The Tamale Hut Café presents:
Kinetic Color
A collection of abstract artwork by Stephanie Bieniek
Only at The Tamale Hut Café
8300 W. Cermak Rd. North Riverside, IL
708-442-0948 - tamalehutcafe.com

Artwork will be on display until January 7, 2018
during normal Tamale Hut Café business hours:
Mon-Fri:7:30AM-7PM, Sat:8:30AM-7PM, Sun:8:30AM-6PM


For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!


06/12/17: Since I'm a glutton for punishment, I again packed a bunch of my books and flyers in a plastic tote and drove downtown to the to sit under the Illinois Woman's Press Association at this years Printer's Row Lit Fest. I had lots of fun last year (and a modicum of success selling books) so I was eager to go back.
     There were several people under the tent that I recognized, including the woman next to me, so I set up my wares and waited for the buyers to stop by and be charmed into parting with their hard-earned cash in exchange for an autographed book from moi, but alas, it was not to be.
     The first problem we had was the weather. It was a warm, sunny day, but it was windy. Very windy. Books flying across the street windy. I had secured my offerings fairly well, to where I didn't have to dive on top of the table when a fresh gust came through, but not everyone was as confident, and the people on my side of the tent spent a lot of time picking their stuff up off the ground. I think the wind might have kept a lot of people away.
     Another problem was that I was flanked on either side by writers who's plan was to attack passers-by with flyers and bookmarks and cards, shoving them into people's hands without asking if they were even interested. I personally don't like when someone does that to me, and while some people may look at that material later, I am disinclined to do so. My approach, wrong or right, is to ask people passing by if they would be interested in hearing about my work, or if I may give them a flyer. I feel that initiating a conversation allows the potential customer to politely decline if they so desire, without me burdening them with unwanted paper that may wind up in a recycle bin (if we're lucky.) With these attack writers on either side of me, many people veered away from the tables, changing their trajectory so that they were too far away for me to reach out to.
     Another problem was my own doing. As I wrote after last year's show, I hope that my enthusiasm will make potential readers curious about my work, to where they might take a chance in buying a book from an author they've never heard of. This year, I was also promoting my mailing list, and I'm giving away a chapter a month of my latest story called "Barnstormers". I did obtain a few new people for my e-mail list (and you can join at this link), I believe I cut into my sales by giving potential buyers a way of showing their support without buying anything. I may need to re-think this strategy.
     Ultimately, though, I think we were victims of the economy. I heard several other authors say that in all the years they've been doing this show, this was the worst year in terms of sales. I heard talk of the current political climate, the large numbers of vacant shops in innumerable strip malls, and how people are keeping their discretionary spending to a minimum.
     I guess all of that's true, but I had hoped to sell more than I did, which was only a fraction of last year. I did have fun, though, and talked to a lot of nice people. Hopefully all those flyers I handed out might bring in


06/05/17: I was saddened to hear today of the passing of Peter Sallis, a popular British TV actor, at age 96. I first knew of Mr. Sallis the way most of the US had learned of him, as the voice of Wallace in the fantastic Wallace and Gromit series of films. But I soon grew to know him for the part that he'd played for 37 years, the lovable Norman Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine. That's him on the left.
     I can't remember exactly when I stumbled on Summer Wine, but I'm pretty sure it was on Channel 20, the "other" PBS station here in the Chicago area. While over the years Channel 11 has always shown the big name programs from England, like Masterpiece Theater, Monty Python, Are You Being Served?, and the first 20 years of Doctor Who, Channel 20 showed those and more. It was on that channel years ago that I was able to see the entire series of Blakes 7, a science fiction series held in high esteem in the sci-fi community. It's also where we discovered Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Doctor Blake Mysteries, Rosemary and Thyme, and many others.
     But Summer Wine is different. Set in a small village in the English countryside, the show follows (as Wikipedia put it) "a trio of old men and their youthful misadventures." It's very low-key as compared to other British comedies, and might be a bit confusing until you figure out who all the characters are and the relationships between them, but I really fell in love with it. Even moreso because I get to see the voice of Wallace coming out of the face of its owner! And the description is right about their misadventures being "youthful." I keep imagining the episodes as acted by the Our Gang cast, and I think it would work.
     I watched many episodes before showing one to Stephie. TV shows that I record on our MythTV setup do not contain subtitles, and some of the accents are difficult for even a confirmed Anglophile such as myself, but after a few episodes, she was hooked, too.
     Unfortunately, Channel 20 hasn't broadcast any Summer Wine since they played two Christmas episodes back in 2015, and I only have 9 left on my DVR. I was hoping to see a marathon in memory of Peter Sallis, the only actor to be on all 295 episodes, but I've not seen anything like that listed. My DVR is still set to record any broadcast of Last of the Summer Wine, and I hope one of the bazillion channels we have on cable would find time to show episodes of this sweet and very funny series. If not, maybe Amazon or Netflix might pick it up. Wikipedia says that the entire run is available on DVD, but alas, only on region 2 discs. I guess if all else fails, we always have YouTube. Thanks for all the years of laughter, Mr. Sallis.


06/01/17: Today I released my eighth book for the Kindle. After I published my first Sleep Detectives book, I wanted to do something a little different instead of going right into book two. I thought that it might be interesting to follow one of the side characters from that story, so I had Danny transfer to another store and have an adventure on his own. Out of that came a novelette, The Lost Night, which introduced a number of people at Danny's new store. I was fortunate to have my nephew, Ricky B, available to do the cover, as he did with the Sleep Detectives.
     Then I had an idea for another Danny story, so I thought maybe I'd do a trilogy, since trilogies seem to be all the rage in Hollywood and elsewhere. That second story became The Lost Girl, and it was well received, and I figured I was on a roll.
     I sort-of had an idea where the third story would go, but when I sat down to plot it out, I chickened out. I was going to have one of my characters sustain life-threatening injuries, but the more I thought about it, I realized that I didn't really have a good reason for doing that. Plus, I was growing fond of everyone at the new store and didn't want to cause any of them harm. So rather than write the planned third part of the trilogy, the story for The Lost Ticket popped into my head.
     The Lost Ticket is set all in one night, as Danny and Izzy attempt to retrieve a winning lottery ticket which was stolen from an elderly couple. The story occurs all in one night, and I think it's one of my better efforts. It's available now for your Kindle from Amazon.
     And the trilogy? I think it's become a tetralogy (as of now) and I have a good idea for the fourth book, and I think it'll be a surprise to everyone, especially in light of what I wrote above about growing fond of my characters. I'll probably work on that in the fall, before the next Sleep Detectives novel.


05/31/17: Every so often, a news article will pop up about the blooming of a "corpse flower" in a conservatory or greenhouse nearby. I'd always been intrigued by the Amorphophallus titanum, a plant native to western Sumatra, which blooms once every seven to 10 years, and only blooms for a 24 to 48 hour stretch, giving off a scent that's been described like that of a rotting carcass to attract the flies and carrion beetles in hopes that they would pollinate it. There have been several blooming in recent years, but the short notice and short bloom time usually means that the only way to view the flower is via the Internet.
     As luck would have it, I'm now working at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and earlier this week they announced that two of their titan arums, named Java and Sumatra, was about to flower! I was able to run over there at lunch time today and stood in line to see (and smell) this rare event!
     The line was not that long, and I was soon walking by the two flowers as people milled back and forth and kids ran by. Both were huge, well over seven feet tall, and while Sumatra was not yet open, Java was in full bloom. The picture here does not do it justice. I'm fan of anything larger-than-life, and these two were impressive.
     The only disappointment was the actual smell. One of the volunteers said that it was not as pungent as expected because the greenhouse was not as warm as the plant would have liked it, but the odor was strong. I think I was disappointed because when I worked in the Produce department, I experienced, at various times, a pile of liquefying potatoes and a bin of rotting watermelons, and both of those smelled worse than the corpse flower.



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