Newspaper-circ-declines-lessen-again.asp  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Keep it Safe for Your Pets This Holiday Season - Foods to Keep Out of Reach

Now that the holiday season is now upon us and you are a busy bee preparing a sumptuous feast for your family and friends, take extra precautions to keep your fur babies safe this holiday season.  A kitchen with unattended counters teeming with delectable dishes can be a minefield of potential trouble for you and your pets.

Before your guests arrive and to avoid unnecessary chaos during dinner, try keeping your pets in a separate area of your house and out of harm’s way.  Uncle Henry won’t be tempted to sneak a little piece of turkey or pie to the dog or cat.  And, if little Billy drops his turkey leg onto the floor you won’t have to fight the dog for it.  Whether you’re able to do this or not, you’ll still want to be aware of the potentially toxic foods to keep out of your pets reach.   You don’t want to make an emergency trip to your vet.


Bones
Be they turkey, chicken or ham bones, avoid giving these to your pup or kitty.  Bones can be a deadly choking hazard.  If swallowed, there is also the danger of the bones splintering and puncturing your pet’s intestinal walls, causing internal bleeding. 

Turkey Skin
Yes, it’s delicious but very fattening, so avoid feeding any to your pets as it can also be dangerous.  If fed in large quantities can cause pancreatitis.  

Onions
Love that vegetable dish with the little white pearly onions?  Don’t feed any of it to your dog or cat.  All onions, no matter what size or color, are also potentially toxic, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and anemia. 

Macadamia Nuts
Delicious, but they are not for your pets, as they can cause vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain. 

Dough Yeast
Nothing smells yummier than bread or cookies baking in the oven except, well, turkey.  But, feeding uncooked dough to the fur kids is also toxic.   Dough rises in warm places and will do the same in your pet’s stomach causing vomiting, diarrhea, and discomfort.

Alcohol

It doesn’t matter if your grandparents have a cocktail for medicinal purposes now and then.  The same does not apply to pets.  Alcoholic beverages and animals don’t mix so keep those unattended drinks away from your curious pets.  They can become quite ill if you catch them sneaking a cocktail or a beer.

Chocolate
Don’t drop any of that chocolate.  It may taste heavenly to you, but  chocolate is very toxic to animals and causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Garbage Detail
Those unwanted bones you’ve decided to toss out will set a dog or cat’s nose quivering and the hunt in the trash will be on! The bones can be dangerous alone, but when discarded with foil, string, or plastic, you’ll want to ensure you have a good tight lid on your garbage to keep it inaccessible.   All four can do damage to intestines. 


If you do want to give your pets a little holiday dinner, raw or cooked carrots or string beans mixed in with their kibble is safe.  You’ll want to avoid anything with fat such as gravy, potatoes and yams.  A little taste of turkey won’t hurt them, as long as it’s boneless and skinless. 

To also better prepare for any possible emergency, check with your vet beforehand and find out their holiday hours.  Make a list of backup facilities and keep all the information handy on the refrigerator or cabinet door.  If your pet does happen to ingest something, and is behaving out of character, or is obviously ill, don’t hesitate to call your vet.  Give yourself peace of mind knowing your pets will come to no harm. 


Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!  May it be filled with many furry hugs and sloppy kisses.   Let the feasting begin!
















Tuesday, May 2, 2017



Gone Fishin' in MalibuSummer is coming! Oh my! Check out my wonderful wraps and scarves sporting my fabulous shots of Malibu and Los Angeles. You'll love the way these fabrics feel and with your first purchase you'll receive a $25.00 gift card! This shot of Leo Carrillo State Beach is one of my most popular.


SummertimeLooking for that perfect wrap to go with that little summer dress to have lunch with the girls? Well, here it is! You'll love the softness of this 100% Modal fabric and the way it floats as you walk. Not only that, but it's a great conversation piece with an iconic shot of Los Angeles I took from Yamashiro's Restaurant in Hollywood. "Where'd you get this fabulous scarf?" Tell them shopvida.com/collections/kimberly-mack. And, the best part? It's only $40.00.

Writing With Passion – Falling In Love With Words

W rite your first draft with your HEART . Don't think or analyze it - just write. The passion with which your idea comes from is your ...