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Flashback Friday #8 - Spam and Fifty Shades of Me

Consider today’s post a companion to the 50 things about me that are live on the A-to-Z Blog! In my co-host introduction for the 2015 challenge, I also answer five questions from participants including Naila Moon who asked “What do you do with Spam?” It’s hard to tell if she was referring to spammy blog comments, the food, email or some other type such as junk mail. Still, her question reminded me of the time not too long ago when I came across this message from “Dixie” that gave me a good laugh:

Um....nope, I have my own but thanks anyway!

Did you read my Meet your Co-Hosts! Feature at the A-to-Z Blog today? Hop on over there and let me know if we have anything in common!


Every day I’m Shufflin’ - An A-to-Z Challenge Theme Reveal 

“Freddy vs. Jason” scratch art by Scott Dyer, whose latest work includes Mystery Box sculptures made with single playing cards from theory11’s collaboration with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS director J.J. Abrams. Today is the day where I join hundreds of bloggers who are letting our readers in on what we have in store for the 2015 April A-to-Z Challenge.

Having previously gone with a theme for three consecutive years and also winging it once before, I’m aware of the advantages as well as the drawbacks to both sides of the “theme or no theme?” coin.

Since then, I’ve made a wish, threw that coin in the magical fountain of nonconformity, and here is what washed up on nearby shores:

A Mixed Bag of Tricks

My editorial calendar for April basically consists of me pulling rabbits out of hats while blogging through the alphabet. In other words, my theme is to not have a theme at all and just write about subjects that I would normally post here anyway. While the title of this theme is inspired in part by the randomness of subjects I’ll be writing about, it also serves as a nod to the card shuffling wizards at theory11 who demonstrate that great art can even change the way you eat Oreo cookies. 

It still helps to have a sense of direction, even with no theme. Keeping this in mind, my upcoming A-Z posts are prompted by blogging ideas from Sara Lancaster at No. 2 Pen. Needless to say, I think my handful of years participating in this blog hop makes me pretty well versed in the overall A-to-Z blogging experience. Thus, I do not take the benefits of having a theme for granted. To that end, I’m using the best of both worlds so my blogging can still go according to plan, without me having to do too much of any planning at all…if that makes any sense.

You can expect to read about a myriad of topics including: unorthodox parenting advice, Rocky Balboa, poetry, being a superhero, hacking your movie theater experience, random acts of kindness and switching careers.

Some of my A-to-Z Challenge posts will be lengthy while others come in shorter than a paragraph or two. Most are on the verge of being medium sized blog posts. One thing to count on is they will all be related, in one way or another, to the hypnotic world of motion pictures. I plan to enjoy this versatile ride through the alphabet and I hope you do the same, whether that’s here or on your own blog.

Today as the A-to-Z community discloses our top-secret blogging strategies for April, I’m also happy to announce the release of theory11’s vintage Contraband book lamp!

The Contraband book lamp with a hidden safe is available at theory11.Made with an Edison light bulb, two 50 year-old books and an antique power switch, this functional lamp is full of surprises. Individually handcrafted by illusion engineer Ryan Edwards, the lamp slides open to reveal a wooden storage compartment, filled with four decks of Contraband playing cards.

theory11 also indicates that the deck contains secret imagery hidden within the interior design of its gold and black foil tuck case.

“There isn’t a set of playing cards with this degree of detail and execution,” says Acquire Magazine.

Who do YOU think would win in a street fight, Freddy or Jason?

How much progress have YOU made in YOUR blogging plans for April?

What was the most recent card game YOU played?


From Texas to Shanghai - Sydney Aaliyah Michelle on Tattoos, Multiplex Theaters and Life after Law 

If binge watching movies on iTunes was a sport, Georgetown University graduate Sydney Aaliyah Michelle has an early training advantage over her would-be opponents.

This contemporary romance writer from Texas, who got a tattoo commemorating her first novel “Another New Life,” is on my Mighty Minion Bureau team for the 2015 Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge. I recently promoted her to Special Agent – (the top “Asset” aka “Operative” among my helpers), as its Sydney’s third year assisting me in the April Blog Hop.

You can find this self-employed event coordinator enjoying Lobster Ravioli and Sidecar cocktails.

After learning that Sydney climbed the Great Wall of China, I invited her to give us the scoop on how life has evolved since her days as a lawyer.

The Madlab Post: What advice would you give to single women who are traveling abroad for the first time?

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle: I truly enjoy traveling alone especially to a new place. It allows me to explore on my own agenda and my own timetable. Before I travel someplace alone, I do a lot of research. Read about the place your visiting, have an agenda and follow it.

When I travel alone, I don’t skimp on hotels or transportation late at night. I may walk everywhere during the day, but I don’t take any chances putting myself in situations that could be dangerous. Use common sense and you’ll be fine.

Sydney's tattoo story features her love of lotus flowers and the idea that beauty can emerge from less than ideal situations.Did any stigmas of being tattooed ever have an impact on your relationships or career?

When I got my first tattoo, my parents weren’t thrilled, but I was 21, not much for them to say.  My second one, they helped me design it. They don’t love them, but they’ve accepted them. Men love my tattoos, they are all sexy and feminine, so no issues there.

I paused for a minute before getting my most visible tattoo on my left wrist, and my current boss tried to have an issue with it. My tattoos are a part of me, but don’t effect who I am or my abilities, so if someone fired me or didn’t hire me for having tattoos, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. 

What area of law did you practice?

I had always wanted to go to law school, but I like the idea of being a lawyer more than actually being a lawyer. I practiced law for about 9 months working for a huge law firm doing bankruptcy litigation. I sat in a small room with 10 other people 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week reading documents on a computer. It wasn’t the kind of life I wanted to lead.

If you were a broke, ramen noodle eating artist who needed to relocate immediately, where would you move to get back on your feet? 

I would move to Singapore. I could be a beach bum and still have enough access to modern amenities to live comfortably with not a lot of money. It is an inspiring place as well, so it would feed my creative soul. Great mix of cultures. 

How many foreign languages are you fluent in?

With all of the countries I have visited and lived, I still only speak English fluently. I have some conversational Chinese and a few words slip out when no English word can quite convey what I am trying to say.  These are my three favorite Chinese words:

Hau zho bu jian – Long time, no see.

Bu zhidao – I don’t know.

Bu ming bai – Understand.

Can you tell me about your adult contemporary romance novel "Another New Life"?

Sydney released two novels, 'Hope for Her' and 'Hope for Him,' since the debut of 'Another New Life."

Here's the book blurb...

When Miranda’s talent wins her a piano performance scholarship to the University of Texas, she arrives on campus determined to experience everything college has to offer and to keep her secrets in the past where they belong.

An easy task, until the first guy who catches her eye happens to be someone, she’s known all her life.

Eight years have passed since the last time Miranda and Troy saw each other.

Can Miranda focus on her future with Troy while preventing her past from tearing them apart all over again?

Why is The Joker from "THE DARK KNIGHT" your favorite movie villain?

Heath Ledger’s performance was incredible. If it has to be our lasting image of him, I couldn’t think of a more pivotal role to immortalize his talent.

Plus, the Joker has one of my favorite lines from any movie and he delivered it brilliantly...

 “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” 

Where do you prefer to watch movies?

I prefer to watch movies at a big, stadium seating, surround sound theater. If it’s a blockbuster, epic, anything with an 'AVENGERS character in it, I have to watch it at the theater first. Day-to-day movie watching comes from iTunes rentals. Even though I have 30 days to watch them, it’s pretty typical for me to watch three movies in a row on the final few days of the rental period.

You’re stranded on a desert island and can only have one movie and one book...what would you request?

This may be cheating a bit, but I would probably request the "LORD OF THE RINGS" Trilogy – that counts as one long movie, right? I find something new every time I watch it.

The book I would request would be “Under the Dome” by Stephen King. I think it’s pretty brilliant writing and I might find some new found kinship with the characters being stuck somewhere. 

Thank you Sydney Aaliyah Michelle for riding with me for three years straight on the alphabet wheel!

Now, for everyone else, tell me...

How many movies could YOU watch in a row?

Which cities or countries have YOU visited more than once?