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Archive for June, 2008

You’ll Put Your Eye Out (And Then You Can Sue)

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

When the pain-wrought screams of 52 year-old Los Angeles traffic cop Macrida Patterson rang out on a clear summer day, no one could have imagined the horror of what was to come.

It was on that day - what started out as a normal day, like any other - that Macrida, while getting dressed, suffered the injury. It was something no one should ever have to endure (because their friends would laugh at them).

Let's rewind. Thirty-five years ago; Christmas 1973. Seventeen year-old Macrida wants one thing and one thing only on that warm Los Angeles holiday.

Her voice rang out clear and sharp in the balmy air, "I want an Authentic Maidenform Precious Little® Size 8 Pink-Striped with Purple Rhinestone Hearts Signature Bra!"

"Kid," her mother said, her hands full of sudsy soap as she looked away from the pile of dishes in the sink, "You'll shoot your eye out."

Macrida didn't get a rhinestone-studded bra that Christmas; a fact she has made up for in her adult life. Macrida does, and always has, loved the bling on her undergarments. It was this very bling that - as Macrida's mother once prophesied - put her eye out, and brought Macrida and her story into the national spotlight.

Recently, as Macrida was pulling her rhinestone-bestudded thong panties up her legs, it happened. The sparkly gem affixed to her thong panties popped off and traveled - at a high rate of speed - right toward Macrida's eye. Indeed; her panties had put her eye out.

Through the horrible pain, and as an emergency room doctor dabbed topical steroid's onto her cornea, Macrida had a vision....someone would pay for this pain and suffering, for this non-surgical procedure she was enduring, for the fact that she would now have to buy a new pair of underwear; Macrida would sue.

Victoria's Secret, maker of the eye-injuring thong panties, is the target for Macrida and lawyer Jason Buccat's frivolous lawsuit. Forgoing national humiliation, Macrida and Jason have appeared on the Today show and appealed to numerous media outlets so that Macrida's story may be heard.

I suppose it's too late to have wished the broken staple had flown to her throat and severed her jugular, hm?

A Logophilia’s Opus

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

I love to read - I grew up in a house full of books reared by parents who also loved books. My Mother often spoke to me of books I was yet too young to read; classics I yearned to peruse myself.

I was over-eager to begin the process of learning to read, which I knew would then result in learning to write myself. I remember in the earliest of grade schools patiently learning what I was being taught all the while wishing they would hurry up and begin teaching us to read. Oddly, as I remember very little of my school years (by choice as they were not pleasant), I remember this very vividly.

I knew some already in the world words and reading; my grandmother - my Mo-Mo Dot - spent hours teaching me words in books and helping me learn the words of the alphabet with plastic, magnetic letters. I intensely gobbed up everything she taught me; always eager to learn more. I dreamed of the day I could read books on my own! I imagined what it would be like to see a page of letters and be able to decipher it - and then, oh joy!, - I might even be able to write my own words and stories! I teemed with excitement at the prospect; I longed for the day that I was old enough to begin the full "learning to read and write" ritual.

I began my schooling at a small local, school house that was, actually, a little red building just beneath the levee that ran through Maringouin. My teacher was Fawn Courville, and her daughter, Elizabeth - my age and also enrolled that year - became my childhood best friend. Oh, I enjoyed school so! Yet I always felt disappointed at the progress...when, I wondered, would we begin to learn to read books. Yet the year continued on as we apprenticed in letters and basic words, not yet learning how to string them together.

I remember beginning "real" school, in 1982, at False River Academy; a kindergartner. I was disappointed to learn we would not begin learning to truly read or write - in the fashion I was after - until First Grade. Always, it was one step away! I carried on, though, knowing it was in the immediate future...knowing I would soon be gifted with beautiful blessing of reading and writing.

Oh, the world would completely open up for me then! Nothing I longed to know would be kept from me...I would read it with my own eyes or write about it in my own words. I hungered for this with a desire I have never since felt; me, all of five years old and knowing this yearning even younger than that.

Eventually, it came - I devoured the teachings; as excited as any child possibly ever was at learning such. It began a lifetime of reading and writing that - though it may have paused at times over the years - has never truly dimmed or halted. I love to read. I love to write. I enjoy perusing dictionaries and thesauri, I thrill at learning new words, and I own more books than I shall ever be able to truly read (and continue to buy more). My adult home is filled with books of others' writings and notebooks, sheaves of paper, napkins, hard disks, flash cards, floppies and CDs of my own words. Even my virtual home in Second Life® - as the avatar Isadora Graves - is filled with piles of books on the floor and on desks. I cannot imagine a life - real or virtual - not surrounded by books or filled with the joy of words.

Words are power that can convey knowledge. Words can hurt or help; they can start wars and end them. They can incite laughter or bring tears. They can move people to action or incite rapture in their hearts. They can be base and vulgar or they be ecclesiastical and revered. They are raw emotion and feelings brought to life and made tangible. They give us a voice as they are a vehicle for communication and self-expression. Words are mind and matter made manifest. In the beginning was The Word - thought was manifest into matter.

My passion for the written and spoken word and everything in between has been a constant in my topsy-turvy life; it is the core of who I am. I write, therefore I am could be my mantra of sElf. I believe all writers - professional, aspiring, natural-born, and self-taught - have this burning passion at their core. They may even outwardly hate words and the difficulty it takes to form them into something meaningful; yet, deep down, hate is only another passionate form of love for they know that without those little syllabled semantics we could not write and express the beauty of internal thoughts and dreams.

Words help us express to the waking world who we are and what we think - be it written or spoken. Perhaps everyone's mantra could, therefore, be - I think therefore I am, I write & speak therefore I am known.


Monday, June 9th, 2008


I love my name.

My mother blessed me with not only a beautiful and unique name, but with a name taken straight from the cover of a book; I can think of no greater gift a bookworm of a mother can betroth to her writer-bookworm of a daughter.

And in case you were wondering, since I've heard it pronounced a myriad of ways, mine sounds like "Anna".

THE Shanna & Those Other Shannas

I've always had this wild, unrealistic dream of being the top Shanna on the web - as in, the Shanna that is the #1 result when you type "shanna" into Google's search bar.

I'm fully aware this isn't possible (thanks, Ms. Moakler), though I have daydreamed of at least showing up on the first page of search results. Hey, it could happen.

I was always keeping tabs on the high-ranking Shannas - wondering how they did it. Honestly, when I was bored, I'd surf on over to google.com and search for "shanna" and see who was where and if anyone had moved (funny what amuses you when you're bored at work).

I got to know these Shannas, and watched with interest as they pin-palled up and down the search result ranks:

Bellydancing Shanna has been a top contender for years, usually trading back-and-forth spots with Country Singer Shanna and all of the other writing Shannas (yes, I'm not nearly the only one...in fact, most online Shannas are writers; perhaps the first time in my life I've been in a majority!) There's infamous Chick Lit Shanna (Ms. Swendson), as well as less known but often higher ranking Freelance-Writer Shanna and Published-Writer Shanna (Ms. Compton & Ms. Germain, respectively, who I am both highly respectful and insanely envious of). There's a Painter Shanna that's been there for awhile, and has pretty much taken up permanent residence on page 2.

Floating around in the first 5 pages (still a damn good place to be, imo) is, also, Photographer Shanna, Indie Rocker Shanna, Blogging Shanna, Artist Shanna, Bicycling Shanna, and Crafty Shanna. And let's not forget Dr. Shanna!

I'd say I 'm in pretty good company. Shannas seem to be, overall, pretty damn smart, creative ladies (the ones online, anyway). There are plenty of other Shannas online - other websites and quite a few social-networking profiles linked to a Shanna.

This Shanna's Story

So how are these Shannas - some that have been online not nearly as long as I - so high up in the Google ranks? How come I, who has been active online with a personal website since 1997, am nowhere near the high rank these newer Shannas have?

When I initially came online and started to establish a web presence, I made the mistake of not using my first name as my main identifier. My first Geocities and Yahoo! accounts (later combined) were as "vamp_lynx", and my first website was geocities.com/vamp_lynx. Though I said on the site that my name was Shanna, that wasn't enough to shoot me to the top of any search engine, much less even be noticed by them. My random, oft-changing website names rarely used my first name either - as most of my long-time fans will remember.

When I finally made the decision to purchase my own domain name, I wanted a unique identifier; something that would make me stand out online. I could've named my website, for example, "Slightly Off Kilter" and bought the according domain name (slightlyoffkilter.com). Yet, that was not unique. Someone searching for "kilter" wouldn't land on my site; even someone searching for "off kilter" probably wouldn't.

After much ardous inner debate, I decided upon the Greek word skatoulaki, which means "little shithead". It wasn't widely used online yet and was just unique enough to be a blanket identifier for all of my online work.

However, when I tried to use skatoulaki as my user name for some websites, it was sometimes taken. I then decided, to change the spelling up a little (something I hardly ever do) to make it more unique and easier to spell; thus, skatoolaki was born.

The unique identifer paid off - any and everything listed online under "skatoolaki" is my work; of which I'm quite proud.

This was great for establishing a unique, online persona. It was not so great for establishing myself as a known Shanna on the web.

Though I later bought shannariley.com to house all of my writing, my fate appears to have been sealed. I have not, despite now having shanna-ish domain names (shannariley.com and even shanna.ws), been able to climb the Google ranks.

I suppose you can list me, then, as the Unknown Shanna .


Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I moved this blog over from Blogger to WordPress in March 2006 and it has taken me that long to finish fixing the old posts. Today, I am happy to report, it is done.

I did not use titles on blog posts on my blog, then named anima, when it was on Blogger. So when everything was deposited here on WordPress, those untitled posts just got slapped with a bunch of random numbers for names (like 107373855855). Blogger also didn't use nifty categories like WordPress does, so everything ended up being organized as "Uncategorized".

I always said I'd go and title and categorize those old posts - one day. Finally, I have - it took about two days of sitting down and just plugging away at it when I had time, but it is done. It makes the whole blog more "searchable" and readable.

I'm just pleased as punch.

My Friends

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I have said it here before, but it bears repeating:

I have amazing friends.

Normally this statement prefaces some tale of a wild, fun night we've all had out, or a particularly engaging evening we've all shared right here at home, or maybe even a random act of awesome cool- and kindness one or more of them have performed.

This time, however, there is no other reason for my mentioning it other than I felt it should be acknowledged.

You see, I don't see my friends as often as I used to. All of us have busier lives and more responsibilities; it's harder to stay in touch and even harder to get together. Adding to that is the fact that a good number of my dear friends have moved out of state.

They come down to visit sometimes, but it always seems we have already-made family plans or one of is us deathly ill and we miss the short window they're in town. We all try to stay in touch online - through emails, MySpace, Facebook, and the like...yet even that, in the fast-paced whirlwind that is our adults lives - falls by the wayside eventually.

Such is life. The wonderful thing about the people I am blessed to call "friend" however is that time and distance will never dim our connection. I could not talk to one of them for over a year, and they could walk through the door and it would be as it always has - hugs and insane amounts of side-splitting laughter.

So, even though I don't stay in touch as often as I should, or get around to seeing them as often as I'd like, I just wanted to say - I love each & every one of you that is part of my life, that I am blessed to call you my "friend".

More Like Writer’s Apathy

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Every day I wake up and want to write here in my blog, and every day I open up the WP dashboard and stare at a blank "Write Post" block.

It's not that there aren't things to write about. My life has been full and busy lately; just that I don't think anyone would care or I don't feel it worthy of a write somehow (which is odd, because some of it has been landmark stuff). I don't necessarily have "writer's block", it's more like "writer's apathy". I think about writing and then go, "Eh..."

I can't explain it. There's this burning desire inside of me to write - anything on any of my blogs. Yet when I set out to, it's "Eh...", and nothing gets written.

True, a lot of my creative output is going into two projects I'm working on (both Sims-related). I don't want to talk about them before they're done because that always seems to jinx it and then it will never be complete. I have been spending some idle time re-reading my Syls Empire stuff - thinking about doing something with it or even just expanding it. I know some of my websites, mainly skatoolaki.com and Skasimlaki, need some work & updating. I'd like to write some more on Trick Tracts, or even get back into researching and writing on The Brandon Children. I know I'm spreading myself thin in that respect, but it's like there is so much I want to do that I never actually can settle on any one thing to do.

Pretty much every spare second I've had since The Sims 2: Castaway for the Wii came in, I've been doing that - until I put the radio in my inventory and it disappeared. I've been so distraught (because all I've found online says it's a glitch and you must restart the game) that I haven't touched it since Friday.

And...eh. What else? I'm trying to be more diligent in updating my Twitter. I downloaded Google Desktop for my desktop pc and laptop last night and am (so far) pretty much loving it. I also spent some time customizing my iGoogle homepage; honestly trying to get away from Yahoo! as my homepage but I love the news updates. I love iGoogle and the way I can customize it, but I have this thing about getting all of my worldly & local news updates from Yahoo!. Yet, for whatever reason, I'm ready for a change. I've made Yahoo! my homepage on every computer I've used for the past 10+ years - just ready for something new.

[Sidenote: Cute YouTube vid about the ease of customizing iGoogle homepage]

To my sister and any other Magic 8-Ball fans - if you download Google Desktop (which I recommend), you have to get the AnswerBall gadget! It can be found here.

What else, what else? I finally cleaned out my Mozilla Thunderbird email today. I had, seriously, almost 6,000 messages. It had gotten so bad that I just stopped going to it. All of my email accounts (Yahoo!, Gmail, and any that are connected to my domain names) are all forwarded to my Thunderbird (which, btw, totally kicks MS Outlook's ass...make the switch today). Not only are all of these email accounts forwarded to Thunderbird, there is no organization to it; they just all simply end up in my Inbox. I need to sit and figure out a way to organize them - have different email accounts land in different folders or something, I just haven't sat down to do it. If any Thunderbird users have any ideas, please leave them in the comments.

Hey, this random writing thing isn't so bad...maybe I need to do this more often instead of feeling I have to have something to write about (like hot topics, what's in the news, major life events, so on & so forth).

I suppose that's enough rambling for now. There are some other important topics I want to cover - a graduation, a birth, a special birthday, but for now this will do.