Take Back the Night:Shuta Multimedia Vlog Episode 111

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On April 24th, the Women's Resource Center in Scranton in conjunction with Marywood University and the University of Scranton, held an event that returns a voice to those who have had it stolen.

Take Back the Night is an event that rally's around survivors of sexual assault, demands accountability for those who do harm, and invites the community to do more to prevent such attacks.

This year Lea Dougherty lead the March, and the opening music was "Brave" by Sara Barielles, performed by Allanah Caisey and Kenneth Watkins. Welcoming remarks were delivered by Anna Faramelli of the Women's Resource Center.

The importance of Take Back the Night was delivered by Kaitlin Caldwell, Marywood University. A talk on Self-Defense and Women's Empowerment was delivered by Robert Thomas, Self-Defense Instructor of the Tsunami Self-Defense Academy.

A musical interlude was performed by Rachel Marley Clark, as she performed a song she herself had written: "The Door."

Our video ends here; next was the Invitation to Speak Out, one of the key elements of the event, and we did not want to cause anyone to hold back due to the presence of a camera. Kelsi Curran of the WRC and Justine Johnson of the Jane Kopas Women's Center presented the Invitation to Speak Out.

Next was a Candlelight Vigil with Reflection music, followed by Closing remarks from Nancy Perri of the Women's Resource Center. The Closing Song was performed by the University of Scranton Liva Arts Company: "Best Day of My Life," American Authors.

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Yogurt for St. Joe's: Shuta Multimedia Vlog Episode 110

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April 23, 2014, the Marywood University Speech and Hearing club held a benefit at Yogurt City in Dickson City PA, to benefit St.Joseph's Center in Scranton. We're talking tasty frozen yogurt for a cause that has been helping children for over a hundred years. How can you beat that?

If you didn't get a chance to donate, or want to learn more about St.Joe's, click here:

The speech and hearing club have their page here:

And you can find out about Yogurt City here:

For more info, hey watch the video, or check out the faceobok album below:

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The Dead Letters and Peter Griffin

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Fairly certain my hand was covering the mike for some of this...or the volume was simply annihilating the tiny camera. But the 'Letters have better videos coming, and this at least captured the vibe.

It had been a couple decades since I'd been to the Woodlands Inn, but I definitely picked the right night. March 29, 2014, I was at the Dead Letters Reunion Concert, and I'm still trying to figure out how I was able to dance that much and not drop dead. Has to have something to do with tapping into the energy of the event, but I haven't figured out the mechanism yet.

Everything really came together; saw a lot of old friends and the music was perfect. It really was like time traveling back to the late nineties. I'm still not sure there wasn't some violation of the space-time continuum in making this concert happen. Even the girl who always danced right in front of the speakers back in the day came down from New England to attend, and everyone was thrilled to see her. We really did party like it was 1999.

Fans of the Dead Letters Unite!!!

Time to party like it's 1999.

And of course, at some point things got weird, which somehow made the night that much better.

This story requires a bit of set up: in the next ballroom over from where the 'Letters were playing some sorority was having a dance. I think it may have been the “Daddy Issues” ball, or the “No one is going to tell me how to dress” cotillion. Hey, I appreciate scantly clad women as much as the next guy. But in my humble opinion if you have to pull your dress down over your buns with every step just to keep from being arrested for indecent exposure then you're trying too hard.

Case in point, our waitress was technically almost naked in a bikini and short-shorts, but didn't have to keep readjusting. She had this down, while the other girls clearly had not thought everything out.

So about three quarters of the way through the second set my wife Donna proceeded to the ladies room, and as a dutiful husband I hung around outside to make sure she wasn't abducted by ruffians. This is a superfluous gesture as she studies an integrated martial arts system that's heavy on the Jujitsu, but I didn't not get this far in life by abandoning chivalry.

On the couch between the restroom entrances was a friend of ours named Steve, who was taking a break from the festivities, and we struck up a conversation destined to be rudely interrupted.

A group of five or six kids from the Sorority Ball walked by, and one of guys, resplendent in a disheveled tuxedo that was proof he'd never seen a James Bond film, suddenly turned to my buddy and yelled “Dude!!!” and held out his hand for a high five. Steve looked at the hand as if it were holding a three day old fish that had recently been pulled from a walrus rectum.

Sensing that this was a moment that required some deescalation—Steve is a big guy and this kid was well over six-four himself if I estimated right—I gave him a high five from the side. He turned to me, staggered backwards and pointed at me, speaking the following words:

“Peter Griffin!!!!”

I'm not a regular viewer of “The Family Guy.” I've seen more clips of the show online than on the tube. But I've seen it enough to know where he was going with this. For the record, I don't think I look like Peter Griffin, though after a dozen shots of Jaegermeister I probably would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Prior to this I've had sober people tell me I look like Jack Black, Michael Moore, and Bruce Vilanch. I wasn't too shaken by having Peter Griffin added to the list.

Not Vince Shuta

Vince Shuta: accept no substitutes.

So again, trying to make sure this didn't turn into something that involve badges and paperwork, I snapped into my best Peter Griffin impression and said something to the effect of: “Hey, how you kids doin'? Stayin' out of trouble I hope?” The dude lost it laughing, and called out to his friends to introduce them to someone that he may have truly believed was Peter Griffin. I gave them another line (“Hey you kids have a good time tonight but be careful” or something) and they all waved and walked away happy.

Turning back to Steve, I made a mental note to grant him the award for “most perplexed look not involving government paperwork.” He proceeded to ask why I didn't beat the crap out of the guy. “You could have taken all of them!” This was as much a complement as it was an estimation that the best way to dodge their punches would have been to not move. Alcohol is not generally speaking a performance enhancing drug.

“For what?” I asked. “He's just trying to get laid. If that impressed his girl, so be it.” I am well passed the point in my life where I care if a random stranger soaked in more booze than grandma's fruitcake thinks I'm Peter Griffin. I know who I am. I'm cool with who I am. Best of all I can laugh at me from time to time.

It makes for much better stories, and a lot less stress.

For some more photos from the event, click here:

Dani-elle at the Caverna:Shuta Multimedia Vlog Episode 109

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March 22, 2014, I was at the Caverna in Jessup with some friends--one of whom was the amazingly talented country singer Dani-elle. She's a wonderful person with a great head on her shoulders and musical talent that has to be hear to be believed.

She was just on the Billy Block Show in Nashville, and is promising big news soon...and no I couldn't use my investigative reporting skills--saying "Pleeeeeeeeease" for instance--to get the information out of her. But you can check out her sites below, and be the first to know!

Oh and did I mention that the food was great and my friends keep asking when we can go back to Jessup? Any time, my friends.

They also keep asking where to find Dani-elle next! Check it out here:

or here:

and you can see some really cool stuff here:

See pictures from this event here:

Oh and follow her on twitter here:

Have a great day!!!

Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

It is with great annoyance that I am going to miss this year’s Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference. Forgive me Caridad, but circumstances are keeping me home this year. Even so, it’s acting as a catalyst for my writing. Somehow the combined energy of all those creative people gathering in one place is reaching me, getting me moving again.

It’s been a particularly turbulent year for my writing. At the last #LSFW I was introduced to a wonderful agent who was willing to give me feedback on my work. (I will let this person stay anonymous for now, lest said wonderful agent be pelted with similar requests.) Every bit of it was on mark and helpful, but one particular comment put me in a bind.

She said I was writing in third person omniscient, which while it is a legitimate writing style, it’s considered archaic. I would engage the reader more effectively if I shifted to first person or third person deep.

Now I can’t just open a menu box and check a different radio button. This meant a complete rewrite. Worse, it meant I had to change my writing style, which apparently leans to third person omniscient.

Remember that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke is all smug because Leah kisses him in front of Han? Imagine if someone leaned in at that moment and said, “Oh by the way, that’s your sister.” That’s about the feeling I was running with here.

I’m not going to lie. I had my moments of looking at my authors of inspiration, and noting that they wrote some of their stuff in third person omniscient. In Sci-Fi it’s particularly useful for world building. Can you imagine The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from only Arthur’s point of view? None of it would make sense. Arthur doesn’t get a handle on things until the fourth book or so.

But I had to admit one fact to myself: most of those inspiring me were dead. My strongest influence was probably Asimov’s Foundation. But many would consider it an acquired taste.

If, as a hobby, I want to try to write like Asimov there’s nothing wrong with that. (Notice the word “try.” I’ve not earned the right to make claims like that.) But if I want to be published in a modern era I’ve got to write in a way that my readers will accept.

Attempting to do that proved problematic. I just didn’t have the creative energy to start over. I was wasting my time trying to patch what I had.

Eventually things started to come together. Slowly I started to see all the patches. I had patched it several times before this, with ideas inspired by feedback from readers and from conferences and courses. And as I tried to rework it again, I kept finding more and more areas I needed to smooth out.

Luckily, a bunch of other projects came up that forced me to work on something else for a while. This allowed me to think of it once again as a long term project as opposed to a short term goal. I had to realize that I'm not limited to patching problems. I can re-cut it from new cloth.

I still have the luxury of taking my time and perfecting this.

Plus it is the Tales of the Black Knight. If you don’t feel like the Black Knight is telling it, then haven’t I missed the point?

If I’m a writer, should I really mind writing? Yes it’s a lot to go over, but it’s not wasted effort. Now I know the story I want to tell in detail. I just need to tell it the right way.

It’s going to take some time to develop. I've got as much reading to do as writing. You may notice me using to blog to experiment with styles from time to time. But that’s a good thing. A writer has to write, even if it seems daunting.

John Wayne said courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.

Scared? Never. Daunted for a while? Perhaps. It matters naught.

I’m back in the saddle.

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