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.

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?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: "Bitter Steel" by Charles A. Gramlich

Yes indeedie doodie, it's time for yet another book review and yet another peek into what I like to read, which interestingly enough doesn't necessarily influence what and how I write.

As a rule, I don't read short story anthologies (either by one writer or by multiple writers), which was probably due to what was out there and what I was forced to read during my formative school years. Sad to say that the schtuff that came out during that time period really soured me for the next couple of decades on reading any kind of prose that wasn't a novel.

As a matter of record, I really didn't return to reading shorts until I started writing in 2006 (via the literary journals I got for entering contests) and I definitely didn't start to appreciate and enjoy them until I started blogging in 2008.

Why blogging?

Blogging is where I was first introduced to the author of this latest book review via another great writer's blog, who currently co-edits the only e-zine that I read on a consistent basis and of which is the only non-G oriented website that I feature a picture link to.

Like I previously stated, I am not a fan of short story anthologies, but I have been a fan of Charles's writing ever since I decided in 2009 to take a chance on purchasing and reading his excellent fantasy trilogy "The Talera Cycle" (in which you'll find reviews of all three volumes if you click on the link "Book Review"), so after almost zero thought, I decided to take another chance and purchased a copy of his fantasy short story anthology Bitter Steel this past October.

Let me say right off the bat that this book met and exceeded all of my personal criteria for good reading material: the writing was crisp, the pacing was fast and steady, and staying true to form, the stories and poems (for the anthology contained a few of those) were written so as to not insult the intelligence of the reader.

Now even though I have a decent collection of Charles's writings (this book makes number 6) and consider myself to be modest fan of his work, by no means will this review be overly gushing because frankly 1} that isn't my way and 2} that kind of review really turns me off.

While I find that all of the stories kept my interest and got me lost within my head, there were a particular group that I really enjoyed and when I finished reading left me longing for more.

The stories that he wrote featuring a character called Thal Kyrin kept me turning the pages long after my assigned work break time had ended. I think that the main reason as to why I became so enthralled with these stories was that they reminded me of his Talera Cycle trilogy and in fact kept me wanting to go back to that trilogy to fill in the gaps because I was convinced that Thal Kyrin was a major character of that series.

Even though the dialogue drove me nutty at times, I was able to enjoy "Slugger's Holiday", simply because I read that kind of pulpy stuff during the first several years of my state career that were spent working with old newspapers (please check out the link "Library" for an in-depth look at old newspapers). Not pulpy news stories, but pulpy newspaper comics. Yes, there were pulpy newspaper comics back in the 30's & early 40's.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the half dozen poems sprinkled throughout the book. While on the surface the poems were a good read, they just didn't affect me like the short stories did. Nothing personal, but poetry, like horror, simply doesn't move me like other genres. Nevertheless, I am impressed with writers who can write poetry and/or horror, and Charles is one of those who can do both forms justice.

To sum it up, this book was a great read, an excellent bang for the buck, and a great introduction if you haven't read anything in this genre or of Charles Gramlich. I truly enjoyed reading it from cover to cover and it's definitely something that will become part of my frequent read-at-work books.

Pick up a copy for yourself today, because you will not be disappointed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Clean Mind?

For as long as I can remember (and considering that I grew up when gas was but 75 cents a gallon), my mind has been refreshingly unclean.

Uncluttered by wholesome thoughts, unfettered by good taste and almost devoid of any kind of sensible rhythm, I have grown up to be something of an anomaly.

How?

Even though I may have those particular frat boy qualities, I also have a set of values that seem to run counter to about 25% of the blog posts and 99% of the stories I've written and shared with everyone.

For instance, I have no qualms in writing or talking about the female form in the most basic of terms and sometimes in the crassest way possible. Clothed, semi-clothed, buck naked, sex object, whatever you can think of, I probably wrote it.

But if I took those exact same elements and applied them to the here and now, the result is something that is completely unexpected.

Let me give you a few examples to show you what I mean.

1} In a few stories I wrote about women performing in the nude and semi-nude. Whereas I have no problem watching on the boob tube (pun intended) women perform in the semi-nude (like stripping or nude dancing), I have yet to set foot in a strip bar. Other than it not being my bag, I actually don't have anything against it. I understand the nature of the business and what not, but it's just something I don't prefer to do.

2} I often write about the size of a woman and the type of clothing (or lack of) that they wear, often in semi-excruciating detail, but in actuality, I often look at women like that with either a critical eye or a hard stare. Double standard at times, but I am really trying to work at being neutral about stuff like that.

3} In my latest story, I write about one of my characters going commando (both upper and lower) and yet, I made a comment on someone's blog post about a "wardrobe malfunction" that was rather off base and somewhat irreconcilable to what I write.

4} I frequently write into my stories same-sex romances/affairs/encounters (female) and yet....well, I don't know if I have anything in my set of values that runs counter to that issue, but I thought I would throw it out there anyways.

5} And the all time irreconcilable moment that I will forever judge all future melding of values and writings: Breastfeeding.

I think its safe to say that I will always have problems with breastfeeding (real or otherwise) but since I do consider it a fact of life, I tried to write about it as unbiased as I possibly could, and I think I managed to accomplish just that. Please judge for yourself by reading this excerpt.

Overall, I have made a concentrated effort not to turn my stories into one big non-stop orgy punctuated by a fluffy plot (aka porn), but instead to use a particular scene of sex (of any type) to advance the plot.

For the most part, I will always have an unclean mind and will always have problems reconciling my personal beliefs and hangups to what I actually write.

Was there a point to this post? Not really. I just needed to fill up a blank space on the screen and talking about my set of values and why I seem to suspend them when it comes to writing seemed to be a good topic as any to write about.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

Over at Shooting Suburbia is part two of "Furlough weekend. Over here is an introspective blog post about the man behind Cedar's Mountain.


Briefly continuing on a theme, Friday's post about blogs riding off into the sunset forced a small seed of an idea to germinate, which in turn blossomed from the fertilizer of the comments that were thoughtfully spread out across the landscape of Cedar's Mountain.

No, this isn't a goodbye post. I worked too damn hard to build this blog up to where everyone from coast to coast to border to border and overseas enjoys my little slice, however small, on the world around me, to simply pack up and go elsewhere.

Now where was I? Oh yes, now I remember.

Anyways, everyone's thoughtful comments got me to thinking about my blog in general and my ability to write original blog posts.

For the first couple of years (2008-09) it was ridiculously easy to write fresh and original stuff for my blog. I mean, it got to the point where the volume of my output was so great that for about a solid six months I had at least two weeks of posts at any given time scheduled for posting.

But as I started going into my 3rd year of blogging (2010), the ability to write fresh and original blog posts got to be a little harder to do.

Even when I cut down my schedule from every other day (which was punishing to say the least) to a M-W-F; closed one blog and opened another that wasn't as demanding as this one or the one I closed, it still became, for long periods of time, a battle to come up with quality posts that met my exacting standards for written material.

Which brings us to today.

The tail end of 2010 has brought us full circle, in that once again we are struggling to come up with fresh and original material to write. I mentioned in one of my comments that I take it as a victory whenever I can come up with a weeks worth of posts for Cedar's Mountain.

You may laugh over that particular comment, but the truth of the matter is that comment, along with the one saying that I'm living on borrowed time with this blog, is about as poignant as a comment you will ever see me make about my blogging.

To be honest with everyone, there is simply nothing in my background that would've forecast the fact that I would be sitting here some 29 1/2 months later writing my 547th post for Cedar's Mountain nor for that matter some 48 months after I first began writing in December 2005 trying to write a synopsis for a novel that I am quite proud of.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here, or even what the purpose of this post is, but maybe the answer can be found in the title of the post, which you might recognize if you were a fan of late 70's synth pop, specifically Alan Parsons.

In any event, I do hope that this post gets you to think, not only about yourself and your blogging abilities, but about other bloggers who may be trying to find that second or third wind or listening to that internal voice telling them that they need to keep on doing what they're doing.

Who knows, maybe you're facing the same questions and self-doubts about your blog and your blogging ability (like me) and you're too afraid to face the realization that maybe, just maybe, you need to regroup and recalibrate.

Am I afraid to face that realization?

Perhaps.

It's been a long difficult road this year and I don't see it getting any easier. Only time will tell whether or not that particular realization will come true.

For my sake, I certainly hope not.

Friday, November 5, 2010

But It Was Here A Minute Ago!

I found over the course of the past couple of years that people are non-conformists when it comes to the disposing of their personal property.

Take blogs for example.

I read a thoughtful post from a fellow blogger a few weeks ago in which she described the reasoning as to why she was cutting down on the amount of blogs she was reading, so a few days later, I decided to do the same thing.

So I started sifting through my bookmarks and my profile to see if they were any blogs I could pull the plug on, so to speak. Well, after checking about ten and after becoming a follower to a couple, I found about four out of what was left that I could pull the plug on. Unfortunately, those people did it for me.

I say "unfortunately" because even though those particular blogs weren't active for anywhere between a year to a year and a half, all but one of those bloggers were at one time active readers of my blog, so you know the old saying of tit for tat.

However, I did discover some unusual things about the way these bloggers decided to dispose of their blogs which I would like to share with you.

I had one blogger that used to follow me (and I her) in 2008, who managed to do what I thought was the most unique blog purge that I've ever seen.

What she did to her blog was to leave the addy up and the pictures on it, but completely purge the written content out of it. If you go to her now defunct blog, you'll see a little floating box that says all of the content has been removed. I did manage to explore a few of her remaining personal links and it looks like she also removed herself from the Etsy website as well. Her photography business is still going strong though, which I was able to find through an adieu post on another defunct blog of hers. So I guess this was more of a relocation that an outright disposal. So it now becomes one of the best relocation jobs I've seen in quite sometime.

Another blogger who moved from WordPress to Blogger, apparently got rid of his and sort of purged out his profile as well, so all that's left of him is his avatar and a few links to some dead blogs, which after doing a little poking around, found one that arose from the ashes and has a new home. So now I have yet another blog to my collection (makes about what, 90 I think).

Another blogger who happened to find me about this time last year via the BlogCatalog directory/website (see, that button was useful to me after all) went on hiatus sometime in early December '09. Then sometime this year, she purged her blog and made the addy available for use. Too bad because it was a pretty decent newbie writing blog.

Finally, there was one very strange political blog I found that was based in California. The blogger was involved with the public relations aspect of media communications and I guess his job was taking up all of his free time, so blogging was probably one of the first things to go. Even though the blog is still there, the content is not. Apparently he simply deleted each and every single post from his blog.

It's always sad when a blog that you enjoy reading goes to that big Cyber graveyard in the sky, because for just a little while, you were able to connect on a particular level with that blogger and with that blogger gone, it seems like a tiny little piece of you goes to that Cyber graveyard as well.

However, there is a silver lining here, as while I was writing this post and doing a little research in the process, I picked up a couple more blogs to read.

Life goes on and about all I can add is that I sincerely hope that those bloggers who needed to leave are still doing okay with themselves.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

White Noise

Webster defines white noise as: noun-acoustical or electrical noise in which the intensity is the same at all frequencies within a given band.

Ummm...yah.

Most people, like yours truly, defines white noise as any kind of sound that is soothing to the ears, relaxing to the soul, or to state it more accurately, a sound that becomes so ingrained in our day-to-day activities that when we don't hear it, we often find that our day-to-day activities are somehow incomplete.

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

And I'm sure that you'll be wanting an answer to that burning-without-a-flame question.

And you know darn well that if I don't answer that question then this post will come to a screeching halt and I'll be forced to write on the fly about my first self-pubbed work, and I don't want to write on the fly because I suck at writing on the fly.

Anywho, I've had a lot of white noise during my day-to-day activities and up until very recently, none has made it into my writings. Until I came aboard for my second stint of state employment after being laid off in 2003, the main irritant that my white noise contained, was emergency sirens. Between the heavy dose at home (lived within a one mile radius of the highway, firehouse, two homeless shelters, three bars and a sleazy motel) and at work (hospital), the sirens quickly turned into a very tasteless running joke:

"Listen, must be a dead body run!"

That all changed once I returned to full time employment in 2004.

2004 is when I first heard Spanish being spoken in an office environment. I've always heard Spanish before, back when I used to work in retail, but I never heard on the scale that I encountered at the particular agency I was residing in (Corrections).

While I may have gotten my first taste of it there, it really came at me full bore once I transferred to my current place of residence (Children & Families). Working in such an environment where more than half of the office staff were bilingual, in no time at all Spanish became my white noise.

My white noise became such an integral part of my work environment that on the days when certain staff members were at other offices, I actually became a little disoriented. Really. It's like going through a bad withdrawal, only instead of food or drugs, it's Spanish.

Because of the pervasiveness of Spanish in my day-to-day work activities, it was inevitable that it would bleed into other aspects of my life.

Like writing.

I've toyed with the idea of adding this particular element to my stories for quite sometime, but up until now, the problem was how to add it to a story without having the story being compromised or the addition misconstrued, or worse, completely losing the reader and/or writer (yes, I used it in a short story called "Saturday" and I didn't keep the original sentences that were translated, thus severely screwing up the story).

With my latest writing project, "Dandelion Tears", I believe I found the perfect story to add Spanish into the mix without compromising the integrity of the story. Because the story has such a heavy fantasy element to begin with, I felt that having one of my main characters speaking Spanish would compliment the overall flavor of the story. I also felt that Spanish was a language that should always be associated with power and strength, which was always the underlying reason as to why I never really used it in my previous stories.

Two significant problems immediately arose from this particular decision: how to write it and how to format it. Formatting was the easy part, once I figured through trial and error that it was a lot less confusing (at least for me looking at it from a reader's point of view) to have both the Spanish version of the dialogue and the English version (italicized) of the dialogue standing next to each other.

Writing was the difficult part, which I was able to solve by using a good translation tool put out by Yahoo called Babel Fish (which if you can believe, has been around since Al Gore invented the Internet. seriously, this particular website has been around since I started using a computer for work, which was 1996). Also found that it was easier to translate smaller blocks of text (like sentences as opposed to long paragraphs), and I also found it was easier to copy and paste than try to write it exactly as it was translated.

In any event, I've been careful enough not to go hog wild in using Spanish in my story, as I only keep it to the bare minimum of whenever my main female character needs to talk to her servants, who are from South America and choose not to speak English.

So Spanish is what I chose from my real world to be a semi-permanent fixture to my current and future writings, and so far, it has worked out to the way I envisioned: An addition that works when it isn't overused to the extent of losing a reader.

So how about you? Is there an element from your real world that you chose to integrate into your writings so as to make them uniquely yours?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Did I Miss The Memo About Election Day Being A Holiday?

You know I have to be mighty pissed off if I'm writing an unscheduled post.

Back when I was but a lad from my daughter's age to my son's age (9-18), when it was time for my parents to vote, I didn't have gym that day.

Why?

Because my local elementary school was where everyone who lived in my particular section of the 100 Acre Woods voted at, and the gym is where the voting booths were set up.

Simple, right? Election day, no gym, still went to school.

Fast forward to the idiocy that is now.

Today we vote on whether to kick the bums out or install new bums to kick out later, or for a select minority, exercising their right to sit on their fat ass to bitch, moan, groan and complain and do NOTHING.

And both my kids have today off from school.

What. The. Phuc?

My wife has to be inconvenienced and my kids have to be inconvenienced because my stupid state declared today to be a HOLIDAY AND THUS NO SCHOOL TODAY.

Let me see if I understand this: At my daughter's school, the gym is being used as a polling station, which means the rest of the school is available for staff and children to use; my son's high school isn't being used as a polling station; and yet, there is NO SCHOOL TODAY.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

This PSA has been brought to you by the letter I, which incidentally can be found on your hand when you're voicing your opinion about the ability of those who govern your town, state and country with the absolute minimal amount of brain cells and the emptiest wallet.

We return you now to regularly scheduled program that will be consistently interrupted with election updates every 90 seconds until you throw your t.v. out the window, in which case you'll discover the beauty of having an actual conversation with your significant other.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Loud, I Wanna Hear It Loud!

Warning: The links involved with this post might be offensive to you. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

Let's face it folks, from time to time, we can get into that particular frame of min where we don't want to listen to any kind of music that makes us feel happy or picks us up. Instead, we want music that gives us a perverse sense of pleasure. You know the kind of music that I'm talking about: pain, suffering or someone saying, "F you to your rules."

Today's post will be the exact opposite of last week's music oriented post, in that I will list a few of my faves that I really enjoy listening to whenever I'm in that particular frame of mind (like I was last week for example). And except for one glaring example, most will be rock oriented.

1} All Out Of Love by Air Supply. I first discovered this one back in '79 while I was in the throes of my first (and only) love crush rejection. Can't really describe how the whininess of love lost resonated with me, but from time to time over the next three decades, I would pull this song out whenever I was feeling like crap in my love life. Factoid: Last 8 track I ever bought was of this album.

2} Love Stinks by J. Geils. Do I really need to explain why this song is soooooooooooooooo popular on Valentine's Day? Or for any other day whenever we get rejected and dumped by our significant other? I didn't think so.

3} Killing In The Name Of by Rage Against The Machine. While this song is not listed on the c.d., it is a kick ass song. Forget about the clean version that's played on the radio, as in order to fully appreciate the blatant disregard for other people and the unfiltered anger, you have to listen to the original version. The cover art for this c.d. is very disturbing (probably makes my top five last of artwork that strikes a nerve for all the wrong reasons) and most the songs jibe with the artwork. The only political band that makes MoveOn.org look like a moderate that I will actually listen to on a consistent basis.

4} Bodies by Drowning Pool. Nothing says "take no prisoners" like a song that was briefly banned from the airways in the months after 9/11.

5} Hey Man Nice Shot by Filter. A song about a public suicide on television is about as disturbing as one could possibly get.

6} I Fought The Law by The Dead Kennedys. Of course, a song about a double homicide and the "Twinkie" defense comes a close second.

7} Anarchy In The U.K. by The Sex Pistols. Gotta throw in one of my favorite old time punk songs into the mix. Even though I got hooked into the Pistols way late (like the late 80's), it's still the best music to listen to when I'm in a crappy mood.

8} I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats. I'm not sure why but songs about murder tend to stay with me a heckuva lot longer than most other songs, and this one was no exception.

9} The Rodeo Song by Garry Lee and Showdown. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with this song, but this song is great if you got that "I-don't-give-a-shit" attitude but don't want the heaviness of song #3.

10} Jesus Built My Hotrod by Ministry. I first heard this one on the radio around '92 or so, and I found it as a cassette single later that year. A kick ass car song that has one of the best spoken word openings that you'll find on a hard rock song. Note: this particular link clocks in at eight minutes.

And finally....

11} Black Betty by Ram Jam. Why this particular song from a band whose founder played in a 60's bubblegum pop group? I listen to this song, then I think of all the myopically misguided protests that sprang up that put pressure on radio stations not to play the song because it was racist, then I think about the fact that this song was written by a black convict in the 1930's called "Ledbelly", whose music was featured on the Smithsonian's Folk Music series...which of course makes me angry all over again.

For better or worse, this is but a sample of some of the music I enjoy listening to when I have black clouds of doom hanging 'round my head.

How 'bout you? What do you listen to when in you're in an unhappy mood?

The Legal Disclaimer

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