Monday, June 29, 2009

Humor Will Get You Through Anything

Warning: this post may be a little too gross for you to read while eating, so don't read it while eating.

Any of you remember reading my comment in my 6/27 post about an unexpected something popping up and I would mention something about it later? Well, this is later.

My sense of humor never ceases to amaze me.

I'll let you in on a little secret: Over the years, my sense of humor, as warped as it is, has sometimes popped up in the most peculiar situations. Usually, but not always, it pops up after a particularly intense or difficult event involving myself or my family, friends and co-workers.

This past Friday, it reared its ugly head. About 6a, while I was going through my morning routine of eating breakfast and checking out all things computer related, I had an incredibly sharp pain rip across my lower back and take my breath away.

Naturally, I stopped what I was doing and made an attempt to take care of it by tripping upstairs to use the facilities. About five minutes later, it went away without any further problem and no action on my part, so I went back downstairs to continue with my morning routine. A couple of minutes later, same thing, this time more intense.

Back upstairs I went. This time though, I wound up saluting the porcelain gods. Within the span of ten minutes, I was on the couch writhing in pain and having the wife call 911. Off to the hospital I went, still writing in pain and saluting the porcelain gods, not to mention blowing an IV line (#1).

After a relatively pleasant trip through the city, I arrived at the hospital, still writhing in pain and saluting the porcelain gods. After spending about ten minutes or going through triage and slowly losing what lucidity I had for the morning (no drugs yet), I was brought over to a room, politely shifted over to a bed and waited for the nurse to come in and do her thang.

A little while later the nurse came in and set about getting me hooked up with an IV. After telling her that she might have a problem in finding a usable vein, she said that wouldn't be a problem (#2). Guess what boys and girls, it was a problem. Right after the latest attack of pain doubled me over in the bed and caused reverse digestion, I blew out the line in nothing flat, soaking the bed with all kinds of nifty meds.

Making light of the situation (and me apologizing for blowing the line), she went about trying to find a usable vein in the other arm (#3). This time she succeeded in getting me hooked up. After using about a mile of tape to keep it in, I wound up going through a battery of tests to determine what was wrong with me.

After a couple of hours, during which we had a few more episodes of tripling over in pain (was given a liquid dose of morphine to kill the pain) and turning my stomach inside out, it was finally determined that I was suffering through a kidney stone attack. Finally, the pain did subside enough (not because of the morphine, a good pain killer but it left me incredibly restless and semi-wasted for the rest of the day) to the point where I could be discharged and go home.

Throughout it all, even though I was in enough pain that I should of been dropping F bombs on ever single person within earshot, I managed to maintain my sense of humor. Even when a strange lady came walking into my room carrying her IV bag and used the bathroom, I still maintained my sense of humor. In that instance, I simply raised my eyebrow and looked at my wife. I was even able to make a crack about Dunkin' Donuts coffee while I was riding on the elevator to have CAT scan done.

If you have any sense of humor, chances are it will rear its ugly head when you least expect it, but in the end, it will always be appreciated. Especially if you spend 3 1/2 hours in the emergency room, and especially if you were forced to watch very bad morning talk shows while spending those 3 1/2 hours in the emergency room (can someone explain to me why morning talk shows are still wallowing in the trailer park trash fifteen years after trailer park trash was so not with it?).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Writers Are Creatures Of Habit

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for putting up with the writing tangent that this blog decided to explore for the month of June. Believe it or not, when I created this blog back in May '08, one of the topics I wanted to explore was writing. A good portion of that year was spent exploring the various writing issues as they pertained to myself.

Some where in the fall of '08, I did drift away from that particular tangent and went off on other interesting issues (like music and work, both of which I will get back to again in the coming weeks). But since mid-May, I decided to concentrate a little more on writing, and as you saw for the month, I think I did that pretty well. A few book reviews, some exploration of how I write, what I write and why I write what I write, were some of the topics that peppered the landscape this month.

I would like to close out this month of focusing on writing, by talking a little bit about how writers are creatures of habit. Through out the month of June, I was able to gain some valuable insight on how writers tick, courtesy of both the writers who commented on my blog and from the blogs themselves. A lot of it was downright fascinating, if not completely original. And with some of it, I was surprised to see a little of it in me.

Habits.

We're all creatures of habit when it comes to writing. Some of us can write multiple things at the same time. Some of us prefer to work on one project at a time. Some of us can only write with peace and quiet. Others have the ability to tune out the chaos and write when the shit literally hits the fan.

With me, I do share some of those traits, and yet I also have a few that I don't share (at least to my knowledge) with anyone else.

F'r instance: Like most people, I do need peace and quiet to write; I love being able to work on multiple projects at the same time (to whit, two blogs and three stories going at the same time); I'm very uncomfortable at having people look over my shoulder when I write; I do care about what I write for public consumption; and finally, I've learned the value of patience when it comes to explaining why I began writing in the first place.

The one trait that I do have, that I haven't really seen elsewhere, except maybe for Joanne at Whole Latte Life, is that I write out about 95% of my stuff by hand first, before sticking it on a Word document.There are a myriad of reasons why, and I would like to share a few of them with you.

1} It's easy. I know that most of you find value of doing on the laptop, no matter how big or how small (a nod to both David Cranmer and Jewel from Pink Ink in explaining the preference for a mini-notebook), but I find it's much easier to grab a notebook and a pen, and go off on a walk or a drive, to one my many favorite places to write.

2} Concentration. I don't know about you, but I find it's much easier to concentrate when I'm handwriting versus doing it all on a computer. On a computer, its ridiculously easy to go off on a tangent, only to discover what you wrote doesn't quite fit with the rest of the story or forget to save something that you spent an hour writing (which I've done numerous times. one of my more infamous moments came when I was writing my first book. I wrote three pages worth of a scene, only to forget to save it at the end. Presto, no document). Handwriting forces you to pay attention to what you write. The new story I started is exclusively handwritten, so I find it necessary (and enjoyable), going back to what I previously wrote, in order to have what I'm about to write make sense.

3} Necessity. This one is a little depressing to explain. For those of you who may or may not know, I was diagnosed in January 2008 with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. It's a neuro-muscular disease that is progressive and has no known cure. God in his infinite wisdom has decided to have this insidious disease take hold of my hands and eventually turn them into useless appendages. For the most part, it has been a downward cycle of grief. I won't go into the minute detail on how this has F'd up my life, but I will say that I now find it easier to write with a pen (after modifying my grip and holding it like a five year old) than to write with a laptop. While my handwriting has dwindled down to simply being able to sign my name, my printing has actually gotten clearer and better. I do know that using voice recognition software is in the future for me, but until then, I will keep writing my stuff out, be it short stories or blog post ideas, by hand.

4} New topics to explore. Now I don't know about you, but with pen and paper, I somehow transform into someone whose writing is a little more adventurous. Before, when I used to sit down in front of my computer and write, the writing somehow didn't seem "right". Like it was being forced or something. But now, I when I sit with pen in hand and paper on lap, things just go better. I seem to be able to explore particular topics that before I wouldn't even give the time of day previously (i.e. drug abuse as it's portrayed in my short story Syringe, or performance art as it's portrayed in my story Audio Dynamyte).

So, to sum it up, handwriting my stories is my preference of choice and my one hidden trait. I enjoy writing things out by hand, because I find that is truly the one way that I can really dig deep into myself and bring out the very best in me and my writing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Radio Dead

Bob opened the tent flap and stepped out into the compound. Inhaling the cold, crisp country air, he took out his pipe and stuffed it full of 'tobacco' until it was overflowing. Digging out a match from his shirt pocket, he lit it and took a couple of deep drags from it.

He then grabbed his rifle and started on the one mile walk to the edge of the compound. Once there, he would relieve the current sentry on duty and then spend the next several hours becoming one with Mother Nature.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Click here for the full story and to leave a comment.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review: "Wings Over Talera" by Charles Gramlich

The last of the book reviews this month will cover the second volume of "The Talera Cycle", called Wings Over Talera. I actually finished this volume back in early May, but due to the invasion of all things related to writing and the real world, it's only now that I've been able to find the time and actually sit down to do a decent review. As they say, better late than never.

The story continues from where the first volume left off at. The main character, Ruenn MacLang, returns to Earth and spends a couple of months to take care of some unfinished business. Once done, he returns back to Talera and quickly finds himself in the center of court intrigue. Extricating himself from the situation, he re-embarks on his journey to find his missing brother. Fraught with danger, excitement and adventure, the journey does come to a satisfactory conclusion (or does it?) for most parties involved.

The above paragraph was the best I could do without really giving everyone a detailed synopsis/opinion of the book, and thus depriving you, the potential reader, the joy of experiencing this book for yourself. What I will do though, is to try to give everyone the impressions that I got after I read this book.

So, without further ado, here goes nothing. Oh, and if you want to read what my impressions were on the first volume, please click here.

Like the first volume, this one was a quick read as well. The page count/amount of chapters was roughly the same (sorry, I'm doing this all from memory today). And like the first volume, it took me about the same amount of time to read it from cover to cover.

This one also grabbed me from the get go. No, scratch that. Once I got past the prologue, which basically was talking to the narrator to briefly bring everyone up to speed, it got me from the from first page of chapter 1. The action was intense and the plotting/pacing was fantastic. Whereas with the last volume, there was a small chance of me skipping one or two pages to get the meatier parts, there was no way I was going to do that with this one. The risk of doing that would of been missing a key part of the story, and thus reading the rest of the book as a bit lost.

While there was a lot of footnoting in the first one (but done in a way that didn't detract one iota from the story), there was a bare minimum applied with this one. The footnoting that was done, was mostly as a referral to the first volume, which was once again due to the fact that Charles treated the reader like he would wanted to be treated if he was reading a particular book. Personally, I think its great if you can write without talking down or treating the reader like a toddler who needs his/her hand held.

Lastly, the way he ended the book left me wanting more. I haven't had the chance to delve into the last volume yet, and with the way work is going, it may take me most of the summer to do it. While he did an excellent job of concluding most of the journey he started in the first one, he left just enough of a seed at the end to make me look forward to reading the third and final installment of the series.

Overall, this book is an excellent follow up to the first, and I highly recommend this one as well. With the way the economy is today, you want to get the most bang for your buck, and this book delivers just that, and more.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

50 Random ?'s: #26-50

Continuation of a meme from a couple of weeks ago called "50 Random ?'s".

Click here for #1-25.

26} What is your secret weapon to lure the opposite sex?: Hmmm.....I'm married, therefore, my secret weapon is that I'm forbidden fruit.

27} What are your plans for tonight?: Not sure, but will be recovering in some particular way from dealing with dolts all day at work.

28} Who is the last person to send you a My Space comment or message?: I don't do MySpace. I have enough problems doing this blog, that blog, Facebook and Chat Rooms, in that order.

29} Next trip you're going to take.: Not a clue. Body is too broken down with this malady and that malady to do anything like traveling.

30} Ever go to camp?: Yes. Next question.

31} Were you an honor student in school?: Excuse me? I'll have you know that I was Peppermint Patty's role model.

32} What do you want to know about the future?: Will I be a functioning cripple in five years? Or will I be needing 24/7 /365 care for the rest of my life?

33} Are you wearing perfume or cologne?: Allergic. But I like the smell of either only when it's used properly.

34} Are you due sometime this year for a doctor's visit?: See the links in #29 for answers.

35} Where is your best friend(s)?: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana and Texas.

36} How is your best friend(s)?: Doing fine.

37} Do you have a tan?: Only on my left forearm which perpetually hangs outside the care door. However, I do have a lovely sunburn that encompasses my head.

38} What are you listening to right now?: Incidental music from a video game.

39} Do you collect anything?: Useless factoids about the world around me. Seriously, I collect acquaintances, friends, enemies and trolls. In that order.

40} Who is the biggest gossiper you know?: My daughter. In all seriousness, gossip at my job keeps me employed.

41} Last time you were stopped by a cop or pulled over? June of 2008 when the local constabulary questioned me as to why I was hanging out at the park (my daughter was playing there, thus I was doing daycare).

42} Have you ever drank your soda from a straw?: See #29.

43} What does your last text message say?: Yeah (seriously).

44} Do you like hot sauce?: Yes indeedy doody. The hotter, the better. Faves include anything made by this company and that company.

45} Last time you took a shower? This morning.

46} Do you need to do laundry?: Not until next week.

47} What is your heritage?: Italian, German and English.

48} Are you someone's best friend?: See #35.

49} Are you rich? Only with people.

50} What were you doing at 12a.m. last night? Crawling into bed. By myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To all you dads, married or single, and to all you moms who are single, I wish you a Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Review: "Soldier's Farewell' by Johnny D. Boggs

Today's book review will be about a western, something which I've read with great infrequency (which I do apologize for). The main reason for such infrequency is that my library carries titles that really don't appeal to me. I read the synopsis, furrow my brow, return the book to the shelf and continue on my merry way. I seem to have that problem with most fiction nowadays, but I digress.

Anyways, about a month ago, I found a couple of westerns that appealed to me. Part of the reason that they appealed to me was that they were from this year and the synopsis for both were intriguing. The other reason was that they were both skinny volumes, thus they were going to be quick reads. I like my books to be quick reads. The only exceptions I will make to that rule is that the book must be either non-fiction or historical fiction, both of which contain an ungodly amount of pages.

Not so coincidentally, both volumes were written by the same writer, Johnny D. Boggs. I'm one of those rare people who doesn't give much weight to writing awards/accolades that a particular writer might get in his/her chosen genre. It just doesn't do it for me, because there's been quite a few times that I picked up a book due to the accolades that a writer had gotten, only to be disappointed by the content of the book. So when I read his very short bio contained within, and saw that he won a few prestigious awards, I thought, "Okay, his peers say that he's a very good writer. Let's see if he impresses me."

Yeah, I know, cynical. Prolonged exposure to tabloid fodder will do that to a person.

Anyways, the story takes place during the run up to the Civil War, in a godforsaken place called Soldier's Farewell, somewhere in New Mexico Territory. Most of the action is contained at the stagecoach station located in Soldier's Farewell.

Mr. Boggs does a good job of presenting the story as an excellent microcosm of the split family loyalties that were a direct result of the Civil War. For those who don't know much of American History beyond what you read in crappy textbooks, one of the unintentional side effects of the Civil War was that some family's loyalties laid with the North and some laid with the South. With the North, it wasn't so much as freeing the slaves, as it was more preserving the Union, no matter what. By the same token, with the South, it was more about doing with state's rights than it had to do with freeing the slaves (yes my good friends, the Civil War had absolutely nothing to do with freeing the slaves. As a matter of fact, Lincoln freeing the slaves was done more as a military/economic strategy than anything else. Lincoln was truly a man of his times, as like everyone else, he had a low opinion of blacks).

The way he presents it, is through the eyes of one of the participants, a youngster named Smith Munro, who writes about it in a diary. Yes, the entire story is done in a diary format, so each section is done in that particular format, and you read it much the same way like you would read any other typical journal. He does a very good job of banging out the story in that format, because it's presented to the reader like casual conversation.

My attention was kept throughout the entire book, and I finished it in about three days. I found it to be for the most part, a very good read. I think the only part that really dragged (at least in my eyes) was the ending. Or at the very least, getting to the ending, because he manages to consolidate the last three years to about seven pages and the actual ending to about six. But that's probably just nitpicking on my part.

In any event, for a western, it's a pretty good read and I highly recommend it to those who like the western genre. If you don't like the western genre, it's still a good read.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Super Duper Briefly Brief Interruption Of Your Regularly Unscheduled Reading

I'm back.
`

Or rather, my notebook is back. Two weeks later, and $317.71 poorer, I am whole again. No longer will my writing cease to be something in the past tense, or simply confined to a mere piece of paper.
`

No sir, I am back in the saddle again. If you don't believe me, just check out how I spent the past two weeks when I wasn't writing:

And this is how I spent my time when I tried to do some writing on the household computer:


No sirree Bob, you won't find this blog going for cheap laughs like this. We'uns a serious blog. Have a good evening and a great tomorrow.

The Valley

The mare ran hard through the rain swept valley. Her chestnut brown coat glistened in the bright mid-afternoon sun as the remnants of the morning shower trailed behind her like a natural burnout.

Her mane and tail flapped in the breeze as she crossed the overflowing brooks and streams with ease. She dodged the low hanging branches and skirted around the large anthills that populated the valley.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Click here for the full story and to leave a comment.

G's Adventures? Now! (2)

Part 1.

When we last left our intrepid hero, he was getting ready to ship his manuscript out. After writing a nifty dedication and acknowledgement page (again), he got down to work filling in the Submission Information Form, which is supposedly designed to help streamline the process of self-publishing.

So our intrepid hero sat his big fat ass down in front of the household computer and gots to commencing in filling out the form.

After filling in the following items in nothing flat: Book ID#, Author ID#, the pen name (Georgie B), the new title (Betrayed!), the size of the book, the classification (Fiction/General, Fiction/Erotica, and Fiction/Romance/General), he got immediately stuck on the next two items: About the Author and About the Book.

The "About the Author" for his first book, our hero found to be quite dry, dull and not to his liking. So he decided to pep it up for the next book. He managed, in exactly 205 words, his experiences writing in the chat rooms, writing two different blogs and explaining the content of the two blogs and what he currently does for a living

Serious note: if you're not sure if you can write flash and sub-flash fiction, please give the chat rooms a try. Because of the 750 word/4,000 character limit, it is an excellent training ground as it forces you to learn how to write a story with a beginning, a middle and an end within that word limit.

That took him about a half hour to create. The next item that our hero had to come up with (and for those of you who have done the query route in order to land an agent or publisher will completely sympathize with me on this) a short blurb describing what the book is about, in under 300 words.

Now one of the things that our hero cannot do well under normal circumstances (in all seriousness), let alone with a deadline, is write a brief synopsis on what the book/story is about. But, if he wanted to do things right and wanted to get a move on with things, he had to write that blurb.

So our hero wrote that blurb. In its entirety, here is that blurb.

Theirs was a doomed relationship that even a marriage couldn't fix. Ray was the antithesis of a hairdresser, Handsome, muscular, and a natural flirt, he was the solution to every woman's fantasies. Gwendolyn was a passionate young woman with a temper that ran as dark as her complexion. Desirable to both sexes, she was determined to find love, no matter what the consequences. Who would be first to betray their marital vows? Ray, who although enlightened about the world around him, still had those old fashioned values that made him a hot commodity. Gwendolyn, vivacious and passionate, had the looks and the body that could destroy anyone that got in her way of her ultimate goal. To be unconditionally loved. Can that particular end really justify the means?

Once he go that done, the next step was picking out a cover image. He thought, "well, how hard can this be?" Pretty much, it was damn well hard, and in the end, a waste of time.

Hard, as in it took our intrepid hero five hours spread out over two days to find the right pic (which was a man and a woman in an arduous embrace, with the woman looking at her cell phone at the same time). Infuriating, as in after submitting the form and manuscript, our hero was told "oh no, that wasn't part of our subscription plan to the website in question.' (serious note: I was pretty much pissed off about this and I let my contact person know in no uncertain terms what I thought about it. Not sure how bad this will ultimately poison the process, though)

So our hero got all of his stuff done and e-mailed it out. He did get a response, which you just read in the preceding paragraph, and responded to that the same day.

Our hero now is playing.....the.....slow.....waiting.....game.....as he sits and impatiently waits for the next phase of the process to commence: Setting up a call with the design team to plot out how the interior (palatino linotype) will look and how the cover will look (got a few ideas about that as well. no pic, but color and text).

Tune in next time, when you'll hear our intrepid hero say, "What do you mean I can't do that on television?"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Once Upon A Time, I Was Popular

June is the month of love, the month of marriage, the month of when young men's fancies turn to women, beer, food, sports, the great outdoors, more women, etc., etc., etc.

June is also the month of me getting tagged with meme's.

David Cranmer, in his infinite wisdom (or for his wicked sense of humor in that he wants to see me squirm a little bit while doing this), tagged with me with what I consider to be an ultra rare meme. Ultra rare in the sense that I actually get this at work periodically from my friends.

So, since I consider David (doesn't seem right to call him Dave) an all around good egg, I decided to take him up on his offer. The official title of this meme is called Four Play, but the unofficial title will be How much is G telling the truth and how bad is G pulling your leg?

Four Movies That You Can See Over and Over:

Casino
Limey
Tender Mercies
Saving Grace

Four Places You Have Lived

Connecticut (Hartford County: house)
Connecticut (Hartford County: apartment)
Connecticut (Hartford County: trailer home)
Connecticut (Hartford County: house)

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch

America Undercover
The Deadliest Catch
Dexter (just started getting into this)
Deep Space Nine

Four Places You Have Been On A Vacation

Indianapolis
Harrisburg
Newington
Columbus

Four Of Your Favorite Foods

Deviled Eggs
Gnocchi's
Fried Bologna
Chili

Four Websites You Visit Daily

Are you serious? Four? Like I'm gonna narrow down a list of 45 blogs, an e-zine and ten other general purpose websites, just to satisfy this question. How 'bout this instead: Four regions that contain my very favorite websites/blogs.

The Southwest, The South, The Midwest and The East Coast.

Four Places You Would Rather Be

circa 1993 visiting with my grandmother
circa 1984 visiting with my grandfather
circa 2001 visiting with my father
Driving US 6 coast to coast

Four Things You Hope To Do Before You Die

Commercially publish something (anything for that matter) I wrote
Leave such a lasting imprint on people that when I die, no matter where they are, they'll say, "He really was a good old boy."
Grow my hair. Or color my mustache.
I want to be still mobile and not, repeat, not stuck in a wheelchair due to my body breaking down

Four Novels You Wish You Were Reading For The First Time

Congratulations David, you found a way to make me squirm. Gonna tweak this a little bit (hammer, hammer, saw, saw, nail, nail). There, all finished.

One Novel You Hope To Read In Perpetuity And Three Others That You Don't

Anything by David Cranmer

My unfinished novel sitting on my music cabinet (if it ever sees the light of day, God help us all)
Anything by Madonna
Anything by L. Ron Hubbard (for a dead guy, his stuff is remarkably bad)

Four People You Believe Will Respond

I don't tag. But if you wish to give a shot, please feel free to do so and to give credit where credit is due.

Update 6/16: My computer came back from the manufacturer and is back to operational functionality. Broken connectors and chips, it should be back in my hands sometime tomorrow.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Review: "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland"

At least I think that's the correct word order.

This will be the first of three book reviews, of which this one will be the only review (sort of) of a book that is only half read.

"G, not to point out the incredibly obvious, but didn't you READ this when you were just a lad?"

Good question. My good people, let me introduce to you one of the few people who have never read the book or seen the movie during his lifetime. I know most of the pop culture references associated with the book/movie, know useless drivel about Lewis Carroll (rumor has it he was infatuated with children) and Alice (based on a real person). I now completely understand the video "Don't Come 'Round Here No More." by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (the cameo of Dave Stewart playing the caterpillar smoking the hookah is priceless), and I even know where to get my hands on the X-rated non-cartoon version of said movie (please don't ask me to explain this one, simply Google it for yourself).

So, this review will be done in an Q & A style, since the book is only half read, but the story is very well known to me (as to all of you). We begin at the beginning.

1} Why are you reading this in the first place? Because I haven't started on volume 3 of The Swords of Talera yet. I finished #2 some time ago, but I wanted to write a review of that one first before delving into the next one. And since writing at work is, due to serious time sensitivity/labor sensitivity issues, not a safe thing to pursue, this was the next best thing to do.

2} Where did you get this copy from? Well, I have this tiny pocket version that I originally bought for my son back in '94, with the intent of reading it to him, with the vain hope of him getting into reading (no dice. he only likes reading video game mags right now). But since he didn't, it spent the better part of fourteen years buried in the cellar, before I found it during one of my futile efforts to find some newspaper stuff that I'd saved from my library job.

3} What was your first impression of the book? Hmmm...I found the Victorian era style of prose very easy to read and understand. I was already exposed to it, to a small degree watching the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and to a larger degree of being aficionado of history, so unlike most people, who've only been exposed to the bastardized Disney swill that passes for Victorian prose and thus wouldn't have the foggiest idea this side of a spendthrift Democrat of understanding Lewis Carroll, I actually got the gist of what he was writing.

4} How do you like it so far? Actually, it's pretty interesting. Right now, I'm at the croquet game. I'm understanding the pop culture references a little bit better, like the aforementioned Tom Petty video. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the video does a wicked interpretation of the book up to the Queen of Hearts croquet game. Forget about the lame Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit", this one is much better.

5} Would you recommend this book and what are the chances that you'll finish it? I highly recommend this book as read aloud to a child under the age of 8, or to an adult above the age of 21 (yes, an adult. one of my many strange talents that very rarely makes the light of day, is that I can do nifty read alouds with just about anything that strikes my fancy. Dr Seuss is a fave of mine, as well as regional dialects of sorts. Can do an average Jamaican when the mood strikes). As for when I'll finish it, probably when I get back to work and when things calm down enough to where reading is a perfectly enjoyable escapism. Right now, reading at work isn't quite that yet.

I do hope you enjoyed this little non-sequitor of a book review. Tune in next time for either a book review on the second volume of Charles Gramlich's excellent book series The Sword of Talera, or a review of a new western by Johnny D. Boggs called Soldier's Farewell.

Not sure which yet, but they should be interesting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stopped

It was two o'clock in the morning and two solitary stop signs, situated on opposite sides of a seldom used side street, are shooting the breeze.

"So this kid comes up with a spray can and sprays this ugly looking tag all over my face."
"What color was it?"
"Blue I think. At least it smelled like blue. Got it all up in my nose and in my ears."
"That bites."
"Yeah. And you know what the worst part was?"
"No, what?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Click here for the full story and to leave a comment.

What's Wrong With Me?

I haven't done much in the way of writing for the past week. Ever since my computer died and I had to take it to PC Farms to get it fixed, not one word has made it to the various floppies I store my writings on. I have about two hundred words or so written out for piece of flash, added another two or three hundred to a new chapbook, even came up with two more titles for other flash, but other than that, nada.

It's strange, but I don't feel comfortable using the household computer to write my stories on. Whereas I don't mind using it to keep up to date with the blogs and maintain my blogs, I screech to a halt when it comes to working on my stories.

There are a myriad of reasons/explanations I can come up with as to why:

1) Most of my flash is stored on a different software program that the household computer doesn't run on, so I'm severely stressing out over not being able to access it.

2) What I'm currently writing now, I feel more comfortable writing privately, instead of writing it with a lot of people around (i.e. my children).

3) One of the stories I'm working on (a re-write) is easier to do when I'm sitting in front of my computer and studying what I currently wrote and what I previously wrote, so as to get a better idea on where I need to go with the story (dual plotted). Trying to do the same thing on the household computer, with a lot of people milling around and other interruptions, is an exercise in futility.

So let me ask everyone this question: Can you write anywhere at anytime, or do you have such a set routine for your writing that any deviation from it, no matter how small or (in this case) necessary, throws you for a major loop?
~~~~~~~~~~~
Update on 'puter (6/12): Well gang, I found out today that the computer store has shipped my notebook to the manufacturer, Asus, to see if they can figure out what's wrong with it. This is so not a good sign. I can fake out my quarterly taxes next month by overpaying, but I only got enough short stories printed out until the first week of July. No 'puter, no story blog.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Toddlerism, Thy Name Is E-mail

Sometime ago, I made a post about why people should never be allowed to use a telephone. Today's will be about why some people should never be allowed access to a computer.

Period.

E-mail has been the bane of my existence since January 2007. That's when I started a hellacious 1 1/2 year stint handling tuition reimbursement for my office.

Handling tuition reimbursement, while looking good on my resume, put me on a road to almost complete obliteration. Because of the pervasive double standard that applies within my office, I was in a lose-lose situation when it came to e-mail.

Toddlerism is well entrenched and well represented within my office. What I'm about to show you for examples, is the end result of combining arrogance, poor communication skills and a strong sense of entitlement.

Now, not everyone that I deal with on a daily/weekly basis is a toddler when it comes to e-mail. In fact, I can say about 95% of the work e-mail I get are brief, concise and to the point, which makes them a pleasure to deal with. It's the other 5% that has resulted in the following annoyances being inflicted on me:

a} A written reprimand that sat in my personal file for 18 months.
b} A verbal reprimand that is still in my file, along with having to attend a class on professionalism.
c} A strong lack of respect by upper management to the staff in payroll.
d} One poor job evaluation.

All of these things can be directly tied into the scourge known as e-mail. So without further ado, here are a few examples of why certain types of e-mails have caused me to have a sign hidden in my cube that says, "Don't Answer Stupid Staff's Stupid Questions First Thing In The Morning".

1. Demand that I do something, then getting upset when I say no. Click on point "c" for complete details.

2. Not liking my original answer, so they spend the next few e-mails rephrasing the question in order to get me to change my answer. Union reps are notorious for this. They firmly believe that a labor contract is good only when it agrees with their point of view, bad when it doesn't. I can't tell you how many times that I quote lengthy sections of labor contracts (I know four of them like the back of my hand) to them, only for them to turn around and say, "Yeah, but...."

3. Not liking my answer, so they bring in other people to ask the exact same question and still getting the exact same answer. This was especially infuriating because this usually was asked when certain people were getting their tuition reimbursement before others. This aggravation lead directly to all four points listed above, including the links. Note: Never, ever add on the following tag--Do I make myself clear, crystal or otherwise?

4. Responding to an e-mail that I sent to you six months ago, asking the same stupid question that I answered six months ago in that e-mail. Self explanatory.

5. Your e-mail is as clear as mud. Really, do you have problems explaining your point in under 50 words? Or do you have a problem stringing nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives together in order to get your point across? Or is it a combination of both?

And finally, one of my personal all time favorites.

6. Retrieving an old e-mail from a year ago and asking me a completely different question, because you're too lazy to spend fifteen seconds creating a new e-mail. Self explanatory.

In conclusion, so long as I stay in my current dead end job (and from the looks of the labor agreements worked out between the unions and the Governor's office, I ain't going anywhere, any time soon), my work e-mail will continue to be a major thorn in my side and a impediment to a harmonious cubicle existence.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summertime Sizzzzzzzzzzzzzzles

Warning: This post will be offensive to some people, since it will be heavily injected with a mixture testosterone, hormones, impure/unclean thoughts, crude language and downright juvenile behavior.

Several months ago, I wrote a post critiquing the various age groups that populated my job. Even though it was written with tongue semi-implanted firmly in cheek, I did really mean what I said at the time.

Summer 2009 has once again, brought a sense of drool to the land of steady habits (that's Connecticut for those who don't know our state's informal nickname), mostly in the form of good looking lasses, great looking thirty somethings and hot to trot cougars (tired cliche, I know).

The reason I bring this up is that starting with the time frame of my vacation (May 28th-June 1st), I've seen the female form in all of its beautiful exquisiteness. The young, the not-so-young and the sub-45's have conspired to play havoc with this tired guy's incredibly vivid imagination.

Dressing in all kinds of clothes, these incredible examples of the female form have been able to use their attributes at their absolute peak of freshness. Because of the current temps (mid to hi 70's), these wonderful ladies are simply dressed to kill.

Tank tops, spaghetti tops, or a combination of both plus jeans or shorts, have driven the average guy made with desire. Or, at the very least, got them to stare as the lady in question casually strolled on by, with her hair gently trailing in the breeze and her...well....hmmm....attributes moving in gentle rhythm as well.

Or perhaps, the lady in question is not wearing the aforementioned articles but instead is wearing a nice summer dress, with perhaps just a minimum of ornamentation. Maybe a small pair of hoops, or perhaps a nice pendant. Perhaps the hair is done up in braids or a ponytail, or maybe just laying there free and natural.

And maybe, just maybe, as she's strolling by a couple of the boys, she bats an eyelash and throws them a devilish smile. Perhaps she's hiding her eyes behind a pair of Wayfarers. Perhaps she has a nice tat that she's showing off in a nice way as well.

As she strolls out of view, perhaps to put a punctuation on the fact that they all can look but never, ever have, she applies a very small shake to the other part of her natural attribute that effectively leaves a path of devastated libidos and destroyed egos in its wake.

Yes, summer is a very good thing to experience, no matter where you are or who you are. For this tired guy, what he sees, usually becomes the basis to a lot of his writing, because to him, the following adage will always be applied in to his writing:

The female body will always be the weapon of choice.

Friday, June 5, 2009

G's Adventures? Now! (1)

Welcome to the first installment of G's Adventures? Now!, where you'll be able to follow our intrepid hero as he embarks down the psychedelic brick road and trips to his ultimate destination of self-publishing his second completed work called Betrayed.

We first meet our intrepid hero at the dining room table as he's putting the finishing touches on the forty-nine page manuscript that will be turned into a professionally published product.

"Finished!!!" he yells triumphantly.
"What are you yelling about now?" asks his puzzled wife.
"Ummm....sorry about that. I finally finished one of my short stories, that's all."
"Well, keep it down."
"Okay."

He then spends the next couple of days thinking about what he wants do next. Having learned a very valuable lesson on frivolous spending, he's determined to purchase only what he needs and nothing else. After making the necessary phone calls and purchasing the package he wanted, he trips off to the credit union to withdraw the necessary funds (note: our hero has an automatic deduction from his bi-weekly paycheck to cover such thing frivolous things like self-publishing and not-so-frivolous things like the house taxes) in order to pay for the product.

After getting the money, downloading the form, and sending it off, our hero sits back down at the computer, and gets to work on the second round of editing (having learned a valuable lesson with his first book) plus writing a dedication page and an acknowledgement page (again, learning a valuable lesson from the first book, in that one should always have his ducks in a row before sending off the manuscript, because fixing errors later, cost money).

With the second round of editing, in addition to the spelling and grammar check, our intrepid hero took some advice from a few of the books he was reading of late (most notably Swords of Talera) and decided to tighten up the appearance of the pages, so as to make it more seamless, instead of looking like this post.

To his horror, after tightening up the appearance of the manuscript, his story shrunk from a more-than-minimum forty-nine pages to a less-than-minimum forty-four pages. Quickly shooting off an e-mail to the consultant and asking if the minimum requirement could include the dedication and acknowledgement pages or if they were separate issues from the manuscript (found out one day later that it wasn't) our intrepid hero was faced with about a four day window at the most, to add five more pages to the story.

I'm happy to inform everyone that our intrepid hero sat back down at his computer (after taking a couple of long walks to carefully think things through) and rose to the challenge. He found three spots in which he could properly expand and thus make the story flow a little bit better.

Note: if you're using a different type of word processing program, like Microsoft's Works Word Processing, which is basically a stripped down version of Word, a page written on that, is not a page written in Word. If you write two and half pages in Works and copy/paste it to Word, it shrinks down to about a page and three quarters. Thus, our intrepid hero had to write about seven pages of story which after inserting into Word, wound up bringing the page count to forty-eight and a half.

Our intrepid hero has once again, turned a potential disaster of wasting a sizable chunk of change, into actually getting the proper bang for the buck.

Thank you for reading this exciting and thrilling pilot episode of G's Adventures? Now! and stay tuned for upcoming episodes that will give you thrills, chills, and spills!
~~~~~~~~~~~
Update (6/5): My notebook fried out last night, which caused some unfortunate consequences to my blog and writing. First, my blog reading will be very sporadic as although I follow about 45 blogs, I only have about 30 through Google reader, but I will try my very best to track down any blogs that I don't follow and follow. If you just started reading my blog and I just started visiting yours, please don't worry if I don't show for a brief period of time. As soon as I get things straightned out, I'll be back. Lastly, the wonderful dedication and acknowledgement that I wrote, I neglected to save on my floppy (but I did save the most recent version of my story). Thus, I will have to rewrite these two bad boys from scratch.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wysiwyg

One bright early Tuesday morning, I was sitting in the park watching a tai chi class perform. I certainly wasn't watching it for the view, but for an article that I was going to write for a small suburban monthly.

Scribbling away in my notebook, I was so engrossed in what I was doing that I really didn't hear her approach. My train of thought was interrupted when I felt a very heavy weight on my shoulders and a cold spot on my bald head.

Click here for the full story and to leave a comment.

What I've Learned In The Past 377 Days While Writing This Blog

Sometimes, when you do something for an extended period of time, like blogging for example, there is a tendency, however slight, for that something to go, well, stale.

So you find a way to shake up the staleness and bring back a little oomph, a little zip, a little sauciness to the blog. I'm not saying that my blog has gotten stale, but I have discovered quite a few things in these past 377 days (I arrived at this number by simply starting with the blog's born on date of 5/24/08 and factoring in the leap day) that can help me maintain my blog's freshness.

F'r instance, I found with my blog that people have a tendency to like, if not tolerate, my various attempts at writing short stories and flash fiction. So to help attract a few more readers (casual or otherwise) to this blog, I wrote both a short story specifically for this blog, called Saturday, and I created a new home for my attempts at flash fiction called Flashing Georgie's Shorts (major props to Jannie Funster for coming up with the blog name).

As far as I can tell, the short story I wrote for the blog was a decent success. The jury is still out on the other blog, but like it was with this one, it will take some time to build up a respectable readership (although I have three followers and one subscriber to it).

Another f'r instance was that if I wrote a post that was extremely heavy on the technical/academic side of things, I would make people's eyes glaze over and fall to sleep. A good case in point was the post that I wrote last week about microfilming. Believe me, my eyes glazed over too, while I was writing it. So probably I'll have to watch how I go about writing those particular types of posts in the future.

I did find something else that has, for the most part, worked out quite well for this blog, which considering the testosterone bent of this blog to begin with, is not surprising.

Sex.

Sex is one of the few universal themes that everyone has an opinion on, either positively or negatively, when it comes to writing. As an example, let's turn back the calendar to early April, when I had written a story that went beyond what I was I writing at the time.

I had written a story called Audio Dynamyte and I was debating whether or not to post it here or at my other blog. So, like I'm want to do when it comes down to issues involving my blog, I posed the question to my readers, asking them what I should do with it.

For the most part, they gave me some rather thoughtful and quite insightful feedback on the issue, and when I did finally publish it, they also gave me some very good feedback on the story as well.

When all was said and done, I was able to take away from this particular experience the following things:

1} Don't let self-doubt creep into whatever you write.
2} Self-censorship sometimes is a necessary thing. If you go to my other blog, you'll see why.
3} Most importantly, sometimes letting the reader use their imagination is a hell of lot better than whacking them over the head with a sledgehammer.

These are just a few of the many things I've learned in the past 377 days of writing this blog. There are others I'm sure, and when I find the time to search the recesses of my mind and kick out those dust bunnies, I'll be sure to let everyone know.

Monday, June 1, 2009

50 Random ?s: #1-25

Howdy y'all.

A nifty blog I started following about a couple of months ago called Breath of Insanity was impressed enough with me as a person (or blogger, or shoot, just felt sorry for me) to tag me with a meme (ya'll remember those, right?) about week ago or so.

I figured since the last time I did one was earlier this spring (and quite badly I might add), I felt it was high time to do another. However, considering how large this one is, I figured it would be easier on everyone (realistically, easier on me) to break this bad boy in parts. And if you so desire, feel free to do any part of this meme on your blog, just remember to give credit to the one that passed it on to you (not me, but Breath of Insanity).

So without further ado, here are ?s 1-25 (along with enough links to keep you happy):

1} Where were you three hours ago?: At work messing up people's paychecks.

2} Who are you in love with?: Officially, my wife.

3} Have you ever eaten a crayon?: No.

4} Is there anything pink within ten feet of you?: Bedspread (no comment from the peanut gallery).

5} When was the last time you went to the mall?: April of this year, Westfarms Mall.

6} Are you wearing socks right now?: Yup. Tubulars.

7} Do you have a car worth over $2000?: Yes. Oldsmobile Alero.

8} When was the last time you drove out of town?: To go to work this morning.

9} Have you been to the movies in the past five days?: Get real. I go during the summer every month of June. Here is what I saw last, This one, and this one.

10} Are you hot?: Physically, no. To others, yes.

11} What was the last thing you had to drink?: Water.

12} What are you wearing right now?: Boots, white socks, black jeans, Bazooka Joe t-shirt.

13} Do you wash your car or do you let the car wash do it?: Neither, I let Mother Nature do it.

14} Last food you ate?: Ham and Cheese on rye with mayo, onions and sweet peppers (and no, no link for this one) and a bag of Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Sour Cheddar/Jack potato chips.

15} Where were you last week at this time?: In front of my computer writing a piece of flash fiction laced with spirituality. Or watching FoxNews, I can't remember which.

16} Have you bought any clothing items in the last week?: Right.......

17} When was the last time you ran?: Thirty-five years ago.

18} What was the last sporting event you watched? Live, nada. On the tube, UFC Unleashed.

19} Your favorite animal?: I lease a cat, but the cat owns me.

20} Your dream vacation?: Traveling US 6 from Cape Cod to Bishop, California.

21} Last person's house you were in?: My brother's about three weeks ago.

22} Worst injury you ever had?: Bruised sternum and cracked rib from rolling my car over a guardrail back in 1984.

23} Have you ever been in love?: See question #2.

24} Do you miss anyone right now?: My dad.

25} Last play you saw?: I don't remember the title, but it was back in the mid 90's.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sometime in the next couple of weeks, ?s 26-50.

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-16 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at georgebjr2006@gmail.com