Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 Nemeses (pt 1)

If I've learned only one thing from coexisting with "normal" humans it's that people love lists.

So I've made a list for my wondrous readers.


These are in no particular order of preference (Sorry Shakespeare, I know you want to know where you stand among your competitors for top place).

1. Andrew Jackson


If I was a bigger fan of d-baggery, then maybe Jackson and I could get along. Unfortunately, for him, I don't care for his sass and his absolute ignorance and disregard for equality among all people. While maybe he thought it was cool to slaughter hundreds, I still have to disagree. When given the chance to set things right in the seat of the presidency (no, I did not vote for him) he then took it upon himself to remove the US banking system and establish the first Depression in the United States. I still believe that each subsequent Depression can be attributed to him. Not sure why Jackson is my nemesis, other than my general distaste for the man? Consider this: it is said that Jackson's body harbored 20 bullets from various duels and it is also said that roughly 19 of those came from my own pistol.
2. Christopher Columbus


A man of limited abilities. Columbus was very proficient in miscalculations, mass murder and giving himself props. Most American children are taught that everyone in Columbus' time was convinced that the world was flat but only Columbus was smart enough to know that it was round and that he could sail to America. This is a lie, perpetuated by Columbus himself. Europeans knew the world was round since the time of Rome and no one was attempting to sail the world because the calculations told them that Asia was too far to get to (not enough supplies could be packed to make it). Columbus did his own calculations, and attempted to convince the King and Queen of Spain that he could make it to Asia, and although they knew his calculations were incorrect, they allowed funding for his trip to be awarded hoping the annoying man would fail in his voyage and sink to the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, instead of ridding themselves of him, he found America where he became the father of death to potentially millions of Native Americans. His ignorance and arrogance went to incite mutinies, his arrest and his subsequent banishment. On his deathbed he still held the belief that the land of the Americas was actually Asia.
3. Huey Lewis

I've razzed on Huey Lewis many, many, many, many times before on this blog. For me, there are two types of nemeses, those that I hate and those that I want to dislike but can't help to enjoy. Huey is of the second group. A master of music, Huey has crafted a plethora of tunes that he could easily use to rule the human race. While he tends not to use his music for evil, he could at any time so that's where I come in. By being his nemesis, he is reminded that there are those of us out there that will stop him if he chooses to turn rogue. Don't believe me? Consider his songs. "The Power of Love" was originally titled: "The Power of Huey". "Do You Believe In Love" was originally titled: "Do You Believe in Huey's Ability To Take Over The World. Because You Should." And lastly, "I Want a New Drug" was originally titled "I Want to Take Over the World Through Music and Drugs." Luckily, through the force of those not susceptible to his musical charms and a PR agent who thought that the songs might dissuade the general public from listening to his music Huey was forced to change his titles and his plots for world domination.
4. Grizzly Bears
I've discussed grizzly bears before and this nemesis relationship is very one sided. I generally enjoy all bears (koala, panda, gummy etc.) and grizzlies are no exception. But grizzlies don't like me. If they kept that mistrust and hatred to themselves, we'd be fine, but they often take it upon themselves to challenge me to assert their dominance and again and again I'm forced to fight them off and prove that I'm the better predator. As with any good nemesis relationship, our history is long and complicated. It all began back in the 1800s when bear wrasslin’ was a national sport in the U.S. Having a natural talent for wrasslin’, I made it a point to become the most successful bear wrassler in the world. I triumphed and was honored among humans, but dangerously feared among bears. Before long, my name and deeds became a familiar aspect of bear mythology and bear nightmares. Once bear wrasslin’ fell out of public opinion, most bear wrasslers had to put up their wrasslin’ gear and get real jobs. And while Americans forgot about the old days and the number one bear wrassler, the bears did not. So to this day, bears still attack me in the street, at work, at home and in public restrooms.

5. Geoffrey Chaucer
Chaucer and I have a long history of "nemesesery" as posted about twice previously.
The list of atrocities that Chaucer has committed against me is very lengthy. Not just limited to poking and being a general overall bother, Chaucer has insulted not just me, but the majority of the world on many occasions. He’s offensive, impotent, rude and he smells like oysters - all the time. I don't know if he thinks that oysters are magically imbued and will pass their powers on to him, I don't know where he gets these oysters and I don't know how he pays for these oysters. I do suspect that he told his many avid followers that he loves oysters, and then just like with U.S. Grant, he was belabored with millions of oysters and will subsequently make rash business decisions, become a U.S. president, and die slowly and painfully from throat cancer. Perhaps that'll make me Mark Twain in this scenario...Anyways, Chaucer and I are two fights away from a duel to the death, unfortunately when we duel it's only with those tiny plastic swords you get with fancy drinks like a Shirley Temple and it usually ends with only a few scrapes and lots of arm cramps. But these duels shall continue until I get rid of the evil that is Chaucer or I get tired of trying.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Haiku

The last haiku post was so long I decided to keep my haiku for another post. And, since I know you're all very interested in this topic. I have yet another haiku related post waiting in the wings.

So I'm writing these chapter headings for my NaNoWriMo novel. They are a wide range of written materials, and I'm utilizing haiku as one of the forms of writing for these headings. Now these haiku are dependent upon a post apocalyptic world, and the experiences of the characters. While in the last post I talked about having a human perspective in haiku, it needs to be clear that the human perspective in these haiku are based in this alternate reality, so if they seem far reaching, that is why.

Here are some of the best I've come up with, not all will be in the book and they are posted here for you to tear apart like the vicious creatures that you are. Enjoy.

Snow falls in grey flakes;
Solitude celebrated
In flesh and ashes.

I will forever
love our fingers entwined like
branches; death wakes me

With wings of fury
They take our loved ones in flight;
Brace your heart for pain

Wolves watch us tonight
Loneliness travels in packs;
We prey for safety


On the last line of the last one I couldn't decide on pray or prey, but I think prey works. I just wanted to make it clear that it's not an error on my part, but an artistic play on words.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How To Haiku!

So my NaNoWriMo novel is still rolling around in my mind and in an effort to tie the chapters and themes together, I'm working on snippets of writing as chapter headings. Some of these are in the form or poetry, lullabies, speeches or other various quotes that I've made up from characters we meet and ones we don't. In my exploration of what to write for these chapter headings I've come across a well loved but forgotten (on my part) form of writing called the Haiku.

While it's not all the rage, haiku is admirable and is quickly becoming my favorite form of poetry. In my exploration of the form, I've done some research which might be interesting to writers who read this blog so I'll share it.

People who know haiku know that the form is set in three lines. In Japan, each line has a distinct set of "moras" not to be confused with syllables. Moras are the concept that syllables pattern together according to the number and/or duration of segments in the rime (part that is lengthened or stressed when a person elongates or stresses a word in speech). That all is a bit confusing. In America, writers of the haiku often utilize syllables when determining what to write for each line of a haiku. The standard set of syllables in American haiku by line is 5, 7, 5. While I'm cheating a bit by going by the American haiku standards, I don't know kanji and therefore cannot be true to the Japanese version of the haiku.

Haiku contain several elements (other than the set number of lines, and the set number of moras) that connect all haiku as a form of writing.

Nature:

The first would be a nature theme. Each haiku, should have a mention of nature. Traditionally, this reference was used to allow the reader to know what time of the year the haiku is written in, but I've seen haiku which mention animals or plants which may not be specific to a time of year (or maybe I just don't see the correlation).

Cutting:

This is an aspect of the haiku, utilized to divide the haiku into two distinct parts. In America, it is seen often through the use of punctuation like a comma, colon, dash or an ellipsis.

Subject Matter:
Traditionally, haiku is used to explore the human experience. By utilizing nature, cutting, and our individual experiences as human beings, we can create a haiku that shows us the world in new and interesting ways.

Two of my favorite haiku are:

No sky
no earth - but still
snowflakes fall
~Hashin


I just love the imagery here. It makes me think of darkness in a snowstorm when we can see nothing but snowflakes.

I kill an ant
and realize my three children
have been watching.
~Shuson Kato


This one is so powerful to me because it starts out simple but makes such a great statement. We have to be aware of the impression and examples we set for others, especially future generations.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm an Expert!

I've often had people say to me: "Jenny, just to name a few areas you're an expert on, such as everything historical, everything fantastical, everything mythical, and everything humorous. Is there anything you're not an expert on?"

I always respond with a resounding and definitive: "No."

That being said, they then want me to answer numerous questions about dozens of random topics and finally I got sick of it. I now direct people to my books:

Here are some excerpts from the 112 book series.

On Art
While I can appreciate the bright patchwork of Henri Matisse's paintings, with their strict boundaries; I often prefer the fluid images, with deeper hues in the works by Franz Marc.

On Bamboo
While a tasty treat for both humans and their panda bear counterparts, bamboo is also used in both construction and weaponry as proven in many films starring Jackie Chan.

On Carpentry
Traditionally, Amish carpentry has been regaled for it's brilliance and durability, but few know about the magic behind their artistry. The Amish, usually, do not use electricity. This means everything must be hand crafted, or at least all tools are man powered. But there is no magic in man-powered means, so how do they make these magical? Cow farts. I know it sounds gross, but when you have to finish a product and sun light is getting dim, and your candles are only so bright, how do you illuminate your work area? Cow farts in a jar. It's really just the methane gas ignited, but it sounds better when you say cow farts. And that bit of ignited gas creates a magic that can be felt and smelled in every piece of Amish carpentry.

On Dolphins
Most people see the intelligence and cute chirping as evidence that Dolphins are not only sentient but are kind as well. Those people are highly unaware of the vicious dolphin attacks perpetrated against humans on a daily basis. These under water "friends" maintain a highly active network of crime, debauchery and violence and will stop at nothing to destroy life as we know it. Also shredded bits of Dolphin in your tuna can make tuna tastier.

On Protractors
Many people know that protractors date back to ancient times and are used for building, in navigation and astronomy. Few people know that the Protractor, when sharpened is quite the weapon and was used as the initial blade in the original Guillotine. The rounded design was later ditched for an angled blade that we still see used today.

On ProTractors
Group of farmers that pushed for the invention and use of tractors at the turn of the century. Typically staunch animal rights activists who felt that a horse's or cattle's place was in the kitchen baking instead of in the field working.

Personally, I find it hard to get through any text without ample images to keep my interest intact. Therefore, I've included a plethora of photographs, diagrams and drawings similar to the one pictured below:

On fire


Frankly, it's probably too much to ask of people who want my answers to read these books instead of just using the google, but I know that when the Internet finally dies, my books will remain and be the only source of knowledge for the human race (eat that World Book Encyclopedia!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So NaNo Ended

I didn't break the 19k mark of typed words (I did have a bit handwritten that had yet to be typed - but no where near 50k). I guess it was too much to expect to do everything and complete a novel in a month. Such is life.
To help me feel better about it, my sister Cecy sent me this image:
Perhaps next year will be more successful and potentially more nautical.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

NaNoWriMo has a new feature, that shows you more in-depth information about your word stats. I think this feature is very cool, but also makes the entire process more daunting. As we're reaching the mid-month point, here are my stats:
The most jarring, and possible most hilarious part of the stats is the part where it tells you when you will finish, if you keep up this rate of writing:
If only life didn't get in the way every November. At this rate, I'll be lucky to meet last year's impossibly low number of 20,000 words (roughly). But I guess it's all about the work and not the finished product, right?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gabby & Chewie Comic Strip #1

The highly anticipated comic strip is finally here; a comedic documentation of all things
Gabby and Chewie!
This first strip explains why I don't ask my cats to do anything.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

In honor of the holiday, I'll say a few words.

I don't like Halloween. Maybe this makes me one of the minority, but I have my reasons.

1. Free candy. Why do I want to hand out candy to kids who have done nothing for me? Maybe, if each kid raked a few leaves in my yard as they made their way either up to my porch or back down from it, I would consider giving them free candy. I'd be more inclined to see them work first, as many would probably run away with candy in hand if I let them rake after they got their candy. Frankly, I don't think many kids would even stop by my place if I was standing in the yard with a rake over my head screaming: "Work for your candy, you ingrates!" That scene might actually get me kicked out of the neighborhood...

2. I don't like to be scared. I grew up in a household in a very scary household that taught you to be always on the defense, so why in the world would I want to go out in the world and have strangers provoke me?

3. Costumes are always a let down. Either they fail in presentation, or other people don't get it and you feel stupid having chosen an unrecognizable costume. I guess it has to do with audience, wearing a phantom of the opera costume to the library probably wasn't going to get a whole lot of recognition by school children. But, in my defense, they also didn't recognize the costume of Indiana Jones or Ash Ketchum. I think the kids might be slow, obviously there is nothing wrong with my costuming abilities.

4. I'm not a party person. I enjoy quiet nights at home. I don't go out much and I don't do a lot, so why would I be interested in an evening just for partying and "getting crazy"? I like to keep my pride, my friends and my possessions intact, I don't care how funny the story would be years to come when everyone remembers that one Halloween when my house got vandalized, I beat up my best friend in a drunken rage and there were pictures all over the net documenting all of it including my wardrobe malfunction.

5. Traditionally, Halloweens are crappy for me. Like the one Halloween when a girl cut across the parking lot in broad daylight and slammed into my car? Yeah, like that.

In defense of the holiday, I have had at least one good Halloween. One year, my sister was coming out to help hand out candy, and I said to my sister, "I hope we have a lot of Halloweeners" and she heard "Hollow wieners" and she brought a bunch of hot dogs that she had personally hollowed out the centers of. Luckily, they didn't go to waste, as we filled them with highly processed cheese and had a feast.

The best part of that story is that to have a fun Halloween experience, I have to make it up. Good times.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why NaNoWriMo?

I recently mentioned to one of my sisters, that I would be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, and she asked me why. I guess with everything else I'm doing, she didn't think I'd have time. And I probably don't, but this got me thinking. Why NaNoWriMo?




I think one of the biggest pitfalls for writers is not writing. How is this possible? Well, when you're faced with a big project isn't it just easier to do the dishes and watch TV? So NaNoWriMo forces us to write for one month, as much as we can, and kind of makes up for the other 11 months were we did no writing. Right? Not really, but it helps. For any writer who is having trouble just putting pen to paper, NaNoWriMo helps push them to write. So I'm doing it again this year in hopes that I'll finally get some writing done to file away with all of my other unpublishable novels.

To get any potential writers in the mood for the upcoming write fest, here is a convo I had with a fellow writer about NaNoWriMo. As you can see, before the month already starts, I'm defeating myself.

Some background information: I'm currently working on an outline for a story, which may be a post apocalyptic thriller, similar to the Road by Cormac McCarthy which my sister Cecy has easily summarized with the words: "The Road was dark and murky, a durky durky turkey." I never read the book, since she explained that it's just that phrase printed over and over again. How they made a movie out of it, I'll never know...


me: Did you decide what to write about for NANOWRIMO?

Andrew: No, still not sure
How’s your outline going? Still going to write the story about the night people?


me: I'm not sure

I feel like I keep trying to write the same story again and again and I don't want it to be like that
Andrew: yeah


me: I just get ideas in my head and I'm like "That would be great!" but I can't use it in every story


Andrew: work it into one story, one long kickass story

me: then it would be crap, everything I ever thought was cool in one story would be like a cowboy zombedy alien adventure post apocalyptic magical story with shamanic elements and historically inaccurate characters and some people with mutant abilities and the potential for talking animals and mythological beings

Andrew: soooo

Youth fiction?

me: plus ninjas, pirates, time travelers and cyborgs and other things I can't think of right now but I'd have to add later

Juvenile Fic

At best


Andrew: well

hmm
you could easily write a book about zombies and ninjas

me: I could write a book about a lot of things, the problem is, is that when I start outlining something and I think "I should add this" but then I realize that it doesn't really fit I just think it's cool so I want to add it to everything
like every post apocalyptic story I think of I always want to add someone who can make references to our time

because I think that's funny

but I can't do it every time

because then it's boring

and doesn't always make sense


Andrew: then stop adding things!


me: Its hard outlining and creating characters when I keep falling back into what I want every story to have
so I'm struggling with the outline so far


Andrew: do what i did last year

get an idea

jump in

don’t really know what happens

it’s hard because you can sit on a page for a while

other times its easy because the idea is so raw and pure that you can just get cracking on it like no other

me: I worry about just going in circles, or missing gaps because I don't have a set path

Andrew: well
you go over the path then you patch up any major gaps on the edit
it’s not perfect but it’s something


me: yeah

Andrew: and it’s fun to do it free flowing because instead of writing about the coffee shop shes about to walk into, you may notice a shop next to it that lures her in first
me: it's just scary to jump without a safety net

Andrew: but you have a good story idea in the post apoc
That’s your net
you have ideas and plans for it


me: I guess I just want it to be amazing but I can't steal aspects from other stories to make it amazing, it has to be unique

and potentially not amazing

Andrew: well that happens
but it will be good

pretty sure


me: I'm going to write a blog post about Nanowrimo and some of this convo might appear in it
just fyi


Andrew: kk

me: it's so much easier to find material for blog posts than for novels

Andrew: make a blog book

me: been doneI need more durky durky turkey for my novel
it has to be 'The Road 2: Extra Durky, less Turkey"


Andrew: More Murky

me: and a whole lotta road
Andrew: nice

I wouldn’t worry too much about it jen, it’s like 3 pages a day average to hit the 50k mark
if you don’t like what you got, redo it


me: i guess I just don't want to fail again nor do I want to come up with unusable junk
I expect too much

it's like the book Great Expectations but poorly written

and starring me

Friday, October 15, 2010

Post 100!

So a few posts ago was post 100! Who knew I would finally make it to post 100! Unfortunately I was caught completely unawares and it was a pretty uneventful post. But the mile marker is still there, or the milestone, rather. I guess it doesn’t matter if it was with a bang or a blah as long as it existed right?

Anyways, now we’ve reached over 100 posts with this blog. Makes sense since it has been going on for about 3 years now, and I guess I haven’t run out of ideas yet. Now if I could just get them all typed up and posted...

Thank you to all of my loyal readers who have been there with me since the beginning and to all of the future readers and everyone who will be there with me until the end :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

AHHHHH - Brain Explosion!

So I keep starting and stopping posts. Most are duds, some might be promising, but I just can't focus on any to make them good enough. Will this post be good enough? No, but it's the product of finally giving up and just putting something down on the web - that sticky, sticky web full of other abandoned insect corpses, dust and the occasional predatory spider.

Here is a list of post ideas I've worked on and then abandoned. Maybe you'll see them in a future post. If so or if not, you at least can see what craziness I'm dealing with:


Rip Van Winkle – funnier than it seems.


Clich├ęs – Not sure where I was going with this one.


Bad Movies I've enjoyed.


Workin' and Schoolin' – I think the title is probably only as bad as the content, which means it's probably a post flop.


Carrot Shoots and Weeds – about my now expired vegetable garden, which wasn't expired when I first came up with this idea.


Key Chains – Apparently this seemed interesting…for half a second.


Revisiting the Pie Chart of Motivation


The Philosophy of Styx – the band, not the river


Amazon.com and My Personal Preferences – Those commies think they know me so well…


Should people who tell bad jokes be arrested?

Pop Authors – Writing for a buck not for the art


Sugar Makes Me Rageful – Need I say more?


Script Writing – Which I know little about…


Titles – I think I've done this before but I wanted a second stab at this subject.


Raptor Con 2009 – Obviously missed the boat on that one.


These are just the ones I started on the blog, not counting all of the notes I have floating around
my house with ideas. I even have one draft online that is just full of pictures of my cat Gabby, not sure where I was going with that one…

So why am I not writing all of this out for my lovely readers to enjoy? Well, I'm lazy. It's not just that, I'm also busy, but that's not much of an excuse now is it? I have a good, solid fear of redundancy which limits my creative talents, have I said that before? Maybe I should delete it for fear of repeating myself. Hmmm.

I also think, being afraid of failure, I just don't do stuff for fear of doing crap poorly. I know that by looking at my blog you'll be like: "Jenny, so much of your blog is full of ridiculous junk, I think you're lying when you say you only bring your 'A' game to these posts." Maybe you're right, maybe some of my posts are 'B' game or even 'C' game, but I never bring a 'D' game post to this blog and that is a guarantee.


So along with work, school, and trying to bring my 'C' game or higher to this blog, I've been requested to add my "expertise" to another site (videojug.com - has anyone even heard of this?) which is probably good to get the PR but bad for my already limited abilities to keep up with ANYTHING, and now NANOWRIMO is upon us again. How can I do it all without the inevitable Brain Explosion?!?!?!?!?!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Are Mutant Powers Racist?

Perhaps this is the big pink elephant in the room, but I think it needs to be said.


Every day when I'm at work and I go to the bathroom, I get to see a DC Comic poster full of DC comic characters. It's astounding to me that so many of these people with mutant or superhuman powers are white. I'm not sure what kind of statement DC is trying to make, but it seems to me that this goes pretty across the board for comic books. It might be because more white people read comics (is this true?), or it might be due to inbreeding.



Traditionally, mutations occur in nature when a species procreates with a creature very close to it's own bloodline. Consider the cheetah. Due to disease, loss of habitat, competition for prey and over-hunting of prey (leading to starvation), the overall population of cheetahs is very low. This means there is a very small gene pool to choose from when procreating, leading to many issues for the cheetah community such as a reduction in fertility, loss of immune system in subsequent generations and genetic disorders. Now this is where the connection comes in. Genetic disorders, often considered negative, really are just abnormalities in genes or chromosomes. What else is an abnormality in genes? The X gene, or the part of the DNA which makes a normal person an X-man or villain, depending on their goals, dreams and general outlook on life.


I'm not saying that inbreeding is the only way to obtain an X-gene or any other genetic anomaly which may or may not create mutant powers, but with all these white people running around getting powers while minorities don't, it really starts to make you wonder. Perhaps Jean Grey and Scott are 1st cousins and don't even know it. Either way, I think it's quite odd that if you look at a poster of comic book characters you'll see a lot of white people, a few green people, maybe some blue, silver, or pink people and then a couple (if even) people of other races.



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Theme Songs

I'm a big fan of utilizing music while writing. I think that music holds so much inspiritation that it can really help an author's mind develop scenes and charaters. There are many artists and composers that succesfully inspire me and my creative endeavors. One such composer is, unfortunately, John Williams.

I say unfortunately because while he writes decent music, okay better than decent, good music that is very visually stimulating, which makes sense why he's always asked to write for movies, but! he often steals from his own work which really pisses me off. Why should I care about such trivial things? Consider this, I'm watching Indiana Jones and I'm all like "ooh, here's the Nazi theme" and then I'm watching Star Wars and I'm all like: "There's the storm troopers and WHAT?!? it's the Nazi theme from Indiana Jones!" I don't like the soundtrack of a movie to confuse me. So other than the prevasive stealing, Williams is relatively alright as a composer.

I'm not a fan of embedding video in my blog, just like pictures and websites, when these things change I'm not ontop of it enough to go back and fix the broken links and lost videos; but to get my point across I have to share some of his music. One of Williams' best works, in my opinion:




I also listened recently to a Yo-Yo Ma piece that I enjoyed which apparently is written by Williams and preformed by him and Yo-Yo Ma (Williams is the pianist). I couldn't find this easily on the web, but it's on Yo-Yo's CD Appassionato. This piece, after several listens, upped my opinion of Williams although I still rue the day his music suggested that storm troopers (who are really just simple minded clones you know) are Nazis.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why Time Travel?

Why not time travel is what you should really be asking! ;p

With all of the travel shows that dominate my PBS station and the fact that cable even has some travel channels, why is it that we are limited to the here and now? I guess Doctor Who is supposed to be our time travel show, but that show always has aliens and everyone knows that aliens only started "hanging out" in the 1980s (kind of explains leg warmers, Boy George and Karma Chameleon (You come and go, come and goOoOoOo - obviously an alien reference)).


Anyways, in response to the lack of a true exploration of time, I'm going to continue to share some of my time travel exploits here.


Recently, on a boring Saturday morning, I decided to jump into my space time continuum vessel, and visit my old friend Artie Doyle. Since we're both bored, we decide to work on a new character for him, some fellow named Sherlock Holmes.

Now, Artie is convinced that this Holmes character is based on me because I'm so clever and sleuthy, but he forgets that there is a real Holmes that we both hang out with. I already expounded on Holmes in an earlier post. But this post isn't about Holmes as much as it's about Artie Doyle who forgets Holmes for two reasons. One, Holmes is a pretty boring guy and even after you get to know him and his eccentricities, he only becomes a little less boring. To be so uninteresting, you're sure to be forgotten by Artie. The second reason that Artie forgets Holmes the man, instead of Holmes the character, is because Artie is a bit of an alcoholic, and by "a bit" I mean raging, with a continuous amount of alcohol in his system which registers his blood at 90% alcohol content (How is that possible? I don't know, ask a 19th century scientist). Anyways, with the blase feelings about Holmes the man, and the alcohol essentially living in his veins, Artie is forgetful. So we spend a few hours working on Holmes, the detective, and laugh about good times; like the dozen or so times that the doctor at the scene of a crime was familiar with Artie's blood alcohol content (or just alcohol content since the blood was pretty much non-existent) and thought that he could use Artie's blood on a victim as antiseptic because he didn't believe in blood pathogens - remembering this still makes us laugh until tears come to our eyes. Oh how many people probably died from using his blood to save their lives, good times.


Anyways, we originally wrote Holmes the character as a bumbling fussbucket but Artie got sentimental and made him into the best sleuth ever and when I accused him of trying to live precariously through Holmes he got mad and insisted that that is what every writer does.


"Create something wonderful to make up for your failings, build a character that you can live through so you don't have to live your own pathetic life," he said, or something along those lines.


I could see that his tiny speech had exhausted him along with our hours of work so as he fell asleep by the fire I tucked the Holmes manuscripts away for him to find on a more sober day and I returned home to my own bed and my own dreams.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guest Post: Author Joe Swope On Recording Your Own Audio Book

Having recently published his first fantasy novel Need for Magic, Author Joe Swope produced and recorded his own audio book. Here, he shares how he did it and how other authors can too. Please also check out the audio samples on his website: www.knowyourneed.com/audiosamples.html

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Recording Your Own Audio Book



While I am not ready to agree that print is a dead media, I can’t help but notice that most of the people I see not only have a cell phone or iPod on them at all times, they are actively using it most of the time. So how does a writer compete? Simple - turn the book into an audio book.

I did it and you can too. Let me first say, it is not easy. In fact, it can be very time consuming. Still, there is something almost magical about hearing your words come to life with emotion, accents and energy.

There are several things you will need. The first is a voice. While it is perfectly okay to use your own voice, (who knows your story better?) there are advantages to using someone else's. A friend or fellow writer is an obvious choice. An overlooked source of voice talent is young actors. Most community colleges and universities have drama departments. There are tons of students who would jump at the chance to practice their skills and generate the necessary drama that might make your story something special. Of course, there is the issue of compensation. Young actors who do not have a lot of work opportunities might work cheap, including simply the promise of exposure as you promote your work. A percentage of revenue might also be appropriate. Whatever you do, if it involves someone else, get everything in writing.

The next thing you will need is equipment. A surprisingly little amount of equipment is needed. Any computer (desktop, laptop or net-book) will do. Even better than that, there is plenty of audio editing software that is free and easily downloadable. I used Audacity. It was easy to use, flexible and powerful. It allows for detailed editing, deleting, cutting pasting and other functions. The next piece of equipment you will need is a quality microphone. I used a high quality USB enabled microphone by Logictech. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money here. A good microphone will allow your story to sound rich. A bad one will not. After you have a computer, (if you don’t how are you reading this?), the software and a microphone it is time to record.

OK, now that it is time to record, you must find the space to record. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect. Despite the necessity of finding a recording space with good acoustics, remember that you are not recording music and that the bar can be lowered considerably from that standard. The first thing you need to recognize is that almost any room in any modern building has air vents that push air in and pull air out. That quality microphone you just bought will pick up that sound. Once you know the worst culprit of background noise it is easy to eliminate it. Either find a room without vents or turn off the system. The next acoustic threat is echoes. Most tables are hard and you will probably set your microphone on a table as you sit to read your writing into the microphone. Cover the table with a thick towel or blanket. Make sure the floor is covered with a rug or carpet. Hard walls will, of course, echo. Cinder block will echo more than more absorbent drywall. Cover at least half of the walls with sound absorbing material. A thick blanket will work. Check stores that sell bedding supplies. Egg crate foam that goes under mattresses can easily be attached to and removed from most walls. If the table, floor and most of the walls are covered, you are probably ready. The ceiling shouldn’t need to be covered. Of course you might need to experiment. A word of caution here: most audio editing software packages can do a lot of things, but if the background noise is too much, even the best software cannot take out the noise without ruining the recording.
One of the unanticipated but powerful benefits of creating an audio version of your writing is that by reading it or hearing it read by others, you are going over it with the finest tooth comb possible. Typos, grammar issues and other imperfections cannot hide when all of your words are said allowed and examined.

Perhaps the most important tip for writers who are considering this is to listen to audio books. Often writer create stories in genres with which they are familiar. That makes sense and allows for a better story. Take some time, rent or buy a few audio books. Listen to them and enjoy them. More importantly, study them; focus on the voice, the cadence, the sound quality. What about a good audio book makes you forget you’re listening? Find that quality and put it into your own version.

It might take a while to get the hang of deleting coughs, giggles, and other unwanted noises. Have a bit of patience and you will soon be able to enjoy and share your writing in a new and enjoyable way.

Joe Swope
Author of Need for Magic
www.knowyourneed.com


Monday, August 23, 2010

Let's Talk About Flash Fiction

In the past, I dabbled in flash fiction. This can be any genre of fiction, but within a very tight word count limit. Usually 1,000 words or 500 words. There are even people that will publish flash fiction and there are awards you can win (usually monetary) for having "amazing" flash fiction pieces. I guess in a world where we want our information to be short and sweet, stories are trying to fit that mold to stay alive.

It can be considered tough to fit a story into so few words, but I'm a very "Are we there yet?" kind of person, and I find it hard to write 1,000 page tomes, so 1,000 words is right up my alley. I wrote a couple of pieces that I'm willing to call my own and I'll share one with you here.

This is a 1,000 word piece based on the idiocracy of vampires. Just becoming a creature of the night doesn't remove the human attribute of stupidity. You can decide if this very short story still holds the same weight as one that is fluffed up with excess words and sentiments.
Even Vampires Can Be Morons.
By Jennifer Innes


It was late June when Thaddius arrived. He seemed like a normal wanderer, looking for something in our town that few of us were sure we could give. A lost soul, perhaps; a man who needed a sense of purpose, a life of his own.
I guess the signs were all there; aversion to sunlight, wandering into town at night, only out during the early morning and after dusk; even a dislike for Sally Mae’s award winning garlic pie and more so, the refusal to go to church. We had assumed he just wasn’t Christian, and a good Christian doesn’t turn people away due to a difference of opinion, so we all let Thaddius into our lives and one by one we began to change.

The citizens of Sweet Lake had no desire to turn away a man in need and each tried to do what they could to help Thaddius find what he was looking for. Unfortunately, for these people, what he was looking for was human souls – for Thaddius was a vampire.

It was strange to see mothers attacking their children and grandfathers attacking small boys. My understanding of vampire activity was that feeding on other humans was either an act of anger or an act of lust. Now that can’t be true because mothers don’t hate their children and old men don’t lust after boys, right?

It seemed that our town was done in for, that no entity could save us, not even Jesus himself would come down from the heavens and put an end to this nonsense Thaddius had created. But then Johnny preacher came into town.

Johnny was a young lad who periodically visited the area towns spreading the word of God. He seemed to be looking for a place to settle down, but since we already had our own preacher and our own church, we didn’t need Johnny’s preaching, but being good Christians we didn’t turn him away. Now, some might say, being good Vampires we didn’t send him away, but most of the vampires were sleeping when he came into town.

He came straightway to my house, knowing I’m the oldest and wisest in the town. He wanted to know why the town wasn’t bustling, why the shops and school were empty. I explained our current predicament and then he wanted to know why I was saved from satan’s sinners. I had just figured, being the oldest and wisest, people kept away out of respect or fear – thinking that I knew a way to stop them. But in these situations, knowledge doesn’t work as well as faith. I’d been praying, but I had no solution until Johnny came to town and once Johnny heard all about this Thaddius ruckus, he decided that God had sent him to our small town with the mission to end this infernal creature’s damnation of our people.

Now, I know you’re wondering why an old man like myself would care about all this nonsense. Well, when they brought in the television, I tried not to mind, and when they brought in the internet, I kept my mouth shut. These devices changed lives, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but people remained relatively normal as times changed. But this Thaddius had no sense of good about him. Because of him, hate, lust and just plain laziness consumed our town. I mean, spending your day in front of the T.V. wasn’t the best way to use your life, but at least you weren’t out harassing people, attacking people and refusing to go to work because your shift happens to be scheduled during daylight hours. This town needed its order restored, and I really hoped Johnny would do the trick.

With bible in hand, Johnny waited outside the local bar. Once the sun drifted beneath the horizon, with its last blades of light shining dimly, people started strolling out of their homes as if they owned the place. Technically, Billy, a newly christened vampire, actually owned the bar, but everyone else was just pretending, as if the world was now their oyster, almost as if vampirism gave them a new sense of purpose, a life more meaningful than living as a good Christian. Anyways, Johnny started preaching at the top of his lungs, yelling at the miscreants to turn back to God, to turn away from their evil misdirections. From within the crowd, Thaddius marched up to Johnny, looked him square in the eye and asked: “Wha’dya think yer doin’?”
Johnny looked straight into this mask of satan and felt more fear strike him than he had ever felt before. He quickly turned tail and ran towards MacMill’s forest. Thaddius decided to chase down this meal and a big chase ensued, with other citizens following to see if they could procure their own bite of this novice preacher.

Now, many people often forget that MacMill’s Forest holds the finest pines in the entire State. People come from all around to saw off limbs to use for medicinal purposes. This wouldn’t matter much to normal town folk, but vampires running blindly through the forest in the dark as just asking to get skewed. All of the commotion came to a close, as Thaddius, ran himself right into one of these sawed off limbs on one of the sturdy pines.

Sweet Lake is now getting back into the old swing of things, as all of its citizens were returned to normal once their king was destroyed. A few people are missing, though, one being our old preacher. Gossip says he either got himself spiked by a pine limb or left town because of what he had done to some of his younger parish, but we’ve all sinned while the devil was in us and that’s the first bit of our new preacher’s sermon today. Forgive lest ye be denied forgiveness, says Johnny, pastor of the church in the small town of No Vampires Allowed Sweet Lake.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

OMG

How time flies. It's already August 12th and my classes start up again August 16th (apparently New Mexico doesn't celebrate Labor Day) so I'm going to be swamped again with school work and work work, so the blog will probably suffer a little.

Nothing funny has been of note lately. The funniest thing that happened this week was when my cats got really sad because I told them that since we were having company, they'd have to wear their pants. It's one thing when it's just me hanging around, but we have to pretend to be polite when others are visiting.

Speaking of cats, I'm working on a series of comics about my cats, to be revealed once I finish them and scan them on someone's computer.

Speaking of computers, my netbook's cord is no longer registering as being plugged in, or the netbook isn't registering, therefore I'm completely off computers at home until I can buy some new cords.

Speaking of c(h)ords, the musical is coming a long slowly. Thank you for asking :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Personal Update

I know I don't talk about myself a lot on here, I figure it's boring. But I needed a post, so I'll bore my dear reader(s?) with some crap that's happening in my life. Very stream of consciousness, if you will...

Need to get 3 more hours of work done today, not sure if that'll happen. I'm looking at pictures on facebook and getting sad. Softball is over and probably won't happen again. I guess I thought that when I stopped playing ball in high school, but then I got the chance to play again in like 2002, and then to play again this year, so maybe in a few years I'll play again, if anyone needs a sucky batter ;p. I find Facebook to be more depressing than anything else. Yeah, it's fun to play farmville, and interesting to see where people are at in their lives but it's terribly sad being "friends" with people on fb but not actually talking to any of them in real life. It's awkward even attempting to contact people on fb. It's like "Thanks for adding me as a friend, now let us never talk again" not like we were talking prior to the add but we definitely aren't talking after so is it like you've added me and I've added you just so we can feel better about the fact that we have so many fb friends even if we don't have friends in real life? There are two types of people on fb, that I run into, those that will ask to be your friend, and those who won't (but will accept your request). For me, I rarely ask anyone to be my friend on fb, assuming they'll say no, and so a lot of people I'm friends with are friends with a lot of people I could be friends with if I asked, but I don't ask, so then I assume people don't like me because they are friends with other people but not friends with me on FB. BUT, the aspect of "friends" on fb is just a joke anyways, so why do I even care? Most of the people on here, I haven't seen/spoken to in 10 years (roughly) so it's also sad for them to see and for me to see how unsuccessful we've all been in achieving the things we wanted to achieve by this point. FB is just one big depression train. I also have a cold in my throat, which doesn't help my current mood/outlook. I've got some antibiotics which took a less than 10 minute visit to the Dr, but 45 minutes at the pharmacist. Then I realized that I'm going to have to chug yogurt by the gallon for the next week, which isn't as fun as it sounds. Trust me. He also gave me some cough syrup with codeine. Pain medicine tends to make me vomit everywhere, so I asked if it would make me sick. He said no, especially since I'll be sleeping after I take it (I should be taking it before I got to bed at night), but hasn't he ever heard of someone getting sick while sleeping and waking up to puke everywhere? What about those people who puke everywhere while sleeping and then die because they suffocate on their own vomit? I know that they were binge drinking, but still, it could happen to me, right? I paid the 2 dollars for the cough syrup, so I guess I should use it, in theory. Maybe it'll be help and I'll love it, or maybe I'll have the worst night of sleep imaginable, with waking up several times to clean up my codeine explosions. We'll see.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Play That Piany For Me

Due to some unforeseen changes, I am housing a piano. Why do I care to mention it? Well, I'm quite the jingle maker. I wouldn't compare myself to the Gershwins, because the one time I did, George suffered from a stroke and I was blamed for his death, similar to the time that I told Gene Kelly that I was a better singer, dancer, choreographer and all-around-man than he was. I waited a bit too long to tell him it was a joke (you know I love you Gene) but hurt his ego so bad that it ruined our friendship and led to many years of drug abuse, drinking, womanizing and depression (all on my part).

Long story short, this piano will afford me more time to make jingles and to continue to write my musical:

It's a mixture between Joseph and the Amazing technicolor Dream Coat (Oh so many colors, and biblical tales), Gypsy (striptease anyone?), Fiddler on the Roof (religious oppression) and some various other musicals about people trying to succeed in life through song and dance. Look for it soon!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Two Indelible Truths

Dear person who potentially punched out a car window at the library,

We found the remains of the window early Monday morning but saw that the assaulted vehicle had found its way out of our lot. This is both good and bad. Good, because I didn't want to have to tow an abandoned vehicle, and bad because I had to sweep up the glass.

Perhaps the glass wasn't from a car you punched in our lot, but one you punched off-site and you then brought over the glass to our lot to dissuade people from parking at the library. If so, then the joke's on you because nothing deters our patrons from parking here. Even as the patrons claimed that the glass was blocking two spots, they still were parking in those spots.

I tried once, to do as you have done, not with punching cars, but with digging pits and lighting tires on fire. It was a Saturday afternoon, we were bored to tears and we wanted to go home. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but even a fiery pit did not allow us to close (Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor tornadoes, nor hurricanes, nor earthquakes, nor loss of electricity, nor unusable facilities, nor zombie attacks, nor apocalypse, nor raptor attacks, nor robot attacks, nor alien invasion, nor state issued weather advisories with "do not drive on the roads unless you absolutely have to" stipulations, nor fiery pits stays these library workers from the swift completion of their appointed service).


Since the fiery pit neither let us close, nor stopped people from parking in our lot, then your tiny-in-comparison glass fiasco obviously wouldn't do the trick. Perhaps you should have asked my advice first, before coming up with and executing this scheme.

While it's been quoted that there is nothing guaranteed in life but death and taxes, the truth is, there's nothing guaranteed in life except that people will always park at the library, and that the library never makes unscheduled closings.

Sincerely,


Local library worker

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wearing Sunglasses At Night

I need to stop taking backroads after dark. It wouldn't be so bad if nocturnal animals weren't on the loose, but I continuously have close calls with all sorts of night-time creatures.

The other day I was driving about 50mph on a backroad, it was dark (sky was a bit overcast and the sun was down) and as I came over a hill Inoticed something huge in the middle of the road. Sitting on the median was a large racoon. Or a baby in a racoon suit. Or this guy:



I noticed this creature as I was upon him, and missed him by inches. It's one thing if an animal runs across the road, but he was just sitting up and staring at the oncoming cars. I think he must have been swiped by another vehicle and was in a bit of shock, and was handing out that shock to everyone who passed him and yelled "OMG!" like I did.'


Now, I'm just left with the mystery. Was it a very large racoon in the road or something else. Let's see.


Hmmm...I still can't decide, maybe I should have stopped for a DNA sample instead of zooming past.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Delicious Dreams and Cake Realities

I always think cake decorating is easy, until it's hour 6, the kitchen is 80 degrees, the fondant is gooey, the frosting is melting and the 4-tier cake is leaning worse than that stupid tower in Pisa. At the end of all that crap, it looked like a kindergartner came over to decorate it.

The quest for this beautiful design turned monstrosity started last year. Before we signed up for who we would make birthday cakes for at work, I heard about the first year one of my co-workers worked at our branch. Apparently no one had signed up for her birthday treat and when someone finally did, instead of writing their name on the sign up form they wrote her name and for a moment she was under the impression that she would have to provide her own birthday treat. Hearing about this, and knowing what it's like to have people forget or not appreciate your birthday, I felt compelled to do something amazing this year for her treat.

The first concept was something simple, yet delicious but it soon blossomed into a 4 tiered cake (fun-fetti and strawberry) with Rainbow and Monkey as themes. I utilized basic frosting (vanilla), Runts (the fruit hard candies) and homemade marshmallow fondant.

Fondant quickly became Fondon't in my book. This was almost a complete disaster. I made a way too large batch which would not take to the color I wanted (brown for monkeys) and ultimately only made 1 pasty fat man with a tail who sweats when he gets too warm (the fondant gets gooey when the temperature is too high). After hours trying to make the fondant monkey I finally decided to still use it. I wanted to have a joyful monkey sliding down a rainbow but it kind of fell short.
I made a pretty successful rainbow with light and a prism but the conceptual design fell short of impressing the cake eaters, so my second design was made with colored sugar.

There's not a whole lot more I can say, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:
So here's a good side shot of the cake. You can see the rainbow, which was pretty decent and the runts which sunk down the side of the frosting as it melted.
Here's the top of the cake, what's that? A fat and sweaty man with a tail?

I think it must be a fat and sweaty man with a tail sliding down that rainbow.

Yep, he's pretty fat and sweaty. Better luck next time.

Oh, but the inside is a rainbow as well, how delicious!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Still Workin' for a Livin'

So apparently, Huey Lewis doesn't have enough money to roll around in anymore and is back on the streets making a few dollars. Good thing music isn't the same thing as food, if someone tried to sell me a bologna sandwich from 1982 I wouldn't buy it, but if you try to sell me a ticket to a concert where I'm guaranteed to hear some 80s hits, I'd probably buy it, as long as it was cheap, and they were good 80s hits.

Back in the 80s, Huey went on his "Workin' for a Livin'" tour, because back then he was working for a living instead of living off record and merchandise sales and tell all books.

Now he's back with the "Still Workin' for a Livin'" tour. Unfortunately, he's not working too hard, since he cancelled his highly anticipated Australian visit (first time in more than 20 years). Guess he had better things to do like preparing his "Still Not Working Hard Enough For a Living to Go to Australia Tour: 2011".

Friday, June 25, 2010

Being Sick

No body likes a cry baby. Even crying babies don't like themselves (why do you think they cry so much - stop with the self hate baby!). But I have to complain, it's in my nature. I don't complain too often, unless I know you well, then you get to hear about it all the time.

I like to spare my readers from my usual whinyness, but today is an exception to the rule. I feel horrible. Stuck at work until 7:15pm only to come back tomorrow for another 6 hrs :( I've got some sort of throat cold, which seems to be moving into my chest. I hate sore throats, it's like don't they understand that most people can't just quit living for a week while they get better? If only I had a robotic machine that spoke for me, then maybe I'd feel a little better. The only thing worse than the pain of a sore throat is the taste, it's like something is dying in my mouth over and over again. I can only imagine what other people must think if they happen to smell my breath (Did you eat 2 week old dead skunk again? I know it looks tasty on the side of the road, but really...).

So with the throat and chest pain, the nausea, the fever and the general achiness and discomfort I'm just a barrel of rainbows and cheeky monkies. The last thing I want to do right now is help people with stupid questions (Is the express check the only way to check out anymore? Yes lady, my coworker and I, both stationed at computers under signs that say "check-out" are actually only the bodyguards of the express check out and we're here not to help but only to ensure that you don't blow up the express checkout) and pretend to be nice to people I don't like >:0

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Funny Things

So I've felt completely stalled in posting on here especially since a lot of drama has hit the fan and I'm not excited about posting that crap, so I've been waiting for funny things to happen or to come to me so that I can expound on them here. Unfortunately it's been a very unfunny month, so I've only got a few tidbits to drop.

I decided to keep the laughs going (because what's better to get you through tough times than laughing?) and to post some jokes that came out of convos I've recently had. Hopefully you'll find them funny as well.

While working on a google spreadsheet with my sisters, we added a very complex combination of photos with unexpected results. Apparently rainbow + unicorn + kitten + smiling goat + happy cupcakes + taco = atomic bomb. I know what you're thinking, well then why did it take so long for Einstein to create this formula? Well, it's because Einstein didn't believe in unicorns and refused to include them in the formula for many years.

My sister and I were discussing the Styx song Snowblind, which obviously is about cocaine usage. Now, the actual phenomenon of becoming snowblind occurs when you get cocaine powder in your eye. Since cocaine is so expensive, you must lick your own tears or have someone else lick your face to not waste all of that coke. Just fyi. So either never become snowblind (unless you like people licking your face) or stop using the drugs foo!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Michigan History

Often when I'm sharing bits of history, like sprinkles on a delicious cake, people ask my why I don't share more bits of Michigan history. Usually I counter their requests with the truth that there is very little that happens in Michigan and even less that occurred in Michigan's long and boring history. But to allay readers, I will share a small tale of failure and lack of triumph.

As many people have chosen to forget, the Revolutionary War did not result in complete evacuation of British defenses and bullies in the U.S. After roughly 31 years of taking it in the rear, so to speak, the Americans got fed up and decided to duke it out with the British yet again. This prompted the easily distinguishable among other wars, War of 1812. What year was it fought in? 1811, j/k 1812. What year did it end? 1815. Sorry, I'll get back on track.

So in August of 1812, some fine young military men were chillin' at fort Detroit. Just hangin' and doin' as we Michiganders do. Then BAM! the British were upon us! Taken by surprise, with soldiers low and family high (who brings family to a war? Really.) General William Hull declined to fight and surrendered the Fort claiming that the Native American war cries made him afraid for his wife and children. Really. It's been suggested that he might have been heavily drinking prior to the engagement, and he's quoted saying that the Native Americans Indians were “numerous beyond example,” and “more greedy of violence… than the Vikings or Huns." Because he totally met the Vikings and the Huns to compare them to and I think if someone was all up in your business and trying to take your land you'd fight for it too, oh wait not you Billy Hull.

The best part of the entire tale is that Billy Hull was Michigan's first territorial governor in 1805, what a legacy for the state. But to commemorate the event known as the "Siege of Detroit" or what I like to call the Epic failure of one Billy Hull, I made this image:


The best part of this tale is that the surrender of Fort Detroit was the first and only time a U.S. fort has been surrendered to a foreign enemy. I salute you General Hull for believing that no amount of failure was too great to accomplish.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pop Authors

I know I've talked in the past about some of my most hated "Pop" authors. These are people who write crap fiction just to make money. Similar to pop music, they have a wide fan base and are relatively "successful" in their field because they can ride out waves of popularity. These novels will never become "classics" ( just thinking about a group of literature students reading James Patterson makes me weep) but that doesn't help the self esteem of authors who are attempting to write good and meaningful fiction.

Also, to go back to my old argument about the validity of speculative fiction, I'd like to point out that a lot of speculative fiction, although shunned by "literary buffs" is good and meaningful. Consider Cormac McCarthy's The Road. This is a novel set in the apocalyptic future (sci-fi) but has been met with critical acclaim. There are many authors out there that are making statements with their writing (not just trying to make a buck) but because it's in the genre of speculative fiction it gets overlooked. Consider Octavia E. Butler's Kindred. This is a novel, that if it didn't have the aspect of time travel *gasp* could potentially be considered just as important to Women's literature and African American literature as Beloved and The Color Purple.

Perhaps someday we'll live in a world that can look past genre for merit and look past pop fiction for entertainment.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Inaccuracies Found In Children's Books

So some people consider me inaccurate, but have you ever read a children's book?

Consider, if you will, this book:





The first seemingly inaccurate thing that caught my eye is the cat over his shoulder.

I didn't think there would be a cat lounging around, so I did some independent research.

Apparently cats like to be on ships and do all sorts of things like kill rodents, predict weather and determine the final voyage of the ship (I learned this from wikipedia, not the book). Drake's ship experience was no exception, and the story relates a time when the ship's cat fell overboard and he was kind enough to save it (if only he had that much compassion while killing hundreds of Spaniards) and I was like "Okay, I can possibly accept that, although no credible source backs that up. I mean, where are the footnotes and experts in this book?" Then the story of saving the cat took another turn that I just didn't think was accurate.

So Drake jumps in to save the cat but the rough waters make it so that someone has to save Drake, so then up comes this guy:


Really? You're telling me that the water skiing squirrel was around in the 1500s and this is the first I'm hearing about it? From a children's book? And he just happened to be riding by. What vehicle was pulling him? A magical water chariot steered by mermaids and pulled by seahorses? Really.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Survive a Bearshark Attack

Since I'm an expert on mythological creatures (mythological meaning creatures most people want to believe exist only in fairytales and nightmares), I've been asked to explain what to do in case of a bearshark attack.

First, let me explain what a bearshark is. Full bear, full shark, this monstrosity has been described as a land, water and air (when the bear throws the shark) predatory. Usually seen as unstoppable, I'm here to break the myth.

How did the bearshark come to be? There are disputes on the origins of the bearshark, but to me it's obvious. The enemy of my enemy is my friend is a commonplace saying in both the bear and shark community so it was only a matter of time before these two creatures joined forces against their common enemy: humans. Originally this allegiance was formed to protect their families and their homeland, but both of these creatures are coldblooded killers so while their agenda is based in protection they ultimately fall into war paths of death and destruction.

How a bear chooses his shark and vice versa involves a very interesting courtship and bonding ceremony. It begins with a 3 month trial with at least one kill witnessed by each so that they can gauge whether or not their killing styles match or are cohesive. They also take several family trips to see if their families get along since the bear and shark in question will be spending a lot of time together once they become a bearshark team. If after 3 months they are satisfied, then they say their vows, to protect their families and homes and to take out as many SOBs as they can before they die.

There is no known way to kill both the bear and shark in a bearshark predator, but these two events can help you to flee with your life and limbs still intact. To survive an attack from this monster is very similar to how you would survive a robot attack.

Volcano
Bears sweat a lot and they don't like it. Since a volcano is the sweatiest place on earth, if you can run to a volcano when being attacked you are sure to get away from the bearshark. When the bearshark follows, the bear will sweat too much to want to fight. Also, the heat will dry up the shark and subsequently kill it. "Isn't this killing the bearshark?" You ask. No. because after the bear is finished eating his toasty old partner he will go out and find a new one.


Slip and Slide
A slip and slide is one of the easiest ways to escape a bearshark attack - if you can find one. If you can trick a bearshark to go onto a slip and slide it will slip and slide down the track and be too confused to chase you. If there are children using the slip and slide then it's even better because if the bearshark does come to its senses quickly it will attack the children as you flee.

Box of Kittens
Tossing a box of kittens IS NOT a viable option to escape a bearshark. This will only enrage the monster because bears love kittens and would hate to see them harmed. If you toss a box of kittens at a bearshark you are pretty much ensuring your death at the claws, fins and teeth of the bearshark. The bearshark will hunt you down. I have seen this mistake happen too many times, take my word for it. I know you'll be walking past a pet store and a bearshark will come around the corner and you'll think: "Look at that box of kittens over there.If I just toss this box of kittens it'll distract it enough so I can get away." This is a huge error in judgement. I cannot stress this enough. I knew a guy who tossed kittens at a bearshark and while we were hanging out together later someone knocked on the door and it was the BEARSHARK back for revenge! He died. It was horrible. I still have nightmares about it. So believe me when I say do not toss kittens at a bearshark.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LoEHH Addition

So I was sitting in my writing room at home going through some old files while my pictures of William Tecumseh Sherman stared back at me. I wondered what he was trying to tell me from across time and space and then I remembered. I completely forgot him in my League of Extraordinary Historic Heroes. He was in my original design, but working on a post over a week doesn't always mean I remember everything I wrote on paper and it wasn't until I saw his sad puppy eyes that I remembered that I forgot him. So here is my addition to my team of crime fighting time traveling historic heroes:


Team Strategist and Animal Trainer: William Tecumseh Sherman

You never know when you'll need an animal on a mission nor when you'll need to devastate half of a country to end a war, that's why Sherman's on this team. An expert in warfare and the breeding of Tigons and Ligers, Sherman brings a quiet confidence that helps every mission find success. Not a large fan of warfare, Sherman uses his wits to end fighting and needless deaths. Known enemies: The Southern United States and Southern Sympathizers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Home Vs. Work

I feel like I work too hard at work and not hard enough at home.

1st Example: At work I've been told by a patron that I scan stuff so quickly that she wouldn't want to see me with a gun. Compliment? You bet. Especially since I try to present myself as terrifying with a gun.

2nd Example: I sorted boxes so quickly today that I was told by our delivery guy that he might have to call me laser beam. Compliment? Perhaps. I don't have many nicknames. Frankly, I have pretty much zero nicknames, and laser beam wouldn't be a horrible nickname, but it was nice of him to point out that I'm fast at my job.

I know fast doesn't always mean well done, but everyone here makes mistakes and I don't tend to make extra mistakes if I go fast or slow (I've spent enough years here to know). And I usually only have one speed at work when there is a lot of stuff piled up. So I work too hard at work, and I don't do anything at home.

1st Example: No one has given me a nickname at home. I think Chewie called me Hitler the other day because I wouldn't let her climb the new curtains but I could be mistaken. And I wouldn't consider Hitler a nickname.

2nd Example: I've never been able to say: "There is not one single dirty dish in this house". It seems no matter how much cleaning I do, there is always more to do. This conundrum leads to less completion of chores and more morose contemplation and brooding. I'm not saying my house is a complete mess, it just that nothing ever gets completely done there. I think I live in some awkward vortex which insures that anything I try to complete at home will never be finished. If I take things to work, I'm more likely to complete them, but I usually have to work when I'm at work. So my house continues to be a location of much disappointment and floundering.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

League of Extraordinary Historic Heroes

I was thinking about this the other day and thought I would share it with you all. Upon much consideration (about 25 minutes worth), I've assembled a league of extraordinary historic heroes. If given the opportunity, I would assemble these people and we'd travel through time righting wrongs and fighting evil.



Team Leader: Henry Clay


After being denied the Presidency three times, Clay is devoted to proving his ability to lead. A great compromiser, he easily diffuses conflicts within the group without lower morale. Quick to use his words before his weapons, Clay stays cool in almost all tough situations. Known enemies: Aaron Burr, James K. Polk and John C. Calhoun.
While in the field, we have a separate leader, kind of like the assistant but she gets her hands dirty (like Cyclops in X-men):
Field Leader: Boudicea
Boudicea is known for her ability to take on large foes without question. Standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and having a penchant for fire. Strong loyalty to friends and family. Known enemies: The Roman Legion.

3rd in Charge: Tecumseh
Known for his samurai skills and his ability to organize people in battle, Tecumseh works well as back up to Boudicea's in your face leadership. He always knows when to utilize his team's strengths, but is quick to push people beyond their limits. Has been known to take risks. Known enemies: William Henry Harrison.

Weapons Expert: Annie Oakley
Prefers the .22 caliber rifle but is well versed in all types of projectile weaponry. A dependable ally who always gets her shot. Keeps a level head and is not put off by competition. Known enemies: William Randolph Hearst, Lilian Smith, William McKinley and Pernicious Anemia.

The Big Brain: Leonardo da Vinci
An artist, inventor, genius and player, da Vinci helps the group by bringing in new technology to help them in their missions. He often stays behind to make sure the team is directed across space and time correctly (his invention of course) and because he tends to create more mischief than assistance when he interacts with civilians. Due to his charm and likability, he is occasionally brought on mission to be a peacekeeper. Known enemies: none to date - everyone loves this guy, some people, a little too much.
Obviously there are many heroes throughout history, and some of these people would be called on as consultants or mercenaries for specific missions, but this is my core crew. If you had the ability to establish a League of Extraordinary Historic Heroes as I do, who would be on your team?