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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Nuovo Year' s Eve

Today is Nuovo Year' s Eve. With tomorrow being Nuovo Year' giorno di s, now will be a very good time to take my last blogging hiatus for the year.

It's been a great year for me, blogging-wise, because even though I hit a few valleys along the way, I was still able to consistently produce original content 99% of the time.

And as for writing, even though I wasn't able to get anything published, I was still able to make some fantastic progress just the same.

Let's recap, shall we?

We shall.

For blogging, I started a picture blog called Shooting Suburbia and a junk blog called Partially Yours and permanently closed my short story blog Flashing Georgie's Shorts. I almost equalled my output from 2009 (209) but counting this one, I fell short by three posts. I managed to stay true to myself and by doing so, I picked up a few more followers and a few more subscribers, for which I am truly grateful and truly appreciative of.

My goal as I enter my third year of blogging (I can't believe I just said that), is to maintain both my blogging schedules (S-M-W-F for here, Saturday for picture blog and sporadic for junk blog) and writing at least 99% original content for all three.

For writing, like I previously stated, even though I wasn't able to get anything published (not from the lack of effort), this year I was able to effectively push to the side the extremely nasty habit of not seeing something to the bitter end simply because getting to that end would be extremely difficult.

To whit: I managed to write and complete a first draft of a 65,000+ word novel in two and a half months; I did an initial round of editing; sent it off to a friend who gave it an honest critique; did three more rounds of editing; and most importantly, I wrote a first draft of a synopsis for it. In previous years, I probably wouldn't have gotten past the initial round of editing, but since I really want to make a go of this, I decided to take advantage of all the tools at my disposal.

My goal next year is to not only get that second draft of my synopsis written, but to start querying and submitting this novel as well. And perhaps get another short story published. And maybe, complete one of my trunk novels (got three of those).

With the happy recap completed, I wish everyone a very happy and very safe Nuovo Year' s Eve and Nuovo Year' giorno di s and will see you on January 3rd, 2011.

I leave you with a link to one very funny driving song and links to two of my favorite tongue in cheek songs about animals.

Nervous Norvus performing  Transfusion
Ogden Edsel performing  Dead Puppies

Loudon Wainwright 3rd performing Dead Skunk

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Border's Books & Music

I didn't get much for Christmas this year. To whit, I received the following items:

1} A t-shirt of Speedy Gonzalez (the old is now new).
2} A t-shirt of the New England Patriots (fave football team).
3} A official hoody of the New England Patriots (you know, the kind you have to buy at places like Dick's or Modell's).
4} A $25 gift card to Border's (lots of popular formuliac) Books & (very little non-popular non-top 40) Music.
5} A gift set of 4 alarm hot sauce: Jalapeno, Cayenne, Chipolte and Habanera.

#4 is what this particular post is all about.

Prior to Christmas, Joanne (the wife) asked me what kind of gift cards I wanted this year (I am impossible to shop for). Because I wanted to purchase a particularly weighty book edited by particular writer and agent that has been getting rave reviews all over cyber space, I mentioned that a gift card from Barnes & Nobles or Amazon would be greatly appreciated. I also mentioned Borders simply as an afterthought because I figured that she would get me something from the first two and not the third.

Guess what gift card I got this year. Go on, guess. Betcha can't.

Since I can't purchase said weighty book edited by that truly gifted writer and agent at Borders (but mark my word, I will find a way to buy said weighty book just the same), I am left with the thorny problem of what exactly I should buy at Borders.

I haven't gotten my calendar yet, but that's more of a long term mission than anything else (I want to get something that fits my eclectic tastes yet will not get me verbally warned at work for having that type of calendar hanging in my cube). So that leaves me to purchase one each of the following items: A book and a c.d.

This is where you, my very favorite readers, come in to play.

I would like from everyone who happens to stop by today and tomorrow, a suggestion for a book to read and a c.d. to listen to. I only have five rules that must be followed, and they are:

#1 No Young Adult (of any kind).
#2 No Horror (of any kind).
#3 No Country Pop (definition: anyone that you would hear on regular commercial radio or see at the CMA awards)
#4 No Classical (my classical music appreciation has been joyfully corrupted by Carl Stalling).
#5 No E-books (sorry, but I plan on being a luddite until I shrivel up and die...or get published by a company that is heavily involved with e-books)

Beyond that, the solar system is the limit on what you can suggest. I'm willing to experiment with both my music and my reading material, and what better way to usher in 2011 than by expanding my horizons for the written word and the musical note.

I plan on doing my shopping (probably online, since I'm forever getting discount offers for online shopping) on New Year's Day, and I will definitely let everyone know what my final selections will be on January 3rd.

I thank you all in advance for any attention that you may give to my oh-so-fluffy-oh-so-squeezable-and-oh-so-abnormal post.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Passion With A Heavy Concentration Of Toxicity

Note: I was actually gonna nuke this because I was having second thoughts a few hours after I initially wrote this, but the prick to who I was having issues with decided to take one last swipe at me by calling me an asshole. So it stays up and now I'm reconsidering whether or not to maintain my workplace friendship with my ex-FB friend.

I can truly understand how people can become passionate about certain issues. If a particular issue hits rather close to home, it's very easy to become passionate about it.

But what if that passion starts to cloud your judgment and makes you become the one thing that you supposedly loathe to see in others?

Take gay rights for example.

I know that there is a large segment of society that is quite passionate and very vocal about gay rights, and for the most part, the ones I've encountered have been respectful about the other points of views on the issue. And those people have been the ones over the past few years that have made me modify my viewpoint on certain things within the gay rights movement that otherwise would have remained the same had I not had those respectful and informative conversations.

But, and this is a big but, there are those whose passion has so fully taken over their sensibilities that no amount of legitimate opposing viewpoints will ever be accepted or even considered. They are so damn inflexible that to make any attempt at engaging them in a rational conversation/debate brings nothing but grief, stress and headaches to the person making the attempt.

A few weeks ago, I made a comment on a now ex-friend's status update on Facebook about the recent repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and apparently a few people took exception to the comment, including the ex-friend. Which I didn't really mind from her because everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint and on your wall, your viewpoint reigns supreme.

What bothered me the most was that within the minute I hit the "comment" button, the hyper-vigilant swarm immediately began pestering me (like a yapping puppy dog) with the same tired and stale arguments from my chat room years, like somehow that was going to make me change my mind or make a difference. If you're passionate to the point of obsession about gay rights, then reiterating the same thing over and over again while implying that I'm an ignorant fuck who is a bad parent and a homophobe just because I don't share the same opinion as you about gay marriage or the military's DADT policy or even Matthew Shepard, probably isn't going to make me listen or pay attention to whatever legitimate point you might have.
Anyways, it finally got to the point where I had to a powder from Facebook that night, simply because I got tired of being dumped on by someone who apparently was related to the ex-friend in question. Do you know how hard it is to respond to someone who is bashing you from pillar to post because they're related to a mutual friend?

My friends, I was in a classic Catch-22: if I responded in my usual way from days gone by, not only would I probably alienate the ex-friend but I would also have a few problems elsewhere as well. If I ignored it, it would give free rein to the prick who was making the comments to begin with.

I actually tossed and turned over this particular headache because as much as I liked this person, I wasn't finding any way out of my predicament. No matter what I wanted to say, chances are it would come back to bite me in the ass.

In the end, the decision was made for me. When I came back the next day, a few of the comments (mostly mine) were removed by my ex-friend. So in turn, that made it easier for me to unfriend my friend and I removed my remaining posts from the thread in question. Honestly though, I'm not sure how this is going to play out in the long run because there are quite a few issues that will still need to be resolved and I have to be extremely careful on how I go about resolving them.

However, due to the final shot that this prick took (which I wasn't able to respond to but was able read just the same), I don't think that this will be solved to anyone's mutual satisfaction. By her removing most of my posts and not saying anything about the content of what the other person was saying to begin with, she has shown a rather unsightly facet to her character that will cause me to treat her a little bit differently from this point forward.

The lesson to be learned is that while it is okay to be passionate about a particular issue, don't let that particular issue turn you into a bigot and blind you to either other legitimate (non-offensive) viewpoints offered by other people or the highly toxic ramblings of your friends and/or family.

Chances are that if you do turn a blind eye, you may not be able to repair any damaged relationships that stemmed from that blind eye to begin with.

Life is short to begin with. Don't shorten it even further by poisoning the relationships you cultivated over the years because you can't learn to listen with an open mind.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Weihnachtsabend

Today is Weihnachtsabend.

With tomorrow being Weihnachten, I think that now would be as good as time as any to take the first of two short hiatuses from blogging.

So the creator of Cedar's Mountain, Shooting Suburbia, Partially Yours, Flashing Georgie's Shorts and Books by George would like to wish all of you a Sehr Frohen Weichnachten.

I would also like to leave you with a video link of the only serious song I will admit to listening to during the Weichnachten season.

The video is a bit cheesy, but the song is really the focus.

I will see you all on Furlough Monday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chapbook Review: "Along The Highway" by Barry W. North

A few weeks ago, I lamented over the fact that I finally had a long short story that I felt confident enough in to submit to one of my favorite contests, but couldn't due to it falling outside the maximum length. I also mentioned that I had received a copy of the winning chapbook of the 2009 version of the contest. And I also mentioned that if I got the opportunity, I would do a review of this particular chapbook.

I got the opportunity.

First off, let me say that as general rule, I do not like to criticize another person's writing. I can understand and appreciate the amount of time and effort that a person can put into a story, and based on personal experiences, I will bend over backwards not to overly criticize someone's hard work (please read the comment section of this post for a thoughtful conversation that I had with David Cranmer over this particular issue).

With that said, let me share with you what one of the contest judges, Tom Smith, had to say about the winning entry.

With unflinching authenticity and intelligent compassion, Barry W. North has created in "Along The Highway", a first person narrator we can respect as we recognize she is too fine for the grimy fate that binds her. Even more than the socio-economic and biological determinism that surrounds her, she is ironically undone by her most sympathetic qualities: the love and consequent guilty responsibility she feels for her tragic younger sister. Are we our sisters' keepers? How does a person (and should she) let go of love and responsibility in order to get on with life? In this story, every detail of both style and content carry conviction and compelling reality.

Excuse me?

Anyways, in spite of the convoluted and analytical endorsement of the story that raised a ton of red flags in my mind and caused me to just now write that preceding sentence, I cracked open the cover and began to read.

And just as quick, I skipped over to the last couple of pages to find out just exactly what the story was really all about.

In spite of the effusive praise for this story and the writer (who apparently has a lot of stories in a lot of literary journals), this story was not for me. The problem I had with the story was that the first 20 pages were used as one monumental background dump. Only in the last two pages do we find out why the narrator had a tragic younger sister and what happened to said tragic younger sister.

I also found that to me personally, the writing was dry, the content analytical and the pacing flawed. Which is fine I guess, if you enjoy that type of formulaic writing that most MFA programs churn out.

But if you don't like that kind of writing, then this chapbook isn't for you. To me, this story reads more like a bizarre psychological case history than a well written creative endeavor.

This story did absolutely nothing for me, as it didn't meet any of my criteria for a good read.

1} It wasn't entertaining.
2} I frequently got lost.
3} And I actually read this story backwards (that is I started at the last page) in a vain attempt at understanding it.

I personally wouldn't recommend this chapbook. I also feel a little disappointed, because I have ordered chapbooks from this company before and those were pretty good reads (The Wisconsin Avenue Waltz, The Last Full Service Crocodile Ranch In Quintana Roo, and the 2008 contest winner Benediction).

Nevertheless, if you're interested in checking out some very fine fiction/poetry chapbooks (and even some rare chapbook editions of writer Joe Hill), please visit the White Eagle Coffee Store Press.

As always, I thank you for stopping by to spend a minute or two out of your very busy day to read what I had to write today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Schtuck

Sometimes when we touch the mountain of lucidity, bad things can happen.

For instance, I've been having a long moment of lucidity with my blog and guess what, I can't think of a damn thing to write about.

I suppose its easier to write when you're a little addlepated, a little flummoxed, a little scatterbrained (I'll wait for you to whip out that dusty book called a dictionary and look up those seriously ancient words before I continue). But sometimes, you just can't go through life in a continuous state of stupid. It doesn't work and in the long run, it only creates a failure to communicate.

So.

Where does that leave yours truly?

Well...for starters, I had a hell of a time trying to write something this past Friday.

First I tried to write about tattoos (note: I like tattoos), and wound up with this incredibly long post (about three and half total pages) that featured three examples of how I use tattoos in my writing. But I didn't like the end result, so I nuked it.

Next, I thought about posting an e-mail from my vast library of antiquated humor. So I started transcribing the e-mail and while I was doing so, I would add a few snide comments along the way. But just like my first attempt ending with that post being blown to smithereenies, so did this one as well.

Finally, I thought about writing a very short piece of flash to post on Friday.

So I sat down and started writing a short piece called "Preacher", but by the time I got to the second handwritten page I gave up. Why? Because I couldn't figure out where to properly focus the plot line.

To whit:

It opened with the preacher sitting on the ground, smoking a whiskey flavored cigar and writing a sermon on the evils of masturbation. Then, out of nowhere, a nameless sensuous beauty sat on his lap. Then I decided to have the preacher do all of the talking. Then I decided to add elements of Hell into the mix. Then I implied that the preacher was a minion of the nameless beauty.

As you can see, ADD sank its talons deep into my neck and took out a few ounces of intelligence.

Then I came up with the brilliant idea of writing about writing (descriptive characterization), but since I already wrote about writing and not wanting to be redundant, I shelved the idea for future use.

So.

After striking out by standing at the plate with the bat on my shoulders (no really, how do you think that I made most of my outs in little league), I was left with only one option. An option of which I don't really like to do on this blog.

I threw a picture up along with a short note.

Yes, I know, it was a weenie thing to do (and please, don't bring up Shooting Suburbia, because it's two completely different issues), but I really had no choice. It was either that or not post anything at all.

So that about sums up my week and thus the summation of this post as well. While yes, it does seem on the surface it was much ado about nothing, it did accomplish one very important goal.

It got you here.

Have an Extreme-ly Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pics, Familia and Facebook

Over at Shooting Suburbia is part two of "Fun, Diversion, Family, Familia"

Over here is a brief update on a particularly talented family member, along with a request/suggestion for you.

For those of you already in the know, Jenelle had a fantastic time skating Friday night.

For those of you who don't know, my daughter Jenelle had a short skating program during the second intermission of an AHL hockey game between the Connecticut Whale (nee Hartford Wolfpack) and the Worcester Ice Cats (if I'm wrong about the nickname, by all means please correct me) which was played at the XL Center here in Hartford CT, and from all parties involved, she had a fantastic time.

Because in addition to having a successful skating program, she also came home with a few nifty keepsakes.

To whit, she came home with both a poster and a tee-shirt that were autographed by a few of the local players, both of which we will frame later on after the holidays.

Now I bet your wondering about the differences between third sentence and the short paragraph. Well, it's real simple. The third sentence was related to my status update from this past Thursday, in which I mentioned that my daughter Jenelle would be skating this coming Friday. So that's why I started the sentence by saying "For those of you in the know", because some of my friends from the blog world are also my friends in the Facebook world.

And if you want to become a friend of mine in the Facebook world, all you have to do is click on the link in the upper left corner of the front page (if you're viewing this via the reader or e-mail, you'll have to click through) and it will give you the necessary information on how to find me, if you so choose to do so.

If you're so inclined to do so, all I ask is that you tell me who you are when you make the request, because for the majority of you who visit my blog, I don't have any idea on what your real name is.

In return, I can promise you a few things about what I won't do to you in Facebook, only because I don't like it done to me.

1} Clutter your wall/news feed with games or apps. I don't play any kind games or use any apps at all on Facebook, and as matter of record, I block the majority of them from my feed.

2} Clutter your wall with a lot of links. As matter of personal preference, I don't try to clutter up my wall with news or video links. I save the video links for my blog.

4} Speaking of blogs, my blog feeds through my wall, so even if you don't have the time to stop by and read, you can always find a current blog post on my wall to peruse at your leisure.

5} Status updates. On the average, my blog posts with a greater degree of frequency (4 times a week) than I do on Facebook. I am actually more comfortable cruising all my friend's feeds and participating in whatever they're talking about at a given moment, than I am posting a status update. I figure that since most people in my circle already know what I'm doing to being with, either through the blog or at work, the last thing that they need to see from me is more updates about myself.

So if this is something that you might want to take a chance on, I will be more than happy to add you into my circle of friends. If not, believe me, I will take no offense because I do respect my fellow reader's/blogger's privacy. Whether we're friends here in the blog world or on Facebook, it's all the same to me.

A friend is a friend, no matter where we meet up at.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holly



Would you believe that I drew a complete blank for a post today? Because I couldn't think of anything witty or innnnnnnnnnnnteresting (imagine Bugs Bunny doing his impersonation of a hairdresser) to write about, I shall instead send you into the weekend with a picture of the cat that chooses to call me its caretaker.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Want To Be Your Genetic Jackhammer!

Pound! Drill! Saw! Hammer! Pull it out! Push it in! Way in!

Metaphorically speaking, you know where this is heading, right?

Just like violence in the hands of a good writer can often leave a reader thinking about what might lie ahead in a story, sex in the hands of a good writer can often leave you wanting to be on the receiving end in a story.

Sex in the hands of a bad writer becomes Debbie Does Dallas, Behind the Green Door and The Adventures of Johnny Wadd. In other words, filth and grade C porn.

I'm sure you're asking the screen, "G, what does porn have to do with this post?"

Well, its like this. Just like my previous post, in which I threw in scenes of gratuitous violence because I had no clue in what I was doing, the same reasoning applied for when I threw in sex scenes.

Because I was writing a "romance", I figured it needed a lot of sex in it, and I figured the more graphic it was the better off the story would be.

So I started writing all kinds of sex scenes in it. Scenes of tenderness, scenes of violence and straight up scenes of unmitigated debauchery, the likes of which probably wouldn't be seen in a normal romance novel, but quite at home in a porn novel. I even wrote a lengthy scene that involved our hero fucking the daylights out of his girlfriend while writing his novel.

Yeah, I was clueless in Connecticut alright.

sigh.

I mentioned in my previous post that the worst was yet to come with my lack of writing skills and sure enough it did.

As writers, we all want to become well known for something, be it for a particular character, a particular book or even a particular genre. Well, I became well known in the chat rooms for a particular two page scene in Shades of Love.

The background to the scene was nothing special to brag about. The lead male character in the secondary story (the one that was being written by the MC in the main plot) wanted to extract his pound of flesh by getting his revenge on the girl. However, it was the scene itself for which I became so well known for.

I would love to tell you what the scene contained and I would even love to post the excerpt, but to be honest, it would probably get my other blog flagged (in spite of the adult warning) because the actual content could be misconstrued as violating the standards of this website.

Yeah, its actually that bad.

Now let me tell you what I went through with that little two page scene (btw, if you're curious as to what the hubbub is all about, the book is still for sale through me. pick up a copy, not only to find out what that scene was all about, but for use as a warning guide in how not to write). In 2009, I was trolled unmercifully in the chat rooms over this particular scene. A few acquaintances that I happen to make in the chat rooms all up and vanished after they'd read the passage that an ex-friend of mine decided to post all over the place.

The attacks got to be so bad (in addition to this book, the same person was mercilessly pounding me with info gleaned from this blog, from Facebook and from private conversations) that I started taking longer and longer breaks from the chat rooms until finally, I wound up leaving for good in the summer of 2010.

The point I'm trying to make is to be careful on what you write and how you write. Bad writing is bad writing and sometimes it becomes downright impossible to recover from.

I'm making a lot of headway with my writing, simply because I learned a greart deal since I wrote that book in 2006. I guarantee if I wrote that book today, it certainly wouldn't contain all the garbage that's in there now, and it certainly wouldn't contain that particular scene.

Notoriety.

If you're not careful, it can be that two ton gorilla that you will never get rid of.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Do You Visit?

I've been pondering this question for the better part of a month and you might think that this is one of those open ended questions that I ask from time to time, but if you bear with me for a few minutes, I'll try to enlighten you as to why I ask this.

If I can't, then at the very least, I managed to occupy a couple of minutes of your invaluable time that probably could've been better spent trimming your fingernails and/or toenails.

The reason that I've been pondering this question is that after about two and a half years (Holy Father Time Batman!) I've seem to be getting my second wind with my blog. To the best of my knowledge, I haven't consciously changed my writing style or blog content, yet somehow I'm picking up a few more followers for my blog.

Now don't get me wrong, I truly enjoy having those people thinking enough of my writing talent that they want to get a thrice weekly dose of my blog. But its not like I actually go out and search for new blogs to read, because honestly, I haven't done any wholesale blog surfing since 2009.

I'm quite content to hang ten at the forty or so blogs that I frequently comment on, having a grand old time sharing my pearls of wisdom with my blogger friends. And when I'm not sharing my pearls of wisdom with everyone in the comment forms, I've been the basic house-husband at my blog.

Just maintaining, cleaning, dusting, and doing the various chores that keeps my blog running the way I want it to run and thus making it the kind of read that keeps you coming back on a daily/weekly basis.

So if I'm not off gallivanting to all parts of the universe and I'm not wandering out of my immediate neighborhood, how am I picking up all of these new readers?

This my friends is what I've been burning a few brain cells thinking about: why do you visit?

I know this could be somewhat of a rhetorical question, because I do sometimes think out loud on my blog and during those times I never really expect an answer to whatever rhetorical question I'm asking.

I suppose I could switch it from a rhetorical question to a real question and make it the focus of me and my blog, but honestly, doesn't that sound a little self-centered and egotistical? Not to mention overly paranoid?

Instead, I'll leave you with this thought, which considering this post was Seinfeldian in its execution almost makes perfect sense.

If the world does indeed revolve around you, what kind of blog would you ultimately write?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tete-a-Tete-a-Tete

I thought for today I would take a shot at getting all three of my quad-weekly/weekly/whenenver the mood strikes me blogs involved with today's post.

Why?

Because I can.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Anyways, over at Shooting Suburbia is part one of my latest series entitled "Fun, Diversion, Family, Familia".
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Over at Partially Yours is an op-ed piece about the non-repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And at center stage, is a update on Line 21.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Two weeks ago, I finished writing the first draft to my synopsis, which in and of itself was a good thing. A very small problem cropped up in the process, which so far has caused me one big fat headache.

Grammar, typos and sentence structure issues.

Yep, was time for yet another round of editing.

Normally when I do editing, I like to do it with as little distraction as possible, which usually means I need zippo for background noise. This works out quite well when I'm editing a short story, a blog post or a longer short story. However, because I was editing this manuscript for a fourth (yes, I said fourth) time, I felt that this time around, I needed something to help me keep focused while I was editing something that I was slowly starting to loathe looking at.

Yes, I said loathe. I'm sure some of you out there have reached that particular point with whatever it is that you're creating at one time or another, where if you look at it one more time, it gets trashed.

Anyways, I decided to dig out about a dozen or so c.d.'s to listen to while I was slowly driving myself batty doing a line-by-line edit of all 149 pages of my manuscript, which ultimately led to a list of 64 pages that I will need to reprint, which if you do the math, calculates out to 43% of my manuscript being tweaked.

So, in no order of importance, here's what I listened to while I was editing my manuscript. Please note that list is subjective and reflects what I like to listen to in the privacy of my den, as opposed to what I listen to out in the general public. Please also note, that air guitar, air drum, air bass, as well as the unfortunate talent of keeping the beat (something I learned while playing the clarinet from 3rd grade thru junior year of high school) was actively engaged in the process. Please also note that I was able to turn the tables on my daughter, as I got bad comments and strange looks from her due to my singing, which I consider justifiable payback for her tap dancing and French horn playing that went on directly above me. And finally, please also note that I went off on YouTube excursions as a result of playing a few of these c.d.s

1} What's Your Name by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Reissue c.d. I picked up some six years ago. Love Southern rock, no matter when it was created.

2} Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty. Best singalong c.d. I own in my collection.

3, 4, 5} The Long Road, All The Right Reasons, Silver Side Up by Nickelback. Great stuff and  apparently in the music industry the word "drugs" is a naughty word, because for their video "Rock Star" the word "drugs" was bleeped out. Funny video just the same with great cameos but the censorship really screws up the pacing.

6} The Sound of Madness by Shinedown. I went partially deaf listening to this as I buried the volume to about 9 for my headphones.

7} What's The Story Morning Glory? by Oasis. Another one of my favorite singalong c.d.s, this one also garnered a few pointed words thrown at me by my 9 year old daughter.

8} Throwing Copper by Live. I actually picked this one up about four days prior to this post at a fundraiser for one dollar. Best investment I made, because even though the c.d. was a monster hit for Live (and kind of their Waterloo, so to speak), I got it for one song called "White Discussion".

9} White Trash Girl by Candye Cane. This c.d. was a perfect fit for this book as Kandy Cane in her previous life prior to becoming a jump blues singer, was an adult movie actress and model for smut magazines. Less you think that this c.d. is simply someone's idea of a vanity project, this is disc #7 from her catalogue. Great stuff if you can find it. Oh, and one of my favorite tracks is called "The Masturbation Blues".

10} Gordon by The Barenaked Ladies. This was one of four c.d.'s from them that I picked up during the same fundraiser, and it does not disappoint. I'm always in the habit of picking up cheap c.d.'s of artists I only hear on the radio, because lets face it, wouldn't you rather spend a couple bucks on a c.d. from an artist that you might have not heard of or dismiss out of hand due to the type of music that artist plays, than spend fifteen or more on the same artist that you might not like afterwards.

11} Bachman-Turner Overdrive 2 by B.T.O. I liked the Guess Who and I like B.T.O. Need I say more?

So in the end, all eleven of these c.d.s helped keep me focused on the task at hand, which was editing my manuscript. It's not something I want to make a habit of in the future, but sometimes, you really need some background noise in order to keep your mind from wandering away when you least want it to.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A: Empty Wallet. Q: What Is Being Right?

Why is it when you stand for a principle or even better, assert your right as a parent, it costs you money?

Case in point: I've been having a long running battle with both my son and my mother over him wanting to get a driver's license. Long story short, I made it crystal clear that in order for me to allow him to get a license, he has to get a job.

Why?

I suppose it has to do with the fact that the nano-second he gets a license my poor paycheck, already stretched to maximum capacity as being the only source of income in the house, cannot absorb the financial hit that a lazy teenager will inflict on it.

So in order to help defray the cost of a teenager latching onto my paycheck, said teenager got a job flipping burgers, which in and of itself was a good thing. Responsibility and all that jazz, I'm all for it.

Anyways, at about the same time he got the job, he also signed up for driver's ed classes (Connecticut says that you have to have "x" amount of hours of a particular type of driver's training under your belt before you can take the exam). Which was fine. Again, responsibility and all that jazz, I'm all for it.

And he also makes an appointment to take the test, which is also fine. Responsibility and all that jazz, I'm all for it.

A few weeks later, once it became clear enough that son was gainfully unemployed due to being dropped after a weekend of training, it was decided by me that a rescheduling of the driver's test needed to be done.

Oh.
My.
God.

You thought I uttered a profanity against the Prophet Muhammad. Next thing I knew, I'm being jumped by my lazy ass son and my overbearing mommy dearest.

After an intense rock 'em sock 'em battle in which profanities, threats and objects were hurled with deadly accuracy, and of which I tried (again) to get my point across about it being financially unsound in the most direct way that I knew how, I left the household battered and bruised, and unsure whether or not I was going to win this latest flareup.

By Monday (this donnybrook having taken place on Friday morning so my day was severely shot to tiny little pieces) the acrimony had died down to the point where I was on acknowledgment terms with lazy ass son and mommy dearest.

So I'm busy typing away on keyboard at work with pretty much an empty mind, when my phone rings. I looked at the caller i.d. and considering its from home, my tone is somewhat brusque.

"What?" this is how I usually answer the phone from home.
"Hey, where do you want me to take the money from?" as you can see, wife is more than used to this kind of 'tude from me.
"For what?"
"Cancellation fee."
"Again, for what?"
"Cancelling the driver's test without two weeks notice." driver's test was the next day.
"How much?"
"Forty bucks."
at this point I'm swearing under my breath because if I did it out loud I would be hip deep in pig shit.
"G?" she really didn't call me that but you know....
"What."
"Where do you want me to take it from?"
grumble, grumble, grumble "Checking I guess."
"You sure?"
"Not really."
"Thanks, bye."

So in the end, this debacle (for it was a debacle) cost me a great deal of peace of min, made my wallet a tad lighter and made my mood just that darker for the next week.

I often ask myself is it really worth it to hold your ground in order to make your point, when in the end all you've accomplished is to widen the chasm between yourself and your kids, yourself and your wife, yourself and your parents, and sadly enough, between yourself and your peace of mind.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Strangeness Abounds


As some of you may have experienced on your blog from time to time, I have a rather strange sense of humor. Not only do I share it with my friends here in the blog world, but I also share it with my friends, co-workers and strangers out here in the real world as well. Case in point is the picture that is gracing your computer screen this morning.

Back in the late spring, I did one of my Saturday morning errands walking around with a Beanie Baby Duck on the top of my head. Yes, the general public did see me. At the bank, in the parking lot of Dunkin' Donuts, in Dunkin' Donuts, and at the post office (in which one of my supervisors saw me at my most vulnerable).

Anyways, for the rest of the summer, the manager of the Dunkin' Donuts kept asking me where Ducky was, to which I replied that he was in the Bahamas on vacation (still is in the Bahamas on vacation. well, in this weather, wouldn't you?). By the beginning of fall, I had earned the sobriquet of "Ducky" whenever I walked into that particular D.D.

Staying true to form, I decide to one up the sobriquet that the D.D. manager had given me. Around early November, I decided to add a little something to my wardrobe. Mainly, a smaller version of what you see in front of you. I had found a tiny version of Pooh Bear and he was the perfect fit for a slightly worn out hole in the front right pocket of my jacket. After a little pruning and posing, he is safely tucked away with one arm waving hi and a foot sticking through the small hole for support.

So naturally, I became a spokesman for Pooh Bear. Whenever I would walk into a public place (yes, public place), I would bring Pooh Bear into the conversation, which of course would bring a smile to everyone's face and a chuckle for the day.

Almost overnight, he became a local celebrity. Well, not really a local celebrity, but more like G's alter-ego. Whereas the legendary Jannie Funster has the very hip and kick ass Blue Bunny to dominate the blog world, my little Pooh Bear will not. Dominate the blog world that is. But he will be brought in from time to time as he enjoys reading much the same things that I do (imagine that) and thus will need help in voicing his opinion.

In the meantime, Pooh Bear will be more than happy to order and talk about the same things that his best potato spud G likes in the real world, because you know in the real world, we all need that one best bud that helps us stay grounded when the rest of the crap that the world has to offer starts to bleed through the protective shield that we like to throw up around ourselves on a daily basis.

Life.

Is noisy shiny crap, but every once in a while, we need to have a little innocence injected into the mix, just to remind us that the child from days gone by wants to come out and play.

Monday, December 6, 2010

YA? Umm....No.

The winner of the weekend poll is this scathing post about the genre called Young Adult.

I've been blogging for about 2 1/2 years now and I've come across more than my fair share of writer's blogs. For the most part all of the writers that I've met seem to me to be passionate about what they write and very well grounded.

By well grounded, I meant that they don't go completely overboard and ga-ga talking about what they write. They treat their potential and/or current readers like they were responsible adults.

As an example: I write adult fiction that has all kinds of sexual flavoring added to the mix. I enjoy writing that type of stuff and I'm very comfortable in talking about my stuff in a normal responsible manner. I don't treat my readers like they were degenerates, so I don't talk to them like they were degenerates.

And I'm sure if you're a writer reading this, you would agree that to talk about your stuff with your fellow writers or readers in any other way beyond treating them as an adult is completely wrong.

So why is it that Young Adult writers talk to their fellow writers as if they were 17, hyped up on quadruple shots of espresso, and have a vocabulary straight out of Valley Girl high school?

During this year, I picked up a couple of more blogs written by a few YA writers (I follow one already) and the difference between the two is like night and day. Granted, the only thing that they have in common is they picked up on mine simply because they are developing a network of writer's blogs, which is fine by me.

Beyond that common denominator, there is a major reason as to why I friended two of them on Facebook and reciprocated following their blog and the other I didn't reciprocate following, don't want to friend her on Facebook and I get mentally sick whenever I visit her blog.

Being treated as an adult.

With the first two, no matter if I'm reading a blog post or a comment on Facebook, I'm always left with the feeling that I'm not being talked down to, that in spite of the type of genre they write for a living, I'm being treated like an adult.

With the other, it's like dealing with a member from the cult of "I". As in, "I do this," and "I'm doing that," and "Oh my god, I met the hunkiest guy at the latest writer's convention!"

Additionally, she talks/writes like Moon Zappa hopped up on crystal meth circa 1982 and believes like everyone is 17 you know. And for her fellow commenters, good lord I never realized that there were so many 30-35 year old women masquerading as 16 year old wannabes that write Young Adult.

In all honesty, I never thought it was possible to hate an entire genre, but after reading that particular blog, along with one called Query Tracker, which seems to have an overly heavy concentration of YA writers contributing to it, and some of the especially vapid comments that seem to contain the adjective, "Awesome!!!" in it, I will never, ever read any book written by anyone in that particular genre. I may buy it to support a fellow writer that I like (which I do already with others), but it will never be cracked open to have its pages sullied by my greasy fingertips.

How serious am I about this pledge? If someone put two books in front of me, with one being a YA book and other being the grossest most disgusting book in any genre you could legally buy in a book store (friends, Feral House Publishing puts out such revolting stuff. I should know, because I have a book from that company) and that has been known to give people nightmares, and told me that I could only have one to keep me company on that trip to purgatory, I would choose that second book.

Young Adult.

It ain't for the faint hearted.

Like totally.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wait For It...Wait For It...Wait For It...

Oh hell, don't wait for it. Jump over to Shooting Suburbia for the final part of "Furlough Weekend". It's a bit silly for a change and except for a few sobering sentences at the very end, quite humorous and upbeat.

As for over here, not sure what to write about. I really don't feel like making this one of the incredibly short posts that I'm not known for, so let's see what I can find if I tap into my head. Let me just pull out this spigot here.

Whips out the biggest and ugliest spigot you've ever seen in your lifetime and blows the dust bunnies off. It growls and sneezes, so he bashes it against the wall where it promptly howls and whimpers in pain.

So if you hang on a second, let me just....ahhhh much better.

For those of you who need a clearer visual, our intrepid blogger has just slammed one end of the spigot into his ear and opened the valve, which is why he has a smile on his face and eyelids fluttering.

Damn it all to hell....don't you hate it when that happens? You get on a roll writing something (or creating something or composing something or whatever your chosen creative endeavor happens to be) and then you decide to take a break to do something else, because you figure that you'll be able to come back to it and pick up where you left off at.

BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Your sorry excuse for a brain shrivels up and dies the second you try to pick up where you left off at.

Shoot.

But you gotta admit, it would've been neat to see what the ultimate destination was, wouldn't it?

Man, I really do hate when that happens.

In any event, I do have some things on tap for next few weeks. In addition to whatever misadventure that you'll read about on Monday (and no, I haven't taken a look at the end result of voting yet. Don't forget to vote as frequently as possible because we practice Chicago-style politics here. Besides, don't you want to see me as President some day, where I can learn on the job just like the current El Presidente?), I have a couple of ideas floating around in my head.

Like tattoos. Why tattoos? Well, in addition to writing about different hairstyles in the majority of my stories (boy do I ever write some descriptive hairstyles. Someday I may share one that I wrote for a trunk novel of mine based on this book), I also like tattoos. Not the overkill that some people do, but the less than four that most people choose to grace their body with.

Now that's something that we all can enjoy.

In any event, yours truly is gonna crawl back into his man cave and finish writing the first draft to his synopsis, in which he has one chapter left to summarize  spent the early part of the morning finishing up the first draft of his synopsis. All 6,172 words spanning 10 pages (MS Works document. Have no idea what this translates to in Word).

Of course, you know that means now I'll have to spend time revising the damn thing so that it actually reads like a story instead of 10 pages of chopped up parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Which of course is a great song, but a truly inedible combination of ingredients.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Tapestry Of Individuality That Is Called Hair

Okay gang, this post can be considered a "shotgun wedding", because quite frankly, I got so wrapped up in creating Wednesday's post and the poll that I completely forgot about the fact that I had nothing for Friday cued up.

So, I'm like the guy whose girlfriend is now showing how circular her stomach has become and daddy dearest has been slowly reassembling the shotgun that he'd just finished cleaning only moments ago, in that I wrote this post about 15 hours ago, on the fly with only the inspiration of M&M and DJ to guide me.

Seriously, the seed of the idea was provided by M&M, and DJ and NN from work helped flesh it out.

If you haven't been able to figure it out from the title of the post, yes it is hair. What did you think it was, tattoos? That's for a later post and once again, the same three culprits are responsible for helping me flesh that one as well.

Anyways, I've learned throughout my 14 years of working in state guv'ment working as a minority (I'm a guy who worked in agencies/units that were predominantly populated by the opposite sex) that there certain things you can never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever say anything even remotely .00000001% negative about.

Like hair.

I've seen all kinds of hairstyles on both co-workers and close friends, and I've learn long ago that the safest neutral word I can give when I see a co-worker/friend with a new hairstyle, is "interesting". Guys, take it from me, if you don't want to wind up in the doghouse, never say anything worse than "interesting" about your main squeeze's hairstyle.

Do not even remotely say something like, "That outfit you have on looks nice, maybe you could do something to your hair to compliment it."

I did that once, and I spent a couple of days apologizing for the comment. My comment was innocuous at best but it was taken in a way that it wasn't intended, and I paid a very heavy price for it.

Now the strange thing is, and I've mentioned this to a few other people, mostly guys and a few open-minded women, is that I find women's hair to be sensuous. Especially long hair, usually when it starts at below the shoulder. It's one of the few things that I try to incorporate into almost all of my writings. To me, long hair is a versatile item that can convey a multitude of emotions depending on how its used in a story.

Example: A woman comes home tired and exhausted from work and basically crashes on the couch. Her significant other (in this case, a guy) offers to help her relax a little bit. So he takes out a brush and takes up a seat behind her. Perhaps he has her sit on the floor in front of the couch while he takes up a spot behind her. A few seconds later, he starts to lovingly brush her hair, using gentle and caressing brush strokes, and soon thereafter....

Anyways, I digress. I find that quite often the way a woman wears her hair can say a lot about them as a person. Almost like it's a tiny window into their soul. I've seen some wonderful hairstyles that run the gamut of complex designs to just loose and natural, that have at the very least, lend an air of sensuality to their overall being. And on the other side of the equation, I have seen a few hairstyles that have left me no other choice than to throw out my neutral comment when I seen them, and afterwards have caused me not to make any other comment for quite awhile.

Another thing that I don't do, especially around my office because it's almost universal, is to ask whether or not the braids/dreads that particular woman is wearing are real. Guys, that is another distinct no-no. Ask your squeeze about that, I can almost guarantee you that Fido will be sleeping on your bed that night and you'll be on the couch getting at the most, 10 consecutive minutes of sleep at any given time.

Braids/dreads are about as personal as a woman can possibly get with their hair, and unless you know what that particular woman was like prior to, don't even ask. I've known only one woman who told me hers was real (almost down to her butt), and that was because I happen to compliment her on her overall appearance, which in turn started a conversation that allowed me at one point to get a closer look at her dreads to see for myself and she undid about an inch of one to show me as well.

Hair is the easiest weapon that a woman can utilize to make a man pay attention, and my friends, that is one of the great mysteries of life, and one mystery that I will forever enjoy exploring with my writing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Randomy Randomness

*Credit goes to Lisa of Journal of Random Tangents for the first use of this blog post title

Normally on Wednesday, I would present some kind of writing related post here. However, I've been on roll attitude-wise since Furlough Friday, so I thought I would present some random tidbits from the vast arena that is my life, in the hopes that my good 'tude would somehow flavor these random tidbits that are being served up hot and steamy for your consumption (eating that is, not the old time term for tuberculosis).

#1: Synopsis. Like I mentioned on Sunday, I started working on my synopsis on Friday and at the moment, it currently stands at 7 pages with 2 1/2 chapters left to summarize. Along the way, thanks to M&M, I rediscovered what a...yeech...an outline is. I also came up with a question that hopefully someone out there could answer, especially since that this is only the first draft for my synopsis.

The guideline I found says to write the synopsis in third-person present tense. I think I got that down, but does that mean that I can't use pronouns in it? I seem to be having an issue with continuity and flow, and I think a lot of it has to do with me flipping back and forth between using names and pronouns.

#2: Doctors. This past Monday (11/29) I had a eye doctor's appointment and when all was said and done, my doctor threatened to drop me as a patient. My crime? Not wanting to have a particular test done. Now normally, I don't have a problem having a particular medical test done on me, so long as I'm given some kind of advance notice that this test is going to take place. But if you tell me less than one minute after I sit down in the exam chair that I'm gonna have a particular procedure and then hand me a clipboard telling me to sign a release form, chances are that I'm gonna balk at having the test done.

Suffice to say, I told him that I didn't want to have the test done with the main reason being that I don't like having tests sprung on me like that. He then proceeded to throw a temper tantrum, told me that it was imperative to have the test done, that if I didn't have it done or if I didn't agree with his course of treatment, he would drop me as a patient. He also said a few other things but we'll put those aside for the time being. I kept my cool, let him do his thing and made an appointment in March to supposedly have this test done.

However, the reality is this: I have been a patient with this particular medical organization (pediatrics and eyes) since I was six months old. I'm 45, which means I've been there longer than anyone there has been practicing medicine, doctor or nurse. I've outlasted two of my original doctors, was dumped on this doctor by a third and I can almost guarantee you that I will be seeing someone new prior to that appointment in March.

#3: Writing Contest. Since 2006 I've been entering a writing contest sponsored by the White Eagle Coffee Store Press called the Long Story Contest, International and every year I naturally don't win or get a mention. Why do I mention this now? Exactly 11 months after I entered the 2009 version of this contest, I received a copy of the winning story entitled Along The Highway by Barry W. North.

Now, I haven't read this thing yet, but from the blurb on the title page, it seems like it would be interesting read, so I may do a book review on it later. However, this snippet isn't about that, it's about the fact that finally after four years of entering mediocre (in my opinion) short stories for this contest, I finally have one that I feel very confident about entering. Problem is that its about 5,000 words too long for the contest. Word count is 8K-14K and mine taps out at 18,5K.

Sometimes it just don't pay to polish a story.

#4: Well, I haven't quite thought of a number 4 yet. I suppose I could mention that I'm doing another batch of writing contests for my two of my shorts and my novel. I suppose that I could also mention that my department is slowly getting marginalized at work (never a good thing). But instead, I'll mention this: A poll!

If you're looking at the front page (if you're viewing this through a reader or the e-mail you'll have to click through the link), you will see a small poll stashed at the top of the blog. On it you will have four choices for Monday's blog post: a post about Shades of Love; a post about a recent event in my life; a post about YA authors; and a post about blogs.

Vote early and vote often because you know its just for fun. Also, to make things ridiculously easy (or hard, take you pick), I will give you the post titles in the poll and yeah, the titles should give you a large enough sledgehammer hint to play with.

Sometimes, it's good be G, because you know, the radio did roll me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oooh TSA Man, You Can Pat Me Down Anytime

No really, I would love for you to pat me down before I board the plane and sit in a cramped set with a screaming kid in front and a droning airhead next to me because your touch will keep my libido pulsating for the trip from hell.
~~~~~~~~~~
It's a rare day on Cedar's Mountain where I happen to touch upon events that are going on in the world around me. Because usually, I'm more happy than a pig chest deep in mud when it comes to practicing ignorance is bliss on my blog.

But ever since people started to squawk about the new security rules implemented at the airports, I've found it hard to sit by and watch/listen to all of this infantile debate without putting my in my twenty-five cents (adjusted for inflation).

To everyone who have decided to bitch, moan and groan over these new pat down rules and intrusive body scanners, I say this:

GET THE HELL OVER IT!!

I'm sorry to say but everyone here in the good old U.S. of A. who carries just a scintilla of power (i.e. ethnic organizations, left leaning politicians, college radicals and spineless educators) are to blame for this latest non-secure security rules that appease only those with ultra-hyper sensitive maladjusted low self esteem who have the ability to shout down anyone who shows a lick of common sense.

Face it folks, these new rules do absolutely nothing to make me feel secure. All they do is inconvenience the average American traveling to and fro across the country. They do not address nor go after the people who would want to do us harm, which like it or not, are people from Africa, Asia & the Middle East. Not everyone mind you, just the small percentage of radicals who use Islam as an excuse to hate.

The reality of the situation is that if we really want to have some semblance of a secure homeland, we need to do what the Israelis have done and will always do to keep their country secure.

Profile.

Yes, profile.

Like it or not, in order to have a secure country we really need to start profiling. Call it racial, call it harassment, call it whatever you like, I don't care. Over the years, you can't tell me that profiling, racial or otherwise, hasn't worked to keep your city and state safe and secure.

Why do you think that in spite of some of the incredibly backwards things that some of these Middle Eastern countries do, they have a good success rate in combating terrorism?

That's right, profiling.

And why do you think that Israel hasn't had a terror attack in the past four decades?

That's right again. Profiling.

Shoot, they even practice it in Europe to a certain degree and in spite of all the rhetoric about political correctness, they probably do a good job in preventing these kind of attacks.

I reiterate, my advice to everyone who has been bitching about these new rules: get over it.

We have sown the seeds of our own namby-pambyness because no one had a spine to stand up to all the naysayers who said that profiling was a hurtful and intolerant thing to do.

This is political correctness at its absolute worst. We worked hard to earn our status as a victim-ocracy. So like it or not, we deserve to eat the fruits of our labors.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Up-2-Thee-60 Second-Date

Making fantastic progress with my synopsis. After a few false starts on Gobbler Day and Furlough Friday, I am now in the zone and have managed to (literally) scribble out about 16 handwritten pages for my synopsis. I will see everyone on the flipside and here's to wishing that you're surfing through a relatively mild Autumn weekend as opposed to the lo-40's we're currently experiencing here in Connecticut. Comments are off as this is more of a status update than a regular post.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Partial To Yours

I got to writing a blog post during my down time at work the other day, but about two pages in, it got to be so funky that I said to myself that there was no way I was gonna be able to post it over here.

Why?

Damn thing turned into a bizarre (well for me anyways) piece of flash fiction that was better suited for my other blog than it would be at this one.

Why?

Because it is easier to use provocative language over there, as opposed to over here with my particular piece of flash fiction.

So if you could, please follow me over to Partially Yours where you can read one of the fastest written pieces of flash fiction I ever wrote (about an hour and a half of total time split between work and on the blog) called "Purrrfect."

Also, if you had a chance to read Wednesday's post, then you know that I'm hip deep in trying to write a synopsis for my book (remember, I schedule my posts, which is why that last sentence is past tense). Because of that, there may or may not be a post at Shooting Suburbia tomorrow. I wanted to give everyone a heads up just in case you wander over there and still see the post from last week staring back at you because that's just the way I is.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In A Quandry With My Quarto

I thought I would take a break from the perpetual chop blocks that I've been giving myself as of late, and turn to writing about what I'm currently up to. Don't get me wrong, it's been mighty fun dwelling on the past, but I'm sure that everyone is just a tad curious on what I've been up to in the here and now.

The one thing that has been the proverbial 1,000lb goril-lil-lil-lil-lil-lil-lil-lil-lil-lil-lla jamming up my brain and clogging up my sinuses and causing me to do all kinds of writing related exercises under the sun, and in fact has been slowly driving me around the bend and over the cliff, which overall has been a never ending source of paralysis, and in fact has caused me to write this ungodly run-on sentence while I'm trying to figure out a suitable ending.....feh, feh, feh.

Feh, feh, feh, blah, blah, blah, blah....oh hell, just get on with it G.

Synopsis.

I've been doing all kinds of crazy things with my writing because frankly, I'm scared shitless about writing a synopsis for my book. I have completed another round of editing and printed out almost three dozen new pages for it, copied that version over and started tweaking the language so that I would have a semi-clean and a unclean version at my fingertips; I have worked on a brand new story that has grown to 65+ pages (which I just put aside for the time being); and I even started editing another story which M&M was thoughtful enough to critique for me a month ago.

All of this was done because I've been unable to face doing the one thing that would take me from the level of being a blogger who wants to be a writer (notwithstanding the one short I have published so far) to the entry level position of a writer who happens to be a good blogger. And in order to accomplish that, I really need to have a synopsis for my book.

Unlike last time, in which I seriously didn't know what the hell I was doing and did everything that you could possibly imagine wrong for querying/submissions (some day I will write a post about that too), this time I did a little research and found a nice primer on how to write a synopsis. So I got that little item sitting in my notebook of pen and paper (in all honesty, I find that I can concentrate better writing stuff by hand as opposed to writing on a computer, notwithstanding this particular blog post, which of course is actually being written as we speak), and of which is an accomplishment in itself because I printed out that little primer about three months ago.

And for the next three months, there it sat in either my notebook of paper or in the binder containing the finished product gathering dust bunnies. And during that time, I did what I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, and I was happy.

Truth is, I was miserable. I had a great story, nicely written, nicely critiqued and edited to death three times over and yet, I couldn't pull the trigger to take the next step. Yup, I was a charter member of Procrastinators-R-Us.

So what finally made me decide to start working on it after all this time?

The main reason as to why I decided to take my game to the next level is that I was coming up on my one year anniversary of when I first jotted down the sentence, "I need an extension."

Yup, Super Bowl Sunday 2010 is when I started writing this thing and although I know that to most writers out there, one year spent writing a novel can be the equivalent of spending a calendar month writing short stories, to me spending a year working on a novel is about ten months too long. Yeah, I know that to spend only two months writing a novel sounds wrong, to me it really isn't. I spent about two months writing this book, which is only about one-third of the time I spent writing Shades of Love, and for me, those were the longest two months I'd ever spent doing something that I truly enjoyed.

Honestly, I don't enjoy procrastination on any kind of level. I'm the kind of person who likes to complete tasks that are set before him (notwithstanding the writing aspect of my life) no matter how challenging it may be, and I have a tendency to get very OCD/anal when I can't do complete a particular project that was assigned to me (yeah, I know, writing is not a good hobby/career to pursue when you have OCD/anal retentiveness as it applies to work).

So I decided that starting tomorrow, instead of hibernating after lunch to work on my latest writing project, or even to work on this blog, I will hibernate in my den (I'm very anti-social when it comes to holidays), whip out my pen, paper, notes, manuscript and start my first attempt at writing a coherent synopsis (I already have one that isn't coherent for Shades of Love and you better hope and pray that I don't post it elsewhere and show everyone how not to write a synopsis, 'cause its 8 pages of dreck).

I say start, because I have Friday off (unpaid furlough day), Saturday off, and Sunday off, and I plan on working on this damn thing for the entire four day weekend.

I'm not sure how this is gonna end up in the long run because not only I am terrible at writing outlines for my stories (How terrible? I didn't even write an outline for this book. I had a premise and I had an ending. Everything else, and I do mean everything, in between was created on the fly as I went along), but I am horrendous at summarizing.

As the incredibly tired yet completely accurate cliche states, every journey starts with the first step. But if this journey starts with the first step, why is the distance between every single one of those steps measures the length of a football field?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A: Morally Bankrupt. Q: What Are Labor Unions?

Inspiration for this post is due largely in part to a casual conversation with the legendary Cherry Red M&M

I hate my labor union with a passion that is unrivaled and unmatched with anything else that I don't like.

Connecticut, like most of the other blue states in this country, is deep in debt due to the plethora of stupidity that oozes from the state legislature. And like most blue states, the state legislature is dominated by 'wow-we-have-a-leftover-dollar-lets-spend-it-now' Democratic party, who for the most part are owned by labor unions.

And like most blue states, the labor unions came out with both barrels a-blazin' to get the Democratic candidate for governor Dan Malloy elected. Why? Why to maintain the status quo so that they can continue feeding at the public trough.

See, they figured that once Dan Malloy got into office, all this talk about give backs by the labor unions would cease to be.

Guess what boys and girls, it didn't cease to be.

As a matter of fact, the second they got a whiff about the new governor asking for give backs, their reaction showed just how much they truly cared about their brethren.

"We would rather see layoffs then give back another dollar to the state."

Yeah, that brings a tear to my eye. To think that my labor union, my clerical union run by AFSCME, cared that much about me that they were willing to have a repeat of 2003, in which me and 2,799 of my closet co-workers were pink slipped.

I tell ya, it touches me right here.

Seriously, our state is looking at a gap of 3.2 billion dollars and with no special gimmicks or federal dollars available to use and abuse, the governor-elect will probably attempt to deaden the pain by not only asking for yet more concessions from the state rank and file, but from the managers as well. And I'm sure that somewhere in the mix, a few possibilities that I wrote about over a year and a half ago that were temporary solutions, will probably become permanent solutions.

If the unions (plural as there are 13 bargaining units that the state deals with) hem and haw, the end result will realistically be like 2003, which will be a major whammy to the unions. Because not only will they lose a ton of members, but their wallet and coffers will take a major hit as well.

Ya know, downsizing can be a bitch, but if there is a way to lessen the pain by giving money back and saving jobs of people who really need them, it really shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

As a taxpayer, I want to see a little fiscal sanity applied by my government. I don't want to live in a mini version of a nanny state (i.e. California or New York) which is what this country is slowly turning into.

As a state worker, having been on the receiving end of the debacle of 2003, I have no qualms in doing it to others if need be. But I really don't want to exercise my contractual right to put someone else in the poor house.

So please, open your eyes to the reality of life and take a hard look at the economic meltdown plaguing this state, and for once put the needs of the members first.

Because to put it bluntly, you work for us, we don't work for you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thrice Is Nice, But This Ain't No Disco

Yes indeedie doodie....scratch that.

Damn, I gotta start coming up with a fresher opening salutation. Saying, "indeedie doodie" or "yowza" or "howdy" or even "boy howdy" is simply starting to get as stale as a pot of coffee left out all day at a convenience store because you're only allowed to write off up to the total amount of fast food sales for the day and your sales total 5 dollars.

that last sentence is a true statement. I worked in a store like that. Imagine drinking coffee that was 12 hours old.

Anyways, unlike last Sunday in which I trotted out an old e-mail because originality had forsaken me, this week is not the case. This week, I gots original stuff to write about. Problem is I got two topics to touch upon and have no idea which one to concentrate on. Since I don't want pick one over the other, I'll touch on both.

But first, we must make our weekly plug for SHOOTING SUBURBIA, because as you know, I always have a fresh post up every Saturday over there, so I simply gots to lets you know.

Now, onto other things.

Topic #1: New addition to my wardrobe.

Yesterday {11/20}, I decided to add another piece to my permanent outerwear attire, in the form of a very small Winnie-the-Pooh schtuffed aminal. He has taken up permanent residence in my worn out upper right pocket. You would think that people would've said something about my latest friend, just like they did in May, but no. Apparently, my strangeness is now considered ordinary. What is a F(fat)B(ald)I(gnorant) guy supposed to do get noticed nowadays?

Topic #2: People in other parts of the entertainment industry who had made a successful transition to the silver screen.

This past Friday {11/19}, I was having a strange conversation with a co-worker about that topic in question, and just like normal for me, we got to that conversation through word picture association. To whit: my co-worker put his hands up and I made like an outlaw and pointed my finger while we walking past each other. I then made a comment about the famous picture of Elvis jokingly pointing a rifle at Col. Tom Parker, which in turn got him to comment about his movies.

So for about several minutes we talked about other entertainers who made good in the movies. Naturally we mentioned Elvis, but agreed on the caveat that he was severely pigeonholed due to the type of formulaic drivel he was forced to do and we agreed that Flaming Star was the best of a bad lot, and in fact, was the only Elvis movie I ever watched from beginning to end.

Then I mentioned how Frank Sinatra in my humble opinion, was the only singer that had the most successful career in movies. I thought (and still think) he was incredibly versatile with his acting and the roles he chose to play. I especially like his Tony Rome movie Lady In Cement and his movie, Suddenly, in which he played a gangster who wanted to kill the president.

As for other parts of the entertainment industry, I am of the opinion that out of all the well known comedians that crossed over to the movies (Jim Carey, Steve Martin, and Billy Crystal to name a few) Robin Williams has made the most successful and consistent transition to the movies. An incredibly gifted and talented performer, he has successfully played against type better than anyone I've seen. Two of my favorite movies are Bicentennial Man and Being Human.

No topical question should be derived from today's op-ed post, as I needed to write the mandatory Sunday post and I was feeling mighty original and relaxed yesterday afternoon while I was writing this. But if you want to throw in your five cents (adjusted for inflation), feel free to do so.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Woo You With My Wit

I am, by virture of an unnaturally dull upbringing, a very funny guy. Problem is that I show my original funny on a too infrequent basis on Cedar's Mountain. The reasons as to why could probably fill up a 4 x 8 post-it note, but eventually all merge into one basic reason as to why: its tough to be funny when you have to feed yourself straight lines.

Growing up, I was always at my funniest and my wittiest whenever I had people feeding me straight lines. Whether it was a friend saying something completely innocuous or even a short t.v. commercial or song, I did my best work playing off ready made material.

As I got older, I managed to fine tune my wit by simply playing off whatever someone happened to say (someday I will get someone to mic me at work as an experiment), and by the time I started blogging, I simply played off whatever I happened to read.

Problem with that particular scenario was that while I was able to have loads of fun playing off whatever I happened to read, it became a problem in trying to transplant that same witty repartee to my blog.

Basically, it fell flatter than Nancy Pelosi's ego after election day.

I mean, I had my moments of brilliance, especially with posts where I was having an argument with myself or cutting myself down to size. But those moments became few and far between.

So I started looking elsewhere to ply my trade. That elsewhere became for the majority of the time, other people's blogs. There were the rare instances where I would do this kind of thing in my comment section, but for the most part I was content to show my full repartee in other places.

However, just like with the other aspects of life that require it, chemistry and comfort were the two key components that were needed to make it work elsewhere. Without those two, I might as well been banging my head against the keyboard until I got keyboard face.

However, i wasn't able to ply my trade on any old blog. In order to ply my trade on a blog, both the content and the person had to match up to the exacting standards I set for myself. Unlike the exacting standards I apply for writing, the exacting standards for inflicting myself on others involved a great deal of sensitivity on my part. Whereas I didn't really mind if my writing offended someone, it bothered me a great deal if I personally offended someone with my sense of humor.

I truly love all the blogs that I read, but for the majority, the content and the person is what keeps me grounded in reality. What I mean by content is that for the most part what the bloggers in question write on their blogs makes for great reads but not very good straight lines or topics. Ditto for the bloggers. A lot of the bloggers I read are fantastic people who probably have a wicked sense of humor, but so far, I really haven't been able to determine just how far one can go with playing off of what they post or say without crossing that line.

Where does that leave yours truly? Well, for yours truly there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to find a few blogs in which I was able to ply my trade, simply because those bloggers shared my warped sense of humor.

Translation: If you want to see how truly inspired I can get with my witty repartee, check out my frequently left comments at the following blogs.

1} Riot Kitty: The creme de la creme of what I can do is often found at this extremely warped and incredibly funny blog that showcases life in the Pacific Northwest

2} Razored Zen: Quite often, I can get a decent amount of zingers off on what Charles writes for posts and sometimes what is left for comments.

3} The Education of a Pulp Writer: David sometimes writes his posts with such deadpan humor (reminds me of Mad from the 60's thru the early 70's) that they simply beg to have a deadpan remark left behind.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the first blog that I originally unleashed my vast reportoire of silliness on, and of which I still make an appearance from time to time:

4} Jannie Funster.

For everyone else, I will forever play nice and be respectful to what you post on your blog, because you know that your particular blog always brightens my day. However, if you ever want to experience the real me, all you have to do is grant me permission to flex my linguistic skills in your comment section.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Joyriding To Thuggery

In the hands of a good writer, violence can excite, move us to tears, cheer the underdog, and most importantly, move the plot along in a seamless direction of completeness.

In the hands of a bad writer, violence can be cartoonish, over the top, a turnoff, give the wrong impression and most importantly, make the reader go, "feh." and throw the story away.

When I first started writing this "novel" back in '05/'06, I had no real idea on where I wanted to go with this. I merrily chugged along, completely oblivious to the fact that this story was making absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Because I was so oblivious to that particular fact, I was adding all kinds of mayhem and violence to the mix. Why? Probably because I had so much anger inside of me (remember kids, never write when you're angry, unless there is a stated need for it) that it was bound to make its way into the story.

So whenever I got stuck at a particular scene, the first thought that cropped into my head was, "Let's have the characters beat the snot out of each other."*

*Second thought was, "Oh, let's have the characters fuck the shit out each other," and thus instant sex scene in excruciating detail.

And thus, a cardinal rule of writing was basically ignored: do not write a violent scene for the pure sake of having a violent scene.

To whit: I had my characters beat the snot out of each other with phone books (had a particular affinity for that item), beat downs in the back seat of cars, in the front seat of cars, public beat down in bars and restaurants, shoot 'em up with nasty guns, and my sentimental fave, disembowelment. Oh yes, can't forget kicking someone to death and using a chainsaw to dispose of the body.

Yeah, I was a lean mean writing machine when it came to violence. My scenes of violence were overly cartoonish (like how many times can you beat someone up with a phone book and expect them to come back time and time again?), or incredibly disturbing (like hot candle wax on a woman's....breasts).

And if that wasn't enough, I threw in a few scenes of violence directed towards inanimate objects (what did I know? my descriptive writing sucked back then, so I needed a crutch to help get the job done).

Now if you think that this book was all violence and mayhem, it wasn't. There were moments of tenderness, of genuine warmth and love sprinkled quite liberally throughout the book. Problem was that the scenes of violence more often than not, completely overwhelmed and destroyed those particular moments. Which was pretty weird since this book was my first attempt at a romance.

In any event, I continued mixing scenes of unmitigated and disturbing violence with scenes of borderline porn and every conceivable sexual frivolity known to man.

Little did I know that the worst was yet to come, and that I was to establish a particular notoriety that I am still trying to live down to this day.

Not sure if there really is any question to be derived from this post. All I'm trying to do with this post is to explain to how not to write violence into a story.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Divebombing Until You're Breathless

Holy Blogging Blogger Batman! It's my 550th post!

Continuing on a post from last week in which I talked about trying to reconcile my personal views about women with what I write, I thought I would talk about another thorny dilemma that I currently face with a greater degree of frequency than the other examples I gave last week combined, and its something that you might encounter during your day-to-day activities, no matter what your gender preference may be.

For the most part, I work in an office full of very attractive professional women, and I say that with no malice of lust, but simply as a matter of record.

The problem that seems to crop up with a degree of frequency that the frat boy kind of guy would be in seventh heaven with, but yours truly finds to a certain degree, to be unsettling, is when I either happen to strike up a conversation or happen to ride in the elevator with a member of the opposite sex.

The writer in me would probably write about these encounters heavily flavored with sexual innuendos, crudeness or blatant sexual foreplay. In the real world, because these professional women are quite attractive and even though the attire that they wear is appropriate for an office setting, the fact that this attire more often than not accentuates what they got, usually puts me in a predicament of ginormous proportions.

Okay, I might be exaggerating just a tad, but I'm sure you're asking the screen, "How?"

Well, to use a crude example, there was a particular comment (please read #5) left in a post written by my good friend Riot Kitty, which basically was a thinly veiled insult about how guys would more often than not focus on the size of in front of them as opposed to the brains behind them.

To certain degree he is correct. Most guys do have a tendency to focus on the size and/or the valley that the size creates and not the brains behind them. And this is a problem that I do have a tendency to suffer from as well.

I try to focus on the brains behind the size when I have a conversation with a woman, although because of my lack of height (I'm 5' 5" without shoes), talking to a woman who is of my height is infrequent at best. I'm either looking up at them (somewhat bad) or looking down at them (very, very bad). The person that is, although for sake of argument, you can probably substitute "boobs" for "person" and it would pretty much mean the same thing.

Because of that, my conversations have a tendency to be somewhat clipped and disjointed. Bad I know, but the alternative could be infinitely worse. I'm sure my female readers could probably agree with me on that point.

Now as for riding in elevators, it becomes a slipperier slope. If I'm riding in a elevator by myself and a couple of women enter the elevator, I have a tendency to either stare at the floor, stare at the floor numbers counting down (or going up) or simply close my eyes. Same deal applies if I'm entering the elevator and there is at least one other attractive co-worker already there.

For what its worth, I do try to stave off any potential headaches by either offering a genuine compliment about their appearance or...well, I guess appearance does cover just about everything doesn't it?

But wait, there's more.

Sometimes I'll ask about a particular item of clothing that they're wearing and quickly add in that I write and I'm trying to make sure that I get accurate descriptions of clothing and accessories. Or sometimes, I'll ask about the visible tattoo that adorns a particular part of their anatomy.

It is a very fine line that I walk during my M-F existence, and so far I have survived these potential landmines with my gift of gab, a writer's eye for research and the small fact that I'm a genuinely nice person.

So my question to you out there is: do you suffer through something like this during your M-F work day? How do you diffuse a potentially awkward moment? And it doesn't matter if either gender answers because I really am curious about how women might handle these types of encounters.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life Is Tough, But It's Tougher If You're Stupid

Yow---------za.

Over at Shooting Suburbia is part three of Furlough Weekend. Over at dead blog, well, still not motivated to post another part, so it looks like that experiment has fallen by the wayside. My apologies to one and all who chose to take a chance on a new short story from yours truly. Perhaps some day I'll finish posting it, but who knows when that'll be.

Now, on to something else a little less maudlin and a lot more funnier. It's time for yet another e-mail blast from the past. Not sure if this one is still making the rounds, but it made it to me back in 2005. Enjoy.


ONE

Recently, when I went to McDonald's, I saw on the menu that you could have an order of 6, 9, or 12 Chicken McNuggets. I asked for a half dozen nuggets.
"We don't have half dozen nuggets," said the teenager at the counter.
"You don't ?" I replied.
"We only have six, nine or twelve," was the response.
"So I can't order a half dozen nuggets, but I can order six?"
"That's right."
So I shook my head and ordered six McNuggets.

TWO

I was checking out at the local Wal-Mart with just a few items and the lady behind me put her things on the belt close to mine. I picked up one of those "dividers" that they keep by the cash register and placed it between our things so that they wouldn't get mixed. After the girl had scanned all of my items, she picked up the "divider", looking it all over for the bar code so that she could scan it.
Not finding the bar code, she said to me, "Do you know how much this is?"
I said to her, "I changed my mind. I don't think I'll buy that today."
She said, "Okay," and I paid her for the things and left. She had no clue to what had just happened.

THREE

A lady at work was seen putting a credit card into her floppy drive and pulling it out very quickly. When I inquired as to what she was doing, she said that she was shopping on the Internet and they kept asking for a credit card number, so she was using the ATM thingy.

FOUR

I recently saw a distraught young lady weeping beside her car.
"Do you need some help?" I asked.
She replied, "I knew I should have replaced the battery to this remote door unlocker. Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would have a battery to fit this?"
"Hmmm...I dunno. Do you have an alarm too?" I asked.
"No, just this remote thingy," she answered, handing it and the car keys to me.
As I took the key and manually unlocked the door, I replied, "Why don't you drive over there and check about the batteries. It's a long walk."

FIVE

Several years ago, we had an intern who was none too swift. One day she was typing and turned to a secretary and said, "I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?"
"Just use the copier machine paper," the secretary told her.
With that, the intern took her last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five "blank" copies.

SIX

I was in a car dealership a while ago, when a large motor home was towed into the garage. The front of the vehicle was in dire need of repair and the whole thing generally looked like an extra in "Twister". I asked the manager what had happened. He told me that the driver had set the cruise control and then went in the back to make a sandwich.

SEVEN

My neighbor works in the operations department in the central office of a large bank. Employees in the field call him when they have problems with their computers. One night he got a call from a woman in one of the branch banks who had this question.
"I've got smoke coming from the back of my terminal. Do you guys have a fire downtown?"

EIGHT

Police in Radnor PA, interrogated a suspect by placing a metal colander on his head and connecting it with wires to a photocopy machine. The message "He's lying" was placed on the copier and police pressed the copy button each time they thought the suspect wasn't telling the truth. Believing the "lie detector" was working, the suspect confessed.

NINE

A mother calls 911 very worried asking the dispatcher if she needs to take her kid to the emergency room because the kid was eating ants. The dispatcher tells her to give the kid some Benadryl and he should be fine. The mother says, "I just gave him some ant killer..."
The dispatcher says, "RUSH him in to emergency!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Memories And Elephants In Disguise

Sorry, no music links for this post, as your memory will have to provide the soundtrack today

Sometimes the most mundane memories, either present or past tense, will often provide the weirdest song to break out with.

During my morning commute of 11/4, I got to thinking about a good family friend whose sub-twenty year old daughter would be having a baby by the end of the year. I also got to thinking about how her boyfriend decided to man up and take responsibility for his actions. Now somehow this particular memory cued the song Hush by Deep Purple in my head, which immediately got me to jamming with air drums in the car.

Now while all of this was going on, I started thinking about Flatbush Avenue (yes M&M, I can multi-task while thinking), which is a main thoroughfare on my morning commute. Once I got locked into thinking about that particular street, memory association kicked into overdrive.

To whit: Thinking about Flatbush Avenue quickly got me to thinking about Bug Bunny. Bugs Bunny got me to thinking about Flatbush, which is a nickname for Brooklyn NY. Thinking about Brooklyn got me to thinking about the t.v. show Welcome Back, Kotter, which in turn cued the song Welcome Back by John Sebastian.

To finish off this morning commute of memories (but not this post), while all this was going on, I decided to write a blog post about it, and yeah, you guessed it, I got to thinking about a title. And yeah, that nifty CCR song Looking Out My Back Door cued and played. Thus, the title was born. Bonus points if you can guess the other song that is contained in the title.

And finally to close out this short (for me) post on mundane memories cuing musical tidbits, while I was writing the first sentence of this post, the obscure song Future Tense by the equally obscure rock band April Wine (who had a song in the Billboard Hot 100 called Just Between You and Me in the early 80's) cued up and started playing in my head.

So.

Have you had mundane memories, either past or present, that triggered, cued and played songs in your head, which for the most part put you in a good frame of mind for the day?

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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