Thursday, January 31, 2013

History or Future?

Probably at this point we’ve all seen some version of the magical age change story. Whether it’s the child’s mind in a suddenly adult body, a la Big or 13 Going On 30. Or the 17 Again route, with the adult suddenly finding himself in a younger version of himself.

The hero or heroine makes a wish. A wish to be at a different place in their lives. To fast forward or rewind. To get to that ideal age where all problems disappear. To be young again and without responsibility. To be older, independent and in control of their own lives.

Or if not to reach an exact ideal age, then maybe speed things up a bit. Josh Baskin just wanted to be bigger.

It never quite works out as planned, of course. Because there is no true ideal age where lives is entirely without problems. There’s no real short cut to things, which is the point of these movies.

That being said, it would be kind of fun. Wouldn’t it? I mean, if I knew it was temporary, I think I’d enjoy some age bending insanity.

So, forward or back? I think I’d choose back. Maybe to about ten or eleven. We went to Niagara Falls that year and I got some pretty sweet Star Wars jigsaw puzzles. So, good times.

Though this choice has less to do with wanting to see if I can beat my best puzzle time and more to do with not wanting to know the future. Say I was suddenly transported to my seventies. Maybe my life is great, maybe it’s not. Either way, I have work to do when I’m put back into my regular body. If it’s good, gotta make sure I make all the right choices to get me there. If it’s not, then I need to figure out all the missteps made along the way. Takes all the fun out of living.

I like thinking about the possibilities of the future, hence my enjoyment of futuristic science fiction. But I don’t want to know anything for a fact. Ruins the surprise. And probably why I got my degree in history and not futurism.

What about you? Forward or back? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Medicinal Movies

I’ve been under the weather the last few days. And you know what? Sick days just aren’t as fun as they were when I was a kid.

I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that now I have to do everything for myself. Get my own soup. Make sure tissues are stocked up. Tuck myself into bed. Try to remember where in the name of all that is good and holy I put my coloring books.

There’s more work involved as a grown up. Can’t just flop on the couch and moan all day. There still has to be some level of productivity.

One thing, though, has stayed the same.* The sick day movies.

You know, those movies that you watched when you were a kid and still give you the warm and fuzzies now, so you put them on when your body is rebelling against you as a sort of brain medicine? In between the sniffling and hacking up a lung, they make you smile. And when you inevitably succumb to medicine halfway through and fall asleep, you’re more than happy to start them all over when consciousness returns.

Here are my top five:

  • Star Wars

  • The Princess Bride

  • Romancing the Stone

  • Newsies

  • The Mighty Ducks

What are yours? Because if I don’t shake the ickiness soon, I’m going to need some recommendations.

*Okay, two things are the same. I also still get regular status checks from the parents. Only now they’re over the phone. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brain Overload

When was growing up, my father lived in fear of five words: “Can we go to Blockbuster?”

It’s not the he wasn’t a movie fan. He was, and is, one of the biggest I know. What he wasn’t a fan of was the time it took me to pick out a movie.

You see, it wasn’t enough for me to just rent a movie. I had to rent the PERFECT movie. You know...the one where after I chose it, confetti would rain down and everyone in the store would cease their own movie search to clap and cheer as I ran toward the counter, bestowing high-fives on them all.

That perfect movie.

And I had a process. First I had to choose the genre. Then I had to read the back covers of pretty much every movie in those aisles. Then I had to take into account my mood and the moods I perceived in anyone who might be watching it with me.

On a good night, I was out within an hour. On a less decisive one, I was out when my father threw me over his shoulder and marched out the door.

He would valiantly try to speed the process along. He’d offer suggestions of movies that he thought I would love. I’d listen very nicely, thank him for telling me about said film, and tell him I would certainly keep it in mind during my deliberations. I honestly can’t tell you how many times, after another forty-five minutes or so of waffling, I would end up choosing dad’s suggestions.

And I would, of course, love it.

But come the next foray into Blockbuster, poor dad would be left standing there in the aisle holding his suggestion whilst I scampered off to look into another fifteen movies.

I used to think that I wouldn’t get sucked into such a time vortex if I had all these movies at home. It was the whole having to leave the house to get them that made me so intent on picking the perfect one. Because I couldn’t just switch to another if I decided I didn’t like once I got home.

But the other night I decided I was going to watch something on Netflix. I was in the mood for a comedy, so I clicked the tab and they popped up. Forty minutes later I was still scrolling. Still trying to decide between the five or so that I had whittled down to.


*Cut to me rocking back and forth in a corner muttering movie titles under my breath.*

Turns out it has nothing to do with travel time.

Nope. Apparently, my brain just stops functioning at its normal pace when presented with that many story options. Good to know.

Plus side, at least now my dad doesn’t have to stand in an aisle, beating his head against a wall, whilst I peruse.

So…you’re welcome, dad.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Most Important Meal of the Day

My ability to suspend my disbelief is a fairly well-honed skill at this point in my life. I like fantastical stories. I want to believe in fantastical stories. So I do.

It’s that simple.

Most of the time.

There are however the rare things that I have trouble getting behind. This weekend I read Lisa Kleypas’ Dream Lake. A really lovely book. But for a stretch in the middle there’s a discussion of the hero going to get breakfast every morning at the inn where the heroine works. And all I could think was, Who has time to go out for breakfast every morning? Forget that, who has time for breakfast at all?

This is especially common in small town stories involving diners. There’s always the regular cast of characters showing up for their morning repast before heading off to their respective workplaces. In Gilmore Girls, Lorelai and Rory managed to get up, out of the house, walk to Luke’s Diner, order breakfast, eat breakfast, drink at least three cups of coffee a piece, and make it to work and school on time. Neither of which ever appeared to be within walking distance of the diner, particularly Rory’s school.

It was nothing short of amazing.

I mean, the characters in Friends did it too, but none of them ever seemed to have normal hours they were expected at their jobs. There’s no way anyone with a true 9-5 could ever spend that much time in a coffee shop.

But, the Gilmores did have places that they needed to get to on time. And they made it. After breakfasting.

I just don’t understand it.

It might just be me, though. I’m a ten minutes from my feet hitting the floor until I walk out the door kind of lady. Not that I don’t enjoy having more time to pull myself together, sleep just has a higher preference. Unless it’s a weekend or a holiday full breakfasts are never in the cards. My specialty is a granola bar once I’m at my desk.

But, before I rank this fictional eating up there with sticking your bare hand in a mysterious puddle of goo, I wanted to find out if this whole eating breakfast before work thing was something that a lot of people do out here in the real world.

So, am I the oddball here, or is this leaving enough time for a morning meal thing the stuff of legends?

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Eternal Question

Friday has arrived, my friends! The weekend is stretched out before us in all its glory and I'm readying myself for the traditional end-of-the-week dance.

And it shall be awesome.

But until it strikes end-of-work-o-clock, I'm distracting myself with sweet thoughts. Literally. I'm thinking about cake and pie. Because, why not?

I will say, I've struggled with myself over the years, trying to decide which I preferred. Cake or pie. Pie or cake. I think we can all agree, they're both awesome (and if we can't agree on that, we're probably not the soul mates I imagined). But who wins in the ultimate battle for our taste buds?

I've done my research. Consulted expert after expert. I rented Waitress, recorded Cake Boss. I've listened to every song on Lisa Loeb's "Cake and Pie." I've learned what happens when you get baked into a cake and that pies can be a bit dangerous. I've sent my resume to The Pie Hole....possibly more than once. 

Pretty much left no stone unturned.

Ultimately, it seems, though, there is no one answer to this question. It's something all people must decide for themselves.

Through much soul searching and teeth gnawing and the filling out of this handy dandy bracket, I have discovered that pie has the advantage in my world.

I'm a pie girl.

There, I said it.

What are you?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Next Step

Hey folks! Today's post is courtesy of Chuck Wendig's "Flash Fiction Challenge" and was inspired by Chand Baori.

Hope you enjoy!


Grandma always told me that you shouldn’t look at the staircase, just the next step. Look up and you see how far you have to climb. Down, how far you can fall.
So, just pay attention to the next step.
Makes life more manageable.
I could definitely use some manageable.
“You’re never going to make it.”
I don’t bother looking toward the voice. I know if I do, I’ll see Lucy. Which is the opposite of helpful. “You’re dead.”
She laughs. “That’s a cheap shot. You’re generally more original. Feeling a little bit defensive in the face of your failure?”
Just focus on the next step. “I wasn’t taking a shot. Simply reminding both of us that you’re not really here. You’re ash. We spread you over the bay.”
“I wanted to be buried.”
My eyes fly to hers. “You did not.”
That familiar smile beams back at me. “Of course not. Spending eternity in a box?” She shudders dramatically. “Creepy. But I made you look.”
And now I can’t look away. My throat burns at the sight. “Leave me alone. Please.”
“Like you left me?”
“No.” I tear my gaze away from hers. Back to the stairs. “I won’t do this anymore.”
I take a step up, focusing now on the one after that.
Lucy skips up past me. “You know, I still remember when mom and dad brought you home from the hospital. You were such a wrinkly little mess. All the crying and flailing. And I remember thinking that I was going to protect you. I was the big sister. I was going to make sure that nothing ever hurt you.”
I make it to the top of the staircase as she speaks. Her words are the same as they were when she was alive. No new information. Further proof that she’s not really here. I’m alone.
The only way to stop being alone is to get past these stairs.
I’m so tired of being alone.
I move to the next flight up.
Lucy keeps pace. “Silly that it never occurred to me to get the same promise of devotion on your end, I guess.”
I keep my eyes on the next step, but I can’t stop from responding. “I didn’t leave you. I went for help. There’s a difference.”
“Not really. I still died alone. No, I’m sorry, that’s a little too sanitized. I still burned to death alone while you were out chatting up firemen.”
“I couldn’t lift everything off of you. I wasn’t strong enough.” Don’t look at her.
Lucy laughs again. But it’s mean now. Not her real laugh. “Believe me, you don’t need to remind me of your weakness. I’m well aware.”
I don’t bother wiping the tears off my face. They’ll just be replaced by more. I can’t make out the next step through the blurriness. My foot doesn’t quite catch and I begin to fall back.
Lucy steadies me.
“See? I’m always there for you. Why is it so hard for you to do the same?”
I stare into her eyes. As I speak, I can taste the salt. “Because you’re not her.” I push away, gaining another step. “She’s gone.”
“You’re that sure?”
“She would be trying to help me get out of here. She was always trying to help me. Lucy would never want me in this hell.”
“I don’t know. Remember that time you decided to play Rockettes with my brand new Barbie doll and ripped her leg right off? I kind of wanted you in hell then.”
Lucy takes my hand, holding it gently as we both continue to climb. I want to yank it back. I don’t want to ever let go.
“She wouldn’t want me here.” Another staircase completed.
“Maybe, but a person can go through some pretty serious ideological shifts while they’re feeling their flesh seared from their bones.” The casual tone of her voice makes the words that much worse.
I stare at the steps. “She’d want me happy.”
Agreement comes quickly. “Absolutely. But did it ever occur to you that we were happiest when it was just us playing together? We could do that here. Spruce this place up. They may be a pain in the ass to climb, but the stairs are actually pretty cool looking. We always wanted to live in a place with a weird aesthetic, remember? Isn’t that how we ended up in that fire trap? But no fire here. Just us, together. Plus our legs are going to look awesome.” She pauses, stopping my motion as well. Her voice is softer now. “It’s much harder to be happy out there. So much hurting. And we’d never see each other.”
“But you’re not her. This isn’t real. I’m not supposed to be stuck here. I’m supposed to be getting better.” The tears are flowing harder now. I don’t want to stop them. Maybe this time I’ll finally rid myself of them all. “I just want to feel better.”
Lucy smiles sadly. “Then you should go. I won’t try to stop you any more.”
She lets go of my hand and I run, racing up another flight. My brain screams at me not to, but I turn around anyway. Lucy stands where I left her, making no move to follow.
She nods. “I’ll be okay. Alone isn’t so bad.” She looks away for a second, her eyes shimmering when they return to mine. “I love you, nerd.”
The familiar good-bye has me taking a step in her direction. Nothing seems sure anymore. It’s not her. I know that. It can’t be.
Can it?
No, it’s time for me to finally get out of here. I stare at the step in front of me. Just take it. My feet don’t move. I need them to move.
I glance back at Lucy. She still stands there, watching me with a calm sadness.
Focus on the next step.
Just like Grandma always said.
But Grandma never did specify a direction.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Detour Ahead

I once spent a month helping out with my little cousin while my aunt and uncle were moving into their new house. He was about a year and a half at the time and a total dollface. And he had this habit that I’ve noticed is fairly common with kids.

He paid absolutely no attention to the direction in which he was running.

He loved being chased. There was nothing quite as thrilling as knowing that he was trying to outrun someone. He would laugh hysterically as he took off as fast as those little legs would carry him.

But he would always watch the person behind him rather that what was coming up in front.

It was mildly terrifying to be witness to.

I was always sure he was going to body slam into some piece of furniture or wall. I quickly found that yelling that something was in front of him didn’t stop him from running into it. No, the only way that I could get him to stop running was if I stopped running. He wouldn’t always pause for long, but he’d be curious enough to stop and glance around to see the cause for my lack of motion. And then he’d generally notice the chair he was about to collide with and take off on a new path.

Interestingly enough, this memory has become very helpful in my writing process. My characters do the same wild running and, not surprisingly, they too get very caught up in what’s chasing them and don’t pay nearly as much attention as they should to what they’re running into.

Only I’m not as nice to them as I was my cousin. I don’t stop so they have a second to regroup. I just let them smash into whatever’s in their path.

And that’s when things get interesting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Organizational Peeves

I love my Roomie dearly. Best friends for eight and a half years. She’s a lovely person with many fine qualities.

When I look at her bookshelf I want to punch her in the tooth.

It has nothing to do with her tastes in reading. I’m absolutely of a to-each-his-own mentality when it comes to that. Read whatever you want. I am not, however, so open minded when it comes to the organization of one’s bookshelf.

You see, the Roomie does not separate fiction from non-fiction and it fills me with burning fury.

Having just written that sentence, I want to make it clear that, yes, I do realize how ridiculous I sound. 

But it just drives me so crazy.

I don’t expect her to arrange it exactly as I do – non-fiction then fiction, with sub-sections of genre – though, let’s face it, it would be nice. Nor do I expect her to start using library cards like the one another friend gave me, that have me itching to lend out my books. (It came with a date stamp and everything!)

But seriously, fiction and non-fiction all mixed up? I go in there to peruse the shelves and, with the exception of Harry Potter, have no idea what I’m going to pull.

It’s anarchy.

Just makes me want to sneak in there and set things right.

Then I realize I’m having a Sheldon Cooper moment and resist.

But it’s not easy.

Okay, now that I’ve shared my weekly does of crazy, let’s hear yours.

Oh, you don’t have any?

Just me that’s crazy, huh?

Well, that’s fine, too.

*awkward crickets*

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Happy Thesaurus Day to Us All!

Or, maybe you’d prefer Joyful Lexicon Diurnal Course! Or Mirthful Onomasticon Sunlight Hours!

Regardless, I hope that your time is blissful, convivial, exultant, lively, perky and upbeat!

Synonyms are truly lovely. But what about all those words that aren’t technically synonyms, but are undoubtedly connected in our heads? We all have different ones. You hear one word and due to some experience in your life, it immediately makes you think of another. Your own internal word association game.  

I’ve decided to celebrate those today too (because, why not?). So, here are a few of mine:

Purse = Nap

My sophomore year of college, my aunt bought be a chair that folded up to look like a giant purse. It was awesome, and, as it was located right next to my desk, made for the perfect break-for-papers nap space. To this day, looking at a leopard print bag makes me a little sleepy.

Kaleidoscope = Cousin

Visited my cousin when she was in college. I was probably around seven or eight years old. She took me with her when she registered for classes and then bought me a kaleidoscope. Think of that day every time I hear the word.

Umbrella = Dance

I place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Singing in the Rain. I just want to sing and dance every single time I try to protect myself from the rain.

Billboard = Home

I’ve long used the Manfredi Automotives billboard over the Goethals as a landmark for the last leg of my journey to my beloved childhood home. Can’t even think about that silly billboard without smiling.

Peruse = Scan

Thought these two words meant the same thing for an embarrassingly long time. Still occasionally use them interchangeably. Apparently my mind cares naught for the amount of time I actually spend looking at something, just that I looked. Whoops.

How about you? What words are strangely connected in your head?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Only Reasonable Conclusion: My iPod's Watching Me

I don’t know what was going on with my iPod this morning.

I like to leave it on shuffle for the drive. I get to listen to a variety of different musical genres and without fail have one I-totally-forgot-I-had-this-album! moment.

Sometimes the iPod Shuffle gods are very good to me. Monday, for instance, started with two songs from Footloose and some Jackson 5. Tell me who wouldn’t be pumped to start the week after that?

Apparently as the week has progressed the gods have decided that they are as tired as the rest of us. In what I can only imagine is an effort to pump some new lifeblood into the week, it would appear they deemed this morning “Creeper Thursday.”

I mean, it started off fine. Just the normal mix of jazz, ‘90s pop, showtunes and oldies. Fine and dandy. Then about fifteen minutes in, things took a turn for the disturbing.

It started with the immediately recognizable opening chords of “Sunglasses at Night.” But it didn’t play the full song. I guess it didn’t download entirely into iTunes, so what I got was “I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can watch you weave then breathe your story lines.” And then total silence for about five seconds.

Sweet, merciful heavens, are you watching me breathe now? Are you in the car??

After those five seconds of silence, I was rewarded with “Every Breath You Take.” Not better.


Generally speaking, I don’t find the Backstreet Boys particularly intimidating, but when “As Long As You Love Me” came on the heels of the other two songs, I couldn’t stop my brain from taking me down a dark path.

Do you really not care what I did or are you just saying that so I don’t ask you what you did? What did you do?!?!?

And then a song from my Christmas mix came on. The risk you run with the shuffle. I was coming up to a red light, so I knew I’d be able to turn it quickly (after January 2nd and before Thanksgiving – no Christmas music!). Unfortunately, not quickly enough. Heard enough of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to know that the “baby” in question was soon going to be asking “What’s in this drink?”

Never a question anyone should have to ask.

But I did get to change it before the light turned green. So, problem solved. Until I realized that the song that came on next was Good Charlotte’s “My Bloody Valentine.”

Why do I even have all these songs on my iPod?!?!?

Finally, I was pulling up to the parking structure. Rolled down the window to badge in, said hello to a coworker, rolled the window back up just in time to realize that my iPod was blasting “Backdoor Lover” from Josie & The Pussycats.

To quote Don Lockwood, “Dignity. Always dignity.”

On the plus side, I was very happy to get to work. So, I guess the shuffle gods did their job after all. Next time though, let’s just stick with fun and peppy in the morning, shall we?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reeling Me In

The play may be the thing wherein Hamlet caught the conscience of the King, but the first sentence is the thing that catches the attention of all of us peasants.

I read a lot about writing and frequently the topic of grabbing the audience comes up. A lot of people say that you have to pull in the reader with your very first line.

So, I decided to pull some books at random from my shelves and see what they had to offer.

The Kitchen Daughter (Jael McHenry)

“Bad things come in threes.”

Not only do I immediately know that things aren’t all bright and shiny in the world I’m about to enter, I know that there are going to be three specific issues. So, now even if the very next sentence tells me what the first bad thing is, I have to stick around to find out about the other two.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon)

“It was 7 minutes after midnight.”

At first I wasn’t really sure what struck me about this line, even though I did want to read more. Then I realized that it was the specificity of the time. Saying it was just after midnight isn’t particularly enthralling, but now I want to know why it’s important that it’s exactly seven minutes past. And who it’s important to.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)

“The studio was filled with the rich odor of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amid the trees of the garden there came through the open door the heavy scent of lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.”

This is a beautiful sentence, but probably my least favorite of the first sentences here, which surprised me, because I’ve always really enjoyed this book. Despite giving me a vivid mental picture of the room, it doesn’t give me an immediate reason to care about why I’m there.

Halfway to the Grave (Jeaniene Frost)

“I stiffened at the red and blue lights flashing behind me, because there was no way I could explain what was in the back of my truck.”

What the hell’s in the back of her truck? Is the cop going to find it? What’s going to happen next?!?!

At Last (Jill Shalvis)

“I’m not lost,” Amy Michaels said to the squirrel watching her for his perch on a tree branch.

As someone who has a tendency to talk to animals, myself, and inanimate objects with regularity, I immediately feel for this character. I want her to get found. Much like I wanted myself to get found when I was insisting to my car the other day that I knew where I was going. (Totally didn’t.)

Bloodline (James Rollins)

“They once called her a witch and a whore.”

Them there’s fightin’ words. What exactly did she do to earn such unfortunate nicknames? And more importantly, why don’t they call her those things anymore?

The Indian in the Cupboard (Lynne Reid Banks)

“It was not that Omri didn’t appreciate Patrick’s birthday present to him.”

What did Patrick give him and why does it suck so much? Because, come on, if you use that many negatives in a sentence, you’re not really thrilled with the gift. Now, tell me why.

From my very teensy sampling, I can see why first lines are so important. I feel fairly confident that if I had never read any of these books before and was asked to decide on whether I would by reading only the first sentence, all but Mr. Wilde’s would be on my bedside table.

It seems that the most important thing to me is that I be left with a question after reading the first line. Something or someone I want to know more about. Once I have that, I’m hooked.

What do you look for in a first sentence?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Sorry about the lateness, folks!

Today has officially become "one of those days." You know the one I mean. Where everything goes just wonky enough to screw up your best laid plans?

I'll be back tomorrow with regular content, but for now I offer you this link to pictures of blue french bull dog puppies as an olive branch. 

You're welcome.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Feeling a Little Red Faced...

Have you ever been embarrassed by the books you don’t like?

I mean, we all have books we can take or leave. That leave us with a sort of “meh” feeling. And as reading is fairly subjective, our “meh” books are likely someone else’s classics. It’s just the way it goes. I’ve certainly loved books other people have hated.

It’s the risk you run when you ask a person what they thought of a story. And it’s cool, because even if it turns into an over-the-top raging argument, you walk away with a different perspective.

But there are definitely those moments where I’m tempted to avert eye contact and make inarticulate sounds when someone brings up a book. Books that it just feels wrong to admit that no, they were simply not my cup of tea.

Still, no book is going to be loved by every person who picks it up. And, since I’ve already told you about all the ridiculous things I’m not embarrassed for loving, I figure it can’t be worse to tell you about the classic things I am embarrassed for not loving. My very guilty displeasures, if you will.

Here are my top three:

-          Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
o       I love the world of this book, dark and gloomy. But I’ve read it three times and each time have wanted the two main characters to disappear into the moors. I’ve read a number of books that have had lead characters who I didn’t particularly like as people, but I still cared about how their stories ended (Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlett O’Hara, for instance. Not someone I’d want to be friends with, but I had to know how things turned out for her). I was just never able to connect with Catherine and Heathcliff.
-          Grendel (John Gardner)
o       This book has absolutely everything that I love. A new perspective on an epic tale. A fantasy monster telling his side of the story. Seers and dragons. Every component is awesome. But somehow, when it all comes together I find myself staring at the clock more than the book.
-           Romeo & Juliet (William Shakespeare)
o       Perhaps the issue here is that I first read it when I was the same age as young Juliet. And I wanted to smack both her and her Romeo. They meet at a party, are married the next day, and within a week have both killed themselves. A little bit excessive considering their knowledge of each other was pretty much limited to the fact that they were from feuding families and both fairly attractive. I remember thinking that if I read about them talking about something other than how they shouldn’t be together (Maybe hobbies? Favorite foods? A normal day in their lives?) that I could have bought the whole willing-to-die-for-each-other a little bit more.

So, what books are you embarrassed to admit you don’t really care for?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pride...Some Confusion...Pride Again

So, I just took a look as some of the search terms people have used to find my blog over this past year.

Many of them I get:

-          “Movies that would make a good party”
-          “The Parent Trap 2 1986”
-          “witch hansel gretel misunderstood”
-          “amanda borden”
-          “Sandy Olsen Michael Carrington”

I’ve written about all those things. More than once. And, to be honest, it’s hard to express the sense of accomplishment I feel that my blog is one of the first to come up if one were to search the two main characters of the cinematic classic, Grease 2. All past accomplishments pale in comparison.

Then there are some that sort of make sense:

-          “i started to rattle off a list”
-          “bookmoods”
-          “bob eckstein”

I am a list rattler from way back, have many a book mood and enjoy Eckstein’s snowman musings. So, fairly logical.

This one is a puzzler:

-          “man lying on bed hands behind head”

I am confused both by why this would bring anyone to the blog and why there are multiple people searching the phrase.

And, by far, my favorite search term:

-          “they will, as champions always do,”

As I’ve never written this phrase on the blog, I’m pretty sure that this is the internet’s way of validating me.

I feel all warm and fuzzy.

P.S. My sincerest apologies to the individual who found my site searching “paddle boat jobs.” I can’t imagine I quite offered you the opportunities you were searching for. Best of luck, though!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Second Look is Always Warranted

As I inch closer and closer (at what sometimes seems like a glacial pace) to finishing the first draft of my current work-in-progress, I’m starting to get excited about editing.

I love the revision process. No blank pages. Things I forgot I wrote that I really like. Things I remember writing, but can’t remember why I every thought they worked. It’s fun.

And something I really should do more in my day to day activities -- The whole giving things a second (or seventh or eighth) look.

Not all that long ago I wanted to pump the Roomie up for a game she was about to play. Unfortunately, the message I sent her was, “Kiss ass at soccer!”

The sentiment was just not quite the same. And as much as I wish I could blame auto-correct, that mistake was all me.

Also, I don’t know about you, but my emails to my friends lack a certain, shall we say, formality. Basically, I say stupid things and try out silly nicknames for both them and myself. Good clean fun. Each one of them is as big a weirdo as I am (hence the continued friendships) that it’s never embarrassing. You know, except in the rare incidences when I forget to double check the “To” line and accidentally include my internship supervisor rather than my friend of the same name.

And talk about how I’ve been procrastinating all my school work.

And sign it “K.J. izzle”.

And have a friend reply-all with this advice:

K Jizzle - I recommend red bull followed by a chaser of 5 hour energy.

Side effects include - heart stopping/mild death from all the caffeine; good grades from staying up all night; uncontrollable desire to mutilate house pets....

*Cue me racing awkward turtles to burrow under an island of awkward palm trees.*

Thankfully, I’m not alone in these little uncomfortable moments.

A friend was applying to a job that required a writing sample to be attached to her resume. Rather than send them the very appropriate writing sample that she intended, she had a momentary lapse of attention and sent them her anthropology paper on Incan sex positions.

She was not thrilled when she realized the mistake.

She did, however, get the job. And gave the rest of us quite a giggle. Silver linings all over the place.

But, my recommendation? Save yourself those red-faced moments of horror and live your lives as editors. Of course, if you choose to disregard this advice, please share your slip ups. We could all use the laughs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to keep plugging away at this story so that I can finally get to the whole editing part.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Elevator Test

I don’t know about you, but I can make it through a dinner party with pretty much anyone. I mean, there’s food. There are very people I can’t put up with for a least a couple hours if the food is good.

Now, I’ve certainly thought about which literary characters I would invite to my fantasy dinner party. Somehow, though, I always end up with a character who I know is going to make me furious – or perhaps even make some attempts on my life and those of the other guests – on the guest list.

I’ve always wanted to know, for instance, what it was that sent Montresor over the edge. Perhaps if I had a couple casks at my party I could get him to open up. But seeing as I don’t know the answer to the question, a dinner party, in a public location, with the police on standby, seems the safest bet.   

But if I’m trying to think of literary character who I would legitimately want to spend some time with, I nix the food. Instead I come up with a group with whom I wouldn’t mind being stuck on an elevator.

Elevators are awkward.

These tiny boxes where you’re forced to stand closer to strangers than you would normally choose. You can avoid eye contact and pretend like you’re totally alone, but that only works if there is unspoken agreement among everyone to do so. Once eye contact is made, that’s out. Then you need to decide on the half smile/half grimace combo or come up with something truly witty to contribute to the ride (‘Yeah, elevators. Right?”).

Ergo, a fantasy elevator break-down is, to me, a much better test of my affection for a character.

Now, I never do more than five. Because no matter how much I love someone, over six people stuck in an elevator is just too monstrous to conceive.

Making it on to my current list of characters I’d be willing to wait out the fire department with is:

-          Katie Chandler – On the off chance it’s anything mystical that’s keeping the elevator from moving, I want someone there who can let me know what’s what.
-          Remus Lupin – A gentleman with a habit of keeping his cool in stressful situations and always has chocolate on him? No brainer. Plus we can pass some time seeing if he can pull the wool over Katie’s eyes. (Caveat – Lupin would sadly not be invited if this breakdown was taking place during a full moon. He would still totally be able to come to the dinner party though.)
-          Wes Janson – His over-the-top personality would be a nice contrast to Lupin’s more reserved demeanor. Plus he has countless stories and needs little to no prompting to share them. I’m always up for a good yarn, especially when I have to figure out which parts are true and which are, shall we say, embellishments. Plus, if he goes on for too long, Lupin can always break out the silencing charm.
-          Hercule Poirot – It would just be really fun to watch his reactions to Lupin and Janson. I’m guessing he’d spend the entire time trying to prove that any spells cast are merely shams that he can easily figure out.
-          Elizabeth Bennet – She strikes me as someone I could exchange sarcastic comments with, which is a must in such situations. She would totally call Janson out on his stories and probably be able to out-manner Poirot. And I think she’d handle the presence of magic better than most nineteenth (or twenty-first) century folks.

All in all, I think it would be a fairly entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

So, who would you be willing to spend a couple hours in an elevator with?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Let's All Hum Together, Shall We?

I have music on the brain today.

I organized my iTunes last night. Don’t know what was going on when I first imported all the music. It’s entirely possible that I contracted the job out to a manic space money. That would at least explain the strange split CDs, to a certain extent. Not to mention the sea of “Track 01”s I had to wade through.

It was some scary traveling for awhile, but I have emerged on the other side. Victorious.

But, now I’m doing a whole lot of singing – much, I’m sure, to the dismay of my coworkers. Now, I’m going to share with you some of the songs on the old brain pan. Because, let’s face it, the odds of me being able to totally curb my office harmonizing, but I’d sure feel better if I thought some people out there might be humming along with me.

Every once in awhile I’ll hear a song that opens up my mind and gets the creativity flowing. What comes pouring out more often than not has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter of the song. It’s more of an emotional inspiration. This is one of those songs for me. Every time I hear it, I want to sit down and get back to writing.

I’ve mentioned that there are a large number of fictional towns that I would like to live in for a spell. Well, I have some songs that I wouldn’t mind moving into for awhile, as well. This is one of them.

These two consistently inspire me to find more fun grocery stores. There’s not nearly enough song and dance going on in the one I frequent.

This is just classic late ‘90s. And that never gets old.

And to finish up, this is absolutely what I’m singing the most today.

Started off the day with some car dancing to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. And let me tell you, car dancing just puts me in a good head space. I strongly encourage you all to do a little sitting-at-you-computer-grooving. It’ll make a bad day better and a good day the best.

Any songs on your mind today? I’d be happy to join you in a few bars.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Superhero Capes Are Really Just Fancy Security Blankets

As a kid, I didn’t believe in monsters at all.

Until the lights went out.

Yeah, I talked a good game, but once it was dark, every shadow seemed to have ominous purpose. Demons of all shapes and sizes, waiting to pounce.

Sure, I took precautions, but they were always only temporary solutions.

I always made sure the Wicked Witch doll was in a drawer when bedtime rolled around. But even then I knew that a couple of pieces of wood were paltry compared to her magic fire balls. And I’ve mentioned that my favorite reading place for scarier books was the bathroom, because with the shower curtain open, I could see every corner. No way any monsters were going to jump out at me there. But in the back of my mind was the little voice reminding me that eventually, I was going to finish and have to make a run for it back to my bedroom.

I needed something more lasting. Thankfully, superheroes provided me with the answer here.

The cape.

There had to be a reason so many of them wore capes. Sure, as a fashion choice, it was interesting, but not generally the most practical accessory. So, there must be more to it than that. The sheet of fabric must serve as some kind of protective force. Right?

Well, it certainly seemed right back then.

Over time, I became convinced that the only thing standing between me and the night monsters were the blankets on my bed. I slept covered from head to toe. My sister, on the other hand, was a sleep kicker, which caused me no little stress as I was determined to save us from the Winkies evil machinations. So, I would wait up until she was asleep to make sure that she was fully covered with the monster repelling Beauty & The Beast sheets.

On the rare nights where nightmare recovery requires some parental assistance, I would wrap a sheet around my shoulders when I ran to my parents’ room. Only way to ensure some degree of safety in my travels.

My tolerance for scary things has grown over the years. The Wicked Witch had her reasons for being annoyed. And I can’t think of the last time I felt the need to lock myself in a bathroom to comfortably read a book.

But, I will say, when I pick up a thriller, or the music in a movie or show suddenly takes a turn for the menacing, it’s always nice to have a blanket nearby. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bad Movies/Good Party Themes: The Haunting Piñata Smash

Have you ever watched a movie that creeped you out and had the sudden desire to smack something? I know I have. Have you ever been at an event and thought, “They call this a party? Then where, pray tell, are all the piñatas?” Again, a situation I have found myself in more times than I’d like to remember. 

Whoever perpetrated the evil rumor that piñatas are just for kids’ parties should be found and forced to wear a sign proclaiming “Killer of fun.” Hell, I’ve even got a piñata in my office. ‘Cause that’s just how Dora and I roll.

 Little known fact: Nothing improves your work day like 
glancing over and seeing a piñata smiling back at you.

Now, The Haunting? Not actually that scary. Which, for me, is saying something because I’m possibly the biggest baby child that ever lived when it comes to this sort of stuff. But I didn’t walk away with any nightmares from this one. Except for that mirror scene. That legitimately gave me the willies.

But this not-so-scary movie actually works well for this theme. Because as you’re sitting there, watching the story unfold, you will undoubtedly suddenly think of scene from a movie that really did scare you. When you do so, share it with the group. And then give a piñata a good whack. You get to take out your anger at the real scary movie, without having to deal with watching the offending scene yet again. Or maybe you really love scary movies and you’re outraged by a line of dialogue, a plot point, or an acting choice? Take it out on the piñata.

Eventually, someone will break a piñata. This is where things will go slightly differently that our childhood experiences. You see, I recommend that everyone does not make a mad dash to pile of treats. One, because we’re older now and less likely to smilingly accept an elbow to the face just because we got some candy out of the deal (see also: Slip and Slide). And two, because we’re inside, and there might be sharp furniture around. In my opinion, parties just lose a little of their fun when someone is bleeding.

So, instead, everyone in the group must offer up one scary fact about themselves. The individual who broke the piñata decides, based on these facts who gets what amount of treats. After they’ve been divvied out, the movie continues and the next piñata is brought out.

Because, like any good horror movie, just because you’ve decapitated the villain, doesn’t mean he’s not coming back again.

Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to:
-          “Purgatory is over, you go to hell.”
-          “Paintings are moving and strange voices are calling for me at night, and all it cost me was five gallons of gas.”
-          “You have to go look for the bones in the fire place.”
-          “It’s like those Teletubbies, those things freak me out also. Then they sing, so they’re actually kinda scarier when you think about it.”

Tagline: Some houses are born bad.

For a The Haunting Piñata Smash of your very own, here’s what you need:
-          The Haunting (1999)
-          Piñatas. I would recommend at least three or four. You can go with all different ones, or stock pile one kind if you want the same villain to keep returning. Go for whatever one you find the creepiest. This one would do it for me, for obvious reasons.
-          Piñata treats. This doesn’t have to be just candy. Find whatever is small enough to fit into the piñata. Bouncy balls, whistles, hand stamps….really I go with anything that can be used to annoy the Roomie in the future.
-          A group of horror movie buffs and/or piñata enthusiasts and/or people about whom you would like to know more scary facts.