Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Crusader Challenge

It's high time I got around to the First Crusader Challenge.  It seems I made it with days to spare.  I am now required, in 300 words or less, to tell:

· one secret

· one lie

· one interesting quirk

· one annoying habit

· one of your best character traits, and

· one of your favourite things in the whole world.

And I'm supposed to use the words, bloviate, fuliguline, rabbit and blade.  Must find a dictionary...

I'll not lie.  I hate these things.  It's no secret I tend to bloviate and who wants that?  But a challenge is a challenge...

I walk like a duck and recently took action to rectify my fuliguline gait.  There have been some interesting side effects, not the least of which is that my calves have strengthened to those of a much younger man.  I'm not saying I can jump like a rabbit, but I recently took third place in the Seventh Annual Coconut Scramble.  I sprang a third of the way up a thirty-foot tree in a single bound, needing only 12.4 seconds to complete the climb.  My doctor will be quite pleased.  I didn't believe he could cure me without surgery, but so far no blade has touched my feet.  And I need my feet.  Not for walking or anything, although I appreciate mobility.  But I have a rather interesting quirk, which some might call an annoying habit, although I consider loud ice chewing my annoying habit.  My interesting quirk is that I always tap my feet to music.  Not even always good music, which can be a concern, but I can't kill the beat no matter what.  Fortunately my ears work well in concert with my fingers to change the station as soon as a sour note is played.  Since good music is one of my favorite things in the world, it is important all my parts are in working order.  But don't worry, I won't subject you to my singing, for while I think I'm pretty good, I am humble enough to be too insecure to prove it.  You're welcome.

Challenge accepted and met.  Although, I may have revealed something about me that isn’t strictly true, can you guess what it is?  Answers in the next post...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Keeping Frak A Four-Letter Word

Longtime followers may have noticed I tend not to use foul language.  I possess a wide enough vocabulary to get my message across without the need to curse.  I do, however, toss out an F-bomb every now and again.  Sparingly, of course.  But frak!  Sometimes no other word will do.  So it was with great concern I saw this story on CNN, Hollywood fights to end 'fracking.'  Don't bother clicking the link.  It's completely boring.  But I was left wondering...

Is my favorite expletive under assualt?

Thankfully not.  Apparently 'fracking' with a 'c' refers to drilling for natural gas.  Really?  Drilling?  How anyone could misappropriate such a delightful malediction to refer to something with such obvious sexual undertones is beyond me.  That's frakked up.

The letter 'c' notwithstanding, I fear this may be the beginning of a more widespread and sinister attack.  With so much of the world illiterate it is not unthinkable this is a veiled attempt to remove frak from the vernacular of polite society.  If we learned one thing from Battlestar Galactica, it is that all of this has happened before.  All of it will happen again. 

My good friend Jeanne Krause wrote a post about all the things she did as a kid, yet somehow survived.  Things like drinking water from the hose, riding a bike without a helmet, and spending a night in jail because her parents sided with The Law!  You think today's kids have ever done any of that?  Society has taken away anything with just a hint of danger.  Frak has started to appear on mainstream TV as an acceptable alternative to the unsayable.  As a word, it is both harmless and fun.  But I fear this halting of 'fracking' may be the next assault. 

I'm not frakked in the head here.  Hollywood first brought frak to the mainstream.  If they turn against it, where will it lead?  The newspapers?  In schools?  On the playgrounds?

So, my friends, I beseech you.  Don't let them turn frak into a five-letter word.  When you feel the need to curse, instead say frak. You could cause the ripple that turns the tide.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Traveling Meat Salesman

How's that for a title?  This isn't actually about a traveling meat salesman, although he did stop by today.  Sorry.  I'm not terribly interested in buying steak from the back of a pickup truck.  I guided him over to Howard's house.  They like to eat.  A lot.

Anyway, intrigued as you were by the title, stay a moment.  It seems, since joining Rachael Harrie's Writer's Platform Building Crusade (catchy team name, that) I've been meeting some new bloggers to whom I must apologize for my lack of interaction.  It's coming, but you have to be patient with me.  Just ask someone who has been around awhile.

So now I find myself scrolling, quite daunted, through the list of blogs I follow over there on the right.  I'm not one to use google reader or my dashboard very much.  I put everything on the front page so I never have to travel too far.  But it is getting harder to keep track, so I'll be organizing the blogs I follow into categories.  I'm thinking I'll have some favorites.  Keep keeping me interested and you might find yourself at the top of list no one else cares about.

Now I'm starting to think this sounds like a lot of work.  Like writing 6000 words in a day was easy.

Keep stopping by to see if I actually do it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

6084 Words

Not quite the ten thousand I was aiming for, but not too bad.  I don't think I've ever written this much in one sitting.  Twelve hours.  I wrote through lunch.  Took a shower and a dinner break but most importantly, really got to know my characters in ways I hadn't before.  And they did some things I hadn't expected.  Now, it seems we're going on a road trip together, which was not anticipated.  Funny how things work out.  I'm usually a plotter, but it seems my velour pants are working a new kind of magic.

Thanks for your encouragement.  I'll be flying all morning, so I thought I should post an update before bed.  Gotta be up in a few hours.

Good night all!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Tuesday Ten-Thousand

I'm about to attempt something insane.  Due to the glaring inefficiencies of airline crew scheduling, I arrive in Boston tonight around midnight and don't leave until sometime early Wednesday morning.  Boston is a lovely town, with much to do.  But not in the middle of winter.  My sun-bleached bones can't take an all day cold.  But this works to my advantage.  I've long complained about layovers where I feel compelled to get out and do something.  In fact, I've wished for bad weather so I would have a reason to stay inside and write.  Well, 28 hours in New England, in February, seems a good prescription.

Now, I realize this is ridiculous, and I hadn't planned on blogging about this until, and unless, I'd actually done it.  But boasting must be backed up and now that it's out there I feel compelled.  So, tomorrow I plan on writing all day.  My goal: 10,000 words.  Yes, it's silly.  I'm more apt to write 10 words, but what the heck?  If my critique partners are to be believed (although I'm not convinced they are), my writing is far better than even I realize and it is a crime I am still unpublished.  I figure you have to finish something to publish something and 10,000 words is a step in that direction.

Rather than waste a perfectly good day, I will don my finest velour suit (the latest in men's leisure wear), delight in a bottomless mug of hot chocolate, and type until my characters grow tired.

Wish me well.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Joining The Crusade

Don't ask me how I didn't know about Rachael Harrie over at Rach Writes, but I didn't.  See, this is why I don't like making friends.  Too much maintanance to keep up with your friends and all your friends new friends.  But I really do like to make blog friends.  Perhaps it's the absence of awkward pauses.

In that light, I have joined Rachael Harrie's Second Writers' Platform Building Crusade.  This is a fabulous way to build a following and help other writers do the same.  And look, it got me to use the word fabulous in a blog post. (Twice!)  Now, when someone makes it really big, or only has a wee success, we, the Crusaders, can all herald them as the end all be all and then wait around for everyone to do the same for us.

So if you're interested in building your own platform, as well as getting to know lots of new bloggers like yourself, head on over and join the crusade.  But hurry.  It ends tonight at 11:59 EST.

Whew!  Just made it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Howard And The Paper Whacker

The visit from the code police really spurred Howard to clean things up.   The many sheds that had been lying in pieces since September have been reassembled.  In their place lie the many pieces of the children's clubhouse that he says wants to get rid of.  We'll see.  I mentioned stacks of plastic containers along one side of the house.  In those are seven years worth of records from a failed medical billing company.  I'm not exactly sure what his plan was, but apparently the shredder exploded from strain.  Next, he soaked the documents in water.  Perhaps he thought they would disintegrate.  They didn't.  Instead they hardened into blocks. So last night, he tried to shred them with his weed whacker.  Confetti flew like snow all over the yard, but the mighty weed whacker was not up to the task.  It now lies alongside stacks of paper and the remains of the clubhouse.

From one mess to the next.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Howard, The Code Police And The Portugese Nanny

In a delightfully ironic twist, someone has reported Howard's junkyard to the city.  You'll recall that Howard serves on the Homeowners Association Board, while his wife, Moira works in the front office.  This makes complaining about them rather a challenge.  But today, for some inexplicable reason, on the hottest day of the year no less, Howard is mowing his lawn for the first time since November.  Keep in mind that in Florida grass grows year round.  Howard's lawn is quite high.  Therefore, the motor on the lawn mower conks out every few feet.  With a strong urge to get in a few quips, I went outside to remind him that if he didn't wait four months between mowing, it might be easier.

At this, he rushed to the fence, out of breath, demanding to know if I'd called code enforcement to report them.  Despite my undying desire to have done just that, I had not.  It goes against my nature as a conflict avoider.  I was, however, quite pleased to learn someone had called.  After all, the weedy yard is only the start.  Add the stolen golf cart, now parked in between our houses, discarded furniture, bar room neon signs, televisions, refrigerators and the (thank God it's never been used) hot tub, all on the back porch, not to mention stacks of plastic containers on the other side of the house, there is plenty to complain about. 

Who complained doesn't really matter.  I am in their debt.  But while talking to Howard and Moira (clad in her Bret Michaels headband) a few suspicions were confirmed.  Mrs. Sarcasm and I had joked that they had simply stopped caring and were waiting for the bank to take the house.  In fact, Howard informed us this was under serious consideration and until he decided saw no sense in upkeep. 

Then Mrs. Sarcasm announced her pregnancy.  I can't explain how, but that turned the conversation to their one-year-old son, Eddie.  Thus, our second confirmed suspicion must serve as a warning to parents everywhere considering day care.  One-year-old Eddie is as fluent in Portugese as a one-year-old can be.  He speaks almost no English.  In fact, they had to get an interpreter over one day just to communicate with the kid.

Having a bilingual child, especially in South Florida, is nothing but a positive.  However, I hold out little hope the boy will learn English anytime soon, not from his parents anyway.  That would require the same kind of initiative needed to put away the deflated bounce house in the backyard, rather than mow around it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life - For Someone Else

It's certainly no longer Christmas time, although you might think so if you peered in my next door neighbor, Howard's, front window at his still standing tree.  Don't act so surprised.  After all, he's never cleaned the house.  He doesn't walk the dog or the children.  The weeds are so high the swing set is completely camouflaged and he now possesses a junk yard to rival Sanford and Son.  The only thing surprising is that he actually found the motivation to put a Christmas tree up in the first place.  Personally, I'm hoping it stays up all year.

Apparently Howard is not the only one with the holidays still on their mind.  Today's post brought a not-so-much-Christmas-or-even-New Year's-but-an-end-of-January letter.  So be it.  At least they made the effort.

These holiday letters are always chock full of every wonderful event throughout the year, leading the reader to envy the blessed lives of the letter writers.  Just once I'd like to see an honest letter, pointing out not just the mundane; ie. fifty trips to the grocery store; a couple of dentist appointments; lots of lawn mowing, raking, weeding, but also the really, really horrible things that happen throughout the year.  Things like bad break-ups, health scares, job losses, dead pets and worse.  I wrote one a few years ago, but never sent it.  Sometimes I wish I had.

Bad things happen.  I want to hear about that more than how CJ threw two touchdown passes in just one game! JUST ONE GAME!

But these letter writers need a reason to use far more than their share of exclamation points!!!  I laughed aloud, when, on page 2! of the single spaced letter, the writer pointed out that she is looking for a job as an editorial consultant.

Now, I suppose I don't have much to complain about these days, as my last post proves, but my loyal followers expect a certain voice .  So allow me to point out just what a horrible mother this particular letter writer is.  Punctuation and grammar are all her.

  • Referencing the aforementioned, multi-talented CJ, she writes:
I look forward to seeing what he can do next year, but he's not sure if he wants to run cross country or do football.  I'm torn.  I don't like watching people run; it's really boring and guys are always throwing up at the finish line (I can't handle that, so I don't go to any meets).
  • About her daughter, also, apparently, a runner:
Virginia ran again this year.  She is not very fast.
Way to support the kids, Mama!
  • It looks like she is disappointed in her husband's lack of career progression too.
Clayton is still teaching 2nd grade (he probably will be for life!)
At least Clayton has a job.  And I'm guessing his second graders have a mastery of grammar yet to be demonstrated in this letter.
  • Lest you worry life is without thorns, take heart.  About the kids, she writes:
They really do have their own little issues.
So cryptic, and also so revealing.  I wonder if one of their issues is a mother who tells all their problems to the world.

Of course, there's plenty of religious nonsense throughout, but hey! this is shaping up to be the horrible letter I was hoping for.  Maybe this year CJ will break his throwing arm.  Or Virginia will suffer an asthma attack on the race course.  What if Clayton gets demoted to 1st grade?

Suddenly I can't wait til Christmas.  If you don't hear from me it's because I'm staring into Howard's window, dreaming of miserable times to come.