Thursday, March 30, 2006

La la la LA la la laaaaaaaaa

Well, the fat lady hasn't sung yet, but I can hear her warming up! We have another buyer for Maxwell House (numero five-o) and they want to close around May 10th.

It's hard to get too excited at this point, but the thing is, we've decided that if this one falls through, then that's it. We'll put our North Carolina plans on hold for a while and stay put in Texas.

I'd hate to do that, but enough is enough! We're still living without a sofa or a dining table, and with boxes piled up in every room.

If the deal goes through, then I can stop referring to this as "our alleged move to North Carolina."

But if we stay in Texas, at least I'll get to vote for Kinky Friedman in November.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All Dressed Up

This is the company, SF Bags, that made the custom sleevecase for my laptop, Harriett. Shown here is the basic sleevecase:

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And here it is with the optional flap and shoulder strap (I chose the suspensor shoulder strap because it distributes the weight more evenly):

I chose the vertical orientation, rather than this horizontal one. Both come with a pouch on the other side. Another option is a piggy-back case for the cord.

The best thing is that you just tell them what kind of laptop you have, and the sleevecase will match its dimensions exactly!

I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many laptop-carrier-thingies I've bought for Harriett, but none of them is as kewl as this one!

Only thing is, Harriett wasn't so sure about it at first. No, really. I put her in her new, custom-made case with the s-o-f-t, luxurious interior. It fit her like a well-made little black dress should. Then later, when I took her back out and turned her on, she just froze! I kept calling to her, "Harriett, it's alright! Were you afraid of the dark place? Mommy's sorry, she should have warned you first. Come on, Harriett. It's going to be okay. Really." Well, after a little more coaxing, she recovered and started working again, and now she has no problem at all with her case.

In fact, I don't think she'd even look at another sleevecase now!


Fellow FSM Believers,

Last night I was touched by the Prophet of His Noodly Appendage Himself, for into my Inbox was thrust the following communique, like unto an e-mail.  This is indeed a Holy Day.
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Fellow Believers,

Our day has finally arrived! The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is at last here. Maybe not inscribed on stone tablets, but it is a book.  And maybe not THE Good Book, but at least A Good Book.

Delivering His Divine Message is my life�s work, and as I�ve said before, all proceeds from the book will go toward our pirate ship fund. Because as you know, global warming is the direct effect of the declining number of pirates, and His Noodliness, while he endorses boiling pasta, is against boiling the planet.  With your help, and with the sails blowing on our bad-ass pirate ship (with flags, cannons, and weevils in the flour barrels below deck), we can spread His Word and save the environment at the same time.

Remember that ours is a small boutique religion, but we have BIG ideas (some, arguably a bit al dente) and we must share this rich booty of ideas with others. Within the pages of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you will find FSM history, helpful propaganda, scientific evidence of His existence (including the 100% verifiable fact that no one has sued any school boards about us), as well as pictures and illustrations that surely test the limits of copyright law. But as pioneers we�re not afraid of a little controversy.

Since The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster goes on sale tomorrow, March 28th is a Holy day. I encourage you to dress in your Pirate�s best�paint one of your pant legs to resemble a wood finish, maybe wear an eye patch or get a parrot, and eat some cacciatore with a side of linguine. Then, go to your local bookstore to let them know that The Church of FSM is strong in your community. I can honestly say that if everyone on this e-mail list goes out and buys the book, it will be a bestseller. That would certainly get some people�s attention.

Our future is in our own hands.  And in His noodly appendage.
Bobby Henderson

Available today at Amazon, B&N, and Powells.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican

You may have seen this one before, but it's worth reviewing.

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush II needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all humankind without regulation.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

You support states' rights, but the Attorney General can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Feel free to pass this on. If you don't send it to at least 10 other people, we're likely to be stuck with more Republicans in '06 and '08.

Friends don't let friends vote Republican.

And, let me add a couple of recent ones my own:

We must respect the sovereignty of the Afghan government, but it was okay to oust the legitimate government of Iraq.

We will help rebuild the Mosque that was bombed in Iraq, but our own citizens are still living in tents in Louisiana and other Gulf coastal states.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

On The Run In Lampasas, Texas

Yesterday Tomcat and I took a road trip down to Lampasas for research on my novel, Gino's Law.

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The main character is on the run, having been framed for murder, and he hightails it from the Metroplex in a southerly direction, avoiding the Interstate. Specifically, I wanted to see what the soils* were like between Dallas and Stephenville, and Stephenville to Lampasas, plus take in the scenery and ambience of the place.  Boy, did we luck out, because ambience was all around us the whole live-long day!

This picture shows the chalky unpaved roads around there leading into the semi-arid landscape. The whole area is one big limestone deposit. The vegetation is mixed grasses, cacti, mesquite trees, liveoak trees, and ... salt cedars.  The cedars are everywhere, and their scent is heavy on the breeze.

Last night I Googled the cedars and found that salt cedars are on a par with fire ants and cockroaches in that part of the State. They come from Asia, and were originally introduced as an ornamental plant in the early 19th century. I imagine that some Regency or Victorian-era lady thought these would look so nice next to the cacti in her yard, so she persuaded her husband to order them.

Big mistake. These trees have a very long tap root, which deprives the indigenous plants of water, choking them out. They cause the water table to get lower and lower, and even affect the water levels of the rivers, which in turn harms other species' habitats, like fish and turtles and so on.  Now, here's the scary part: the State of Texas has imported thousands of Asian salt-cedar beetles to devour these trees.  One shudders to think ...

* In my part of the State, we have clay, which wrecks havoc with foundations, and also large areas of that fantastic super-rich black soil that will grow anything you put in it.  Traveling south to Stephenville, there are long stretches of iron-rich red soil, like on Mars (which may explain a lot, somehow...) Then, you get into limestone and gravel country where you can see these chalky roads. When you drive along these roads, the car throws up this fine white powder, which dusts the grasses and trees alongside. You can drive for miles on these things and suddenly come to a "Stop" sign where it intersects with another one. I mean, there's nothing out there but cactus, salt cedar, mesquite, oak, and buzzards, and here's a stop sign?!  Then we saw signs for school bus crossings. Oh. Okay. We're just city folk; we had no idea there were people out here!

Anyway, the trip was fun and we took lots of notes. All for sake of research, don't you know.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I'm Smokin' Again

NO, not cigarettes. I quit those almost nine years ago. Woulo! (That's a cajun word I recently ran across. It means the same as Woo-Hoo!)

The mystery novel is coming along great now. I've written 7,735 words since last Saturday! Woulo!

I'm close to halfway through.

Writing such a joy when it's flowing like this, and such a pain when it isn't. Ah, the agony and the ecstasy! Some people just start writing their books, which is what I did with the first one, The Earthquake Doll. It turned out to be a mess. I kept having to go back and make major changes because I'd be writing along, and suddenly the story would take a different direction, forcing changes to be made on stuff I'd already written. I did not have a clue about writing novels then. It wasn't until I took a course on Basics of Novel Writing, taught by Pooks, that I found out there's this thing called Structure! That's when I was finally happy with an EQ Doll rewrite.

More recently, I discovered that wonderful book, Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder, and it gives the beats - 15 of them - to the basic Structure. Wow!

The key, for me, is the prep work. Get the Structure down; then start writing. Creativity still has a free reign, and your characters can still "take over" and do magical things for your story. But, you won't be sweating blood over what the next basic scene will be. No more dead-ends. No more writer's block.

Besides, as Snyder points out in his book, doing the prep work takes time, and it is time that your subconscious takes great advantage of! When you sit down to write, you are Ready To Tell The Story, which is what it's all about.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Best Horses

When I was a little girl my grandmother would spend the night with us once in a while, and we would share my room. The best part about that was when she'd tell me her "horse stories," and I'll tell you one here. But first, a bit about my grandmother. She was the eldest of 11 children. She went to college (!) and studied astronomy (!). She wrote poetry. Her specialty was what she called "Star Sonnets," where she combined her knowledge of astronomy with her poetic talent. She taught "elocution," which is called "speech" today. Here's a story I wrote about her stories, 23 years ago:

The Best Horses
All Rights Reserved

We were in our nightgowns. I remember her brushing her hair in front of the dresser where I kept my collection of ceramic horses. Nannie's hair was white and gold and hung down to her waist. She wore it up in a braided crown during the day, but took it down and brushed it out every night, 100 strokes, religiously.

I showed her my horses, especially the red one reared up with its hooves in the air, my favorite.

"That's not red; that's a sorrel, honey. My hair used to be just that color - just like yours is now* - and the boys at school used to tease me and call me 'sorrel-tail' because I wore it in a long straight ponytail."

"Why do they call our hair red and not sorrel?" I asked.

"Because when you're talking about people you say 'red,' but red horses are called sorrels. There's all kinds of names for colors of horses. There's daple, which is gray with white spots, and buckskin, that's light brown with a black tail and mane, and chestnut, which is like a sorrel only darker brown." She looked in the mirror and laughed. "Now, I'm a palomina-tail."

"How come you know so much about horses, Nannie?"

"My daddy used to raise horses."

"He did? Did you get to ride any?"

"Oh my, yes, all the time."

"Did you ever ride any sorrel horses?" I held up my favorite horse.

She patted it with the tip of her finger. "I remember one sorrel Daddy had. He was the biggest horse anybody had ever seen. Daddy wouldn't let any of us ride him because he was just 'too much horse.' Daddy sold him to Sheriff Pate - old 'Two-Gun Pate,' we called him, because he always wore a double holster with matching pistols. We kids were all scared to death of him, especially when he was atop that great big sorrel. He could look right down into your eyes and he'd know if you were telling tales or not. He made sure that all the kids were behaving themselves and not getting into any trouble."

She finished brushing her hair and then she brushed mine. She gathered my hair up into a ponytail and said, "Yes, you're a sorrel-tail, alright. And even a little wild, like I was at your age. But I think old Two-Gun Pate was right about one thing: sometimes the wildest colts make the best horses."
* red was my natural hair color.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Muse or Snooze

That muse-o-mine is so funny. Seems she does her best work after my head hits the pillow at night. Problem is, that's when I need to sleep. But noooooooooo. After an hour and a half of trying to get to sleep a couple of nights ago, I had to get up, turn Harriett* on, and start typing. And typing. Then, along about three o'clock in the morning, I'm laughing hysterically in a darkened room, in Harriett's glow, at something the muse has written.

I'm not complaining, though, because for a long time, I couldn't find my muse. She also apparently likes to play hide 'n seek. And catch-me-if-you-can.

This morning I am at my desk, trying to prime the pump by writing this bloglet, just to let the muse know that I'm ready to go to work. Unfortunately, I think she's still asleep.
* No, I haven't Caught The Gay; Harriett is the name of my cute little laptop. (Not Scruffybutt, the other cute little laptop.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bad Times in Big D

Discovery Channel just started a new series, Perfect Disaster. Well, I love disaster movies and documentaries about disasters, plus I keep up on all the impending disasters I can, you know, like Avian Flu, the Reston, Va. strain of airborne Ebola from a few years ago, and of course, the Coming Global Superstorm. (Imagine, my shrink says that this is symptomatic of generalized anxiety disorder, like a normal person wouldn't be concerned about these things as much as I am.)

So the very first episode of Perfect Disaster, aired last night, was about a Super Tornado (!) hitting Dallas! Where I live! Of course, I already knew that Big D sits at the apex of the three necessary conditions for tornado creation (and I'm sure you all do, too, so I won't bore you with all that here.) But I had never heard the term, "super tornado." How did I miss that!?!

The guy from the National Weather Service who always seems to be featured on these kinds of programs stood there in front of some houses in the neighborhood where Maxwell House is and said, "And the East Dallas neighborhood where I'm standing would be completely wiped out by the super tornado. It's not a question of if, but WHEN."

Oh. Thank you SO much for that. And my realtor thanks you, too. Asshat.

To top it off, last night we also happened to have the big drought-busting, frog-strangling FLOOD that we all knew was coming sooner or later. When I was driving around today, I saw neighborhood after neighborhood where there had been obvious flooding. But NOT on the street where Maxwell House is.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Three Years Ago

Three years ago, we were in London, standing outside Parliament and protesting the war. I tried to find the pics of the sit-down that happened right in front of us, but with all the packing for our alleged move to NC, I couldn't. But it blocked traffic for hours, and the London police were marvelous about it all. We hated to leave civilization!

How is it that we, the protestors that night, were talking about the very same things before the war started that people are just beginning to talk about now, three years later? Like, there aren't any WMD's because the weapons inspectors said so; like, this is going to be another Vietnam, and we'll be mired in for years to come with massive loss of life on both sides; like, this is going to provoke bloody civil war; and like, why aren't we going after Osama; like, why does the president of the US think Osama and Sadam are buds, when we know that they despise each other? Why, exactly, is it that we knew these things then, BEFORE THE FUCKING WAR STARTED!?! and our alleged president ignored ALL of this information?

Just wondering.

P.S. and why are we paying a substantial portion of the cost to rebuild the mosque that the insurgents blew up, while our own citizens are still living in tents in Louisiana? And why are we rebuilding Iraqi schools and hospital, when our own are so badly in need of attention, not to even mention the lack of basic healthcare for our citizens?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Does She or Doesn't She?

I went to the eye doctor yesterday because I need new glasses. The last time I went, my regular doc wasn't there, so I saw a sub. The sub said, "Did you know you have cataracts?" Nooooo, no one had ever mentioned that before.

Today my regular doc was there, so I asked her to tell me more about the cataracts. She said she'd have to wait until after my eyes were dilated before she'd know if I had them. I told her that the last doc told me I had them, and that my eyes weren't dilated then. She said the way to tell is by looking at the dilated eyes.

Turns out, I don't have cataracts, just some yellowing of the lens, which is caused by aging normal processes.

I doubt the substitute doctor will be asked to come back.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

National Women's History Month

In honor of National Women's History Month, I'd like to tell you about the changes in women's rights in my lifetime. So far. I'm 56, and I do hope there will be more for me to see.

Most young women probably don't realize how things were for us a few decades ago. I'm not making these things up, so read on:

At one time or another in job interviews, I was legally asked:

Are you married?
Do you have any children?
Do you plan to have any children?
Are you pregnant now?
Do you take birth control?

Men could smoke in the office; women could not.

Women could not wear slacks to work.

Men were addressed as "Mr." - women by their first names.

If a woman was unmarried, she was assumed to be looking for a husband.
If she was not looking for a husband, she was a "Career Girl," or worse, a lesbian.

If a girl got pregnant in high school, she was expelled.

Out-of-wedlock pregnancies were not openly acknowledged. Usually, a girl would be sent by her parents, or a woman would go, to another state, country, or city, where she would wear a wedding band and say that her husband was in Vietnam. Single, unmarried mothers would wear a wedding band and say their husbands were killed in Vietnam.

Abortions were illegal. (Get ready to march in the streets over this one, sisters.)

I was a legal secretary, and when I typed the Notary's acknowledgment for a woman's signature, I had to add the words, "that she read the above document, and it was explained to her."

Women could not get credit in their own name.

Women did not make the same salaries for the same jobs as men (not that women could even get many of the same jobs as men.) Women were told, legally, that was because "men have families to support." Employers cannot use that excuse today, but women still do not make as much money as men in the same jobs.

I'm sure I could think of others, as soon as I hit "Post." For the women of my age group and older, please share your experiences.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bimbos, Sushi, and Psycho Birds

Oh Well, It Was Only One of 24

Jack Bauer's daughter, Kim, returned in last night's episode of 24. I suspect that this character was removed from the regular cast a few seasons ago because she was so annoyingly stupid. Unfortunately, Kim did not grow a brain during her absence. (Of course, I am talking about the character "Kim," not the actress who plays her, Elisha Cuthbert.)

Killing Edgar off just about broke my heart, as well as Chloe's.

A show that can evoke such emotions in its followers -- heck, a show that has loyal followers who can't miss even one of 24 episodes -- obviously has great writers.

Sushi, Anyone?

Scroll down to see the "Smoked Worms and Coffee" sign from North Carolina. Didja ever stop to think that smoked worms must be for fish who don't like sushi? Think about it.

Love Birds

One summer we had the psycho-insomniac mockingbird from hell in our magnolia tree. Why psycho? He sang at night. All night. I normally enjoy hearing these birds, and after all, they are the State Bird of Texas. But they're a lot less enjoyable when you're trying to get some sleep. It is illegal to kill a mockingbird in this State (not that we would actually kill any bird.) But on a couple of those sleepless nights, Tom went outside, got the waterhose, and sprayed the little begger. Finally, the psycho bird went off to sing at someone else. I feel kinda bad about that. The reason mockingbirds sing at night is because they have lost, or cannot find, a mate.

Well, now we have a psycho love bird. Her mate died, and the other two love birds in the aviary ignore her. Lisa hasn't taken to chirping all night, yet. Just during the day. Like when you're trying to read or write or hear the television or talk on the phone or to each other or to yourself or listen to music. Especially if you are trying to listen to music, because then all three birds start chirping. (BTW, they prefer Mozart to Wagner, and they think that the beeper on the microwave is another bird, so they keep calling to it.) I can't say that Lisa sings, exactly. It's more like ... ranting. She gets on these rants and won't quit. Spraying her with the garden hose won't stop the problem. Besides, it's an indoor aviary.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Real Estate Comedy

Our continuing Real Estate Drama has entered a comedic interlude, which began several weeks ago.


Daffy, real estate agent
Bozo, Daffy's client
Homer, acquaintance of Bozo's

Daffy brought his client, Bozo, to see Maxwell House, the one we've been trying to sell so that we can move to North Carolina (both of my regular readers are sick of this by now, but I can't help that, and besides, this is my blog, not theirs). Bozo is very interested in buying this property, so much so that he makes an offer, no option period, and says he'll pay cash and close next week. We thought the offer was low, so we made a counter-offer. No, he was not going to come up on the price. Period. For most people this would have been end-of-story.

But not for us. No, then Bozo brings his acquaintance, Homer, to see the place, and they both bring a contractor with them to give them an estimate of what it would cost to convert the house from a five-plex to a duplex sometime on down the road. Bozo makes another offer, this time with an option, but still cash, close next week. We turn it down. It's way too low.

Bozo comes up a little, we come down a little. Back and forth like that for a while. I'm trying not to bore you here.

We settle on a price and Daffy and Bozo say they'll have the papers to us "in the morning." A week goes by, no papers, nor will they return any phone calls.

Now here's the funny part: Daffy calls, finally, and makes another offer, much lower than the one we had all agreed upon. Hahahahhaaaaaaaaa. Not.

We're like, nooooooooooo, don't think so. So the clowns come up by $500. See? This is now getting close to hilarity, isn't it? I mean, who the hell would come up a measly $500 bucks and expect to close a deal? Bozo.

Here's the kicker: Homer faxes an offer that is $1,000 higher than Bozo's. This means that Bozo and Homer have cut Daffy out. They just used him to find properties for them, and have dropped him so they don't have to pay a fee! Furthermore, Homer's name is not on any of the papers, so they can get away with this if Homer is the one to make the offer. Okay, this part is hysterical: Homer demands an answer within 24 hours! Hehehehehheeeeeeeee. Told ya, huh? huh? (Take a breather if you need to here.)

Now then, it has been three days since Homer's offer and we haven't deigned to respond. The next time they call? We're going to say our price is back up where it was in the beginning. If they are true to form, they'll come up another thousand bucks, and so will we. Come up a thousand bucks. Or five hundred, whatever, to match them. We'll keep going up as long as they want to make offers. Isn't that funny? Aren't you glad you read all this?
Alrighty, then. To try to make up for this, here's a bit-o-comedy from the murder mystery I'm writing: the murder weapon is part of an antler (the Main Character is making a life-sized Christmas display of Santa's sleigh and reindeer.) Yes, folks, it's death by Rudolph. Antler Fu.
Now that's funny, isn't it?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

More Kinky Cat Saving

Some have asked me what the title, Save The Cat!, means. I hadn't the foggiest idea before I started reading the book. Here's the deal: Snyder gets down to the basics of good story-telling, and one absolutely necessary basic is an early "save-the-cat" scene. That meant that my Main Character should do something, very early in the story, that will demonstrate that hey, this is a decent guy (no matter what he does later on). He could, oh ... save a cat, for example. :)

I did not have a save-the-cat scene in Gino's Law, but now I do. This makes so much sense, and gives readers (both of them) insight into Gino's true nature right away.

Here's something that amazes me about writing: your subconscious knows the story waaay before you do. I needed a save-the-cat scene, so I went back to the beginning to look for a good place for one. It needed to be plausible, and to fit naturally into the story. Hmmm. I already had a scene where Gino, a landlord, is talking to one of his tenants, named Brandye.

Let me back up here a moment. The house that "Gino" lives in is based on Maxwell House, the one I've been trying to sell so we can move to North Carolina!

The apartment that "Brandye" lives in, in my story, is actually -- in real life -- occupied by a lady who is a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Viola! "Gino's" save-the-cat moment is right there, and was right there all along! All I had to do was have "Brandye" be a Katrina survivor whom "Gino" had let live there rent-free for several months until she found a job and put some savings together!

I got to shake Kinky Friedman's hand last night. He was in Dallas for the day. First, he was Grand Marshal of the annual Greenville Avenue St. Patrick's Day parade (see his site for a picture of that, and yes, I know it isn't St. Paddy's Day yet, go figure), then he went to the Wine Therapist (don'tcha love that name?), where we were, to meet and greet, and then on to a fund-raiser, which we didn't attend because we're cheap. Hey, we did buy some memorabilia at the Wine Therapist, though!

Did you know that there's a Kinky Friedman action figure? That sez stuff in his very own actual voice? My favorite slogans are, "Why the Hell Not?" and "How Hard Could It Be?" (to be Texas governor.) Did you know they also have Kinky Friedman Salsa? And CDs? I love this guy. Talk about low key -- he just walked into the Wine Therapist -- no announcements, no fanfare, just came in with his trademark hat and cigar and started chatting with people, shaking hands, and autographing stuff. My friend Grace, the artist, brought her daughters with her, and the youngest one got her jeans autographed by Kinky!

It was such a hoot!

After that I, along with Pooks, Grace, the artist, and her daughters stampeded went next door to The Tipperary Inn because we heard that men in kilts were over there (poor Tomcat followed along.) But we didn't stay long, even for men in kilts, because the air conditioning was out. So, we had dinner at La Calle Dolce.

then i'm afraid i got a little tipsy when I made the mistake of ordering more more wine ...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Golden Cat Saves Kinky

Whaaaaa? This post contains three different subjects, and the title, The Golden Cat Saves Kinky, ties them all together. Trust me.

First, if you are a writer, whether aspiring or published, whether you write screenplays or novels, you simply must read Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. This book boils it all down to the basics. Snyder is a screenwriter, and his book is for screenwriters. But I am an aspiring novelist, and the basics of storytelling, in whatever medium, still apply.

I'm only on page 47, and I've already learned three extremely important things:

(1) Start (preferably before you've written a word) with a good logline. This is the one-sentence description of what the book (or movie) is about. If you can't come up with a good logline, you don't have a good story yet. Try this with your own work and you'll see the truth of this.

(2) Your title is joined to the logline. It should also say what the book/movie is about. Think about what the title would look like on a book cover, or better yet, on a movie poster. For example, the first title for my work-in-progress was "Paradise Parkway." After coming up with the logline, the title had to be changed. It is now "Gino's Law" with a subtitle, "For Every Action, There's an Overreaction." That title and the subtitle imply all kinds of interesting things, don't they? Way better than "Paradise Parkway."

(3) There I was, thinking I was writing a "Whodunit" or even a "Whydunit," when the story I was really writing belonged in one of ten unique genres listed in Snyder's book: The [story of the] Golden Fleece. The Golden Fleece is all about the quest and how the hero is changed along the way.

Okay, I skipped ahead in the book and read his take on Midpoints. Snyder says that the story's Midpoint is just as important as the First and Second Turning Points. This helped me tremendously in plotting Act II of Gino's Law.

See? "The Golden Cat Saves" portion of the title makes sense now! That leaves us with the Kinky part. (To any perverts out there: stop slobbering already! Ew.)

Tonight we're going to actually see and meet Kinky Friedman, who's running for Governor of the State of Texas! He's on a petition drive to get on the November ballot. Tomcat and I Saved Ourselves For Kinky (didn't vote in the primaries) just so we will be eligible to sign the petition.

Kinky is a writer and singer (he founded The Texas Jewboys.) He is also a brilliant, witty, down-to-earth man who is fed up with both the Republican and Democratic Parties in Texas. We have a great tradition in this state -- there are tons of Independent voters, myself included. In Texas, we do not have to register with any party if we do not wish to. I have voted for candidates of both of the major parties, although it's been a long time since I've voted Republican. How long? Since the Funda-mentals took it over in the Reagan era.

So there you have it: The Golden Cat Saves Kinky.
Thank you for your time.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Major Plot Twist

My writer friend Pooks suggested a great plot twist for the mystery novel I'm working on. Once again, Pooks, I am so grateful for your brilliance (she was the one who first said this bit-o-novel I had going would be a good mystery story.)

I got up at three o'clock yesterday morning to write that major plot twist scene, and I'm very pleased with it.

Now, if only I could have a major plot twist in my life, like getting Maxwell House sold so we can move to North Carolina!!!!

Just LOOK at what we're missing:

(btw, this was taken after Katrina hit, hence the high gas prices)
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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Here's Something Fun

Go here and you can upload a picture of yourself (or just use their model) and "try on" different kinds of makeup!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


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This is for real! Yesterday Grace, the artist, and Pooks, the writer, and I, the, um, blogger -- oh wait -- the other blogger, went rose hunting with our trusty credit cards, and we found "Groucho" at one of the nurseries. Isn't he darling? But, he would NOT open his eyes if the camera was pointed at him.

In Texas, you buy roses in Tyler, a town just a couple of hours east of Dallas. On the way, we stopped first at a nursery near Edom, Texas, called Blue Moon Gardens, and that's where we found Groucho. Blue Moon Gardens is located "7 Miles East of Edom." Not a bad place for Groucho!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Problem With Impeachment Ribbon

I was looking for a source to get a new "Impeach Bush" banner because mine had disappeared. Fortunately, I ran across this site and found out that the problem has been noted and is being explored. Whew! The paranoids weren't after me. This time.

I copied the html code for an "Impeach Bush" badge, which is over there on the sidebar.

Meanwhile, if you haven't seen my new link, called "Asshat," you will be entertained. Just click on the pictures. Many thanks to Shelly at Citizen Against Lies on my blogroll!

I didn't vote in the primaries today because I wouldn't be able to sign the petition to get Kinky Freidman on the November ballot for Texas Governor. His supporters call this: Save Yourself For Kinky!

You can click on his site over there on my links, too.

Help, Please

Does anyone know why my "Impeach Bush Now" banner isn't showing up at the top of my blog? It was somehow replaced by a square outlined in white. Hmmm. Homeland Security?


Monday, March 06, 2006

Channeling, Or What?

To the other writers out there (and if you have a blog and you're reading this, then you're a writer out there) --

I was organizing my notes for my mystery novel when I ran across a pink* sticky note I had written months ago. It read,

"What about ex-wife?"

That was in pencil. Underneath, in pen, was:

"She's in Italy."

I had jotted down the "What about ex-wife?" bit because I had decided not to bring the Main Character's ex into the story. So, what to do with her? I wanted her to be alive, but not to have to be brought in as a character witness for or against the MC. If that happened, then of course there would be interaction between the MC and his ex, so then I'd be writing scenes about a completely unnecessary character. Jotting the question down and setting aside the note for a while was a great way to let the matter percolate from one braincell to the other one. :)

Then sometime later, the answer came to me (or I channeled my muse, or whatever/however that happens), and I went back and wrote, "She's in Italy." The idea was that she had remarried and moved to Italy (which works great because the MC is of Italian descent, so the ex might as well have originally come from Italy.) Now, neither the defense nor the prosecution would think it's really necessary to try to subpoena her for the MC's trial. (Thanks to Judith, who lives in Rome, so that little tidbit was in one or the other of those braincells, because otherwise the poor ex-wife would probably be living in the middle of Baghdad or something.)

It just struck me funny when I saw that note with the question and answer, both in the same handwriting, but obviously written at two different times. Do you ever do stuff like that?

* A bit of esoterica here: In my system, pink sticky notes are for jotting down things I don't want to forget; purple are for brief synopses of scenes already written; and yellow are for scenes yet to be written. All of the notes go into my wonderful, adorable Moleskine notebook. Scenes can be rearranged easily, since they are all on sticky notes (thanks to Pooks for that idea!)

Pooks, by the way, has a Moleskine that she writes in. I mean, with ink, directly on the page! Those gorgeous, beautiful pages. I'm just not there yet.

And speaking of Moleskines, I saw some on the counter in my favorite book store, Barnes & Noble, and I asked the gal if she had ever bought one for herself. She said, "No, and I never will!" Well, why ever not? She said it was because the covers were "made from mole skins." Hahahahhaaaaaaaaaaa! I didn't actually laugh, but I did tell her that no, they're made from a water resistant fabric.

On the way out to the car, Tomcat and I died laughing because that lady probably thought all this time about those poor little moles, and the people working in Third-World sweatshops sewing all those tiny little mole pelts together!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Too Smart For Her Own Good

Scruffybutt has to take a new medicine now, in addition to the one she already takes for her liver disorder. Unlike the pill she takes now, which is a small tablet that is quartered, this new one is big. A big, orange pill. Well, we don't like that one bit!

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The little pill can easily be hidden in her canned food. The big orange pill? No. That's because the vet prescribed a new canned food for her, and you can't hide a big pill in it because the food breaks apart when you try.

At first, I put the big orange pill inside half a teaspoon of peanut butter. That worked for a little while. Okay, it might have worked twice. After that, since she knew there was something non-peanut-buttery in there, she licked the peanut butter off bit by bit until there was nothing left in the bowl except ... the big orange pill.

Then, I hid the pill inside a dollop of sour cream. She loved that until she figured out there was some unauthorized, un-sour-creamy thing in there. Once again, she licked all around that pill, enjoying the sour cream bit by tiny bit.

Now I'm putting the big orange pill in a small handful of shredded cheddar cheese and squishing the whole thing together into a little cheese ball that she can't lick apart. Yet.

It's just a good thing she's not spoiled, because I have no idea how we'd handle THAT!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Tomcat Sticks It To The Man

THIS is the PILE OF TWIGS  that the City Code Compliance officer cited us for because it was on the curb the week before curb pickup week:

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The fine?  Two Hundred and Twenty Five Dollars!  The twigs and sticks were out there in the first place because they had not been picked up on the last curb pickup week.  Why?  Probably because someone parked their car in front of it, blocking access.  We're across the street from a school.

So yesterday morning was the court date.  Tom had taken pictures of the pile from all angles, plus pictures of the mountain of bagged leaves in our courtyard.  They were in the courtyard waiting to be taken out to the curb during pickup week!  He also sent a certified letter, return receipt requested, to the City requesting the appearance of the Compliance Officer.

You should have seen Tomcat, dressed in a suit and wearing his red power tie.  Armed with photographs and a briefcase. Hell would be paid.  Full of righteous indignation.  Ready to shock and awe.  Ready to DEMAND a jury trial if necessary!  Ready to kick butt and take names.

Yessir.  The judge dismissed the case almost as soon as it was called.  Done deal.  No fine to pay. Citation de-lete-ted from the System.

THAT'S what happens when my Tomcat sticks it to the Man.  And with twigs, too.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Is It 2008 Yet?

Garnie raised this question in her comment to my last post.

I just finished reading Al Franken's newest book, The Truth, with jokes (look over there on the right under "Currently Reading.") As always, Franken is careful to document his work in appendices. This administration is criminal, and it's way beyond anything Tricky Dick ever did (I suppose that moniker could be applied now to both Nixon and Clinton, couldn't it?) Treason is not too strong a word. This was not "news" to me, but many of the incidents in the book were. The more I read, the more I wept (figuratively) and the angrier I got (not figuratively.) For the love of God and this country, we have got to get these people out of the Whitehouse AND the Congress.

No, it's not 2008 yet. But THIS is a Congressional election year. If we succeed this year, then we may not have to wait until 2008. Can you say "impeachment?"

And if we can't succeed this year or in 2008? Well, Tomcat keeps telling me that it's really not that cold in Canada.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Shelton's Law

This "law" is something a friend of ours came up with:

Shelton's Law
For Every Action, There's An Overreaction

Don't you just love that?

The three branches* of our government should have that emblazoned on their asses. No wait. Their foreheads. Better to be seen. Well, except for some, maybe, with the brown noses (boy, that narrows it down...)

* Note to Dubya: There are three branches of the government. Yours is called the Executive Branch.

The other day Dubya told reporters that Congress needs to trust him (on the issue of port security) because "our government has already investigated this thoroughly." Gahhhhh!! What a dickbrain.