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.

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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