To all my readers and followers, please keep in mind that I have now moved over to my new blog, Father Nature's Corner, so Cedar's Mountain is now on a semi-permanent hiatus.

If you're looking for the wit and wisdom that Cedar's Mountain is known for, please click on the link up above or to the right, and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: Was It The Best It Ever Was?

Since it's that time of the year where everyone and their Aunt Sally and Uncle Ernie comes out with a Best of 2009, I figure I might as well throw in my seventeen and a half cents (adjusted for inflation) in and offer my opinion on this past year as it applies to little ol' me.

In keeping with the oddball tone of this particular entity, of the two things that I deem most noteworthy to come out my land of the right coast (literally and politically, so there, nyah!) in my Best of 2009, one will be connected to the Cyber World and the other will be connected to both the Real World and the Cyber World.

1} Writing.

Going into 2009, my writing was what you can say, not quite meeting that high standard of excellence I usually set for myself. Quite frankly, most of my stuff was basically bleech and not really worthy of showing to the general public in any particular way. But within the first couple of months of '09, that all changed for the better.

How?

I have about a half dozen blogs that I follow that are populated by both great established writers and up and coming writers. Blogs such as Razored Zen, The Education of a Pulp Writer, One Word One Rung One Day, Rule of Three, Elaine Ash and Fumbling with Fiction gave me great tips and showed me what my writing was lacking at the time.

Reading these blogs gave me the confidence to start tinkering and expanding my skills to levels that a couple of years ago I wouldn't have thought possible. The yield of this exploration was bountiful indeed: a year long fascination with flash fiction, rediscovering the medium short story, a new story blog and my first commercially published short story.

It also gave me the confidence to once again start writing a novel (yay!) with the goal of finishing it in the spring of 2010, where I will (with much trepidation) explore the twin yellow brick road of querying agents & publishers (have no fear, I also have Nathan Bransford's fine blog bookmarked as a fave).

Where does that leave the other part of my writing journey? For the time being, self publishing will go to the back burner, as I realize that I don't quite have what it takes to self-publish at this juncture of my life. Maybe further on down the road it will be something worthwhile to explore, but for now, I think after an almost three year hiatus, it's time to start getting my ego bruised again.

note: the above paragraph will give my two personal chat room stalkers quite a bit of ammo for the coming year. I know this because both of them actually visit my blog for info to harass me about.

2} Blogging.

Coming into 2009, I was starting to hit my stride with my blogging. I managed to pound out 160+ posts in 2008, built up a small but loyal following and was having fun while doing it. For 2009, I added a few new things to the overall content, one of which was book reviews. As opinionated as I am, one of the things I never really offered my opinion on before this blog, were books. My reading tastes are to say at the very least, eclectic, at the very most, provocative. So I never felt very comfortable offering my two cents on stuff that I liked.

But, to use a baseball analogy, the grounder done hugged the chalk line for extra bases. I decided to do this review of a book that I first heard about on David Cranmer's blog (see link up above). Well, the responses I got to the review gave me enough of a push to make it another feature of my blog. If you click on the tag "Book Reviews", you'll find seven more reviews totaling about 10 books and a book series, all of which are about as informative as you will find elsewhere.

Besides doing book reviews, I also added in more posts about writing, music, work and whatever else that happened to cross my path. I also picked up more casual readers and friends along the way, who helped turn my blog into what you see today. For that I will always be eternally grateful.

To sum up my 2009: It was a very long and eventful Real Wolrd/Cyber World journey that brought me to new highs (getting a short story published, creating a new story blog), new lows (getting severely stalked and harassed in the chat room over my first book, losing a few fellow bloggers), and some growing pains (creating a new story blog, reluctantly tidying up my blog by nuking a few posts).

So, how 'bout your Cyber World and/or Real World of 2009? Was it all that you expected it to be?

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Vein Done Tapped Out?

The scene: a tunnel deep below the surface.
The participants: two men methodically digging away using pick axes and shovels.
The moment: a casual conversation about the why.

Yancy: Hey Bob, I think the vein is done tapped out. We haven't struck anything in nearly two weeks.
Bob: Sure looks that way doesn't it.
Yancy: Then why in tarnation are we still doing it?
Bob: Because the company says so.
Yancy: But they're throwing away good money after bad.
Bob: Doesn't matter. We still have to keep digging. I know the pickings have been slime to none as of late, but the company still believes that there's still a few nuggets left in this vein.
Yancy: (kicks a few pieces of coal down a deep bottomless pit) Shoot, they ain't nothing left. We've been plugging away for nineteen months and I think we've reached the bitter end.
Bob: Yeah, but...(Bob stops speaking as the ground starts to violently shake and rumble beneath his feet)
Yancy: Bob! Look out!!!
Bob: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! (the force of the explosion sends Bob flying through the air at the speed of slow, until he comes to a stop face first into a wall of blubber)
Yancy: Woah! (sees a bunch a large boulders blow out of the fissure that appeared where Bob was previously standing) Bob, you gotta check out this pile of rocks!!
Bob: -------

Yancy starts to gather up the boulders and puts them into a wheelbarrow. As he puts each fifty pound boulder in, he reads the word that had been seared into the side of each one

Yancy: Let's see, this one says "writing", and another one over here says, "blogging", and this says...hmmm...can't seem to make out the word. Hey Bob, can you come over here for a minute?
Bob:-------
Yancy: Okay, I see that you're still inhaling some of that whale blubber, so I'll leave you be...hey, you know what, I think I figured out what the word is. The word is---

Just when Yancy is about to say what the word is, the ground shakes and another fissure opens up and swallows Yancy lock, stock, and barrel. Then, just as quickly as it opens, it closes up again. In the meantime, Bob is still inhaling blubber and turning the darkest shade of blue this side of the daytime sky. Suddenly, Bob stops inhaling the blubber and becomes as quiet as a blade of grass.

Who knew that the awful calamity that had befallen our intrepid miners had the seeds first sewn when the company decided to make one last effort to boldly go where no mining company had ever dared to go to before.

One again, the mine known as The Terrible G has cruelly regained its reputation as the most lethal brain ever to come out of the badlands of Southern New England.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Craziest Day Ever!

This little ditty was not written by me. It was written by my eight and half year old daughter. All grammatical errors, syntax errors, errors with nouns/verbs/adverbs/adjectives, parts of speech, you name it, are all hers. I was simply the transcriptionist and as such, I typed exactly what was written.

Mom took Little Red Riding Hood in a wheelbarrow to see a company. On the way a bee was teaching a butterfly, a bird, a dragonfly and a ladybug how to fly so they can capture the food. But the wolf was protecting the food. Meanwhile, grandma mouse was planting mushrooms, purple flowers and pink flowers. But the wolf saw the time and said, "It's break time!" So snail took over. Sadly the flying critters stole the food, because snail was too slow.

Wolf came back and saw the food missing! But the wolf knew that the flying critters stole the food. Meanwhile, grandma mouse finished planting and saw Little Red Riding Hood and her mom going to the company. So grandma mouse said, "Can I join?" Mom said yes. When they got to the company, they saw Wolf there. They asked, "What is going on here?" They said, "The company stole our food!" Then grandma mouse said, "Can you please give them their food?" They said, "Okay." and they did. And lived happy ever after.

The end.

(c) December 10, 2009 by JNM.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas




To wherever you are in this great big blue marble that we call Earth, G and his family would like to wish you and yours, A Very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Just Gotta Plug Some Home State Pride

Yes, a very rare back-to-back day of posting, but this is a special occasion.

As a rule, I normally talk about my close friends in the most general of terms. This is to protect both their privacy and a bit of mine as well. But today, I wanted to do something nice for one of them.

I'm good friends with former co-worker of mine, and she has always gone out of her way to include my wife and daughter in certain weekly/monthly activities. So after she told me about another accomplishment of her nephew, I figure the least I could do would be to plug said accomplishment on my blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Terrance Knighton is a local football player out of Windsor, CT who was able to hook onto a good program at Temple. He parlayed his successful career as a co-captain on the defensive line by being drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was able to become a great starting defensive tackle. Not only did he become a great defensive tackle, but his peers thought so highly of him that he was made a potential Pro Bowl selection.

And as you all know, the various players of every major sport's All-Star game are voted on by the fans.

So here's your chance to help cap off this stellar rookie's season (starting defensive tackle on potential playoff team) by voting for his selection to this year's Pro Bowl in sunny Hawaii.

Go to NFL.com and vote for the pride of Windsor CT, #96 Terrance Knighton of the Jacksonville Jaguars. You'll be glad that you did.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ta Ta Ta Tease Me!

Back in my younger days, I was an incredibly funny guy. Full of wit and sarcasm, my sharp tongue skewered anyone and anything that happened to get on my bad side. As I got older, the sharpness became mellower and more focused. Instead of using a sawed-off shotgun approach (in and of itself, incredibly messy. I mean, who wants to clean up a blood splatter that covers an entire wall?) for my witticisms and sarcasm, I used a sharpshooter's approach, and made the target as narrow as possible.

The target? Moi.

Granted, using yourself as a perpetual target for humor can be rewarding at times. But at other times, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Why? Because using yourself as a target opens up to the world, a private part of your personality/character that only your family or your closet friends really knows about.

Case in point is this post. While I was printing out the last of 2008, I came across an excellent humor piece that I wrote about women. Not only did I expertly poke fun at myself (naturally), but after reading it again, I decided it would have made a perfect part four to last month's series of posts called "Me So Horny".

The original post was called "Naughty, Naughty", which is a title of a John Parr song that was popular back in the late 80's (I believe it came out at the same time as "St. Elmo's Fire"). The song had such an infectious hook that whenever it came on the radio, I used to bury the volume at 10. In keeping with the same theme, the title of this post is taken from the same song. In fact, it's the third line of the chorus.

Warning: this post is quite long (with this intro, almost three pages), and the content might make some of you out there just a little bit uncomfortable. Even though it was written tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek, there is a small undertone of seriousness throughout the post. If anything, it will give you the reader another insight on what makes me tick as a writer.

Enjoy.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How-de-do.

I haven't done one of these in a while, so please imagine an official sounding voice doing the read through.

The Disclaimer: This post will contain content that will be highly offensive/narrow minded to some readers. If you are one of those select few who are offended by narrow-mindedness, then please click on one of the labels to the left of this post. There you will find something more to your liking.

We've all had naughty thoughts at one time or another in our lives. Today's lively discussion will be about the naughty thoughts (get your mind out of that Maxim magazine) one has about the opposite sex, which in the case of this blog, is female.

Some time ago, (2007 to be exact) I participated in a chat thread called "Are women as sexy as they used to be?" I was of the opinion that the women of today can still be sexy even if they don't blatantly show it all. Sexy is a state of mind and a state of being, no matter what the age.

For instance, I work with women that range in age from the mid-twenties to the mid-forties, and let me tell you there is a world of difference between them.

Sexy is lost on the twenty somethings. Provocative is not. I have met women in that sub thirty age range, who even though they work in an office environment, have questionable tastes in clothing attire. While what they choose to wear would be perfect in the outside world (and I will give you an example in a second), would not be welcomed in the office, simply because of the heightened state of awareness for offensive behavior.

To give you an example (see?), what I'm about to describe I have actually seen, which has made me stop and watch until they got out of sight, before I gave myself an internal slap of the face.

1) Tight form fitting jeans that accentuate the ass and the legs quite nicely.
2) Tight, relatively form fitting shirts, with a neckline that plunges a bit too far and accentuates the.....rack. Yum!
3) Long hair not set (tied up in some form), just naturally curled or straight. Sensual!!
4) Nice set of earrings.
5) Boots that are more appropriate for a night on the town (the shoes, gots to be the shoes!)

Or they'll be wearing a dress that's more appropriate out there than in the office. WOOF!

Basically, the sub-thirty set wears clothing specifically designed to get the guys to stare, ogle, drool and act stupid. In other words, normal.

Brief interlude as a lady walks into view. Georgie leans over to watch until she disappears from view.

The sub-forty age bracket understands the concept of putting out, without putting out. Most of the ones I come into contact with can look exceptionally fine without resorting to the type of clothing faux paux that the sub-thirty regularly engages in.

They keep themselves fit and trim, they exude self confidence and dress well. In essence, being sexy without looking sexy.

Example would be that the women I come across on a daily basis are visually pleasing without being tasteless. In other words, I'm not gonna stand/sit there and ogle, discreetly or otherwise.

Instead, I'll simply give a sincere and heartfelt compliment about their appearance. This is called "playing the game at work." While there is no ulterior motive behind it, it does have its advantages, in that it doesn't put me into circulation, it does keep me in practice and on my toes. What I meant by "on my toes" is that....

A brief pause again as a relatively attractive lady stops by to ask a question or two, before continuing on her way. Georgie doesn't poke his head out, but simply savors the moment.

What I mean by "keeping me on my toes" is that the typical sub-forty member not only dresses to impress, but dresses to be noticed.

Like:

1) Jeans. Comfortable yet not quite form fitting.
2) Casual dresses. Knee length, flowing tastefully. Enough to leave something to the imagination.
3) Hair tastefully done.
4) Footwear tastefully done.

Above all, exudes enough confidence that no mater what, someones head will turn. Like mine.

Which brings us to the over forty crowd, who put out only a little, without putting out at all.

They dress sensibly, work out and exude such an aura of confidence that they can pump up or flatten out a man's ego with just their body language. Additionally....

Georgie gets distracted as an unknown lady walks by, the light scent of jasmine engulfing his table. He looks up in time to catch a sight of a good looking forty something disappearing down an aisle of books.

lower lip quivers, and suddenly he flips)

Additionally...did I mention the aura of sexuality too? Who boy, do they ooze sexuality. They don't have to do anything beyond being their natural, luscious selves. I mean, have you gotten a look at the average forty something lately? They are simply hot without trying to be.

Like:

1) They dress to kill. Whatever they wear, it accentuates the ass, the legs and the.....rack.
2) Forget everything else, all they have to do is simply walk on by and heads will turn.
3) Oh man the hair. Can you picture the hair? Long shoulder to waist length, braided, dreads, loose, highlighted....
4) Forget that, go back to the rest of the body...

Two women walk into the picture and confront Georgie over his sudden flipping of the switch. One gets in his face and starts berating him for his suggestive remarks and flip manner, while the other starts to hit him about the face and head. Suddenly a few more women come out to get a piece of the action. Before long all hell breaks loose, with the sounds of screams and someone being pummeled. Georgie has one last gasp and is able to type out a couple more words before succumbing to the deluge.

Somebody help me.

After a while, the noise dies down and the mob of angry women dissipates. A few minutes later, a hand appears over the top of the table. Then another. Finally, a battered and bruised Georgie makes an appearance. Taking out his broken laptop, the screen completely disengaged from the keyboard, he types out his final thoughts, before passing out.

To those who think that being in the middle of a group of beautiful women is a good thing, I say to you....BULLSHIT!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The World's Worst Movie

I had the misfortune, back in the late 90's, to see one of the worst movies ever to come out on celluloid. This movie was so bad that it makes the campy drug movie Tell Your Children (aka Reefer Madness) look positively brilliant.

I know you're sitting there scratching your head, saying, "What in the world are you babbling about?", so good old G will give you a little background info.

Back at my first job, my co-worker and I would read some of the various newspapers that we were microfilming with great interest. We would search out unusual articles and pictures of interest, and regale each other with our findings. One of the many things that we would find amusing, would be the old movie ads from the early part of the 20th century.

For those of you who remember shows like "Leave It To Beaver", you would hear them mention incredibly bizarre titles for horror movies. Well, we (meaning the both of us) would actually find movie titles like that in the old newspapers.

Anyways, we saw an ad for a movie called Lash of the Penitents*. We were immediately intrigued with the movie, simply because the ad featured a scantily clad woman in chains, which for the 1930's really was something, considering the Hay's Office was just around the corner ready to implement a thirty-five reign of prudery.

*You'll have to scroll down to the L's to read an incredibly brief synopsis of the movie. Sorry, this was the best I was able to find, as most everything else on my Google search was related to the actual practice of lashing yourself for your sins.

My co-worker decided that he wanted to see this movie, so he went on a two day search and destroy on the 'net (mid 90's there were no DVD's to speak of back then), and he managed to find a VHS copy that someone made of this movie. After he watched it, he told me it was the worst thing he ever saw. The dialogue was crappy, the plotting was crappy, and even the copy of the movie he found was crappy, because whoever created the copy, taped about three minutes each of two other movies and spliced them onto the beginning and the end of the main movie. He then asked if I wanted to see it, and naturally, I said yes.

Pfft~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~) [picture me on the ground clawing my eyes out]

This 'movie' was so bad, that the only memorable thing about it was this small piece of dialogue by an actor pretending to be a Mexican:

"No, no, senor! It is too dangerous!"*

*This small piece of dialogue became our personal running joke for anything that had a whiff of difficulty to it (and I do mean anything) for the rest of my librarial career (which ended in January 2003)

This movie in no way, shape or form, matched up with the advert. The advert gave the impression that it was about a young nubile woman ensnared in the spider web that was white slavery, or about a young nubile woman in religious peril (hence the name "Penitents").

So kids, should you ever, ever, ever, want to explore the underground 'sex' movie scene from the 1930's, don't. Instead, skip a couple of decades and watch the movies done by Betty Page. Even though her stuff had a flavoring of S & M/B & D/sexual fantasy, they still made much more sense than Lash of the Penitents.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What In The World Was I Writing About??

Ever have this particular problem? You decide to write a story (or if you're into poetry, a poem) so at the beginning, you have a basic idea of what the plot is. You're merrily plugging away, when all of a sudden (but not really because it quietly snuck up and whacked you in the head with a two by four) you can't remember what the plot line is. It was crystal clear when you started, but about four pages in, it quickly becomes clear as mud, and you have no idea what to do next.

But you really don't want to throw the story away, especially since it showed such promise at the beginning, so you continue to write in the (usually futile) hope of finding it again. More often than not, the plot remains frustratingly out of reach.

Much to my chagrin (and constant annoyance), I have apparently picked up the nasty habit of losing the plot to a given story when I write it. Which is to say, I know what the plot is when I first start writing the story, but somewhere along the way, I lose focus and the plot vanishes like a bottle of cheap wine drunk by an alcoholic.

A prime example of this aggravation was the short story I did for FSG called Image. The original plot was about revenge (as a matter of fact, I used this particular post as a starting point), but being of unsound mind, I decided to throw a wrench into the works. I approached the plot from the back door, which is to say that I had the protagonist summon a demon/spirit from Hell, and have them use the body of his target in order to ruin the sterling reputation of his target.

So it started off okay. I had the demon/spirit take over the body of the victim and leave only the heavily sedated head behind. Somewhere along the way though, I lost the plot when I decided to turn the tables on the protagonist. If I kept to the same linear plot of revenge, I think it would have worked out to my satisfaction. But since I decided to change mid-stream, I got completely lost on how to make it work. It took me the better part of one week plus the long Thanksgiving holiday/furlough weekend to get all the kinks worked out (wrote 16 pages over that weekend) and thus finish the story*.

*synopsis: Kevin looks to get revenge on his co-worker Keisha and make her his girlfriend. He finds out through nefarious means that Alanna was an escapee from Purgatory, and blackmails her into doing a job on Keisha's reputation. Alanna, with the help of Michael and Raphael, attempts to turn the tables on Kevin and along the way, tries to redeem herself and save Keisha.

The question I pose to you the reader is this: Have you ever lost the plot to a story that you were writing, simply because you decided to tweak it one too many times, thus permanently ruining the story? Or even worse, not remember what the original plot was to begin with?

If you don't write, but say play music, then the question would be this: Have you ever gotten lost while playing or performing a song and not remember how to get back on track to where you were originally?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I's Got An Award! I's Got An Award!

Yo G! What kind of award you'd get?

I got a nifty blogging award from Snaggletooth, called "Over The Top"! Ain't that the kewlest thing?

Shoo nuff! What's it fer?

Good question. I think it's for the fact that my blog is a top-notch read. And along with getting this nifty award, I get to answer 34 questions about myself using only one word!

Let's see, where did I put that list of questions? shuffles a few papers around, has a light bulb go off in his head, then clicks on the link up above, copies the questions to a word document, profusely thanks the always lovely and talented Snaggletooth for thinking that highly off him, and gets to work Ahh, here they are.

1} Where is your mobile phone? jacket
2} Your hair? none
3} Your mother? vaca
4} Your father? deceased
5} Your favorite food? chili
6} Your dream last night? places
7} Your favorite drink? seltzer
8} Your dream/goal? published
9} What room are you in? den
10} Your hobby? writing
11} Your fear? failure
12} Where do you want to be in six years? alive
13} Where were you last night? bed
14} Something that you aren't? complacent
15} Muffins? yes (he says with an evil smile)
16} Wish list item? Summer
17} Where did you grow up? Connecticut
18} Last thing you did? laundry
19} What are you wearing? clothes
20} Your TV? blown
21} Your pets? ignored
22} Friends? sedated
23} Your life? complex
24} Your mood? perplexed
25} Missing someone? yes
26} Vehicle? Alero
27} Somethng you're not wearing? glasses
28} Your favorite store? OceanState
29} Your favorite color? rainbow
30} When was the last time you laughed? 8a
31} Last time you cried? movie
32} One place that I go to over and over? mountain
33} Facebook? yes
34} Favorite place to eat? tray

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Hit A Pedestrian? Woooooooo-weeeeee!!!!!

What is it with these so-called responsible adults? I mean it seems like on the surface, they're respectable family persons, make sure that their childrens are safe and sound throughout the day. But stick them behind the steering wheel, POOF!!!!! They change into Moe-Howard-is-smarter-than-I'll-ever-be-in-my-lifetime dolts.

Due to the fact that my body is slowly breaking down into manageable, yet still somewhat effective pieces (previously mentioned here), I do a tremendous amount of walking on the weekends. Every Saturday I do my morning errands (banking, post office and/or library) via the foot patrol. There are a multitude of reasons why, but they all originate from these three basic truths:

1} I save on gas.
2} I lose weight.
3} It keeps the cane/crutches/wheelchair as far away from my front door as humanly possible.

The side streets where I live have for the most part sidewalks, stop signs and/or crosswalks. And for the most part, drivers are considerate of pedestrians out my way. But when I get to the center of town, it becomes a dangerous game of chicken.

On the average, about twice a week, I have to play that dangerous game of chicken with stupid drivers who insist on making a right on red (in Connecticut, you can make a right on a red light, so long as you actually come to a complete stop before executing it) while I'm in the crosswalk. Sometimes they'll stop when I'm in the way of them making their turn, and sometimes they'll continue through if they're on the opposite of where I am.

My typical responses to their stupidity are as follows: 1} give them a dirty/challenging look daring them to continue with their turn (especially effective since I started standing at least three feet into the crosswalk while waiting for the traffic cycle to finish); 2} I yell loud enough for them to hear me through their closed windows while making semi-obscene gestures.

Believe it or not, I've gotten some sympathetic comments from people who have witnessed/experienced the same stupidity while walking themselves. I don't tolerate fools for nothing, and I especially don't tolerate stupid drivers or stupid pedestrians (the later can be found in most large cities where the populace believes its their god given right to act like an asshole. I'm just waiting for one of these yahoos to get smacked by a car while I'm watching. I would be giving the driver my number even before he got out of his/her car).

So if you should see a fat, bald and scary looking guy with glasses who is staggering through the crosswalk like he has a load in his jeans, do not try to drive by him before he gets to the other side. He may just escalate his annoyance and throw his coffee at you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My W.i.P's, My W.i.P.'s, What Have I Done To Thee?

It's been a while since I've talked about my WiP's and since I needed something to fill in the space wot this date done hath brought to me on this fine spring-like Atumnal day here in Southern New England, I decided to bring forth, the elegant noun, the robust verb, the sanctimonious adverb and the delectable adjective, and use them to the best of my lowly abilities and string together this mammoth and ungainly run-on sentence as my starting point for today's enlightening post about my various writing projects as I bring everyone up to speed and up to date on the oozings my pen has leaked on said previous crystal clean piece of white paper.

Wow! That preceding sentence contained 126 words. Good Lord, I gotta learn how to come up for air!

Anyways, to the issue at hand, namely my writing projects. At the moment both projects have come to a screeching halt, both literally and figuratively. With the first one, A Lascivious Limbo, I'm at the point in the story where the main character has just discovered her husband was/is cheating on her. While with the original story (which can be found elsewhere on this blog under the tag "Long Short Story" and of which the original story background can be found here) the next three and a half pages can be shredded so that they can never see the light of day, the problem remains getting to the epilogue.

In this particular story, I did a good job of introducing a secondary character (through the co-plot line{?}), who over the course of the last twenty pages or so, had become a very integral part of the story. Basically, the main problem is bringing this character's participation in the story to a proper and necessary conclusion (smaller problem is keeping the same relatively semi-upbeat tone in the story. Got personal issues that are threatening to bleed over into the story, which I really want to avoid at all costs). So until I can come up with a short outline/synopsis/good idea/whatever you want to call it that will help me get over the hump and to the epilogue and ending, the story has been temporarily shelved a mere twelve inches from my computer. That way, no matter what, it will always be a constant reminder that this is something that really needs to be finished.

As for the second project called Blackness In The White Sand, I haven't writing a single word since this particular post. Not sure when I'm gonna get back to it, other than it will be the next thing I'll be working on after I finish the aforementioned project. It shouldn't be that difficult to write, but as with everything else going on in my life, I find it very hard to get properly motivated to write it.

I mean, the plot is basic enough: beautiful woman gets turned into a beautiful hunter for one of Satan's personal assistants, and she has exactly 72 hours to find and destroy him in order to turn herself back into what she was previously. It has sex, violence, and religion. What more can you ask for?

While we're on the subject of writing projects, I might as well give an update on the reconstruction project that is going on at FSG. I wrote another story (using this story as a jumping off point) to replace the one that I've temporarily pulled (see the reason as to why I pulled Creativity Inaction here), and for the moment, I'm pretty much set for the first six months of 2010 as I have five stories lined up (including one called "Red Stripe" that I thought highly enough of to enter into a couple of writing contests), plus one piece of flash fiction to use as an interlude in between serials (many thanks to Charles for the idea). And I still have those two others that I previously mentioned that I really should get back to some day.

So that's the way things are going right now, writing by paralysis. Which is to say it's a little bit like a favorite Far Side cartoon of mine that shows how to blow a fisherman's mind: "Fish or cut bait?"

Only in this case, it's "Work on latest book #1, work on latest book #2, or work on reconstructing the other blog?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Things We Find When We're Blowing Out The Dust Bunnies

For the past couple of months, I've been printing out the first year of Cedar's Mountain and it's been a blast tripping down memory lane while doing it. I want to share with all of you a few things that I've managed to either rediscover or discover for the first time.

1} My mouse doesn't like posts longer than a page and a half. In order to print out my posts while making my ink cartridge last as long as possible ($20 a pop), I highlight and select. Which means I highlight just the title and text, and select "only the selected frame". 99% of the time, it works, but if the post is longer than two pages, I have to copy it piecemeal onto a Word document (or a WPS document) before printing the entire post.

2} Rediscovering blogs I used to follow. Early on, I was linking up to blogs I was reading. As time advanced, my tastes changed and these blogs fell by the wayside. While I was printing out my posts, I would check out the links to see if they were still valid/current. While some of the links are still valid a year and a half later, others are either closed (like Wit's Bitch) or haven't been updated in over six months (Cute Writing).

3} Checking out former commenters. For the first several months or so, my commenters were few and far between, so I made it a point of visiting those blogs. As in the case of the previous point, some of those blogs are now either non-existent, or still kicking and screaming. For those that are still kicking and screaming, I decided to add them to my personal bookmarks again, so as to once again explore the loopier side of blogging.

4} My blog writing was highly acidic. Almost from minute one, I was carrying a ginormous boulder on my shoulder, which made my blog writing at times, pointed and barbed. Naturally, this lost me quite a few readers during that first year. As time marched on (I'm just full of cliches today, aren't I?), I learned how to....cough....temper....COUGH....my writing. But not my approach. My approach is still to shoot from the lip, but now I really do aim my shots.

There is still a treasure trove of blog nuttiness that will need to be explored as I print out that first calender year (all I have left to do is the month of December). And once I get everything properly situated, I will be taking you along for what is sure to be a most unique and pleasurable sled ride down the face of Cedar's Mountain.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gotta Book

Back in August, I did a review on a piece of juvenile fiction. Sine then, I've gotten severely sidetracked in writing random thoughts about the books I've read. I've read quite a few over the past four months, but other things have conspired to prevent me from offering select nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives about them. Things like blogging, writing, and the real world immediately spring to mind.

But now, as the winter season starts to take hold somewhere in these United States, now would be a good time as any to offer my opinions on the books I've read. This post will be comprised of three short reviews of books that I've read in the past four months. Feel free to agree or disagree with my opinions, as I always enjoy lively banter about my point of view.

Note: None of these books that I'm about to review were offered gratis. For each and every book talked about here, my wallet became lighter in the process, as my hard earned cash gladly went to the intended recipient.

First up is the third and final volume of Charles Gramlich's fantasy series "The Talera Cycle".
Please see previous reviews of book 1 and book 2 here.

The battle that was thought ended, was not. Resurrected, it blossomed into a full blown war. Complete with treachery and fresh new heroes, the final book brilliantly concludes the journey that Ruenn Maclang embarked on when he, his brother and his cousin were blown through a portal and landed in a world that was similar in some ways, yet quite different in others, to Earth. The plotting and pacing was steady, if not riveting at times, and in keeping with the previous tomes, the reader was treated as an equal throughout the book. An entertaining read from beginning to end, it is a book series that I will enjoy revisiting in the future.

"The Tarnished Star" by Jack Martin. Jack Martin is the pen name of writer/actor Gary Dobbs, who runs a fascinating blog called The Tainted Archives. This tome is his debut novel, and for the most part, it did live up to the brilliant marketing campaign he created for it.

The story revolves around Sheriff Cole Masters, who arrests the depraved son of the wealthy rancher who owns the town. A confrontation eventually leads to a showdown and Cole Masters finds himself on the run for killing his corrupt replacement.

The plotting and pacing is pretty steady, with the violence minimal and the sex non existent, which to me is reminiscent of the westerns from the 50's & 60's. The book did keep my interest throughout, which if you've read my previous reviews, is an essential component to me liking a book.

The book is an excellent throwback to the days where the suggestion of what was happening, as opposed to going into excruciating detail, was the better hook. A solid read and a decent bang for your buck (about $20 or so US), this book would make a good intro for someone who is looking for a new genre to explore.

The last one is a review of a book series, as opposed to a single volume. If you click on my profile (go ahead, I'll wait for you), you'll see s few authors listed there, of which one is Susan Hooper. Susan Hooper is the one that turned me onto self publishing, and for that I'll be eternally grateful.

Now, onto her book series. She writes murder mysteries, specifically called "The Barnaby Moss/Arnie Kotkin Mysteries". They're pretty decent mysteries in that they do keep your interest and they aren't that all cut and dried, so you can't really figure it out say, thirty pages in. So far she has about 8 tomes out and I've read the first five. All of them meet my criteria for enjoyable book reading.

One interesting thing about the murder mysteries is the secondary story that is woven throughout the series. The main characters, Barnaby Moss and Arnie Kotkin, are gay, and she tastefully explores the complex issues that are involved with this type of relationship. From coming out, to living first as domestic partners then later as a married couple, all of the issues are presented as factually and as plainly as possible.

So although you may be reading a particular part of the series that on the surface has a disconnect with others in the series, in order to understand the underlying issues in that story, you actually have to read the prior parts to the story you're reading. I know it sounds complicated, but she makes it work in the long run: The basic story of whatever book you're reading, plus the underlying story that is weaved throughout the series.

So there you have it folks, my reviews for two books and a book series. I've done a lot more reading in the meantime, and I hop to offer another opinion or two in the near future.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Thought Police

For those of you who weren't here for the very early part of Cedar's Mountain, I used to let the people of the blog world run rampant on my blog. What I mean by rampant is that people could leave their comments and I would respond to them whenever I felt like checking my blog. No muss, no problems, and no worrying about people leaving nasty and offensive comments.

This was something I made a point in doing during the first year of my blog, simply because after coming from the chat rooms, where everyone and their mommy moderated the living daylights out of the website, I really wanted to have my blog be a place where people could exercise their rights to freedom of speech. And for the first six months, I let my blog do just that.
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However, around Thanksgiving '08, I had some toddler follow me from the chat rooms and start leaving gratuitous homosexual insults on both of my blogs (this one and my book blog). Suffice to say that I was incredibly pissed about this about this jackass doing this (I got rid of said jackass by using a pretty despicable method that I don't recommend to anyone unless it's absolutely necessary), so after deleting his comments, I wrote this post explaining why I was going to start moderating my comments, and have been ever since.

For the next calendar year (Nov '08 to Nov '09), the only comments I've nuked were some obvious spam links that a few posters left on my blog, one of which I even wrote a post about. I also nuked someone's comment by accident, because 1} I didn't recognize the poster's name and 2} the comment she left was similar to a few I was getting from another troll from the chat rooms who was leaving me infantile rants as well.

Because I moderated comments on my blog (and I'm very open minded about it), I knew it was necessary to reciprocate when I visited other blogs. Whenever I decided to leave a comment at someone else's blog, I always made sure that the comment was in the same spirit at as that blog.

For example, if I visited the blog that is run by Lynn or the one run by Jewel, I made sure to watch my language and keep it in the same lighthearted spirit as theirs. If I visited say, the blog run by Riot Kitty or the political blog run by Zirgar, then I knew that my language could be a bit more colorful and still maintain that zestiness that attracted me to their blogs in the first place (except for R.K's, it was her funky avatar that first got me interested in hers).

The reason for me revisiting the issue of comment moderation some one and half years later (I first wrote about this issue back in the late summer of '08), is that once again I experienced the problem of ineffectual comment moderation. Specifically, two of my comments were nuked earlier in the week on someone else's blog.

I'm really at a loss for words as to why my two comments were nuked, insomuch as they were written in the exact same spirit that the blog was written in. The first time it was nuked, I raised an eyebrow over it and gave the person the slight benefit of the doubt, which meant that I blamed a "glitch" with Blogger as for the reason why my comment didn't stick.

So as an expirement, I left another comment that basically said this: Interesting, either the computer glitched and that's why my comment didn't stick, or the dreaded "n" option was done to it.

I came back the next day (which was yesterday the 5th) and after reading a couple of the blog's current posts, I went back to the post in question. Sure enough, my new comment wasn't there either.

After mulling it over in my mind for about five seconds, I decided to eliminate said blog from my bookmarked faves. So not only do I have one less blog to worry about, I'll also have one less poster to worry about. I'm not so much for the playing the game of tit-for-tat (you nuked mine so I'll nuke yours) but more of playing the game of writing a post about it. Which is really how I lost one semi-regular to my blog from last year, and if you go back three paragraphs to the last link, you'll see what I mean.

The main idea behind writing this particular post about it, is to simply show my displeasure the easiest and safest way I know how. If this person gets the idea that somehow this post is about them, then I did my job well, because that means they got a 100% on another section of this never ending exam that is called Life, and that they'll have the sad misfortune of never having me visit their blog again.

If not, then I still have the very small kernel of satisfaction of getting a particularly irritating aspect about blogging off my chest without going completely nutso about it.

Comment moderation: in the hands of a pro, it is a truly marvelous thing as it gets used judiciously and effectively; in the hands of a novice, it can stop a blog dead before it can even really get started.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm Too Old For This

I hate taking exams with a passion that is only matched with dealing with dolts and rejects who make up a small percentage of the general public as it pertains to my job.

For those of you who are unfamiliar as to how the promotional system works in the state/federal government, let me clue you in a little secret: It doesn't work like the private sector.

In the private sector, you get promoted based on merit, i.e. you know what you're doing, you've proven that you can do the job and you're better than all the rest.

In the public sector, merit is a dirty word.

In the public sector, you get ahead by taking a test. If you test well, and get a high enough grade, chances are you're gonna get a lot of job notices if an opening pops up for the particular position you tested for. F'r instance, I scored well for Head Clerk and Processing Technician, which are clerical supervisory positions.

I also took an exam for Financial/Administrative Asst, of which I passed with the equivalent of D+ (Peppermint Patty land). The reason I passed with such a low score was ridiculously simple: I was sick as a dog. The week leading up to the exam, I came down with with a wicked case of the flu. By the time Saturday rolled around (which is when 98% of the exams are given), I was death warmed over. Unfortunately, being that sick is not an acceptable excuse for requesting that you take your exam at a later date. So I went in, struggled to stay awake and alive for 1 1/2 hours to take the exam, then drove home and spent the rest of the day traveling back and forth between the bed and the bathroom.

One unusual thing about these exams is that you never, ever, ever study for them. Why? The study guides that you can get for them are 1} hopelessly out-dated and 2} designed for the private sector, not the public sector. Another thing you have to remember is that you have to shut your brain off and give answers to the exam what you think the State believes is right.

That's right boys and girls, just like politics, if you give the answer which is actually correct (which would be based on your experience working within the government), you'll get it marked wrong on the exam. Therefore, you have give a wrong answer, in order to get marked correct on the exam. For those who still can't quite understand what I'm saying, here's an example:

1+2+3+4-1=?

If your answer is 9, you would be incorrect.

Oh and the reason why this post came about? Two days ago (December 2nd) I took the exam for Payroll Officer. This bad boy is offered once every two years and because it's offered on such an infrequent basis, I now qualify for it due to being in my current position for 5 years.

I was just so thrilled about taking this exam that I could hardly contain myself from wanting to run to the hills, dig a hole and hide until someone said "BOO!!!"

This concludes yet another lesson in the dysfunctionality that is your state government, hard at work spending your money so that you don't have to.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

K-Tel Makes The Best Cheesiest Music Ever!

You went and tried other types of cheese, like those "Now!" music series, but somehow the cheese didn't have the proper flavor. So you went to your local music store and tried all of those dozens upon dozens of other cheeses, but yet, the flavor was still off, or it smelled funny, or the texture wasn't the same.

So you went back home to wallow in your misery because deep down you just know, that the original was still the best. It was the most cheesiest, the most flavorful, the most lip smackingest, tongue teasiest cheese you ever had.

You savor the memory of listening to groups like the Hudson Brothers, Gunhill Road, The Ohio Players, and Reunion. You salivate at the prospect of being able to listen to music from Billboard's Top 200. But then you get sad when you realize that K-Tel doesn't do music anymore, but instead does pharmaceuticals.

Then suddenly out of the blue, you have a vision, a hallucination, that yes! you do have the cheese! But where? The storage room! You run to the storage room and rip the door off the hinges (for you know that the need for cheese is always insatiable). There, buried somewhere deep in the far corner of the room, is your beloved K-Tel music.

Furious, you dive into the clutter, digging through the debris like a dog possessed, you throw pots, pans, yarn, tools, books, tables, rackets, trees, the flower bed, the vegetable garden...until you hit THE STORAGE TUB with your head. Ravenous, you tear the lid off with your teeth and jam your head in to inhale the delicious moldy cheesy aroma. Delirious, you close your eyes and slowly drift away.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the 1970's, if you wanted one of those weird compilation albums, chances are you were able to find it from K-Tel Music. For the majority of the 70's and into the very early 90's, K-Tel music was the premier label for any and all types of compilations in the major genres of rock, pop and country.

No matter what you liked for music, you were able to find it with K-Tel. Be it novelty, on hit wonders or well known pop schlock, you were able to find it through K-Tel. They were the first (along with the original Sessions Music, not the punk label of the same name) to use television as a exclusive medium for advertising.

When I was old enough, I was able to purchase some of these compilations through the mail or more likely than not, through my local department store. Eventually I wound up with a collection of about two dozen or so albums, and these today remain the only exception to my personal rule of avoiding greatest hits packages.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and so did K-Tel music. People eventually found other types of compilations to play in the new format of the compact disc, and I believe that signaled a major death blow for K-Tel because they didn't change with the times.

The brief comment in that little story about pharmaceuticals was based on a search I did about five years ago when I got to wondering about K-Tel music, since I had a tape compilation from the mid-90's that was produced by K-Tel. The initial search found that K-Tel was now producing pharmaceuticals for the health food industry, and had gotten out of the music biz.

However, while doing research for this post, I decided to Google K-Tel music again, and this is what I found: a fantastic business story about the rise, fall and rebirth of K-Tel music, and this funky little blog about K-Tel records (unfortunately, it hasn't been updated for over a month, so I don't know if it will be around much longer).

So if you ever see any of these bad boys at a tag sale, pick a few of them up. You just might be surprised at what kind of music you'll find on it. Who knows, you might find a deserving artist that tickles your fancy and spurs you to go on a search that ultimately expands your horizons.

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