Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Library Frustration

What is it about old books that fosters the weird in both used bookstore owners and librarians?  It seems these places are a haven for the socially awkward.  And the power trip -- oh boy!

"I've got a couple of books on hold," I said, presenting my library card to a man so thin he must have been steam cleaned while clothed, subsequently hung out to dry, and then blown off the line only to land on his librarian stool.

"Did you get a call?" he shouted, from behind a steel bookshelf.

"A couple of days ago."

There was some mad shuffling.  His shaking hands flew above the shelf and then smacked at his sides.

"Howe," he said.  "We got anything for MC Howe?"

"Right here," said another one, wearing baggy pajama pants and a squared off afro, circa 1992.  He waved the books at me as he brought them over.  "It was more than a couple days."

"It was Wednesday," I said.

"You only get five days," he glared

"Okay," I said.  "You called Wednesday.  Thursday was Thanksgiving.  You were closed on Friday."

"We was open Saturday."

"I was out of town."


"I'm here today.  Are those my books in your hand?"

"They might well have been shipped off."

"I suppose, but it seems they weren't."

"Cause you were lucky. You only get five days."

"So I've heard.  I'm blessing my stars.  Can I have my books?"

And now I don't even want to read them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Joe Gets Married

My friend Col. Joe is getting married.  Whether that is a good idea will play out later.  Joe is something of a stickler for details having retired after a 30 year Air Force career, during which he worked with Colin Powell on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  As you might imagine, The Colonel's wedding has been planned with military precision.  My favorite parts are in red, with my comments in blue.

0930 FRONT DOOR                            -SAME, JENNIFER,SCOTT,JEFF                       
1030 ESCORT ARRIVEES                    -JOHN, TOM, JIMMY,MIKE
1030 SET UP MUSIC                           -RODNEY, TRAVIS, PASTOR, ZYNKO
The wedding is at Disney World.  Joe promised the grandkids will be dressed as the seven dwarfs
1055 PLAY MUSIC                                           -NICK ZYNKO
1100 WALK DOWN THE AISLE                     - LUCY, JOE, JIMMY,MIKE
1100 RINGBEARERS                           -JACOB,JUSTIN,JACK,JOSHUA
1100 FLOWERGIRLS                           -CHLOE,MAYA,CLAIRE     
Quick ceremony.   Joe doesn't fool around.
1120 PLAY MUSIC                               -RODNEY       
 1200PLAY CHRIS BROWN SONG               -RODNEY
WALK KIDS DOWN                             -TRACY, MELISSA, TIFFANY, CHERIE, ANN,                             TONYA
1215 BRIDE ENTERS                          -SHERRY/NJ, TRACY
1215 GUEST REGISTER                                  -SHERRY/NJ                                                   
1230 EVERYONE EATS                                    -JOHN/RODNEY ANNOUNCE
Eat fast.  The next 15 minutes are action packed.
1230 PARENTS TOAST                                    -JIMMY
1245 BEST MAN’S TOAST                  -TOM  
1235 JOE’S TOAST                                                                             
1240 TRACY/MIKE, JOHN SPEAK                                                                                          
1245 FIRST DANCE                             -JOE, LUCY, RODNEY
1245 TABLE WALK                                        -JOE, TOM, NICK, JOHN, JIMMY,JENNIFER  
Apparently Rodney, who I believe is the DJ, will take over dancing with Lucy, since Joe is scheduled for the table walk during the first dance.   
1300 KIDS GAMES                                         -TRACY, MEL, TIF, CHERIE, ANN,TONYA
1345 CUT THE CAKE                           -JOE/LUCY
1350 THANKS TO ALL                         -JOE/LUCY
Hope you enjoyed your 5 minute cake.  Wedding's over.
Let's hope those bridal gummies don't distract the kids.  They've only got one minute to assemble for bubbles.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey And Training Day

Where have I been?  Nowhere special.  I just haven't had much to blog about.  This week being Thanksgiving, I suppose I should be grateful I won't be spending it alone in some generic hotel in some generic city.  However, the reason I am not is that my annual recurrent training falls on Thanksgiving day.  In a 24 hour, 365 days a year industry there are no holidays. 

So while I've been studying my arse off in hopes of keeping my job, I haven't done any writing in the past month.  And the research I need to invest in querying is too daunting right now.  Come Friday afternoon all should return to normal, assuming I don't spiral down in a terrific crash of career threatening proportions.

Although that would leave me with more time to write.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Used Bookstore

To make room for our Korean, we spent the weekend clearing out closets and emptying bookshelves, ending up with dozens upon dozens of books.  So, I headed to the used bookstore for an encounter with what must have been the inspiration for The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy.

"Do you buy books?" I asked, thinking it was a stupid question.  After all, where else would they get their inventory?

"Well we don't really buy books," he said, looking up at me, while tilting his head down.

What followed was a ten minute explanation of the bookstore's purchase for credit program, wherein the seller of said books may offer their goods for store credit, equal in value to no less than half the store price of a previously owned and pre-read book, so long as the previously owned book is sold at a 50% discount on the original cover price, and credit cannot be combined for multiple purchases.

"Um, okay," I said, my head spinning.  "I've got some books for you."

"We're not taking any books."

"What?" I said, while the store's credit policy repeated on a loop in my head.

"We're well stocked.  And we're not doing all that well."

"Why didn't you say that when I first came in here?"

He groaned.  "It's our policy."

"So you don't want any of my books?"

He sighed.  Irritation dripped from his pointy beard.  "What have you got?"

"I've got fiction, non-fiction, hardcover, paperback.  You name it.  I've got it all."

"What?  A box?  Two?"


"Well, you can bring in A box.  I'll look through it."

This didn't seem promising, but I'd come all this way.  I was walking out of there with some store credit, so I picked the best looking box of the bunch, certain that when he saw what I had, he'd demand all the rest.  He ran his hand over the lot pretty quickly, setting aside a Spanish-English dictionary and one other small paperback.  Taking the two books over to his computer he spend the next several minutes staring at the screen, while I waited patiently.  Then, he started staring at me, with haughty eyes.  Was he waiting for me to say something?  To ask for help?  Had he forgotten I was the one he was waiting for?  I stared straight back.

Perhaps a mistake.

"I can offer you credit on these two books," he announced.

Only two?!  Out of the dozens I had carefully packaged and transported.

TWO?  For a measly half-credit on the store reduced price of 50% off the original cover price but limited to a cash only purchase not to be combined so I still have to shell out money from my own pocket?

"I mean," he offered.  "If you want I can look through your other boxes.  This didn't take long."

I mulled it over for about half a second and started nodding.

"Tell you what," I said.  "Give me my two books back."

He shrugged and handed them over.  I donated all my books to the local library, to be enjoyed by the masses free of charge.  And I get a lovely tax credit.

Not surprised the used bookstore isn't doing so well.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Advice You Can Trust?

I'm not terribly electrically minded, but I did a bit of re-wiring today. Since I know just enough to let go after it starts tingling, I turned to a reliable source for tips - the Internet, of course. I actually found what seemed like rather sage advice, citing Amps and volts and mathematical equations I had no idea lived in the world of electrical schematics.

It was a very helpful forum, answering some seriously technical questions. And then came the following:

"to get the most productivity out of your grow room..."

Yep. I had stumbled onto a marijuana forum, leaving me to wonder if this was advice worth taking. But I figured this dude likely spent a while pondering this wiring dilemma. So, what the heck? He sounded like a pro. I'll know for sure if my house turns up on those heat sensing devices used to find grow houses.

Maybe that's how I'll end up with a book deal. Infamy seems to be the key. Do something stupid, illegal, give birth to sextuplets, etc...

The good news is yesterday's fortune cookie promised fame and fortune are coming my way. The bad news is I don't believe in superstition. I mean, I not dumb enough to throw the thing away. Then it wouldn't come true. Instead I locked it in my safe. Just in case there's an electrical fire, which there has not been yet, knock on wood.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Am Froggered

When dazed seems inadequate, and confused just won't do; when stunned is off the radar and you find yourself in that place that lies beyond the other side of sense, where the world rushes past at light speed and you shrink down to a singularity, surrounded by a protective, mind-numbing haze that consists of a single question on an endless loop - WTF? - you need a new word.

That word is froggered

Remember the 80s video game where you had to maneuver a frog across a busy street and then over a rushing river, fraught with danger in the form of alligators, snakes and other frog squashing things? Each level got progressively harder. The cars whizzed by faster. The river sped up. As you got deeper into the game, the chances of frogger successfully reaching his destination grew slimmer. Eventually, SPLAT!

Still, mere mortals could get pretty far before becoming road kill. But then, there was another level, one of such ludicrous speed the programmers were the only ones to attempt it, and then, only as a joke. They knew that to include this level in the game would only cause the players to smash the cartridge with a hammer, lest they believe they were actually expected to attempt such inanity.

And so, the word froggered must enter our vocabulary, for I have reached such a place and no existing words cover it. Somehow, I beat the game without realizing I was even playing.

It should not have happened. It could not have happened. And yet it has.

I'm sorry I can't say more.

Please don't ask.

I am much too froggered.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Matt's Final Post

No, I'm not closing the blog, but like Clark Kent wearing glasses, I'm taking on an alter-ego.  I've been thinking about this for a while and couldn't really come up with a reason not to do this now.  In fact, I've just sent my first query as my other self, so now it seems urgent.

Here's the deal:

Publishing is a tough business to break into.  While ultimately it will be my writing that fails or succeeds, I don't need any additional obstacles in my way.  Someone once said, "to make it as a writer you've got to take what someone else did successfully and copy it."  Well, someone once thought she might have an easier time if people didn't know she was a woman, so she used her initials and fooled the whole world hundreds of millions of times over.

Okay.  I'll try that.

From what I can tell, without any scientific research, it's now more of a challenge for men to get published than women.  So, rather than announcing that I am a man, although, I am announcing it here, I'm adopting a pen name, which seemed like a good idea anyway, since my last name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  Besides, I've written some not so flattering things about real people.  Best to stay incognito.  So, taking my initials, and my wife's maiden name, allow me to introduce myself.

Hello.  My name is MC Howe.  I wrote a middle grade adventure about pirates.  I'm working on a ghost story, a YA zombie teen angst novel, and someday I'll get back to the teacher who falls in love with a nun.

Now I have to fix that damn banner at the top of the page.