Thursday, July 31, 2008

Scratchin' The Itch

First off let me get back to the rash since I've had so many questions about it. The doctor believes I have had a nasty run in with either poison ivy or poison oak. Guess there was a price to pay for my little fishing excursion to New Mexico.

In all of my time stomping aropujd in the outdoors this is my first infliction from any sort of poisonous vegetation. Maybe it's karma getting me back for my steadfast motto that lettuce (or all things green) is the devil. But the way I see it I have even more reason now to hate things that grow in the dirt. I still contend that salads, carrots, and all other such things are food's food. Let the cows, chickens, and goats, eat the roughage and I'll eat them. And yes Josie, if I developed a steak allergy that would be the end of me.

Let move on to my pursuit of publication for Plundered Booty. I am waiting to hear back from a few trusted advisor and critiquers on my query letter an then once I've made the appropriate changes, I'll start sending out my pitch to literary agents. I'm excited about the possibilities as I truly believed the novel will find an audience but I've had my chops busted before so I know how difficult the process is. And I know the style and manner in which I wrote the book will rub some the wrong way as I've broken many of the so-called rules of writing but I hope that I have learned enough over the years to have broken them with a flair and style that makes the book an entertaining and compelling read.

Boy, do I hope.

One thing I find myself worrying about now is the blog and the things I put forth out into the world. I'm quite proud of the fact I've reached a solid group of readers and hits on the blog. So many in fact hat I dare mention it in my query letter. I can only assume that any agent4ed interested in the query or manuscript will come here. I wonder and worry what their impression will be. What if they are a devote vegetarian? Will my carnivorous habits be enough to turn them against my writing? What about the myriad of typos or grammatical mistakes I make on here? Sure, I could edit heavier but then I either wouldn't have enough time to devote to my actual fiction writing or post very often. I think my writing voice and style come through on the blog but is that enough or will agents expect perfection here as well as my manuscript?

Are the rest of you blogging writer's this neurotic at query time? Do you worry more about your blog when you think some one in the biz might be looking. I know there have been several agents pop in here from time to time but I honestly have no idea what they come away thinking. So if you are one of the few, the proud, the holder of dreams please drop me a comment or shoot me an email and give me your thoughts.

And I'd love to hear from the rest of you as well. We commoners gotta stick together to help assuage each others insecurities. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who's Hungry?

I'm not much of a chef. Beyond tossing a hunk of marinated mat on the grill I do very little cooking and even less baking. But I do make a mean loaf of beer bread if I do say so myself. Since it is the only real recipe I know I'm doing a little spin-off of it to give you my instructions for becoming a writer.

For beer bread you need 3 cups of sifted flour.

To become a writer you need 3 cups of sifted imagination. You could just dump the imagination in but if you don't sift it to make it soft and fluffy you'll end up with a chuck of inedible or unreadable junk.

The bread requires 3 teaspoons of baking powder.

A writers needs 3 teaspoons of determination. Yeah we've all heard of the lucky SOB that sat down and wrote in novel in months and sold it at auction six months later. We've also heard of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, but unless you're eight I wouldn't depend on any of them to come down you chimney or go hippity-hopping down your street
anytime soon.

Add a teaspoon of salt to the bread.

A teaspoon of foolish hope is required of all writers. The odds are stacked against you, but don't get caught up in that fact. There are thousands of books published every year and whose to say you're loaf or novel isn't going to be one of them. Dare to dream.

Pour in a bottle of beer and mix. Some of the special beers such as Blue Moon's Honey Ale and the Pumpkin Spice make for an added taste to the bread. But at the very least get a good dark beer as it will give the bread more flavor that any light beer or standard domestic. When you have a ball of dough of equal consistency pour into greased loaf pan.

Pour in you sweat blood and tears into your writing. Don't hold back. Bland will not get you anywhere. Write like you momma is dead and your preacher is illiterate. An agent once said to me, "If you're writing doesn't piss someone off, you're not writing strong enough to really reach anyone."

Add half a cup of melted butter to the top of the dough.

No one can write without being a reader, so pour in your love of reading, study other books and writers you love. See why their stories work, then incorporate those same ideas and techniques, but tweak and turn them until they are your own. Write something you'd want to read.

Set your oven to 375.

Get excited and hot and bothered about your work. If your characters and plot do not get you excited while you' re writing, researching, and building your story you can't expect agents or editors to get excited when you are finished.

Bake for an hour or until the top is a light brown.

Write and edit until it's ready to submit.

Let cool for at least twenty minutes.

Don't rush you baby out to be devoured. Let it simmer and then slice it yourself. See how it tastes. When it melts in your mouth, slap another pat of butter on and dish it out.

As an added bonus I'll throw my crumbs worth of tongue-in-cheek suggestion on how to craft a particular genre of bread.

Literary Bread - Add a dollop of pretentiousness, and a squirt of academia nut. This bread might win a ribbon or two at the fair but that poorly crafted commercial bread will make all the money.

Romance Bread - Toss in a pinch of wishful thinking, a sprinkle of pipe dream, invite a large man with rippling abs and long flowing locks to stir the ingredients while a reluctant and stubborn women tells him he's doing it all wrong and you will have some tasty bread that will fly off the shelves, but be the scorn of all other bread makers.

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Bread - For this bread you have to call flour - akbinykl, salt- jubellio, and the beer Lord Rakmia. Actually each baker must create as many hard to pronounce ingredients as possible. Also add in a few things no body actually believes in. You know things like, the nose hair of a Pegasus, the scale of a dragon, or the tongue of an honest politician. This bread will have an avid fan base and if you are lucky they will hold conventions for years to come in honor of your bread.

Women's Fiction Bread - There are many ways to bake this bread but makes sure it is stirred by a woman who has had some misfortune a wayward husband, a sister that betrayed her, some sort of grief. make sure the woman is fed up and ready to take on all challengers who question her bread stirring ability. If you can invoke emotion, laughter, tears, anger) from those that eat this bread you have done your job, but a word of caution. Men who bake this bread have a hell of a time convincing anyone to taste it.

Western Bread - This bread is actually the same story as romance bread but stirred entirely by a man who lost his pa, ranch, wife or family do to someone else's greed. Add some dust and tumbleweeds to the recipe also and substitute sex scenes with gunfight scenes.

By the way the recipe is real, the rest of it is just my take on this crazy pursuit and meant in fun. I appreciate authors of all genres so take my descriptions with a pinch of sugar. They'll be sweeter that way.

So how about all of you? Got anything good in the oven? Have any more bread descriptions you'd like to share?


I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to announce. ... This is starting out to be one crappy day!

I'm headed off to the doctor this morning but I've suddenly developed rickets or some other mysterious ailment that has manifested itself as a nasty rash over a sizable portion of my body. The itchy red bumps kept me up a good portion of the night and are driving me crazy.

If that weren't bad enough I have just discovered that Scrabulous (scrabble on facebook) has been shutdown for all North American users. How am I going to screw off now?

I'll be back later with my regularly scheduled blog where I'll give you my recipe for becoming a writer.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Town Monday -- On The Road - Part 1

This week I'm taking My Town Monday on the road. If you take off from my house and head northwest of my house for four hours you will get here.

This is a shot of Cimarron Canyon in northern New Mexico. The area is home to Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. Philmont is the largest youth camp by both size and number of participants anywhere in the world. It is also the only site to have a confirmed Tyrannosaurus Rex track.

Also nearby is Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch which is said to be the largest tract of privately owned, contiguous land in the United States.

Cimarron Canyon has about fifteen or sixteen miles of fine trout stream that runs from Eagle's Nest lake, down to the town of Cimarron which has a lot of history itself. For a sample, click here to learn about the famed St. James Hotel. Here are more pics of the area. Click on any picture for a larger shot. All photos were taken by either me or my wife. We camped in the canyon as most of it is a state park.

Continuing on through Cimarron Canyon you come to Eagles Nest Lake.

Nestled on the shores of the lake is the small town of Eagles Nest, New Mexico. Eagle's Nest is located along the Enchanted Circle, an 83-mile loop through mountains, valleys, mesa, and national forest area of New Mexico. Here are some pics of the town and lake.

Take a right at Eagle's Nest and you are on the road to Red River, New Mexico. Here are a few shots of that stretch of highway.

Here is a shot of the town of of Red River as you are descending into the valley.

The town is a touristy and chocked full of shops. In the summer you can fish the Red River which runs through town, hike, ride horses, and enjoy the cool mountain air. Come winter Red River is a ski town.

I've rambled enough for this week but next week I'll talk about the Enchanted Circle's most famous town Taos, New Mexico. Taos is one of my wife's favorite spots on earth and a very cool place for anyone who enjoys the arts and a eclectic group of people who all dance to the beat of their own drummer.

Be sure and check back here for links to other My Town Mondayers so that you can learn more about other places all across this planet we call Earth.

Patti Abbott - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England

Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Robyn - - San Francisco, California

Reb -- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Barrie Summy -- Long Beach, California

Nan Higginson (Women of Mystery) Oshkosh, Wisconsin

J.L. Krueger -- Kabul, Afghanistan

PretZel -- Valley Junction, Iowa

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Zippity Doo Dah

Y'all probably didn't even notice, but I've been gone the last few days. I decided I need to get away. No computers , no email, no TVs. But I gotta say there was some great stuff in the comments of my Subway post and after reading the comments I'm now starving. And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with seasonal taste buds. I'll try to make the rounds to all of your blogs over the next couple of days. After my hard push and frustration to get Plundered Booty finished I was feeling burned out, but my batteries have been recharged because I got to spend my days off in one of my happy places.

Everyone should have a happy place or three. The one spot you can visit that erases worry, relaxes tension, and frees your mind. I have three.

#1 For the father in me I love to visit Walt Disney World with my boys. The looks of pure excitement, wonder and awe are their faces is all I need to make me feel young again. Standing on Main Street USA looking up a t the castle while all around me thousands of people speaking dozens of languages take in the same sights and sounds. It truly is a magical experience if you don't get caught up worrying about the heat, crowds, or prices. And that is easy to do. I simply look at the expressions on my boys faces and look at the place as they do.

No, I did not hope a plane and fly off to Florida for a few days.

#2 For the husband (and Saints fan) in me. I love to sit at a table at Cafe Du Monde catty-cornered from Jackson Square in New Orleans. A couple of powdered sugar covered beignets and a steaming cup of the ever so fragrant chicory coffee. Nestled between the might Mississippi river and the French Quarter, Cafe Du Monde is America's original coffee shop and the only place in the world that I actually like to drink coffee. The sweets sounds of street musicians nearly always fills the air and the eclectic mix of people passing by and through makes this a great scene. Pour enough of that brown sugar into you coffee until it turns the color of milk chocolate and then sip away and feel the adrenaline and caffeine rush through your veins. It's even better when you can head off to the Superdome afterwards and watch the Saints pummel the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, I have witnessed that very event. By the way back in the day a nice Blackened Voodoo Dixie Lager went well as a follow up to the chicory coffee. Actually, I love the city of New Orleans and have never had a bad trip down there.

Nope I didn't head to the Big Easy these past few days either.

#3 For the outdoorsmen in me, there is no better place in the word than knee deep in a rushing trout stream. The scent of pine hangs in the air. The tug of a fish on your line. The sun reflecting off the rainbow stripe of the fish as it arcs out of the water. The sound of a gentle breeze rustling the aspens. Yep, I've spent the last few days knee deep in the cold refreshing waters of a New Mexico trout stream.

More on that tomorrow, as I plan to do a My Vacation Monday and share pictures and facts about the high country of northern New Mexico.

So what's you happy place or places?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Odds but No Ends

I think it's time for another of my rambling posts of various odds and ends that have occurred to me lately.

Is there any word that is as overused or unneeded in all of advertising that UNWANTED. In the last few weeks I've heard commercials proclaiming ...

Our pesticide will rid your home of unwanted insects ... Stop unwanted pimple and skin blemished now ... and my personal favorite ... Get rid of that unwanted back hair.

Are any of those things ever wanted?


All of my regular readers know by now that I have some really strange eating habits, but did you know that I categorize certain foods as seasonal. Spaghetti - strictly for winter time. Same goes for pancakes and roast. On the other hand I only like brisket in the summer. It somehow feels like I'm cheating on springtime to eat brisket when it's cold outside.

So how about you? Got any weird seasonal taste buds?


This next one hit me on the airplane as I sat watching my wife sniff the perfume ads in her magazine. Shouldn't more products use the scratch and sniff method of reaching the customer. If Oscar Meyer had some scratch and sniff bacon inside a magazine and I had to smell it on a two hour flight I'd be getting off at my final destination and looking for a bacon cheeseburger right away.

Car ads could smell like new leather. The print ad for the latest Batman flick could smell like guano. Okay, maybe not, but smell could be used more . Then again I thought my wife was a bit weird for snorting up her Mademoiselle.


I'll close with a few of the strangest Google searches terms which have lead to hits on this blog ...

Bull Castration Stories lead one person here.
Lady Luck is a fickle whore here.
I'm guessing it wasn't Martha Stewart who googled, How to make a planter out of a prosthetic leg and wound up here.
This trio of names googled together has me puzzled John Cleese/Cher/Fidel Castro. Sounds like a beginning to some odd joke and I have no idea why that lead a reader to this post.
And last but not least if you are searching for girdle itch you might land here.

So what weird Google terms lead to you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Pay Attention, I'm Grouchy Today

I'm in a surly mood today. I already left work early do to a headache and while that alleviated some of the pain my head is still throbbing, so I'm going to rant and ramble a bit.

My least favorite fast food joint is Subway. For a variety of reasons, and at the top of that list is the fact that I much prefer greasy cheeseburgers to healthy sub sandwiches. I do not eat vegetables so cold cut sandwiches are not all exciting in my book. And sure they can toast them but they can't infuse them with tasty grease and lard so I'm not interested.

Another thing about Subway I do not like is their formerly fat, but perennially annoying spokesman. Seems to me Ol' Jared's fifteen minutes should have expired a long time ago.

Then there is the name. I know it comes from the whole submarine sandwich thing, but when I hear subway I think of the underground mass transportation system so for me it's the equivalent of naming a eating establishment, The Bus Station. Doesn't sound very tasty does it.

But my wife loves Subway so of course I find myself there from time to time, but even she finds Jared annoying.

How about you? What's your least favorite fast food pitstop? Or are you one of those health nuts that shuns fast food for jogs in the park and bottled water?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Speaking of Nuttiness

No Two Line Tuesday from me this week as I've only been revising and tweaking my query letter and haven't done much reading either, so you'll have to head over to Women of Mystery for that fix.

I do have some pictures from the Vegas trip.

From Left to right- Rob, Me, and Jerry. Notice the large white binder in my right hand. Yes, That is the completed manuscript of Plundered Booty and yes, I am anal enough to take it to Vegas to keep tweaking. This is a shot from the airport as we arrived. And that is my wife Jennifer peeking over Jerry's shoulder.

Jerry living out his conquistador fantasy inside the Wynn Casino.

The closest I've gotten to the the Big Apple thus far.

The following shots were all taken in Pampas Brazilian Grille which as I said before wasn't all that great, but that didn't stop us from cutting up, no doubt to the irritation of the other diners.

Janet was thirsty. I was hungry. And me and my TWO wives. Don't worry I'm not really part of that polygamist sect, but since my wife and Janet are seemingly joined at the hip that has become the running joke. In case you're wondering my shirt reads, Surrender the Booty.

And this one should sum it all up very nicely ...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good Things Come in Threes -- A My Town Monday Post

I've talked about a few historically significant people to Amarillo and the Panhandle area. I've even talked about a couple of celebrities from the area. For this week's My Town Monday I'm going to go that route again and talk about a trio of well known Amarilloans. On the surface these three have little in common and lumping them together will see odd, but I'll present my convoluted common thread at the end.

John Rich was born in Amarillo on January 7, 1974. The same year as my wife. He also attended the same high school she did though he moved to Nashville before graduation. Rich is a very talented and prolific songwriter and singer. His greatest success as a vocal artist has been with Big Kenny in the duo Big & Rich. Currently you can see John as one of the judges on the NBC reality show Nashville Star. He also hosted the show Gone Country on CMT last year. He has also written songs for singers such as Jason Aldean (Amarillo Sky), Faith Hill, Gretchen Wilson, Aaron Tippin, Wynonna, and his former group Lonestar.

John also appears to be a shrewed businessman who has helped launch the career of others. Some do not care for his musical style and he has been labeled as not playing true country music. I for appreciate his rebellious and outlaw ways and Big & Rich do put on a heck of a live show. Yes, he's a bit flamboyant and over the top for the genre. Maybe those tendencies are what got him in trouble and led his bandmates in Lonestar to fire him, but I gotta ask, when was the last time they had a hit?

Carolyn Sue Jones was born in Amarillo on April 28, 1930. The actress of Comanche ancestry had a successful career and starred in movies such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Seven Year Itch, and King Creole opposite Elvis Presley. Though her hair was naturally blond she is best known and most recognizable from her television days where she wore a long black wig and portrayed Morticia Addams in the old television series The Addams family.

Sadly. Carolyn Jones died of colon cancer on August 3, 1983. She might have been the world's first gothic female personality and is reported to have been a direct descendant of Indian Chief Geronimo. Also for a time in the fifties, she was married to mega producer Aaron Spelling though in those days he was a struggling filmmaker himself.

Rounding out the trio of Amarillo celebs in Sandy Cheeks. Sadly I could not find an exact date for her birth but research did provide a year 1985. Okay unless you have kids you might not realize Sandy Cheeks is a fictional character on the cartoon series, Sponge Bob Square Pants. Sandy is a squirrel and in one episode said she was from Amarillo, Texas.

One of Sandy's regular sayings is "Don't you dare take the name of Texas in vain."

I couldn't agree more Sandy.

So other than a hometown what ties these three together. Isn't it obvious?

All you gotta do is listen to the lyrics of Big & Rich's hit Save a Horse, Ride A Cowboy to know John Rich is a bit nutty. Carolyn Jones played the matriarch of the word's nuttiest family, this side of the one spawned by Joe Jackson, and Sandy cheek is a squirrel. They love nuts.

Seems like natural association to me.

For more My Town Monday Blog check below. I'll link as I become aware of other posts.

Patti Abbott - Stratford, Ontario

Karen Alaniz - Walla Walla, Washington

J.L. Krueger - Kabul, Afghanistan

Lyzzydee - Welwyn Garden City, England

Terrie Farley Moran (Women of Mystery) New York, New York

Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada

PretZel - West Bend, Iowa

Barrie Summy - Ontario, California

Mary Nix - Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Britta Coleman - Is alive and well and back in Fort Worth, Texas

Debra - Peninsula, Ohio

SUV Mama - Portland, Oregon

Clair Dickson - Livingston County, Michigan

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I'm back on track. I finally read through all my emails (though I still have a few I need to answer) and read through the mountain of posts in my Google Reader. In order to catch up I didn't comment but on a few, but I should do better in the coming days.

Guess what I forgot to do before I left town. Award a winner for the My Town Monday post the week before last. And the winner is Holly from Holly's never everland blog. For those who guessed that picture was seeds from inside a yucca pod you are exactly correct.

I'll be back tomorrow with a new my town Monday post and a new way for you to win something Texas or Amarillo related.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm A Genius

Still haven't gotten pictures yet, but thought I'd tell a tale of my ability to get my entire foot in my mouth.

While standing in line at the airport to check on for our return flights, Janet, a member of our group, made the comment that she really wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. I chimed in and said "Not me."

At this point a rather large stranger with a goofy looking Fedora turned around and said, "I went on an Alaskan cruise last month and it was spectacular. My group made small talk with the man for a few seconds and then Janet says to me, "Why don't you want to go to Alaska?"

To which I say, "I'd love to go to Alaska but I want to be on my own where I can fish and explore and what not."

"The cruise ships make stops you can fish or do whatever you want."

"Yeah," I chimed in, "But I've seen pictures of those deal where it's wall to wall people gathered in a stream. When I go I want a grizzly bear to be on the opposite bank not some fat guy from Iowa."

At this point my wife Jennifer hit me and said motioned to the fat guy in front of us who'd spoken up earlier. "

"What?" I said, "I didn't mean him."

Seconds later he steps up to the counter and tells the attendant he's from ... you guessed it -- Iowa City. What are the odds?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Viva La Home!

I'm back. Later, I'll post some pics and what-not but for now here are a few tid-bits from Sin City.

It's not always wise to try and get revenge on casinos for losses incurred at the gambling tables at the buffet table. Sure I ate my weight in crab legs and it was tasty at the time, but I paid later.

Vince Neil of Motley Crue fame has a tattoo joint right on the strip. While watching a woman hoist her top and reveal what used to be called love handles but now is often referred to as a muffin top, I turned to my friend Jerry and asked, " Think she's getting poppy seeds inked on to complete the look." Yes, I'd had numerous rum and Cokes at that point.

I played two tournaments getting in the money in one with an 8th place finish out of 83 players. The other I made it to the final two tables before getting knocked out in 13th place. Nope, didn't get paid for that one.

Went to the Crazy Horse Paris show at the MGM. Not spectacular, but not bad either unless you are offended by topless dancing French women. The rest of my group also went to Le Reve a Cirque Dy Soleil show at The Wynn and they all loved it, but I played poker so can't tell you anymore than that.

Also at at a restaurant called Pampas Brazilian Grille. It sounded like it would be right up my alley, since it was all you could eat meat that the waiters carved right off the skewer for you at your table. But it was a bad case of good idea/bad execution. The meat mostly sucked with the exception of the lamb in Balsamic vinegar sauce. All the beef tasted rancid to me.

And it rained every single day. Not a lot, but enough that no one could say, It's a dry heat.

Overall, we had a lot of fun, but I'm tired and glad to be home. Next month I go back on Union business for work and will be there an entire week. I'm not sure my liver or my checking account will survive.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Out of The Funk

I promise this is the last repeat. I'll be back with a fresh new post next time. Today's retread comes from May 30th of 07 and it was called The Funkster.


Okay I admit. There was a time when I thought Professional Wrestling was great. No, I never thought the antics were real, or that the outcome of the matches depended on each wrestler's skill. Yes, even as a young boy I knew wrestling was fake, but I loved it anyway. Sorry Steve, but its true the matches were staged. And if you really think about it, pro wrestling has every thing that a good piece of fiction must possess.

Characters- A book needs them and wrestling has never been shy of interesting characters.

Plot- Any wrestling federation that there has ever been has dozens of plots going on. Throw out the matches and the whole thing is really one continuous soap opera.

Suspense-There was a time when I was just as eager to see who would become the next world champion. Nowadays I'm more eager to find out who the initials R.A.B belong to. For you non Harry Potter fans this is a reference to something that came out in book six. (I guess we all know now.)


So yesterday I go to the gym to work off the aftermath of my long weekend. I'm sitting on the bike pedaling my no shrinking rear end off when a man takes the bike next to me. I look over and who do I see?

For those who do not know this is Terry Funk from the legendary Funk family that included Dory, Dory Jr, and Terry. Not only is Terry a legendary wrestler but he has also appeared in numerous television shows and movies, including Paradise Alley with Stallone, Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott. (my wife would shoot me if I didn't mention Sam Elliott here - If you could give Johnny Depp Sam Elliott's voice and make him play the guitar like Willie Nelson she'd faint dead away)

Amarillo isn't that big of town and Terry Funk has lived here all of his life so this isn't the first time I've ran across him. Matter of fact for those of you following along with the Feedstore Chronicles, Terry Funk and Dick Murdoch another famous wrestler used to come in and buy cattle feed. Back then they pissed me off cause they would sit around and chat with Earl, all the while spitting tobacco juice on the floor which I would have to clean up after they left.

In case you are wondering I rode the bike at level 5 for twenty minutes on a random cycle which means it simulated going up and down hills as well as level ground. Terry Funk a man thirty years my senior who can barely walk after years of abusing his body set his bike on level 9 for twenty five minutes all uphill. But I'm pretty sure I could outrun him.

And I'd Do It Again

Still on vacation. Still a repeat. This one happens to be my wife's all-time favorite post. I wrote it for her on her tenth wedding anniversary last October 25th.

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.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm All In ... Again

While I am off in Las Vegas gambling away my children's inheritance I thought I'd repost a couple of my older takes on life, liberty, and the pursuit of a book deal. Yeah that is a fancy way of saying I'm trotting out a couple of reruns cause I was too lazy to write anything new in advance. I tried to pick stuff a little older so some of you may have missed it the first time around.

Today's special is an aptly timed take on writing and poker. I first posted this one on April 22, 2007 and it was titled ... I'm All In.


So there I was yesterday playing in a Texas Hold 'Em Poker tournament with the slowest bunch of players I've ever encountered. And as always when I have time to just sit and think, my mind turned to writing.

Now playing poker and not giving the game your fullest attention can often be an early ticket to poverty, but like I said, this particular tournament's pace was excruciatingly slow and when your dealt deuce seven as your down card you have no choice, but to fold and wait for the hand to play out.

So how does this relate to writing? Follow me on this because what made since last night amidst a thick cloud of cigar smoke and half a dozen frozen mugs of Shiner Bock might be somewhat of a stretch this fine Sunday morning. (You'll have to pretend you're reading this on a Sunday)

Poker, like writing, and the sea is a steady up and down tide that you must follow and be aware of in order to get where you wanna go. One hand you draw pocket aces, and everything looks good so you raise when the bet comes to you. A good story idea fills your mind so you raise the stakes and start plotting character and jotting down plot points and sketching out chapters.

But then the flop comes nine, ten, queen -- all hearts and your aces are a diamond and a club. Now you have to worry about a straight, a flush, or somebody with pocket queens or two pair. Things didn't work out the way you hoped. You're still holding a pretty good hand, but no longer is it a sure thing. (Like there is ever a sure thing in publishing , unless your name is Rowling, King, or Grisham.) Suddenly you've gone from happy to doubtful, but you plunge on and write the story anyway, because you still believe in your hand, your manuscript.

For arguments sake lets say the turn card is a three of diamonds - no real help to any one. You go ahead and bet just to see the hand played all the way out. The equivalent to finishing your novel. Now to play devil's advocate I'll present two different scenarios for the last card, better known as the river.

Now you can drown in the river. That is to be ahead and have the best hand only to have that last card get you. For our game lets say the river comes an eight of spades. The flush is dead, but anybody with a king as one of their downcards just hit a king high straight which beats you pair of aces. They got you on the river. The better your hand the worse getting beat on the last card hurts. If you just mailed off a single page query and get rejected you're really not surprised. After all, it's not like they even looked at your actual writing. A partial hurts a little more, but you can still fool yourself, The first few chapters just need punched up. If only that agent would have read a bit more. And there there is the full manuscript rejection. The poker equivalent of having pocket aces and getting beat by three twos.

Or that river card could be a third ace. the possibly you could still be beat is there, I don't want to make the scenario a sure thing since that does not jive the realities of the publishing world, but three aces is a solid hand, as is a well thought out out, nicely written novel with ample conflict and a sympathetic interesting characters.

You win a pot, you win a contest, an agents send you a form rejection, you lose half your chips. either way you have to deal with the cards you're dealt and get ready for the next hand. Spend too much time counting you chips or cursing yourself for being stupid and the game will pass you by.

My advice -- ride out those waves of emotion and don't be afraid to Go All In when you believe you've got a winner.

For those non poker players out there hope this doesn't come across as mindless dribble. And for the curious I managed to come in first out of forty nine players, the third tournament in a row I've won which just means I'm waaaay over due to lose. (That was a damn prophetic statement as I haven't won one since, but I have high hopes for this week.)

Wish I could say it was one of those million dollar tourneys they show on TV, or even a high stakes game at the Bellagio but alas I am merely the reigning Texas Hold'em champ of the local Moose Lodge. (Not anymore I finished 12th out of 65 players at their last event)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Founding Mother

At one point in my life the events of 1890 seemed like ancient history, but if in the grand scheme of things that isn't all that long ago. Today Amarillo, Texas has a population nearing 200,000 but a mere 118 years ago less than five hundred residents called the town home.

It was during the summer of 1890 that a woman named Dora Callaway Oliver first visited Amarillo to see her two merchant brothers. The wife of William Oliver, the head of Mississippi Mills, the South's largest textile manufacturer, Dora Oliver fell in love with the area and visited many times eventually purchasing a large area of land. When her husband died in 1895, she packed up and moved to Amarillo as a full-time resident.

The wealthy widow created quite the stir, what with her fine horses, carriage and household servants were the first black residents of the town. Mrs. Oliver liked to ride about town atop a fine Chestnut horse and clad in elegant English riding attire. She was said to be rather aloof to those she met out on the streets and was soon dubbed with the sarcastic title of "The Duchess."

But at the same time Mrs. Oliver was known among her friends as warm, gentle and generous.

In 1895, Amarillo was in the throes of economic depression, and Mrs. Oliver reportedly had more liquid assets than all the area banks combined. So she entered into the world of banking herself.

At that time women were scarce in the world of bankers and men were often skeptical of their abilities so most of her early debtors knew only that they were beholding to somebody named M. D. Oliver. I think it would have been interesting to see how many desperate men would have put aside their chauvinistic tendencies to borrow from a woman. Most, I'm guessing.

After 11 years of widowhood, Dora Oliver married a man named O. M. Eakle in 1902. He was also a banker, but their marriage was rocky from the start. By all accounts Dora had gotten used to her independence and preferred to make her own decisions. The couple was often estranged but did manage to see eye to eye often enough for them to have one child, a girl. O. M Eakle died in 1914.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Oliver-Eakle, as she was now went by continued to thrive as a shrewd business woman.

Over the years, she used the land she'd purchased in 1891 and started a subdivision which still stands today. Amarillo College and Memorial Park are located on part of her original acreage. Mrs. Oliver-Eakle also donated land to the the city for a park which bears her name to this day.

Operating in a more traditional woman's role Mrs. Oliver-Eakle also worked hard to bring culture to Amarillo. She aided in founding a town library, and she helped finance the Amarillo Opera House. She also was extremely vocal in the temperance movement, but we won't hold that against her. She held such influence that Chicago mobsters made several kidnapping and extortion attempts on Mrs. Oliver-Eakle, but she held her own by toting a pearl-handled revolver in her purse for protection.

In 1927, at the age of 63, she saw the completion of Amarillo's first office skyscraper. The 10-story Oliver-Eakle Building (later renamed the Barfield Building) was yet another successful example of her business sense.

Mrs. Oliver-Eakle died on Nov. 17, 1931 but no one can say she didn't live an full life and her touch can still be seen in the city to this day.

Don't forget to check out Barrie Summy's blog. Since I am away she is compiling the list of bloggers this week taking part in My Town Monday.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nuts and Bolts

Okay, you'll have to bear with my giddiness today. First off, I'm about to embark and a little gambling spree to Vegas which always leaves me excited and second off I FINALLY am happy with the ending of Plundered Booty. That means as soon as I get back I'll do one more read through make the final correction and then start the process of peddling my Booty. For those who do not know that is the title of my most recent novel. I've been finished for a while, but the end didn't feel quite right and now I'm satisfied on the whole. Puns intended by the way.

Also you may notice, I gave up on highlighting the individual blogs I subscribe too and just added every last one to my list on the right. I never seemed to have the time so I'm sorry to those I didn't get to which is the vast majority of you.

Also do not forget that I will be gone and therefore unable to link every one's My Town Monday posts this week. The talented and soon-to-be-published Barrie Summy has graciously offered to assume the role of link master for this week so drop her a line and let her know when you get yours up. I still hope to have one done myself but we'll see how that goes. And I have scheduled a few posts to come up while I'm away so don't abandon me completely.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Progress is a Good Thing

I know many of you are huge chocoholics. I myself have a bit of a sweet tooth so I enjoy some from time to time, but I've never been an addict and I can't say that I've ever had any chocolate cravings ... until now. Check this site out.

Did you look? Well in case you're too lazy I'll tell you they sell BACON filled chocolate in the shape of a flying pig. That's some sweet meat if I've ever heard of any. Man do I wanna try some of this. As usual, my wife thinks I'm crazy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Love You Period

Here's a little song for all of you punctuation loving writers out there. Or any of you that ever had a crush on one of your teachers.

Dan Baird first gained notoriety as the lead singer of the Georgia Satellites. You know who they are right? Come on, I know you have sang along to the words ... I got a little change in my pocket going jingle lingle ling ...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

B.S. Is a Terrible Thing To Waste

On the heels of my post last week about things I don't get about women I have another one. though I'm not for certain if this particular oddity is a widespread habit of an entire gender or simply a habit of my wife's.

I like to think of myself as a good dad . i am involved in all aspects of my boys life with maybe the exception of religious pursuits, but even there I can serve as a bad example if nothing else. Along with the important functions and messages such as -- drugs are bad, stay in school, don't lie unless you call it fiction and try to peddle it to an editor.

Then there are the unwritten Dadly duties and lessons. Pull my finger, the proper way to make flatulent nosies with your armpit, trips to wrestling matches, the best way to blow up Army men with an M-80 firecracker. these are all father's God given rights and for all you dead beat dad's you are the ones missing out by not getting to share these things with your child whether you have sired a boy or girl.

One of these great experiences is B.S. ing you offspring. You know the old standard stuff about having to walk uphill to school both way in four feet of snow. Of course a good story teller of a dad comes up with much more entertaining, outlandish, and varied stories than that. I like to think of myself in that category.

Sometimes when my boys are hanging around inside and riving me crazy I send them off on a bit of a snipe hunt. You see I invented this mythical creature called a Gooblie. For a while my boys believed in the Gooblie.

They asked me questions and I would describe it. It's is lizardlike in body with soft white fur like a pet store bunny. It lives mostly in pine trees, of which we have four in the backyard. It loves to be petted, but will only come out of you sit quietly underneath a pine tree and wait for it to come down to you. Gooblies hide behind pine cones and can't be seen unless you are real quiet. Sometimes it takes hours.

And then like all of my finer stories my wife says, "Don't let you Dad tell you things like that. There is no such thing as a Gooblie. He's just pulling your leg."

That's right she just cut the legs right out from under my finely honed creation as she has countless others. Nowadays when I get to really going the boys will look to her and say, "Really Mom?" At which point she will shake her head and then will say "Uh uh, Dad. You're just trickin' us."

My question is this. Does your wife do this? If you are a wife do you block your husband's BS? And then i gotta ask why? Let us have our fun.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Character of a Good Character

I just finished a novel that I gotta say was really inspirational. No, the plot wasn't all that uplifting or motivating. That's not what I mean. At the risk of sounding egotistical I'm going to say what I found inspiring was that I turned the last page and immediately thought ... I can do better. Heck, I believe I have done better.

Now I'm not saying the book was horrendously bad, and it wasn't from a mega-author who can get away with publishing anything either. I enjoyed the book on many levels, (I'm purposely not giving the title) but something was missing. Some ingredient that kept the words, the story, the characters, from singing to me the way really great novels tend to do.

I kept thinking about it and realized my reservations all stem from the protagonist. I liked the protagonist. He was a fine upstanding fellow who always did the right thing. ALWAYS. From start to finish. Nobody ever makes the correct decision at every turn. And where was the character growth? The arc, and for you non writers I ain't talking about Noah.

In my own stories I probably tend to start my character too low on the character arc scale. I tend to thrust their flaws to the front and center, which often makes it hard for the reader to root for them from the beginning and therefor it is hard to engage the reader to the level I need. But in this book, the guy was a fine upstanding citizen from stat to finish. Sure a lot of trouble came his way and he handled it at all marvelously. I wanted to see him screw up at least once.

Which leads to a story about one of my best friends which I think illustrates what I mean. I'll call him Joe for privacy purposes.

Joe is the most competitive person I have ever met. No matter the circumstances, he refuses to acknowledge or give into to defeat or his perception of defeat. Most would say that is an admirable quality and generally it is. But that competitive spirit and unwillingness to pull back can cause problems as well.

Once upon a time Joe was a professional bowler. He appeared on ABC's Wide World of Sports and went toe-to-toe successfully with the best bowlers in the world. He won his share of prize money, but he also got suspended from the PBA for emotional outbursts. When things didn't go his way he lashed out at others and beat himself up. Eventually his out of control behavior both at the lanes and off forced him to quit the circuit and accept a "real" job.

Things were fine for a while. He got his competitive fix via the golf course, fishing tournaments, fantasy football, softball games, and any other competition he could find. Then he discovered his wife was having an affair. Joe saw that as a losing. He gathered knowledge about his wife's lover, called the man up, and made threats.

The guy decided to take the offensive and one night, in a dark parking lot, he used a baseball bat and left Joe in a pool of blood, broken and battered.

Joe recuperated but stewed the entire time. in his mind the opposition had an even larger lead. Then Joe's wife field for divorce and to Joe the score became all the more lopsided. Joe tried to even the tally, but only found himself in trouble for his effort. Bricks through windshields, more threatening phone calls, confrontation with his ex in a variety of fronts. Each time they collided Joe lost.

People began to whisper. "Joe is crazy." "Stay away from Joe." Joe lost his job and teetered on the edge. Some asked me, "How are you still friends with Joe?"

I defended Joe, but not his actions. I tried to give him advice but Joe could only see the score and that he was behind. Joe was and is as loyal as a friend as I could ever ask for. If a bullet were headed for my head, Joe would dive in front of it for me. He is that kind of friend, but there is really no way to make anyone else believe that through mere words. I know it to be so through years of actions. Me and Joe have a history. An earned trust that goes beyond his bad decision or what is visible to those on the outside of our friendship looking in.

As writers that's what we have to do with our characters. We have earn the readers trust and then allow the reader to ride the ups and downs, the good times and the bad. That is what makes characters unique, believable and truly inspiring. Yes, we have to do that with words, but a gifted writers can paint a scene and situation to the point that a reader will truly feel involved. That's where showing rather than telling comes into play. As a writer we must convince our readers that there is the possibility our protagonist could fail, while at the same time hope that they will succeed.

Right now my buddy Joe is engaged in the toughest fight of his life. One that he would have already lost of not for his competitive spirit and refusal to quit. He has cancer, and he is my friend, and he has shaped who I am in more ways than he will ever know. But he isn't the kind of guy who would want anyone to feel sorry for him, so I'm going to leave you with a humorous tale that detail both his tendency to make bad decisions and his fun loving spirit.

Five or six months after the baseball bat incident, Joe showed up looking like he'd been drug behind a truck. His face was swollen and bruised. His lip was split and oozing blood. His eyes were black. Someone who didn't know about the prior beating, looked at him and said, "What the hell happened to you?"

Joe looked at them and said, "I ran into this old boy that I owed an ass whooping." Then Joe smiled, His tooth was chipped and his gums were bloody, but he said, "Now I owe him two."

Now that's a character.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Prickly My Town Monday Post

I've had several people request I do a My Town Monday post about the local fauna and flora of the Amarillo area and I've been collecting a few pictures to do that very thing. Today I'm going to concentrate on the flora. Understand that trees and vegetation are not all that varied, or common, in my area. I live along a creek bank and actually have far more vegetation that you'd find elsewhere in the Panhandle.

All of today's pictures were taken by me somewhere on my three acres.

A good many of our plants are sharp and pointy. Those will be my focus for this week's post.

The above are prickly pear cactus. The red fruit is edible and makes a pretty decent jelly. Some medical studies have suggested that the pectin in prickly pear pulp lowers bad cholesterol while keeping the good cholesterol levels constant. Studies also say that the pectin may lower diabetics need for insulin. I won't weigh in on those topics but I can tell you if you dive into a patch while playing paintball, getting splatted with a marble of sized projectile becomes the least of your worries.

This picture below is of a Cholla type of cactus though I don't know enough to say exactly what kind. Maybe a tree cholla, but I will say that is my 7 1/2 year old son standing in front of it and he's better than four feet tall.

Cholla's have pretty yellow and gold blooms in early summer or late spring but I didn't get any pictures of that. Maybe next year. Here is a closeup of it's needle-like thorns and fruit.

And here is a shot of pour most prolific tree ... The Mesquite.

Known widely as a good wood for grilling ans smoking the tree is more shrub like in my area but in places where there is more rainfall they actually get to a decent size. Their tap roots can be as long as 190 foot so as to reach the water table. Mesquites are in the legume family and this time of year their branches are covered in green seed pods.
These pods can be made into coffee, ground into a flour, or used to make jelly or wine. No I've never had any mesquite wine but I might try to make some soon. I'd never heard of such until I began researching for this post. But you have to be careful messing with mesquites. They too have thorns as you can see this this picture.

These horns will penetrate the sole of a tennis shoe or the flank of a horse, resulting in a painful festering sore if not removed. I have experienced that.

Last for this week have the ever present yucca.

It cracks me up to travel elsewhere and see these spiny suckers used as ornamental plants. There are a nuisance in my area and one of the few plants that will remain green even after a wildfire has swept over them. The yucca is the state flower of New Mexico.

Yucca's grow a tall stalk in the middle that blooms and then form a hard shelled pod. Here is one alongside the creek.

Here is a general shot of the area. Back when I was younger me and my friends played paintball on a regular;r basis and the remnants of our bunkers are still visible in spots.

Now for a contest. Debra from over at My Skilled Hands has been awarding prizes for those who comment on her My Town posts and I'm stealing the idea. But I'm gonna make you work for it. Look at the following picture and guess what the image is. You don't have to be right, you just have to guess to be eligible an Amarillo or Texas related prize worth ... not much but it's a prize just the same. I'll choose a winner randomly from all who play along by leaving a guess in the comments.

Also I am headed to Sin City next week to try my hand at the poker tables so I will not be able to link to everyone posts next week. If someone else would like to volunteer to compile a list I'll put out the word and I will get a post up to contribute but that is all I can get done before I leave.


Shauna Roberts -- Riverside, California

J.L. Krueger -- Kabul, Afghanistan (I'm adding him of my own volition because these posts need to be read)

Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Debra -- Peninsula, Ohio

Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan

Samantha Winston -- Montchauvet, France

Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California

Terrie Farley Moran (Women of Mystery) -- New York, New York

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio

PretZel -- Des Moines, Iowa

The Anti-Wife -- Seattle, Washington

Saturday, July 5, 2008


On this, the morning after the 4th, I have one question.

Am I the only one who finds it odd we celebrate the Unites State's independence by spending untold millions nationwide, on Chinese and other foreign made pyrotechnics?

Friday, July 4, 2008

And The Rocket's Red Glare

Over on her blog, Patti Abbott has been hosting Forgotten Book Fridays where she encourages other bloggers to highlight and discuss books that have never found the spotlight they deserve. I've participated a time or two and would do so more often if I had the time. This week, in honor of the Fourth of July, Patti suggested everyone should write about a book that meant a lot to them as a kid.

I can't really recall a time when I didn't read, though if I think hard enough I can remember sitting around a half-moon shaped table in first grade while my teacher, Mrs. Williams taught us to sound out the words, so I can remember learning how to read but not a time when I didn't read. Weird huh?

Anyway it must of have been about third grade when I first read this book.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls was the very first time I ever closed the last page and then immediately opened the front again and commenced to rereading. I'm sure most of you have heard of the book so it's not really a forgotten book in the true sense, but it is the most memorable of my childhood. So why did the tale strike such a chord with me?

1) I could relate to, emphasize with, and even admire, Billy the 10 year old protagonist. I grew up hunting and fishing as did Billy. My family didn't have the money to buy me everything I wanted. Billy's dreams was to own a pair of dogs to help him hunt. I admired that when his family couldn't afford the Redbone Coon Hounds hunting so he earned it himself by selling fishing bait and doing other odd jobs. I like to think a kid could take control of his life and go after the things he wanted on his own.

2)The setting. The Ozark mountains are a place I had been to and loved. And a kid allowed to go out alone to chase and tree raccoons, to fish and explore. To learn and experience things firsthand. I wanted to be Billy.

3)The adventure. Hunting in the dark of night. Wagering that your dogs are better than those owned by a couple of rough brothers down the way. A boy competing against grown men in a hunting competition. Blizzards. Dogs fighting with mountain lions.

4) Heartbreak. Okay I'll admit it. I cried when Old Dan and Little Ann died. The mental image of that red fern growing between their grave left me speechless. I reread the book simply because I was not ready to let go and diving back in allowed me to relive the good times. Too bad we don't often get that chance in life.

On this, American Independence Day I'd like to wish every one a happy and safe 4th. When the sizzle of grease from the grill fades, the last watermelon seed has been spit, and the glow from the sparklers has faded ... go inside and curl up with a good book. But before you start reading take a moment to think of all the sacrifices men and women have made over the years of history and continue to do today so that you have the ability to enjoy the freedoms this country offers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Get This

After my recent post over at Criminal Brief, (thanks to all of you who popped over and commented) I've gotten a lot of comments and emails. The vast majority have been encouraging and flattering but I sense one common misconception. That I somehow "get women." I don't mean get as in -- Hey Baby wanna come back to my pad -- kind-of-way. I'm talking more along the -- You are so attuned to the female psyche -- kind-of-way.

Truth be told I don't think "get" a lot of things about my female counterparts. I have no problem writing about emotions, dreams, hopes, wants, fears, and motivations from a female point of view, and actually I don't think men and women are all that different in a lot of those areas. We just tend to express them differently.

But there are somethings that completely baffle me. Since a lot of my readers are female maybe they can help me unravel few of these mysteries.

Capri Pants -- Just this week my wife Jennifer told me she needed to go buy new pants. Pants that would be cooler for our upcoming trip to Vegas. So what did she come home with? Something similar to this.

They are denim! And all of about five inches shorter than jeans? Oooh ... I can feel the cool breeze blowing across my shin now. Never mind it will be a hundred and ten, if my ankle bones are unencumbered I'll feel as fresh as a daisy. If you ask me, the word Capri is just a fancy name for high-water britches.

Eyelash Curlers -- Why oh why? Never in the history of mankind has a man uttered these words. "She ain't real pretty and she's dumber than a box of rocks but man you should see the way her eyelashes curl." Nor has a fella said, "She kinda trips my trigger and she laughs at all my jokes ... of only she had a but of curl to her lashes."

Sex and the City -- Candice Bushnell original book may have been well written and entertaining. I don't know, but the HBO series grated on my last nerve. How do so many women relate to such insecure, materialistic, wanton women. They all seemed like needy, desperate man-clinging weaklings to me. They routinely ran off every good man and pined for every time of stereotypical idiot the word has to offer. Most of the women I know are stronger and more independent than that. Jennifer watched the show for a while but even she tired of the trivial drama and quit watching. So why do so many care about these characters? What's the appeal.

Okay, so tell me what I'm missing on these three things. Or feel free to drop a question about something idiotic we men partake in. I'm sure there are plenty and I will do my best to give you my take.