Thursday, October 30, 2008

This, That and and I'm Not Looking For That Tooth

Since I gave y'all the writing update the other day, I thought I'd give you a regular life update today.

Saturday was my eleventh anniversary, but me and my wife have been together for more than fifteen years as we dated for a long time before tying the knot. I truly could not have found a better match had I scoured the globe for fifty years.

For our anniversary we went out to eat. The food was lousy, but the company and was great and the Shiner Bock was cold so I'll overlook the fact my two fried quail had more grease and oil in them than JiffyLube. Trust me when I say it take a lot of grease to make me and my arteries cry uncle.

Afterwards, we went to a movie. Save any smart-aleck comments about how unromantic and dull dinner and a movie is. We were both so tired and run down we simply wanted a nice easy going night. We had both read Sue Monk Kidd's novel The Secret Life of Bees so that is the movie we chose.

The movie was very well done and is a solid adaptation of a great book, but the half dozen teenage girls that sat directly behind us were a distraction. They kicked out chairs made idiotic comments at nearly every scene, but both Jennifer and I noted that they cried and sniffed along with most of the moviegoers when Lily, portrayed by Dakota Fanning was talking about her mother.

The movie was very well cast and all the actors did a great job of being true to their written form of the characters. Or so I thought.

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Also in yet another great lost tooth tragedy my youngest Z, lost his first tooth on Saturday but he swallowed it while munching on a popcorn ball. His great fear -- the tooth would somehow bite the inside of his stomach.

Eventually we convinced him his intestines were safe and sound from the rebel mandible so he recruited his older brother to help write a note for the winged collector of lost Chiclets, better known as the tooth fairy. The next day he promptly blew his wad of cash in plastic Army men at the dollar store.

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My oldest son turns 8 tomorrow on Halloween day. I can't believe how fast he is growing and maturing. The scary things is he already eats as much as I do and his hands are within half an inch of being as big as mine.

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The flag football team won their first game last Saturday when the other teams was so stricken with fear that they did not bother to show up. So instead we had a father/son scrimmage and the kids played three times harder than they ever had. They whipped the dads by the score of 20-13. Sadly that momentum did not carry over to Sunday when we lost 26-6. The last game is this Saturday morning. Maybe the boys will be all hopped up on Halloween sugar that they will run like Forrest Gump on crack. But then again the other teams should be riding the same candy corn high so no telling what will happen.

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Thanks to everyone that has donated to the literacy projects on my DonorsChoose widget to the right. Tomorrow is the last day so if you are in a position to help please consider donating sometime in the next 36 hours or so.

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I have some more thoughts to share that occurred to me while watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown the other night, but those will have to wait as I've rambled on long enough for now. Maybe I'll get to those warped notions in a post tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

I've been feeling just like that little overachieving train engine as of late. Except for the most part I've felt more like it did at the beginning of the book when the engine was full of doubt and pessimism. One freight car after another has been piling on until me caboose was lagging so far behind I couldn't even see it.

I've been repeating the mantra ... I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, but only today have I finally began to believe it.

Of course nothing makes a writer happier than to see a piece of their work find a home. I recently had a humorous memoir-esque story accepted by Opium Magazine. Today that story, titled The Hard Way is up for public consumption on their website. Here is the direct link to my story. You can even leave a comment so good or bad let me know what you think.

In other news on the writing front I gave my first ever talk about the craft of writing last Friday. My audience was a group of fifth-graders at the school where my wife teaches. I was a bit nervous that I would be met with eye rolls and sighs of boredom, but from the very get go the kids were enthusiastic and full of questions. A few of them might have been thinking who the hell is this big hairy fat guy and what gives him the right to teach us about writing, but mercifully they disguised those sentiments of they were there. Actually they were all great and I wish I could have talked longer. They eagerness was contagious and afterwards I was pumped up to sit down at the computer and get to work. One of these days I'd love to be in a position to talk at writers conferences and what not. But then again I'm the kind of guy who loves to talk whether it be from behind a podium or from a bar stool. Ask Robin, I cornered her at last year's Frontiers In Writing Conference and she hasn't quite escaped hearing from me yet.

Along with the novel about the woman whose life is being ruined by sex (better known to most of you as my bull semen story) I am now working on a new creative non-fiction project. A sort of a memoir based on my old feedstore chronicle stories (the link is to Chronicle #1, but the tag at the bottom of it will take you to the others) which I posted on here a year and half or so ago. Actually, I will be taking those posts down very soon so if you haven't read them this might be your last chance for a while.

Plundered Booty is out on submission and has had a few nibbles, but I really need to get my act together and get more queries out.

And even though I've rambled quite a bit already I am going to share one of the weirdest dreams I've ever had with you. I dream vividly most nights and I usually remember these crazy nocturnal illusions but this one really seems strange. I'd love to hear what a psychologist or dream analyzer would say about this one ...

I reached up to scratch my ear and the entire thing came off in my hand. In a panic I called the doctor and after hours of trying finally got through. He told me to met him at his office so he could sew my ear back on, but by the time I got there it had dried up and taken on the texture and brittleness of a pork rind. Sure enough, I accidentally broke a big chunk of the middle portion and when i reached for the piece it crumbled like dust in my hand. But my doc said not to worry he had a way to fix it. He sewed the now funky looking ear back onto my head and then reached for a small blown glass Woody Woodpecker figurine. Somehow he glued the glass Woody Woodpecker into the hole of my ear and it fit perfectly. I was happy as a clam to leave his office whit my Woodpecker adorned new ear.

Come on guys, give me your input what the heck was that all about. And before you ask, No I had not been smoking or ingesting any narcotics, I had not had a single drop of alcohol and I had Canadian Bacon pizza for supper.

So give me you best analysis, and don't forge to go read my story in Opium.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Give A Listen -- A My Town Monday post

No time to research and write a proper My Town Monday post, so instead give this song a listen. It's from one of my favorites, Charlie Robison and it at least mention Amarillo in the lyrics. Charlie served as one of the judges on the reality show Nashville Star a few years back and he is one of the greats in the Texas music scene.

As usual, links to other My Town Mondayers will be added below.

10 Flatland Boogie [1996].wma - Charlie Robison

Charlie puts on one heck of a live show so if you have a chance to make it to any of these places I urge you to do so.

***If you can't get the music to play here is a direct link to the location I found this song.***

Oct 31 2008 10:30P
Wild West Waco Waco, Texas
Nov 1 2008 8:00P
Pub Fiction Houston
Nov 7 2008 10:30P
Midnight Rodeo Amarillo Amarillo, Texas
Nov 8 2008 10:30P
Wild West Lubbock, Texas
Nov 15 2008 8:00P
Private Event Creedmore, Texas
Nov 22 2008 10:30P
Floores Country Store Helotes, Texas
Nov 27 2008 11:00P
Schroeder Dance Hall Goliad, Texas
Nov 27 2008 11:00P
Schroeder Dance Hall Goliad, Texas
Nov 29 2008 9:00P
Brewster St. Ice House Corpus Christi, Texas
Dec 5 2008 11:00P
Silver Saloon Terrell, Texas
Dec 19 2008 11:00P
Tumbleweed Texas Houston, Texas
Dec 26 2008 10:00P
The Ranch Midland, Texas
Dec 27 2008 11:00P
Wormy Dog Saloon Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Jan 6 2009 11:00P
Music Fest - Lower Gondola Parking lot Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 19 2009 8:00P
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Washington D.C.

My Town Mondayers

Shauna Roberts -- Orange County, California
Debra -- My Town, your town, and all towns in-between.
Cloudia -- Waikiki, Hawaii
Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England
Clair Dickson -- Grand River, Michigan
Patti Abbott -- Detroit. Michigan
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California
Reb -- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Junosmom -- Kentucky
Laura Curtis -- Women of Mystery
Karen L Alaniz -- Walla Walla, Washington
Jenny Jill -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Maria Geraci -- Procrastination City

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm Still Alive

I've did it again. I had promised myself that I would never write two, book-length projects at the same time and here am doing that very thing. I'm also critiquing two projects for friends. That along with my regular life duties means my blogging will be sporadic for a while.

Several of you have asked so thought I'd give you a brief update on the flag football. At this point it is obvious the kids have the talent and ability to win but sadly poor coaching seems to be holding them back. If you are new here, I might should point out that I am the coach. Along with my buddy Charlies that is. He does the defense, I do the offense.

Here we are rallying the troops at halftime.




The team is o-5 but we've been close in every game and lost 19-20 right at the end of one game. I think the boys are having fun and I know they have learned a lot as they line up and run the plays with very little explanation needed.

Last game all was going well and we were moving the ball then our running back fell and lost a tooth. Lost as in it fell out and we could not find it among the grass. Amid concerns of the tooth fairy having no price to cart off and the rest of the team wondering if it hurt to lose a tooth playing football the focus drifted away from the gridiron and I as coach never could get it back.

We have three games left, including two this weekend. I'll be kind of sad when the season is over, but a bit thankful for the extra time nonetheless. It has been fun however as few things feel better than being part of a team and having their youthful exuberance rub off on me.

Since we are a Catholic School team, maybe we should simply run a Hail Mary pass every play and hope or divine intervention.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Z Monster

If you read this before, I'm sorry. I accidentally published before I meant to.

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Today is my youngest son's birthday. He is six and this morning when he headed off to school with two dozen cupcakes in tow, he was grinning as if king of the world.

His personality is like mine and that in itself is quite scary. He has the ability to make me smile and grit my teeth at the same time and he truly is a treasure in my life. So Happy Birthday Z!

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So have y'all heard about the thirty-some odd threatening letters sent out to various banks in protest of the the economy and what not? The letters contained a white substance that authorities are saying is harmless.

Guess what? Every last one of those suckers was mailed from the very post office that I work at here in Amarillo. Maybe CNN will interview me and I'll finally get my fifteen minutes. If so you can bet your ass that I won't waste it talking about some nut job with too much time and postage in his hands. Hell, no they interview me I'm, pitching Plundered Booty* to the world.


*For any newcomers, Plundered Booty is the name of my recently completed novel.


Also, pop over to Debra's blog From Skilled Hands today. She is blogging about Cups of Kindness, a group of artists that are helping their regional foodbank.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Scary Stuff

My Halloween costume didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, or as well as my pirate one last year.


What am I supposed to be? A cowboy? Waylon Jennings circa The Dukes of Hazard years? A fat hairy Texan?

Nope, nope, and I'm that every day, but again no, not what I was shooting for. I'll let you stew on your guess for a second while I bring you more pics.




Rob and Arlene as tourists.
















Their Daughter, the panhandler.





Their oldest daughter and boyfriend.


The party was held at our friend Janet's house. Janet and my wife hang out together so much that everyone in our circle jokes that I have two wives . So ...








... we went as a polygamist sect.

But the costumes of the night went to Janet's son and girlfriend. Say hello to Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.



And more pics ...






I thought I took pictures of all the other costumes but several came out too blurry, probably a result of all the Sailor Jerry's I consumed, and several more people I apparently missed altogether.
Are you dressing up for an event this year. If so what are your going to be and if not who what would you dress up as if you were?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Where You Least Expect It -- A My Town Monday Post

Umbarger, Texas is the tiny kind of town that people refer to as a wide spot in the road. Originally settled by German and Swiss immigrants, the town has a meager population just over three hundred people.

This grain elevator is the only structure of any significant size.



The average traveler would view it as simply another small town dying a slow death. I imagine that is how most Amarilloans think of Umbarger which lies 27 miles to the southwest. Matter of fact I'd say the only time the average Amarillo residents think of Umbarger is when the small community has it's annual sausage festival each November. Here is the blurb about the upcoming event.

Umbarger German Sausage Festival, Nov. 9

St. Mary’s Church of Umbarger will be hosting their annual fundraising dinner on November 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. German sausage will be served along with sauerkraut, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, applesauce and homemade baked bread. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children 6 to10, and children under 6 eat free. Take outs are available and sausage and sauerkraut can be purchased. Homemade crafts and baked goods will be for sale to the public at the Country Store. There will be a drawing for prizes. The church will be opened for public viewing.


If you've never attended I highly recommend you do so this year. And while the food is good, the real hidden gem and the subject of this particular My Town Monday post is the last line of that blurb. I'll enlarge and italicize it in case you were skimming.

The church will be opened for public viewing.

So what you say. What's the big deal about a tiny little Catholic Church in some Podunk town on a state highway in Texas?

For the answer to that let me take you back 62 years, to a time when the world was involved in a war against Hitler and the Axis powers, including the Mussolini led Italians.

St. Mary's church in Umbarger was built a decade before in either 1929 or 1930. Originally it was described as a drab structure both inside and out.

In 1944 Rev. John Krukkert was assigned to St Mary's Church. That very same year the United States Government built an 800 acre POW encampment in nearby Hereford, Texas. The Hereford Military Reservation and Reception Center housed nearly 4,000 Italian prisoners of war, many of whom were artists and craftsmen.

Word got out about the prisoners talents and Krukkert asked the cam commander of some of the men could be given work assignments to beautify his church in Umbarger.

Permission was granted and a group led by Franco Di Bello, an English-speaking Italian officer went to work.

The "volunteers" painted two murals. The Annunciation and The Visitation each lined a side of the altar. An oil-on-canvas, The Assumption of Mary, was created to hang behind it.

But the Italian men did not stop there. A wood carver created a bas-relief scene of The Last Supper, which fronts the white marble altar and along both sides of the Assumption of Mary painting, they carved more vertical bas-relief featuring grapes, olives and crosses. Christian symbols such as crosses, anchors, olives, grapes and lions ring the walls.

Krukkert earlier ordered stained-glass windows in jewel colors from his native Holland, and the POWs installed them.


Here is an AP photo I found of the church but it truly does not do it justice, so for those of you who live in the area I urge you to visit if you get the chance and see the beautiful work of the captives left behind.

Thirteen men died at the encampment and today there is a memorial on the site for those men.

The next time you speed through one of those don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it kind of town slow down and take a look around. You might be surprised by what find.


LINKS TO OTHER MY TOWN MONDAYERS



Melanie Avila -- Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Cloudia -- Hawaii

Junosmom -- Kentucky

Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan

Britta Coleman -- Fort Worth, Texas

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Clare2E (Women of Mystery) -- Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Clair Dickson -- Brighton, Michigan

Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California

Lana Gramlich -- Covington, Louisiana

Reb -- Old Strathcone (Edmonton) Alberta, Canada

Jenny Jill -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England

PreTzal -- Boone County, Iowa

Karen Alaniz -- Walla Walla, Washington

Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hi - Bye

I wanted to get a blog post up today, but have had no time tow rite it. Now I have to start getting ready for tonight's big costume party.

I'll post pictures of my politically incorrect get-up later this week.

The flag football team lost another tough one 12-6 today and I got a killer case of heartburn, but that's about all I have to report.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe Knows

Humor me, as a spin a little tale for y'all.


Joe (no not the plumber) enjoyed music. That joy turned into a love for dancing. For years he watched and admired others dancing until eventually Joe decided he too would like to dance one day.

Joe practiced in the solitude of his home. He studied his favorite dancers. Taking some of what they did blending it together and adding a few new moves of his very own. He put a lot of swat tears and blood into his dancing and finally, Joe began to think he was pretty good, but a bit of doubt remained. Was he delusional or were his moves ready for public consumption?

He asked a few other people to check out his dancing. They liked it but they were friends and wannabe dancers too and he worried they were just telling him he was good because they knew him or understood how scary and hard it was to even contemplate dancing in public.

But Joe fought off those doubts, dressed up in his shiniest duds and headed out on the town. He researched the dancing spots and found that not all dance floors are equal. Some even wanted to charge him to dance, but he picked one out and hoped he wouldn't embarrass himself.

As the music played Joe studied the lovely ladies. Eager to sow off his skills, he looked around trying to select a dance partner. While he looked a line dance came on and Joe was tempted to hit the floor and dance by himself, but he feared that would reek of desperation so he resisted the urge. But dang he wanted to jump into the action.

was Then from across the dimly lit room he spotted the one. He liked the way she swayed to the tunes, but he waited and studied the other guys she danced with. Joe decided that their style similar to his. But Joe also believed he had a few new dips and twirls that she'd never seen before. So he crossed to her. Joe smiled. She smiled back.

He asked her to dance.

And ...

She said no.

At the dejected look on his face, she said, "Don't take it bad. I'm sure you are a fine dancer and other girls might be willing to dance with you, but unfortunately I simply didn't fall in love with you when you walked up?"

"Fall in love?" Joe stammered. "But I just asked you to dance. Don't you need to spend some time with me to fall in love. I have some great moves."

"Maybe," she said. "But the way you asked simply didn't get me excited to dance with you."

"But I'm a much better dancer than asker."

Sorry," she said. "But I got so many people asking me to dance I can't give everyone of them a chance to prove their merit to an actual song. If I don't look in their eye as they ask and feel something I can't take the time to find out if there is something there or not." Then she smiled and said , "But best of luck asking the next girl."

Sadly, the next three girls simply ignored him when he asked, then the next one said yes, but ditched him after a few chords and left him standing alone on the floor wondering what he did wrong. Finally a girl let him twist and twirl the entire song through. She even thanked him for the dance, but she nicely refused to become his regular dance partner so Joe keeps on looking and asking.

Days, weeks, and years have gone by and Joe keeps honing his dance skills. Less girls ignore him and more actually let him lead them to the floor, but that's as far as things go. Some say Joe I really like you but no one is doing the jitterbug right now, or you tango very nicely but I need man who can salsa. Joe takes heart that no one says "Give it up Joe, you have no rhythm," but dang it Joe wants to take it to the next level and he just can't seem to get there.



If you've ever wondered what it is like to decide to write a novel and then to pitch that novel to agents you now know. Just substitute music for words and dancing for writing and girls for agents and you'll have a pretty good idea.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hear Them Roar

Barrie Summy has declared today as October Ovation. She has urged bloggers to talk about a person or people they admire.

I'm going to bend the rules a might and talk about an entire gender. The female gender.

As a writer the question I most often am asked is ... "What do you write?"

Even though my last project was a humorous mainstream novel, my usual answer is women's fiction, and that reply generally brings on raised eyebrows and a dubious, "Really?"

I've had other writers ask me why I write women's fiction given that I'm bucking the norm and the odds.

To them I answer "I can only tell the stories that come to me."

But I have given the subject a lot of thought and now realize that the reason I write stories with strong female characters is because the females in my life have always been stronger and more reliable than the men.

I was raised by a single mom. Now that I have became a parent myself I am stunned by the sacrifices and hard work she put in to raise me and my brother. I also owe my love of reading to her as she insisted my entire life that I read something at all times. She didn't care what but if I dared say I was bored she'd drive me to the library and say the world is yours. Find something you like to entertain yourself. Back then I wasn't even smart enough to realize I was learning something in the process.

As a young boy I also had my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother to learn from. They both taught me more than they'll ever know. I miss the old days of Sunday dinners and they way the two of them were the center of my family's universe. I learned what grief really felt like when my great-grandmother passed away and to this day I can't think of her without smiling as she spoiled me in ways no one else ever has.

My grandmother is still alive and as feisty as ever though in declining health and relegated to a nursing home. I am thankful for the treasure chest of memories I have from the days when she was stronger. I visit her often and wish that I could do more.

I am fortunate to have a good many female friends over the years. I can truthfully say they have never let me down the way many of my guy buddies have though I have a few rock steady pals of the male gender as well. And writing wise all of my mentors are women. Thanks ladies, you know who you are.

That brings me to my lovely wife Jennifer. First off it takes a saint to put up with me. Sure I'm a likable and lovable guy here on the blog, but trust me it ain't all T-bones and smiles living with me. She gives me time to pursue my crazy dreams of becoming an author, she takes great care of me and our boys, and she doesn't make me eat lettuce.

Why do I write women's fiction.

Because most of the time women are a hell of a lot more interesting than us hairy knuckled men. Heck all of us have the exact same motivation for everything we do.

So to all the females of the world ... I salute you!

And visit these other bloggers who are taking part on October Ovation.

Through the Tollbooth
Ellen Booraem
Stacy Nyikos
Maureen McGowan
Elizabeth--About New York
Jason--Scribblings of a Madman
Becky Levine
The Adventures (and Misadventures) of Amy
Sandy--Peaceful Heart Stained Glass
Gabe--Gabe's Meanderings
Shari Green
Debra--From Skilled Hands
Welcome to the Patti-O
Patti Abbott--pattinase
Beth Yarnell
Barrie Summy
Larramie--Seize A Daisy

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Town Map

It's been a while since I started My Town Monday and I have a lot of new readers so it seems like a good time to rehash my original thoughts on the weekly project. My goal was to eventually have at least one participant from all fifty states and as many other countries as possible. This map gives you a good idea of where I stand on that goal.









The gist of My Town Mondays is for bloggers to talk about any town they know something interesting about. It could be their current home, the place they grew up, or simply a location you've visited and learned a cool bit of knowledge of. At the bottom you of this post you can click on the My Town Monday tag and see my older posts as well as each week's links to the other participants. Or here is a link to my original post describing My Town Monday.

The only so-called rule is that if you decide to participate please leave a comment and let me know so that I can link to you.

While I am catching up I thought I'd post some pictures I promised a while back when I blogged about Amarillo's title of Helium Capitol of the world. To read that post click here.

Anyway here are the pictures of the National Helium monument. Hold your breath, they are exciting.

You might have to click on that middle picture to read the words but the monument also serves as a time capsule. And it's a sun dial as well. It's sits outside the Don Harrington Discovery Center which is place my entire family love.

Here is the Discovery Centers Mission statement which I lifted straight from their website.

The mission of the Don Harrington Discovery Center (DHDC) is:

"To build knowledge and understanding of science and its impact on our lives, our community, and our world. We are dedicated to fostering curiosity, wonder, and the skills of minds and will that fuel the human imagination to probe mysteries beyond the limits of the known."

DHDC has been a provider of science and health educational programming and hands-on science experimentation since 1985. Because DHDC is the only science center serving a vast geographic area cover three states (Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma Panhandle, and Eastern New Mexico), we offer the unique ability to make a positive impact on a large constituency composed of persons from widely different ethnic and racial backgrounds.

I recommend you check out the monument and the Discovery center if you ever visit Amarillo or live near by.

LINKS TO OTHER MY TOWN MONDAYERS

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England
Shauna Roberts -- Riverside, California
David Cranmer -- Cameroon, Africa
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Clair Dickson -- Brighton, Michigan
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California
Reb -- (Old Strathcona) Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Jenny Jill -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Lana Gramlich -- Mandeville, Louisiana
Texlahoma -- Elmore City, Oklahoma
Gina Black -- L.A., California

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fun Run Pics

I appreciate all the well wishes and pats on the back yesterday, but I got one question. Where the hell were all of you this morning when I was attempting to drag my sore and decrepit butt out of bed. I could have used a shoulder to lean on while limping down the hall to the shower. Everything I got hurts this morning, but as promised here is the photographic evidence of my wife's torture.


ME AND THE BOYS AT O' DARK THIRTY BEFORE THE RACE


And here is a video of the race start. You'll see me lumber by a few seconds in.


video

And right at the finish. Note the bemused look on the onlookers faces.


Back later with a MTM post.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not Dead Yet

I survived!

I'll post pics later.

My 5 year old kindergartner ran the mile in 10:06, I did it in 10:25, and my 7 year old posted a time of 11:34.

I've decided they should break running up like they do boxing. I think I could have won the over 280 pound division, but then again I think I would have been the only contestant in that category.

Off to flag football and then a day at the school carnival. Followed up by a night of rum.

I Don't Wanna, But My Wife Says I Gotta

If I don't put up any new posts after this just assume I succumbed to a heart attack during the so-called fun run. I haven't ran a mile since sometime around the ninth grade.

Yep, today is the day. But I trained hard yesterday. For breakfast I only had one sausage and cheese croissant instead of two. Add in the four chicken and queso soft tacos I consumed for lunch. the two mid-afternoon donuts, the cheese whopper for supper and the ham and cheese sandwich for a bedtime snack and I should have sufficient energy for the race.

My only goal is to avoid an ambulance ride. Once upon a time I was in decent shape, back when I worked at the feedstore, and refereed high school football, and played hockey. These days I'm still in shape but sadly that shape is now round.

For those of you who live in Amarillo don't worry if you feel the ground shaking shortly after 8 AM. It's not an earthquake, it's just me running.

What the hell was my wife thinking? She better have a cold beer waiting at the finish line.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Poll This

I'm sick of politics. Reading about them, hearing about them, keeping up with them.

Matter of fact I'm down right disgruntled with the entire two party system.

Democracy my ass. Only two candidates have a real chance and even those individuals candidates aren't allowed to truly be individuals. Instead they have to pander to their party's ideals.

Know what I wanna see?

A gun-toting, corporate CEO loving Democrat ... or a gay, Republican atheist.

During the primary and caucus season each candidate spends his time saying I subscribe to the party's list of rules (they call it platform) and all of my opponents are secretly communist or spies from the other party.

Then when they get the nomination we hear, "My party's set of rules are better than you party's set of rules so vote for me."

Leaders should lead not recite from a rule sheet. A castrated pig has more balls than either of the current candidates.

Next presidential election I'm forming the Human Party where you are allowed to think for yourself, disagree with others, and yes, even make a mistake or two. And all tree-hugging Republicans who want to spend more on social programs are invites as are all Pro-Life Democrats who secretly shout Drill Baby Drill! Heck we'll even take a Libertarians that thinks the government does have a right to make us wear a seatbelt.

The one and only requirement is to have an opinion that someone else didn't cram down your pie hole.

Rant over.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lord Have Mercy

Angie Ledbetter tagged me with a book meme. the rules are to grab the nearest book, turn to page 56 and then cite 2 to 5 lines. Here goes.

The customer, 91-year-old Shirley Lykes, testified that Shreave was "a slick talker, but clumsy as a blind mule."

The six member jury deliberated less than an hour. The foreman later explained that the panel decided to $1 to Shreave "so he could go out and buy some tweezers" -- an apparent reference to the lingering cactus thorns that the salesman had complained about.

The passage comes from Carl Hiassen's Nature Girl.



Carl Hiassen is quite humorous and in other "funny" news I have just found out my wife signed me up to participate in a mile long fun run. Far as I'm concerned fun and run do not belong in the same sentence. Ever! Not even for a fundraiser. I don't care how good the cause is. It's going to be pure torture.

The event goes down Saturday as part of the school carnival. Maybe since it's associated with a Catholic school God will take pity and not punish me for a lifetime of double cheeseburgers with every step.

Fishsticks, Cicadas, and Dang Good Books-- Two Line Tuesday

As a big hairy Texan in his mid-thirties it's safe to say that I'm not the target audience for a young reader book about a tween girl facing anxiety over entering junior high, boys, and the threat of a prissy newcomer in town.

I'll even confess that Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightening is not the type of story I'd normally select on a trip to the bookstore, but given the fact it was written by blogworld buddy Danette Haworth, I of course read it.

And guess what? I enjoyed every minute of it. Violet is a might flawed in her thinking and her POV is skewed but she has no problem telling it as she sees it and her voice as the narrator is simply perfect. I would recommend to book to anyone, young or old and if you're trying to get a young boy to read it tell them there are alligators in it and a cool guy named Eddie.

Here are two lines which I think give you a good sense of Violets' voice and personality.

I didn't mean for her to puke. But if you think you're going to be part of a fish fry, you better know it ain't no fishsticks.


And here are two lines from some of my writing this past week. This is from my as-yet-untitled novel, that I am currently working on. Of which the hardest part for me is capturing the voice and mindset of Callie, a fifteen-year-old girl. I never have quite understood teenage girls and since this one is a POV character it is a point of difficulty for me. I cheated and posted three lines by the way.

A locust let loose its irritating sound from one of the trees across the street. Mr. Myers, her natural science teacher last year, told the class that the bugs were really cicadas, but that seemed stupid to Callie. Everyone else called them locusts, so why should she believe some fat, boring guy just because he was a teacher?

Be sure and check out the creators of Two Line Tuesday over at the Women of Mystery blog.

The first time Grace McAdams stood outside a closed door a

Monday, October 6, 2008

Family Fun -- A My Town Monday Post

Halloween is a big event around my house. My wife collects Department 56 Halloween village pieces, my oldest son's birthday is October 31st, and then there is the candy for me and my youngest. We both have a serious sweet tooth.

So having said all of that. We, as a family enjoy anything Halloweenish we can do together and The Amazingly Fun Farm just to the southeast of Amarillo fits that bill.


The above shot is of my boys playing king of the hay. but of course the farm's main attraction is an eight acre corn maize. This year's pattern is reflective of the upcoming election.


The farm also has a pick your own pumpkin and gourd patch, a pneumatic corn cannon, a hayride, and other assorted activities.

But instead of describing everything let me show you pictures. We arrived late afternoon, but by the time we got to the maze dark had set in and let me tell you it's pitch black in their among the 8 foot corn stalks. I enjoyed scaring the boys as well as Jennifer at nearly every turn.



I have more pictures an a video of the corn cannon in action that I will try to load tomorrow, but blogger is giving me fits right now and it has taken all afternoon and evening to get this many pics up. (UPDATE -- Corn cannon and more pics have been added to the very bottom of this post) I really like this last shot. As I said it was pitch black except for when the flash of my camera went off. If you notice in the upper right of this picture there is some kind of flying critter that I caught mid flight. (You can click to enlarge if need be.)

Of course me being the storyteller that I am I had the boys convinced it was some kind of fairy that lives in corn patches, but as always Jennifer called bullshit and convinced them it was just a bug.

She never lets me have any fun.

And please don't forget to visit my giving page on DonorChoose.org to help kids in public schools fall in love with books and reading.


For more post about other towns, please check back her for the links to

OTHER MY TOWN MONDAYERS.

Debra -- Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England
Terrie Farley Moran (Women of Mystery) -- Edgewater, New Jersey
Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Junosmom -- Kentucky
Lois Templin -- Minnesota
Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
PreTzel -- Mitcheville, Iowa

Saturday, October 4, 2008

This Sucks

"Things ain't what they used to be."

A word of caution. Uttering the above phrase is one of the signs of old age. I can't tell you how many times I've rolled my eyes as some old-timer used those words to launch into a spiel about his old '64 Ford that lasted 27 years and three hundred thousand miles.

Sure those old cars and trucks were made out of actual metal. Sure they could survive numerous fender benders that nowadays total the plastic and fiberglass vehicles we drive. But those old jalopies also got 7 miles to the gallon and had the maneuverability of a fat kid playing dodgeball.

however this post isn't about fat kids or cars for that matter. Rather it's about my own bitch and gripe about things not being what they used to be.

But I'm not railing about cars, electronics, or some other shoddy merchandise offered in this modern time. I'm griping about something that really sucks these days ... straws.

The decline in quality straws is the plague of fast food establishments. Remember when McDonalds had those really thick straws? The ones that would collapse no matter how hard you sucked on that shake? Nowadays you're damn lucky if you can get your straw out of its thin paper wrapper without bending and breaking it.

Taco Bell is the worse. The other day it took me three tries to find a straw that didn't already have a slit in the side. Come one people I can survive on hamburger patties so thin you can read through them, I can even tolerate stale tortillas and runny hot sauce, but I don't wanna have to daintily sip my Dr. Pepper through a straw so thin that Trojan should start making their prophylactics out of it. Ultra-sensitive condoms I get, but a straw doesn't require the same level of feeling.

I'm pleading with you straw makers. Bring back the quality control. Thicker really is better.

I'm sure all of you think I've lost my mind and probably I have. And while I am getting crotchety and acting more like an old man all the time I do remember one time when the great straw crisis (as only I am calling it) was even worse than today's. When was that you ask?

Elementary school.

Of all the stupid notions in the world none is dumber than the concept of paper straws. Remember those? Really they were like paper mache straws. Not quite cardboard but a bit thicker than regular paper. Nevertheless they would be all soggy and limp before you finished your carton of milk. (good thing I didn't use the condom analogy here) Did other schools in other parts of the country have those straws? do you know what I'm talking about. Heck you couldn't even use them to shoot a good spitball.

Back when I was in elementary school the only thing worse than the straw was the tiny little scraps of square toilet paper. It took about a jillion to do any good and while they were as thin as tissue paper they were as rough as as a sixty year old barmaids voice.

Yes, this post has turned into a general rant, but I'm still a bit grouchy after my crappy week.

Anybody else having trouble with straws. Got any bad memories of elementary school? Other products that ain't what they used to be?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Catching Up

This has been the week from hell. I had to resort to a video for My Town Monday, I never did get around to posting a Two Line Tuesday, and now here it is Friday and I'm desperately trying to play catch up so I'll be ready for the coming week. So here is a rundown of my week.

Sunday's flag football game was a heart breaker for the boys. After being up 13 -12 at half and 19 to 12 with less than three minutes left we lost 20-19. I called a bad play at the end and we turned the ball over but the kids are learning an despite being saddened about being 0-2 I think they are having a great time this season. They have already progressed in their knowledge of the game and its execution far more than I thought they would this season. I know I promised pics and I will get some up later.

Monday was a tough day at work, but critique that night was nice. By the way I have chosen bachelorette #4(the bull semen story) so expect snips here and there especially on Two Line Tuesday.

Speaking of Tuesday, it was even worse far as work goes and football practice was an exercise in frustration as the kids apparently been snacking on sugar cubes since they were all very hyper.

Wednesday -- worked sucked. Sensing a theme yet? After work I received a call from my mom that her well was messing up so I wound up going over and digging four foot down in the mud to find a broken pipe, while swarms of mosquitoes dined on my flesh.

Thursdays it was my wife's birthday. I took her lunch then finished up the plumbing work at my mom's and then ate an early supper out with the family before football practice. The boys turned in their best practice ever and I'm confidant they will play well this weekend when we have two more games. After practice I swung by Sam's and bought my wife a birthday present. Yes I know I'm a procrastinator and should be shot for waiting until 7:30 PM the day of to buy her gift. By the way I bought perfume. Lacoste's Touch of Pink.

Today, I'm sitting in a coffee shop waiting on another critique partner to show. I'm plan to catch up on a few blogs and get geared up to start my crazy week all over again when I head back to work in the morning.

On the plus side, I did manage to get a decent amount of work in on the new novel, my son had his best report card ever, and I have settled on this years Halloween costume. Don't worry I'll post pics of our annual Halloween party but I'll want you know my costume is a bit politically incorrect (but funny as hell) this year.

And if you are in the market for a good thriller to read please check out Karen Dionne's novel Freezing Point which was released earlier this week. She is the aunt of blogging pal Melanie Avila.


I hope things have been running a bit smoother for all of you. I hope to have a tongue in cheek post up tomorrow titled, Thing's Ain't What They Used To Be, but then again things haven't gone exactly to plan lately so who knows.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Worthy Cause

I've been writing seriously for about seven years now. And in that time I've heard and read countless claims that that people don't read the way they used to, and therefore the book biz is dying a painful death.


Sadly there is some truth to those claims, but I truly believe people will always go for a good story, or yearn to learn something new. I believe there is a book and genre out there for everyone -- it's just a matter of making that match.


I fell in love with reading, books and fictional stories at a young age. That love has never faded. Now I have the opportunity through this blog to help other kids discover the love of reading.


I recently made the comment in a Post that I should probably do more charitable giving. I have been given that chance now by a cool organization called DonorsChoose.org.

Donors Choose is an organization that helps public school teachers find the funds needed to maximize their student's learning experience. They have a wide variety of project and locales and a donor can choose exactly what projects they wish to donate to. This month DonorsChoose is holding a blogger challenge and they invited me to participate. I hoping many of my readers will take the plunge and donate a few bucks to the projects I've selected, or if you don't like those take a bit of time and look around the site until you find a project that does catch your eye.

Of course the projects I've selected all have to do with books and reading. As a writer it is to my benefit to help insure there will be a generation of readers for the future and as a reader I hope there will also be a generation of talented writers churning out books for me to read in my old age. The widget will stay at the top of my blog for the entire month of October, but the projects may change, especially if enough of you help out this worthwhile cause. My hope is that I will have to add more projects once the ones I've selected have been funded. You can give as little as $5, or the price of a single Whopper combo before tax. Give and I'll buy you a burger if I ever get the chance.

Thanks,
Travis

By the way the widget says GIVE TO Travis Erwin, but just to be clear the money you donate goes straight to the classroom. It does not come my way or fund my rum habit. Also here is a direct link to my giving page.