Soca Music on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’!

Yep.

One of the routines on Fox’s dance competition, So You Think You Can Dance–which I am a huge, HUGE fan of as a former dancer myself–actually featured a very popular soca tune that played a lot during Trinidad’s Carnival season.

Although it’s not sung by Trinidadians–who actually invented soca–it’s definitely very familiar to all of us. So as part of my Friday feature (sorry I bugged out on you last week!), enjoy this taste of Caribbean music.

I can’t say the routine was all that great. The show has definitely featured better, including some on this season. Like this one:

And this awesome group routine:

Amazing right? Even if dance isn’t really your thing.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

A Public Service Announcement for Luc Besson

Dear Mr. Besson,

I’ve been a fan since I first saw ‘Fifth Element’. A huge fan. And as such, I think it’s important that I share something with you.

You know that tag line you’ve been endlessly selling your new film ‘Lucy’ with? The one about her being the first human to use more than 10% of her brain?

Well…it’s actually not true at all. She won’t be the first human. Not even close.

In fact, the levels of untrue your advertising campaign has achieved is truly mind-boggling. Particularly when you consider the fact that Google exists.

So, as a long-time fan and someone who definitely plans to see ‘Lucy’–despite it’s flawed premise–can I ask you for one tiny favour?

For the love of all that’s holy, PLEASE stop using that blasted tag line.

Sincerely,

Someone You Don’t Know and Don’t Give a Damn About Who is Nevertheless Entirely Ready to Shove Lucy Out a Window Herself if it Will Get Morgan Freeman to Stop Being a Scientist Who Says Really Inaccurate Shit.

I give up reaction gifs

LEX TALIONIS Will Soon Be On Sale in Barnes and Noble Stores!

Yes, you read that right.

I’ve just learned that Barnes and Noble has ordered their first shipment of my book, LEX TALIONIS, with a view to putting it in their regular catalog.

What that means is you will soon be able to walk into a Barnes and Noble and ask for my book!

Yes, my friends, I will be on sale in an actual American bookstore! Shelves and all!

Excited reaction gifs

It’s only my second major bookstore sale so I’m over the moon about it. Of course, you should feel free to walk into Barnes and Noble–if you live near one–and start asking for my book immediately. The better to encourage B&N to keep ordering my book.

And if you have friends who like to browse, feel free to pass on the news and the book recommendation.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Look, Ma! No Hands! I’m on Wattpad!

Yep. You read that right.

I’ve decided to try out Wattpad, as it’s far bigger than my normal writing community, the OWW, and I wanted a place to connect to more readers.

So I’ve joined up and I’ve posted the first chapter of LEX TALIONIS here. If I get enough readers and interest, as expressed in comments, votes, whatever, I will post more chapters.

I’m also thinking of posting a few excerpts from my works in progress, but I’ll run that by my publishers before I do anything. And of course, I have to have an actual audience first.

I would love to hear what you think about this. Have you heard of Wattpad? Are you using it? What has your experience been like, if you have? Are there any tips and tricks I should know about how to navigate the site and find people and good stuff to read?

And please let me know in the comments who you are and how to find you on Wattpad. I’d love to make new friends–or follow old ones–especially if you write speculative fiction.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

It’s Just Business – Hachette and Amazon

This is a pretty balanced take on all sides of the dispute. Particularly liked hearing from an Amazon writer who is happy with his publisher.

For me, this is very simple. Both sides in this are capable of carrying out some pretty crappy moves. Both sides, on occasion, have done just that.

That’s how businesses work. They may have opinions and feelings according to the US Supreme Court, but that doesn’t make them devils or saviours. It’s makes them businesses and businesses watch out for their bottom line. Does Amazon have a right to do what it thinks it needs to grow its business? Of course it does. But if you accept that, then you have to accept Hachette has the same rights.

Authors are much better off if they realise that Amazon and other publishers are businesses they might work with some day, and only a fool puts all his eggs in one basket.

O rly really you dont say reaction gifs

Live Long and Prosper, my friends!

Top 10 Popular Beaches in Trinidad and Tobago

And by popular, I don’t mean best. In fact, a couple of these beaches would not be impressive put up against beaches from other parts of the Caribbean. But if you want to see how real Trinbagonians live, and want to experience the beach ‘lime’ (Trini word for hanging out with friends) with us, these are the beaches you’ll find most Trinbagonians have been to at least once. Some of them will be crowded, especially on hot days, but others will be fairly quiet, and all have the distinct advantage of offering a cross-section of Trinibagonian life.

This is, of course, my own personal list, not official in any way, and other Trinis are free to love other beaches. Please note the pictures here are NOT my work and are taken from around the Web to illustrate the list, nothing more.

10.  Chaguaramas / Carenage

(Source)

Chaguaramas (SHA-gor-RA-mus) and Carenage (CA-ren-NARGE) are the go-to beaches for the everyman. Busy city dwellers in the north-west of Trinidad will often go there, especially if they don’t own a car and/or live on a budget. Bus service runs regularly from the capital of Port-of-Spain to the last beach in Carenage every day, making access easy. In recognition of that fact, the government recently invested heavily in the area, beautifying it with the popular boardwalk pictured above.

Carenage Bay, as you can see from the picture below, is a popular harbour for yachts. Their presence, and the run-off from the villages and industries around the bay, sometimes affects the purity of the water, and there can be debris as well. Rainy season is a good time to stay away, as the silt run-off from the Northern Range can affect the water too. But the waters are calm and shallow so Carenage remains popular as an easy to get to relief from the heat.

(Source)

9.  Macqueripe

Macqueripe Beach

(Source)

(Ma-CA-reep) This beach is very small and to get to it, you have to go down quite a few flights of stairs. But the harbour itself is much larger than the beach, and the water is clear and very cold, no matter how hot the day is. There are almost no waves here so it’s perfect for soaking, and the wooded area around the beach have lots of hiking trails. Vendors work above the beach, selling food and drinks every day of the week.

The drawbacks are it’s impossible to get to if you don’t have private transport, and there’s a pretty steep drop-off if you swim out far enough, so non-swimmers should stay close to shore.

8.  Blanchisseuse

(Source)

(Blan-SHEE-SHEARS) One of the many party beaches popular with Trinidadians. It’s a very long drive, especially if you’re coming from the north-west, but it’s along a lovely coast. People tend to go here less for the swimming, and more for the soaking in shallow waters, and the rivers that empty into the beach itself. Because there are many families camping and liming here on a regular basis, the beach often has a litter problem. It can also get quite rough at certain times of the day, or the year. But it can be beautiful too, as the picture above shows.

7.  Manzanilla

(Source)

(Man-za-NIL-ah) Like Blanchisseuse, this beach is party central, especially after Carnival for Ash Wednesday. The long drive is along a coastal road and the many, many coconut trees that line the road and beach are a beautiful and well-known feature. Again, popularity with campers and drunken limers make litter a problem. But there’s lots of shade, rivers and shallow waters to soak in. Just don’t get to far out if you’re not a strong swimmer.

6.  Mayaro

(Source)

(May-YAH-row) Few Trinis have not rented a house or spent time at a Mayaro resort during their life-time. Although the current can be strong and the wind creates huge waves sometimes, this beach also has good shallow spots for bathing, and is great in other areas for surfing. Most of the good spots are taken by resorts, which are sometimes a bit run-down, but if you love nature, you’ll find some here that will take your breath away. Like Carenage, there are also good bathroom and bathing facilities here for a couple of dollars, something missing from the other beaches I’ve mentioned so far.

5.  Toco / Salybia

(Source)

(TOW-CO / Sa-LIB-be-ah)Toco’s rivers are a huge draw on hot days. However, the beaches are beautiful, if often too rough to bathe, and with far too strong a current to even attempt to surf. Salybia is the exception, with crystal clear shallow waters that are good for bathing if you don’t mind getting pulled along by the current a little.  There’s a lovely and popular resort that takes advantage of the great views.

4.  Grande Rivière

(Source)

(GRAN Re-VEER)This beach is on this list because it is the second largest nesting area in the world for the amazing leatherback turtle, the largest of all living turtles and practically a living dinosaur. Turtles born here will return here to lay their eggs. Dozens will nest at night during the nesting season, which is March through August. The best time to see them, though, is April to July, during their peak. Tours and guides are easy to find.

3.  Las Cuevas

File:Las Cuevas Beach.jpg

(Source)

(Las Kuay-vas) The quieter sister to the popular Maracas, Las Cuevas has clear, cold water, and can be stunningly beautiful in clear weather. On bad days, it’s rough, but there are caves to explore and you can always sit in the shallow waters. Here, there are lifeguards and good bathroom facilities as well.

2.  Maracas

(Source)

(Ma-RAH-cas) The premiere beach in Trinidad, full stop. Developed with bathing facilities, parking facilities and vendors galore, the beautiful blue waters and white sand make it the most popular beach destination for Trinis of every stripe. Here is where the popular bake and shark was invented, and the most popular vendor that sells it, ‘Richards’, still has their booth here.

Despite the often wind-whipped waters not being so great for bathing, it’s always good for surfing. On holidays and hot days, it can take hours to get here, and even more hours to get out, due to the long, winding, single road that provides access. It’s best to arrive around 8am and leave before 3pm. Bus service is spotty at best, so private and hired cars are the best way to get there. But who can complain when the sea-breeze hits you with a bake and shark in one hand and a beer in the next?

1.  Any beach in Tobago

Because there is not a single Trinibagonian alive who wouldn’t trade a day at the beach in Trinidad for a day at the beach in their relaxed, beautiful, natural gem of a sister island, Tobago. And if you wonder why, just take a look at these:

Pigeon Point, Tobago

Store Bay, Tobago

Englishman’s Bay, Tobago

(Charlotteville, Tobago)

See what I mean?

Now I want to go to the beach…

*Pops a can of beer and puts her feet up*

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Making The Future: Guest Post and Sale Announcement

RSAGARCIA:

I have an article up on my publisher’s blog that talks about my book, and a big problem we have today that I hope we start working on for a better future. Also, LEX TALIONIS is only $2.99 right now on Kindle, so if you were waiting to pick up a copy, now would be a great time.

Originally posted on Dragonwell Publishing Blog:

Rhonda 1

‘Lex Talionis’, or the law of revenge for the purposes of the book, begins with two people. A wounded soldier, trying to escape death from an unseen enemy while trapped alone on a ship in deep space, and a badly battered young girl who wakes in a spaceport hospital with no memory. The solider is trying to stay alive, but the girl has already died. It takes a mute alien no one has ever seen before to bring her back.

Clearly, these two people are connected. And it’s the nature of their connection that drives the central question of ‘Lex Talionis’. Who is this girl? Who killed her and why? What is the soldier’s part in all this?

Why does one young girl with no name matter?

Every woman on this planet lives with the daily fear of assault. Globally, the World Health Organisation reports that 35% of women worldwide…

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The Leftovers–Or, How Do I Mourne Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…

Because make no mistake, there’s a lot of mourning and weirdness going on here, and precious little else.

I watched the second episode of the new HBO series The Leftovers last night, because very rarely do I give up on a series with any hint of spec fic about it without giving it at least two episodes. Also, HBO is a major source of my joy right now, and they could pretty much pitch me any show and I’d skip the trailers and tune in.

I have to admit, the trailers for The Leftovers confused rather than intrigued me, but I thought, hey give it a chance. After the pilot, I was one big, ‘Hmmmm…’ But a few seconds before episode two started last night, I think my sister called it.

‘This,’ she said (to paraphrase), ‘is pretentious crap that’s headed nowhere by the end of the season. Lost all over again.’

I fear she is right.

I know, I know, lots of people loved Lost. So did I, for about 5 and a half seasons. Then I realised that not only did they clearly have no plan for how to tie things up while explaining all the mysteries, they were starting to make characters do strange things like hook-up in bear cages because viewers really wanted the couple to do it, and it’s hard to find a place to be alone on a tiny island.

I’ll admit my flaws. I’m a plot and story girl, through and through. I love me some characters, but not without a good story. Sure, I was in love with the characters on Lost in the beginning. But when logic, story and plot were sacrificed on the alter of ‘we really like these people so we’re just going to dissect every bit of their lives until no one cares anymore and we ride off into the sun’, I jumped ship.

I think I’m going to have to jump ship on Leftovers early too. It’s not because it’s not pretty–it’s beautifully shot. It’s not because it’s badly directed–Peter Berg is one of my favourite directors and he does a great job with the first episode in particular. It’s not because the acting sucks–everyone does a bang-up job with what they’re given.

It’s because this is a story that hooks you with a central mystery and a bunch of questions and yet again, the creators are sending signals they may or may not provide answers to any of it. Now, for the record, I think Lost probably taught everyone the way to go down in history is to NOT chicken out on your own story. I do believe The Leftovers will actually address the reason for their missing people. But for once, the promise of story is not enough to hook me.

Because the characters are a real drag. I mean, a real, real drag.

There is not a single person in The Leftovers that I like, care to empathize with, or relate to. Everyone is depressed or fucked in the head or going through the motions, or all three. Everyone. Why would I spend an hour with any of these people if they’re not properly restrained in a padded room?

Well, except those very nice boys who let depressed, fucked in the head schoolgirls take over their car so they can tail a depressed Mom who lost her kid in the Departure. Those boys are nice. They even buried a dead dog they had nothing to do with.

Don’t ask.

My question is, when did it become okay to assume that we need all the characters to react the exact same way to stimulus because we’ve, you know, got a THEME! (capital letters, exclamation point)? And the reaction, in this case, is to unload buckets of crazy all over the place. It’s not that I don’t get that an event like 2% of the world’s population going missing would not  have a seriously depressing effect on those left behind. But not one single person appears to be just really freaking glad to still have their family. Or their friends. Basically people are like, ‘Oh wait. You’re still here too. Great. Don’t really care about that, but let’s go do something together. I guess.’

Which reminds me–what exactly is the major trauma that the police chief’s family suffered for mom, dad, son and daughter to have been so completely fractured? Seems to me they were the lucky ones, but maybe the real issues just haven’t been brought up yet.

I guess what I’m saying is that for a show that purports to be putting a lens to loss and grief, it has paid precious little attention to the other side of the coin. Humanity coming together in the face unimaginable tragedy. Just throw your thoughts back to the events of 9/11 and how many people helped each other and showed kindness to each other in the aftermath. I find it hard to believe that three years later, everyone in town–EVERYONE–is still stuck in the first 4 stages of the 7 stages of grief.

That’s some determination. We. Are. Very. Focused. On. Our. Psychological. Study.

Anyways, my hope is that the writers take pity on us soon and show us something about these people that doesn’t make us either roll our eyes (Could you at least *pretend* to be sane for your day job?), or look away in disgust, (Oh look, the creepy guys who likes to hug away the pain and sleep with only Asian girls is kissing a dead man), or just plain make me want to slap the silly out of them (Really, teenage girl, does your father not have enough to deal with? Must we be every teen from ‘The Breakfast Club’ all at once?).

Me? I think there’s way too much good stuff on TV right now to stick with something that is at once so well done, so boring and so in love with being unlovable. If you guys decide it’s a good show, drop by and let me know and I’ll Netflix it at the end of the season.

Now, where did I put my new episode of The Musketeers?…

Top 5 Street Foods of Trinidad and Tobago

Today I’m going to start a regular Friday feature that tells you a little about fun things from my daily life. And since food is probably the number one thing West Indians love–especially in Trinidad and Tobago–it’s only fitting that I start by talking about Caribbean cuisine.

T&T is a diverse society, with a large black and East Indian population, and minorities that include the Syrians, Chinese, Dutch and a whole lot more. Our food has been influenced accordingly and we love to try new things. So without further ado, here’s my personal list of the top five street foods of Trinidad and Tobago, researched by myself and my family and completely unofficial, of course.

5.  Souse

Salty, citrusy, spicy goodness. Souse is a leftover from colonial days when poor people made do with every part of the animal, especially the cheapest cuts. Made from soft-boiled trotters, chicken feet or even cow-skin cut into thin strips–which has a jelly-like consistency–souse is basically a pickle with the flavour profile of a ceviche. Lots of onion, cucumber, fresh herbs, mild or hot peppers and salt make the tasty broth that the meat is soaked in for hours. It’s usually served in cups and eaten with the fingers, the better to lick them.

4. Pholourie

These light, savoury fried dough balls are usually served with a sweet sauce on the side. The sauce is made of fresh, whole green mangoes, skin and seeds and all, chopped up and stewed down with sugar, geera and Indian spices. There is also a salty, peppery green chutney that is sometimes served with it, also made of green mangoes, but without the seed.

Pholourie refers to the fried balls, but when you say it to a Trini, it’s understood sauce will come with it. That’s where all the flavour is, since the Pholourie is not highly seasoned. Usually sold in paper or plastic bags, with the sauce in a bag of its own. You dip the Pholourie in the sauce and eat it with your fingers. A cheap, popular snack because you can get up to a dozen for a few dollars.

3. Corn Soup

Popular at parties, sporting events and in the streets after dark, Trini style corn soup is made of fresh corn on the cob, boiled for hours in a broth of yellow lentils, carrots, fresh herbs and mild peppers. Small dumplings are usually part of the soup as well. It’s bracing, hearty enough to quiet hunger and served hot from a bubbling pot in Styrofoam cups.

2. Bake and Shark

One of the tastiest and most popular fish dishes In Trinidad. As in Asia, shark fin soup is popular here, but Trinis use the meat as well. The fish is seasoned with lots of limes, salt, pepper, fresh herbs and spices, and then fried. The ‘bake’ is a savoury dough that puffs up when fried into a large, light receptacle for fish heaven.

The dish became popular with people who visited our premiere beach, Maracas. Vendors there would buy the fresh fish directly off the boat and fry it up to serve to beach-goers. Although it’s served many places now, it’s understood that a ‘real’ bake and shark only comes from Maracas, and for many, only from ‘Richard’s’, a popular vendor at that beach. What makes bake and shark so special is the wide variety of sauces and condiments served with it to enhance the flavour of the fish. They include–but are not limited to–coleslaw, pineapple slices, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, garlic sauce, pepper sauce, sweet tamarind sauce, honey mustard and so on. It’s self-service on paper plates, so you choose your own condiments and then chow down on crispy, juicy goodness while watching the waves come in.

1. Doubles

First off, just look at that. This vegetarian dish is popular with rich and poor alike, as it makes for a cheap and delicious hot breakfast. It’s rare to meet a Trini who doesn’t love this, and have their own special ‘doubles man’.

I’ve posted on this before, so you can head here to read more about this famous piece of Trini culture.

And now I’ve made myself hungry, so I’m off to forage in the fridge.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Amazon, Hachette, Publishing, Etc — It’s Not a Football Game, People

Amazon, Hachette, Publishing, Etc — It’s Not a Football Game, People.

I think Scalzi makes some really good points here, very in-line with what I was thinking. I’m not out to declare my allegiance to anyone precisely because there is no good guy or bad guy here. A business is a business.

But I’m not interested in wearing blinders either, and you really have to be wearing them if you think Amazon is behaving just fine because you made some money off of them. A business can be a positive and a negative, often at the same time. Ask Walmart.

He says it better than I do though.