Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Real Writing ... and more Halloween pics

First off I'd like to wish a Happy Halloween to all. I have tortured and scared all of you for many months now. You've endured my terrible typos, gruesome grammar, and shoddy story telling. I'm sure many of you have went so far as to say, "And this guy calls himself a writer."

Well, I'm proud to announce that starting today you can read in it's entirety and completely for free -- An actual sample of what I affectionately call my -- Real Writing. That's right head the story I blogged about selling a month or so back is now up on the UNDERGROUND VOICES site. Head on over and read my short story titled, The Simplest Of Sounds. Don't go expecting humor however, as it is a dark tale. The story is one of my personal favorites and I'd love to hear what you think, so drop me a line in the comments after you read. Or send the fine folks over at Underground Voices an email and let them know you enjoyed what you read. Who knows maybe they will buy more of my stuff in the future.

Now in the spirit of Halloween, more pics ...


My, those are some strategically placed targets, are they not?





The beads were woven into my actual beard and they were a hell of a lot easier to get in than out. I sued old fashioned moustache wax to make mine stand out like that, the chest hair is real, Mr. Smee from Peter Pan wore glasses so why not me, the costume cost about fifteen dollars top to bottom and the clothes were all from the thrift store with the exception of the tattoo sleeves which aren't really shown in any picture but trust me they looked cool. They came from Wal-mart and cost about a third of the total price of the costume. But still, I spent more on rum than anything else. Hope that answered all of y'alls questions.
Don't forget to check out the short story and report back what you think.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yo Ho, Yo Ho

Pirates don't wear glasses! That was the first words out of my five year old's mouth about my costume. But more about that later on in this post.

Since it has been a while since my last post let me give you quick recap. Friday my wife and kids were out of school. We spent nearly the entire day going from thrift store to thrift store so we could piece together our costumes for the big part Saturday night at our friends Kevin and Janet's house. All of the pics in this post are from that event.

Saturday we had the boys combined birthday party out at the corn maize that I blogged about a few weeks back. The little turned five on Oct. 22 and the older one will turn seven tomorrow on Halloween day. After the boys marathon three hour B-Day party we headed home and I watched Nebraska blow their lead and eventually lose to Texas while I donned me pirate garb. That last sentence works better if you read it aloud in a throaty growl.

We dropped the boys off at my in-laws and headed for the party, with a brief detour to the liquor store where I tried to talk the guy into giving me a bottle of rum since I was decked out in full pirate regalia. His withering stare pretty much said give me some money and get out of my store your weirdo.

After staying out to two in the morning we got up the next morning before the crack of dawn and headed out to watch a bunch of hot air balloons lift out of Palo Duro Canyon. There were taking part in a local balloon festival. I'll post pics from that later.

After taking off from work for the weekend I was ready to head back Monday and get some rest, but my boss had other plans. She sent me on a road trip to work on some machines in a town called Childress two hours south-east of Amarillo. After a ten hour workday I headed straight to my critique group and finally got home about nine where I proceeded to crash in bed shortly thereafter.

Tonight I am visiting Katrina's writing group. I'm looking forward to it but after they hear a bit of my Plundered Booty story they may never invite me back.

Now to the pics ...

ME, IN THE CLASSIC CAPTAIN MORGAN POSE. Don't tell, but that rum bottle in my hand is actually Whalers coconut rum.


Here is a shot of Kevin and Janet. The party was at their house. He went as an old lady and she is a poodle. Note the leash . It is often a man can say his wife is on a short leash and it actually be true. Over on the right is their son John looking rather regal in his Roman garb.
More pics later, but I have to shuffle off to work for now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Once Upon A Time

ONCE UPON A TIME, in a not so far and distant land, a young man awoke to the most peculiar of clicking sounds. This young man certainly was no prince and the place he called home was distinctly un-castle-like. Nevertheless, the young man would not have traded places with even the ruler of the world's greatest kingdom.

For you see, that day he was to wed the fair maiden who had claimed his heart. Lying in bed he smiled as he always did at the thought of her beautiful face. But, that peculiar clicking sound persisted, so the young man threw back the covers and slid out of his nice, warm bed in order to investigate. He shivered as he crept over to the window, which seemed to be where the clicking came from. Had he taken the time to consider what that shiver meant he might not have been so surprised by what he saw beyond the window.

But alas, his heart sank at the sight for he knew of his betrothed's lifelong dreams for today. Her desire to be wed on a pristine fall day. Cool, crisp, with a gentle breeze to stir the golden, yellow, and amber leaves. Her visions were filled with the kind of Autumn day ripe with the scent of apples ready to be picked, wheat ready to harvest, and fresh cut wood, ready to be stacked by the fireplace.

But winter had come early, for that clicking sound was sleet striking the window. Outside, every tree limb was covered in a sparkling glaze of ice. Wind, from the far frigid North howled across the land.

The young man hated that the day would not be everything he heart's desire longed for, but in truth, the weather mattered not to him. He would deliver his I Do's from atop a high mountain peak in a raging blizzard, or knee-deep in a muddy swap at the equator during monsoon, or in a fierce sandstorm in the hottest of desserts.

And later that day, inside a cozy little church, with snow falling from the heavens, and wind swirling around, and ice gleaming all about, he delivered his I Do's. As did the fair maiden.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of that blustery day, thus proving that some fairy tales do indeed come true.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Little Stinker

Shauna recently had a post about about the "joys" of raising boys over at her blog, The Coffee Shop, which reminded me of an old story.

When I first met my wife she was a senior in high school and living with her parents. I was a cradle robbing twenty-year old college student. Also living with her parents was her older sister who had a two year old son. Yes, the same nephew who at 16 now stands several inches above six foot and hovers around three hundred pounds. The one I mentioned in a previous post about high school football.

So in the early days of our dating Corndog (I gave him that name when he was about four because he had a shaved head that reminded me of a corndog) was around a lot. And he was a funny kid, And since his Dad was absent I took it upon myself to introduce him to the finer aspects of masculine culture. Things like pro wrestling, fishing, making farting noises with your arm pits, and the joys of rubber band wars. The list could go on but I'll stop there.

He was about four or five one day when it was just me and him in the living room. My wife's parents were away as was her sister so the two of us were baby sitting.

I felt a bit of pressure building in my guts so like a good future uncle I called him over to me and instructed him to pull my finger. His eyes widened at the boisterous eruption.

"Do it again. Do it again." He squealed.

I obliged him for the sake of entertainment, and because I'd probably eaten at Taco Bell or some other such intestinal stimulating fast food joint.

He was in awe at my second acoustical outburst. After a few seconds he stuck out a tiny little finger and said, "Do it to me."

I pulled his finger at which point he grabbed onto the edge of the table and commenced to grimacing and groaning.

This is when Jennifer walked back into the room. She took one look at little Corndog and said, "What is he doing?"

"Trying to fart," I answered.

"No he's not," She said.

And in a very rough and strained voice Corndog piped in, "Yes I am." The the tiniest of pops came out and he smiled proudly.

My future wife simply shook her head and walked away.

I held my hand up and Corndog gave me a high five. It was a great moment that every uncle and nephew should share.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Riddle Me Sore

First off, thanks for all the well wishes regarding my grandmother. Unfortunately, she is still not well and in fact seems to be getting worse even though the doctors do not seem to know why. I have always been extremely close to my grandma and it pains me to see her in this condition.

Speaking of doctors I think mine must have taken out a life insurance policy with himself as the benefactor, cause his trying to make me healthy is killing me. I won't go into all the detail again but many of you know about his mission to make me lose 55 pounds. Also my good cholesterol was too low so I have been on a variety of medications to help bring that number up. None of them have worked and twice I have had adverse reactions.

Well, make that three times. Early this morning, around 5 AM I woke up. My skin felt as if there were bugs crawling just beneath the surface and every last inch of me burned as if I had a serious sun burn. I threw the covers back, sat up a bit disoriented, put my glasses on, and eventually stumbled off the the bathroom. Jennifer sat up in bed and ask what was wrong. I mumbled something incoherent and proceeded to drain my over full bladder. I remember thinking two things. One, I felt light headed, two I needed to go into the kitchen and get an ibuprofen since my doctor has said taking one with the pill should help alleviate any side affects.

I made it a couple of steps and boom. I hit the floor HARD. My wife said I fell like a tree without even trying to catch myself. My glasses cut the bridge of my nose and I have a swollen bruised left cheek as well as a sore arm and elbow on that same side. On the plus side I did clean off the bathroom counter in record time on the way down.

But enough about the wonders of modern medicine. How about another edition of RIDDLE ME THIS? Okay this is actually a recycled old post, but only about three people read this blog back when I first posted it, and especially with the addition of Phats to my readership I though it would get a better, and more varied responses this time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Give me a C ... for confused

Have you ever heard of a referee competition? Follow me on this. Can you picture a bunch of guys standing out in some field, clad in their trusty black and white stripes competing to see how high they can throw a yellow flag? Me neither, but it might sound something like this if ESPN televised such an event.

"Boy Howdy Jim. Look at Frank Jones go. He's really on his A game today. I've never seen anyone signal false start with such zest."

"You said it Biff. He got a full 720 on that rotation. And his form was flawless."

Ridiculous right? Nobody cares how well a ref looks while he throws a flag or signals a penalty, so what would be the point of having them compete just for the sake of competition? Refs only have value as long as they are needed to police an actual game. I couldn't agree more.

So why in the world do we have cheerleader competition? What are they cheering for? And who are they leading in these supposed cheers? Here in Amarillo we have at least two "organizations" that girls or guys of all ages can join and cheer. Not for sports teams, but in cheer competitions. Why?

Somebody please explain this to me. I know someone will take offense to this and claim my attitude towards this is sexist, but really I don't think that is the case. To me it is more a case of putting the cart before the horse. It would be like having a Zamboni driver competition based on how pretty of turn they make at each end of the ice, when his real job is to lay a decent sheet down so the game can proceed. Or to take the analogy out of the arena, Like judging a conductor on how well he flings that little stick around(yes I'm aware that description makes me sound like a hick) instead of how well the symphony plays.What's your opinion on this? I suspect most of you will disagree, but that's okay. I can live with rejection. I'm a writer.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where I've Been & Another Meme

A lot has happened since my last post, and while I hate to do another meme on the heels of the last one, I really need a laugh, so I'm going to do the one Tee, over at Spilt Milk, tagged me for. In this meme, I am supposed to list the ten fictional literary characters that I would most like to make out with. Yes, you read that right and since I can have some fun with it I'm going to reveal my response today. My list will be at lower down in this post and the link refers to Tee's list. But first, a brief whine session about the the recent trend of my existence and my excuse for not posting lately. So if you want to skip the sad story portion of this post, mosey on down to where the bold print begins.

Here are the basic events of my life since my last post on Tuesday.
Wednesday worked 8Am - 4:30 PM , returned to work at Midnight and worked until 8:30 Am Thursday Morning.

While working that graveyard shift I received a phone call that my grandmother had fallen in her room at the rehabilitation centers she's been staying at the last month since a bout with blood clots. Turns out she shattered her eye socket and due to being on blood thinners has some bleeding going on in her brain.

So when I get off Thursday morning I head up to the emergency room. On the way there an elderly couple is a brand spanking, sales-sticker-still-on-the-window, big white Ford truck ran me clear off the highway and into the edge of the grass so they could exit. Even after laying on my horn I do not think either of them ever realized I was there. The very same vehicle then cut me off as I turned into the hospital parking lot. Later, after leaving the hospital another car nearly rear ended me as I sat at a stop light.

So then I go home to snatch a few hours of sleep before it is time to head back to the hospital so I can make the CCU visiting hours , then it is off for a preschool soccer game. By the time I finally crashed got home and crashed about ten PM Thursday I was one tired, and grouchy fella.
Friday morning I get up only to discover my home computer has gone on strike, contracted a venereal disease. I say venereal disease because it kept timing out with some message about a malfunctioning Trojan. Whatever the case it will not work, so I go get my trusty laptop and discover the power cord is missing. I still can't find it. I called the motel in Norman to see if I left it there after my last visit but they say nothing like that was turned in. A replacement cord? $149 bucks. The laptop only cost me $500.

Rounding off my spate of bad luck, today I dropped my work ID into the toilet bowl earlier this morning. Now you see why I need a laugh, so here goes.

THE MEME as Tee described it ... "Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This..."
I agree, but I'm going to add a few things. In order for me to hook up with any of these fictional creation I too would have to be fictionalized and inserted into the novels in which they appeared, so a couple of my choices had to do as much with my desire to be in a certain book as it does with their sex appeal. And since I am a one woman kind of guy in real life I have to believe my fictional self would be as well. So, I am going to list nine runner-ups,(why they made the list and why they missed being at the top of my list) and one winner as the premiere object of my fictional affection. In reverse, David Letterman style ...

10. Stephanie Plum from the Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich -- First off she has that whole Jersey Girl mystique about her. There have been songs, books, and movies about Jersey Girls and the closest I've ever come to meeting a Jersey Girl is a couple of Literary Agents at various writing conferences. Oh, and Brooke, but I only know her via the blog world. Stephanie Plum has that aura of excitement and danger about her that would be fun for a while but in the end I do not think a good ol' boy from the Texas Panhandle and a gal from the Burg would have enough in common. Besides, too much stuff gets burned to the ground around here and I like my meager possessions in their current un-ashed stated.

9. Victoria Roubideaux from Plainsong and Eventide by Kent Haruf -- From the last meme you know how I feel about these books so I'd love to be written into them. Plus I feel sorry for Victoria she could use a good guy in her life, but since pity isn't the best aphrodisiac she fails to make the cut.

8 . Daisy Buchanon from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- I mean her allure can not be questioned. Look at the lengths to which Gatsby went to pursue her. But then again, wanting something at any cost is always dangerous so would I really want to get mixed up with her. I do think it is a shame that we've had to endure bell bottoms twice but that whole 20's flapper look has never came back in style.

7. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling -- No I'm not a pedophile, but there was nothing in the rules of this meme that says I couldn't be written in as a teenage fictional character. Hermione is smart, loyal, brave, and cunning, but maybe a bit too bossy as well. Besides, she could be all that hot. Harry spent all those weeks alone in that tent with her and not once did he make a move. And don't tell me that was out of friendship to Ron. First off Harry was mad at his friend and secondly I know full well what is at the forefront of all seventeen year old boy's minds.

6. Sophie Dempsey from Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie -- First off let me say I just want to be in a sex scene written by Ms. Crusie cause I'm afraid to admit it, but in the real world I'm not nearly as limber and flexible as her characters tend to be. Sophie sticks out in my mind as the most memorable character from a Crusie novel, but she's got a bit of conman in her as well, and she could whoop me in pool so again she doesn't quite make it to the top of the list. Her sister was hot too although I can't remember her name off the top of my head.

5. Juliet Capulet from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare -- Okay I know it was a play and not a novel, but isn't this the love by which all others are judged? Course I don't want even my fictional self to die so this one would need an alternate ending before I was willing to take part. And wouldn't it be interesting to see how Shakespeare would have handled my Texas Drawl. Of course he did use yonder. But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
And how about this ... "Oh Travis, Travis! Where are ya Travis? Forget your pa and forget your family name! Or at least swear you love me."
Okay, so it doesn't have the same ring as ... "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?Deny thy father and refuse thy name!Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love."

4. Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell -- Come on what fan of fiction wouldn't want o be written into GWTW? And there is no denying that Scarlett was a a real Southern Bitch but she was also the most interesting character. I can only hope my character would have been more like Rhett Butler than that wimp Ashley.

3. Star Wood Leigh from Star by Pamela Anderson -- Okay I haven't even rad this book. But I do know it is a thinly veiled biography of Pamela Anderson life, and therefore the character has to look like her. Yes, I'll admit it, I kind of have a thing for Pamela Anderson, even after she dissed Kid Rock who I am a big fan of. Hey, we all got to have fantasies, but since that is all this is, number four is as high as I could go.

2. Lady Brett Ashly from The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway -- Hemingway introduces her this way ... Brett was damn good-looking. If Hemingway says it, I believe it. She left a wake of men in her trail. Heck she even had impotent men lusting after her. Now that is sex appeal. But to make the top of my list a woman has to be compassionate and capable of returning my affection. Lady Brett comes up short in those departments.
And the winner is ...
1. Nymphadora Tonks from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling -- This gal has it all. First off the name Nymphadora practically has the word nympho right in it. Add in the fact Tonks has the ability to change her appearance on a whim. Blond one day, a redhead the next. I small petite nose or a big honking pig snout. Whatever floats your boat she can be it. Besides the physical side she's smart, tough, funny and an evil-fighting Auror. What more could a man ask for? And ... in book seven she married a werewolf -- which means she likes hairy guys. Yes siree ... Nymphadora Tonks is my choice as the fictional character I'd most want to go out and howl at the moon with.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Book Love - A Meme

I do not do every meme that I am tagged for, but I do try to do the ones that have a literary flavor to them as well as the others than interest me and provide an opportunity to say something I haven't said before. right now I am several memes behind so today I going to do this one that Helen over at the Hellcat Chronicles tagged me with. It's all about books and my reading tastes and habits.

Total number of books owned: At any one time there are a couple of hundred books taking up residency in my house, car, or locker at work. Next year I plan to start construction on a new house and some serious bookshelves are in the plans. I hope to be able to better organize my books at that time.

Last book read: The Bridge Of Sighs by Richard Russo. I waited a long time for this one to come out and I was not disappointed. The thing I admire most about Russo is his ability to remain honest and true to the characters he creates. As a writer I know how easy it is to disguise or alter a character in order to make the reader like them as much as I do. Russo gives his readers the warts and all, yet somehow he makes me fall in love with characters that on the surface have very little excitement behind them.

Last book bought : Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters. Fifteen different authors contributed to this a holiday themed collection of shirt stories, including my friend and frequent visitor of this blog, Deborah Elliott-Upton. All proceeds go the the Marines Toys for Tots program so click on the link and order yourself a copy to both entertain and give.
I can't wait for mine to arrive from Amazon.

Five meaningful books: I'm going to do these chronologically in the order in which I first read them.

Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls -- I must have been in the second or third grade when I first read this book. This story more than any other launched my love of reading. I cried when his dog died at the hands of the mountain lion. It has been years since I've read it, but I really need to buy a new copy and read it to my boys.

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain -- The signature story from the greatest American storyteller to ever live. In my humble opine. I must have been in the fifth or sixth grade the first time I read Huck Finn and although I didn't understand just how great it was then I knew I likes it, and I daydreamed more than once about how much fun it would be to build a roof and float down a river. I have read this one at least six times since then and always discover something new within the pages.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee -- For my money this is THE great American Novel, and when I first read it sometime in junior high it was the first book I ever read the last page of and immediately opened back up to reread. I only wish Harper Lee would have written another novel.

The Risk Pool by Richard Russo -- My favorite novel from my favorite contemporary author. A coming of age novel about a boy with an emotionally unstable mother and a derelict, wayward father. Tom Hanks is on slate to portray the father in a movie adaptation and I can only hope the movie does the novel justice when it finally comes out.

It is hard to pick a fifth. There are so many close ones. My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult - A novel that made me think start to finish and left me breathless at the end. A Prayer For Owen Meaney by John Irving -- Probably the best concept and execution of a novel I have read since i started writing and viewing novels in a different light. An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg -- A great novel a pretty darn good movie except I didn't like the casting of Jennifer Lopez in the role as Jean Gilkerson.

But for my official pick ...

Eventide by Kent Haruf -- Actually, this is a two for one deal since Eventide is the sequel to Plainsong. Haruf is another author great and creating memorable and believable, yet flawed characters. When a character dies in Eventide, I mourned as if one of my long time friends had passed on. I can think of no greater honor as a writer than for readers to fell as if they know your characters on that level.

I'm not going to tag anyone but I would be interested in hearing you five most memorable books. So leave a comment. about that or if you have something to say about any of the ones I mentioned.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Walt said it best ... It's a Small World After All -- A Yellow Flag/Postal Tale

Come on admit it, you're humming that song right now aren't you? Especially, you WordVixen since you love all things Disney.

Today is the day after the big Halloween carnival at the school where me wife teaches, VOLUNTEERS, and where my boys attend. Which means when she climbs out of bed today, after putting in something close to 40 hours of labor the last three days I will once again have me wife back. I'm not even going to add up the hours she has put in over the last four or five weeks. Who knows she might even post a new blog over at her site?

Since Purdue Boilermaker ultra-fan, Phats was wondering about a new edition of the Yellow Flag Tales and several people have suggested I need to blog about the good Ol' United States Postal Service I'm going to do both today. All in one glorious story. Okay, glorious might be getting carried away. How about mildly interesting story?

Now I'm a pretty big guy, so anytime something heavy needs moved or lifted, I'm often recruited for the task. So several years back the fellow who is in charge of maintenance at all the small post offices here in the Texas Panhandle needed a bit of help moving a safe up in the small town of Follett, Texas.

So me and Wayne load up in the Postal owned stake-bed truck, which looks something like this and take off for the 150 mile trip to Follett. Now Wayne is a nice guy but not the most thrilling of storytellers. He is one of those guys that takes a three or four minute tale and stretches it to fifteen. Also, he normally travels and does his work alone, so on the rare occasions when he has company he makes the most of it. I'd been with him before so I'd already heard his best takes, however that did not stop him from telling them to me again.

A couple of hours in my eyelids were getting heavy, but every time my head began to list forward Wayne would increase his volume and say something like, "You know what I mean" to wake me back up.

So I was barely paying attention when he announced, "Boy I sure hope we have enough gas to get there." This became a reoccurring theme as he said the same thing about every other minute. Now in Wayne's defense the stake-bed wasn't his normal vehicle. He usually drove a large maintenance van, but we'd needed the large bed to take along some extra tools.

The road leading into Follett is quite hilly and we just happened to be about halfway up one of those hills when the truck sputtered, shuttered and stalled. Our momentum carried us up over the that hill and gravity carried down to the bottom of the next one as Wayne tried fruitlessly to recrank the fuel less engine. Then he said, "If only we could make it over this next hill we could drift into town."

Doing my best Luke Duke impression, I opened my door and hopped out of the still rolling vehicle. I figured I could push the big thing since it was already moving, but I knew that once it stopped it would take me and three mules to ever get the thing rolling again.

Now I'm not the most graceful of fellas so my maneuvers where mighty ugly but I manged to get back behind the truck and start pushing up hill without falling or otherwise injuring myself.
And we made it to the top even though I was huffing and puffing like an asthmatic chain-smoker. Then gravity took back over and I had to race back up to the passenger seat open the door and hop back into the moving truck.
Wayne lied. We drifted down that hill up another small one and down again and still there wasn't hide nor hair of the metropolis, Follett. (Population less than 500.)
We rolled until we came to the base of another steep hill at which point Wayne said. This must be that last hill. Seeing as to how I still couldn't breathe I said, "Maybe so, but I'm done pushing."

We parked grabbed a gas can out of the back and commenced to walking. Turns out town was still a solid mile away. By the time we hit the city limits it was lunch time and as we passed by the high school students were pouring out of the parking lot on their way down to the local convenience store for a fried burrito or chimichanga or corndog or some other deep fired delicacy. As Two strange men walking through a small town with a gas tank, we drew a lot of stares, and a few offers for a ride but at that point the gas station was only a block away, but we did get a ride back out to the truck after filling our gas can..

That would be the end of the story, except this was a Thursday and guess where I was scheduled to ref a varsity football game come Friday night? Nope not Follett. My schedule read Silverton Texas versus the Valley Patriots @ Silverton.

But ... I had a message on my answering machine when I got home that evening, From the secretary of the ref association. Wanting me to switch with so and so because he couldn't make it to his game on Friday night in time. Where was this other game? You called it, Follett, Texas.

So the very next day I made the same 150 mile trip to Follett, with plenty of gas to spare I might add. Decked out in my black and white stripes I pulled my black hat down low and walked out to the middle of the field for the opening coin toss.

One of the Follett Panthers captains frowned and stared at me a second and then his first words were, "Hey weren't you that guy who ran out of gas yesterday." So much for a lucky break.

And the first time I got near the Follett sideline this gem came from the coach, "Guess it's too much to ask from a guy to see the other team holding when he can't even see far enough to read his gas gage."

I turned away from that coach with one thought on my mind. Thanks Wayne.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'll Name This Post Later

I have a couple of personal motto's that I steadfastly follow ...

Lettuce is the Devil. (actually lettuce is merely the ringleader. I eat no vegetables unless they are fried a deep delicious golden brown)

Never do today, what you can put off until tomorrow.
Yes, my friends, I am a procrastinator.
Ever hear someone say, everyone is good at something - they just need to find their niche?

I believe that to be true and I am hear to say luckily I have settled in quite nicely with my procrastination. First, by day, I am a Postal Worker. What is more fitting for a self proclaimed procrastinator to be than am employee of the Federal Government?
And secondly, I am a writer. And let me tell you every fiction writer needs to learn the fine art of putting something off. I'm not talking about the actual process of writing. You have to do that otherwise you are not a writer -- you're a dreamer. Saying or thinking, One of these days I'm going to write a novel, does not make you a writer. Putting ink on paper does. It is my belief you can call yourself an author once you signing your name at the bottom of a publishing contract. So right now I can say I am a short story author and a novel writer.

Still with me? Good.

Back to the part about needed to be a procrastinator. See how good I am at putting things off.

Francesca falls in love with a photographer named Robert while her husband and children are away. Robert and her share a brief time of passion and he urges her to go away with him, but in the end she chooses to stay behind in her bland marriage and continue to be a wife and mother.

That is pretty much the entire story of The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. Now I know the book is often panned and criticized but no one can argue that it was a huge commercial success. I happen to be one of the few people I know who will actually admit to liking the novel, but I wouldn't have if it had been anything like the above version.

It is the doubt of the outcome, the question of what each character will do that propels a story forward. Put off revealing that little detail that clearly spells out whether a character is a hero or a villain. Delay that scene that make it obvious your first person narrator is unreliable. So you female protagonists is madly in love with her next door neighbor. Don't let me as a reader know right off the bat that he too is madly in love with her and can't wait to kill his wife so they can be together. Make that wife's car wreck look like an accident. Keep me guessing, wondering. Try a bit of procrastination in your story.

But, there's aways a but isn't there? Don't just add filler. Add characterization. Smaller conflicts that your characters must work through before the big climax is even possible. Throw is a red herring or three.

Think of it as dating. If the minute you walked up to a girl and asked her to dance and she said, "I'd love to, but first let me tell you a few things -- "My ex boyfriend is in prison for stabbing the president of his Hell's Angel's chapter but he's getting released next month. My mom is a meddling old bitty. I like to nag and spend money I don't have. I don't really enjoy sex all that much, and I collect tiny porcelain chihuahuas."

You might, if you are a really nice guy go ahead with that first offered dance but you'd cut and run after that regardless of how attractive you found her to be.

Too much information too early on is never a good thing. Trust me on that. Wait until you hear that I do to announce, My father's back in covered in hair and therefore I'm bound to look like Chewbacca within a few years. Trust me, she'll learn to live with it then.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

For a Plucking Change

I'm changing up a few things here on the blog. You might have noticed that I haven't posted a new Tales of The Yellow Flag either of the past two Sundays, and today there will be no Terrible Tuesday with Travis. Matter of fact I'm doing away with anything that imposes a deadline on me as far as this blog goes. Doesn't mean there won't be new stories it just means I'm not promising yo anything on any particular day.

Heck I might even pop in with a new edition of The Feedstore Chronicles some random Wednesday, a ref story on a Friday, or a Terrible Tale on a Saturday. In other words I'm going a bit more spontaneous.

Also I dropped the side bar of books I've read since I started this blog back in April. My original intent was to track the number of novels I read for one year but I got sick of updating the list and fell far behind. I figured the six month mark was a good place to call it quits anyway since I can multiply by two. Using that inexact math and had me pace remained the same that puts me at 74 books a year. Not as many as I would have guessed but a fair number just the same. and well above the average according to the surveys, especially for men. I think they claimed the average American man read something like 3 books a year. Pathetic even the real number is three times that.

Also, I'm going to start a new reoccurring type of post, to appear on random days as something occurs to me called RIDDLE ME THIS.

Now there are lots of things in this world that I do not understand. Things that baffle, bewilder, and befuddle me. I'm not saying they are wrong simply that I do not understand them. The Riddle me this pieces will give all of you, the readers of this blog a chance to teach me something and explain the finer points of something that I do not quite comprehend.

Like what you ask. Well, there is no time like the present to start -- so here is your first edition of ... Riddle Me This.

Remember those infomercials a few years ago where they were hawking this spray to help cover baldness. They showed some grinning chrome dome as he happily spray painted his scalp. Hiding baldness and destroying the ozone all in one fell swoop.

Most of us laughed at this ridiculous notion and said, Nobody in their right mind would ever think that looks natural. Why not just go bald gracefully since the comb-overs, bad rugs, and spray on hair jobs only highlight the fact that you're locks are thinning a bit.

So that brings me to the true nature of this post. The very thing that makes me say ... Riddle Me This ... why do women torture themselves by plucking out their eyebrows one by one only to take a glorified pencil and draw them a new set of phony arches?

Ninety percent of the time these stenciled on brows are ridiculous looking. At least in my humble opine. Some are even done in blues and greens and purples, or like the set I saw yesterday Red. I'm talking Bozo nose red? Maybe there are a few talented artists out there but when was the last time you saw a natural set of brows that fit anywhere in the primary color wheel? Roy G Biv indeed. Now I'm not talking about those that enhance or magnify the brow already there. I'm talking about the one that wipe the pallet clean and start over. Why oh why?

Come on ladies. Help me out. Where is the logic in this.

Oh and as an aside, no guy has ever said, She has a great smile, a wonderful personality, and a fabulous body, but those eyebrows of hers are more than I can deal with. If only she'd pluck the suckers out and draw on a new set. I mean come on, You remember what those babies of Brooke Shields looked like and many a guy once fantasized about her.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Children of the Corn

I've said it before but I'll repeat it again. Halloween is big around my house. My wife is an avid holiday decorator and Halloween might just be bigger than Christmas when it comes to making the place over. She collects Department 56 village pieces and the Halloween village she constructs is much larger than the one for Christmas.

Then there is the fact my oldest son was born on Halloween. So when we heard that a local farmer had turned his cornfield into a giant maze and had all kinds of other fun fall and Halloween related activities we had to go check it out. The The Amazingly Fun Farm as it is called sits only about four or five miles form my house. Here is an aerial picture of the maze.

The Buffalo is the mascot of West Texas A&M university which is in the small town of Canyon, Texas just south of Amarillo.

The maze was really cool and every so often you come upon a place where you can answer a question for a clue which direction to turn. My family made their way through the twists and turn in about forty five minutes. I'd say the filed covers about ten acres so it was a good bit of walking.

Afterwards the boys picked their own pumpkins right out int he field. Overall we had a great time and I highly recommend it as a family activity if you have anything like this near you.

Just thought I'd let y'all know what I've been up to.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ding, Dong The Murphster is Dead

Three days and MANY conversations later, I finally have that little thing Benjamin Franklin discovered. ELECTRICITY!

Having no juice seriously damaged my blogging mojo. If only it were as easy as my six year old suggested, "Change the batteries Dad." I'm still not sure what went wrong but Thursday my power went out and I was told when I called in that they were working in the area and I could expect BRIEF outages for the next four hours. Some twelve hours later I was told "It should be working now." and "No one else has complained."

Friday I was told that they operated on a prioritized system and since I was one house out in the boonies I was low man on the de-energized pole. That conversation ended rather badly when the customer service rep repeatedly told me I did not need to talk to her manager since he would only tell me the same thing. This morning I got in touch with an actual human being with an ounce of compassion and miraculously they had me juiced back up less than two hours later.

Currently I reading Richard Russo's latest novel Bridge of Sighs and I am completely and utterly drawn in. But he is my favorite contemporary author.

After today my son's flag football team The Mean Green (or green beans if you prefer) is 0-5, but he could care less and he is having fun playing just the same. The younger boy's team soccer team is 3-1 but he has decided it is much more fun to run into and knock down the opposing players than it is to chase that ball.

This isn't much of a post, but it is what you get for today. Anybody else reading Bridge of Sighs, or anything really good? Also I posted something over on the Awesome Amalgamation site yesterday so pop on over there and have a look if you get the chance. You just might learn how devious I can be.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Swimmin' in a Cesspool.

I am still alive, but right now good Ol' Murphy and his stupid law is kicking my butt. But I'll whoop him soon, He's not nearly as ruthless as Lady Luck or her evil sister Karma.

I'll get up a new post later tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Burn Baby Burn - Terrible Tuesdays with Travis

It is Tuesday once again so that means it is again time for a story of when things went bad for me. But first a brief message from our sponsor.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY !! To my lovely wife Jennifer. Of course she is off at another carnival meeting, one of her notorious volunteer activities, and afterwards her fellow suckers, I mean volunteers are taking her to a local martini bar so she will not read this until tomorrow at which point it will no longer be her birthday but still I wanted to say it publicly. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

For today's Terrible Tuesday episode I'm going to take you back in time to my mischievous youth. Sure I did lots of stuff for which I never got caught but those times do not stick out nearly as much as the ones in which I paid a price. Today is a two for one special, but the two tales do share a common theme.

As a youth I was a bit of a pyromaniac. And in truth, I still love to catch things and watch them burn still to this day. I'm not talking houses or buildings or anything that could get me into serious trouble, but I did build model cars just to later watch the plastic melt and curl under the advance of dancing flames. To this day if I go to a restaurant with candles on the table I end up catching sugar packets or something on fire.

So I was probably about twelve or thirteen when me and my buddies were in the alley behind Mark Roan's house. Jason I can't remember if you were there or not so chime in and let me know. Who knows what we were doing. Looking for toads and salamanders int eh water mains or gathering cans out of the trash can so we could ride our bikes to the edge of town and buy firecrackers? The only thing better than a fire, is a fire followed by an explosion.

Anyway, there we were in the alley. We found this almost full fifty pound sack of dog food which at some point had gotten wet and all the pieces had clumped together when it dried. Well I took one look at it and said, "Let's burn it." So a few of us dragged the sack out into the middle of the alley, where it was dirt and gravel and therefore would not catch anyone's fence or yard on fire. Mark or maybe Cootie ran to get some matches and if I recall right, a splash of gas. Hey, starting a fire without an good accelerant is like having sex without a woman. You can do it, but it ain't near as much fun.

So before you knew we had a right good size blaze going there in the middle of the alley. We gathered around the flames and stared down at the burning mass with the same expressions of awe we normally reserved for a newly discovered Playboy.

Now I'm only guessing how this next part went, since I was mesmerized by the fire and oblivious to my surroundings. But put yourself in the place of a city cop, just driving along a residential street when he happens to look down an alley and spots a fire. You turn down the alley and idle along. All the while a group of young boys have their backs to you. You pull up as close as you dare without tipping them to your presence. Then you hit the switch.. WOOH WOOH! When you hit the siren those boys jump a good three four feet in the air and then land facing you -- with looks of fear, bewilderment, and out right shock on their young faces. They're too dumbstruck to even run. It is the best laugh you've had all day and after a good long lecture you drive them home and turn them over to their angry parents.

Story Two

Basically the same group of boys are in my backyard maybe a year later. My Mom is at work. Earlier that morning me and my friends had collected a good many aluminum cans while doing a bit of dumpster diving. Afterwards we rode our bikes to the recycle center two miles away. Then rode a good three or four out the the closest firecracker stand.

We'd blown up a few model cars the legs off of several G.I. Joes, and now we'd moved on to the bottle rockets. After the fourth or fifth aerial shot I happened to look through the slats of my fence. I spotted the old black and white cruiser just as it came to a stop at the curb. Yelling COPS! I ran for the house. Behind me I hear Mark or Jason say," Oh bull, the cops aren't here."

I peek out the bathroom curtain and see Mark or Jason, I can't rember which climbing up the fence just as the bearded face of a cop appears. My friends damn near fell of the fence. Well I knew we were doomed so the storyteller in me kicked in and I went back outside yelling as I went. "Come on guys! Let's just stay in. Those guys throwing firecrackers at us will leave us alone if ..." I let my voice trail off as I acted surprised to see the officer.

He kept us there for twenty minutes or so questioning us as I concocted one hell of a story about this group of teenage boys who have been harassing us by throwing firecrackers at us while we try to jump on my trampoline. He asks me to describe the kids and since just a few days before I had had a run in with some older boys around the block I described them in exact detail, even told the nice policeman where one of them lived. He nodded and said he knew the kid and he would take care of it. That just might be my greatest story telling feat to this day.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Trust Me, I know What I'm Talking About

Today marks the sixth month anniversary of my first official post on this blog. Yep, I started this sucker on April Fools day. Fitting huh?

Anyway in the spirit of that the most noble of holidays and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, here is my answer to WordVixen's tag about blogging advice.

1)Make it an Annual Event - Who the heck has time to type a post once or twice a week much less every single day? Only a real loser would spend that much time on the Internet. Three or four good posts a year are enough for anyone. Readers won't mind checking every other day or so for months on end without anything new. You don't believe me. People plant fruit trees don't they? And those only bear fruit one time a year.

2)It's all in the Details - If you are going to insist on posting on a regular basis then you have no alternative but to relay every last minute detail of your life. Sue in Sioux City would love to read all about your favorite sappy soap opera. Bill in Birmingham is on the edge of his porcelain bowl to hear about you belly ache and bodacious bowel movement. And Harry in Hutchison is in a hell of hurry to hear of your horrible hemorrhoid heartaches. And don't forget that pictures add a nice touch to every post.

3) Take the Offensive - Go ahead. Rail about how lazy all fat people are. I mean why else would they be overweight. And those skinny folks. We all know they're all anorexic. And those damn rude Yankees from up north, while they are pert near as bad as those rubes in the south, or those high falootin' yuppies out California way. Then yo have the Okies, those hayseed Midwesterners, those freaks from the Pacific northwest. An anybody that would live out in a desert ain't is a few thorns short of a Saguaro if you ask me. And don't even get me started on those Canadians with all their ehs and that backwards game they call football. Who wants to win a grey cup anyway? At least our trophies are gold or silver.

4) Reject This - For those of you who are writers don't just sit back and take that rejection lying down. Go ahead name that agent or editor by name. Let the world know how stupid they are for passing on your work. And while you're at it, mention a couple of their published authors and why their last book sucked. That will show 'em who's boss.

5) Skim City - Who has the time to read other blogs? Sure it is good to visit other blogger's sites but you don't wanna waste time actually reading their entire posts. Skim through a couple of random lines and then post a stupid little comment to let them know you were there. And if they have some kind of gosh-awful list don't bother reading but the first three or four. IF you read number five you might find out the whole thing is some kind of twisted joke. Or one of those stupid memes where people post five items of really bad blogging advice.

I would love to see what Alex, Cher, and Mr. Shife can do with this topic. But if they decline I'm not going to hunt them down or badger them with comments.