Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Darwin Awards

It’s that time again. The Darwin Awards has several offerings for our enjoyment this week, but I settled on a topic that is both a source of irritation and income for me: The Cell Phone. Enjoy…

(20 January 2004, Ventnor, New Jersey) A high school student accidentally dropped his cell phone from the Dorset Avenue Bridge on a wintry Sunday. Fortunately the river had iced over, so the phone landed on the ice, apparently intact. To a dedicated cell-phone user, losing the phone can be like losing an appendage, And what loyal friend would not try to retrieve your arm or leg if it had somehow fallen off a bridge and landed on thin ice? The survival of our species depends on mutual support.
So on Tuesday, Bruce, 17, volunteered to fetch the phone. He figured the ice, which was only an inch thick in places, was strong enough to hold him for the rescue mission. Another friend urged Bruce to give up and go back to shore. "I can do it," Bruce insisted. A bridge attendant also warned him to stay off the ice, but, as his mother explained, "It's just something Bruce would have done."

The attendant rushed to his post to call the police. He was on the phone when a bystander told him that someone had fallen in. A police officer arrived at the scene a moment later to find Bruce partially submerged in the 35-degree water. The officer dashed to his car for a rescue buoy. When he returned, Bruce had already gone under. His body was recovered the next morning.
He did not die in vain. The cell phone was recovered.

(10 February 2004, New York) Exactly three weeks later, 18-year-old Lina, of Queens, New York, jumped onto the subway tracks to retrieve her new $80 cell phone just as the V train was rounding the corner into the Grand Ave.-Newtown station in Elmhurst. She apparently expected to hop right back up onto the platform, five feet above the tracks, but after two attempts, she was still stuck. As the lights of the oncoming train shone in the tunnel, two men tried to pull her up, but she was knocked out of their hands as the train rushed into the station, emergency brakes squealing. She died instantly.

The funny thing is that I bet both of these were those free phones that you get when you sign up for a plan.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

More Rents

As promised, I have returned to give you a few more movie reviews.

The Dukes of Hazzard was campy, outrageous and very similar to the old T.V. series. Having said that, I actually enjoyed it. Sean William Scott and Johnny Knoxville have an excellent on screen chemistry. Without their interaction, this movie would have been a flop. As it is I would recommend it to anyone looking for a few good laughs without having to use too many brain cells to keep up with the jokes.
Rating: 3 Stars.

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Next up we have The Skeleton Key . This was a pretty good watch. It is a story of a hospice worker from New Orleans that accepts a job caring for a dieing man that lives way out in the boonies. It is filled with hoodoo (not to be confused with voodoo, mysterious rooms and its fair share of ghosts. There are just enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing. It is a dark film, but not overtly scary. It’s worth watching, but I wouldn’t add it to my personal collection.
Rating: 3 Stars.

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We also watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose . This was a disturbing little film that is based on a true story. I found myself sucked into the story line and was almost shocked when it ended. When a young girl dies a priest is put on trial for her death. Yes, at first thought you might imagine that she died during the exorcism, but…well, perhaps I should let you watch this one to see how it unfolds. I recommend it to anyone who is not squeamish about watching horrors that might actually be real.
Rating: 4 Stars.

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Next up is The Ring Two . This movie had great special effects and answered a few more questions that were left dangling in the first one. Having said that, it seemed to recycle a lot of material from the first. It is the story of a little girl with special powers that is so feared that she is thrown into a well by her adopted family. Understandably, this just pises her off and she goes on a worldwide killing spree. Uh, wait how can she kill anyone if she’s dead. Oh, that’s right, she uses her powers to create a video tape that when watched gives the viewer one week to live if they don’t pass the tape to some other unsuspecting soul. Yeah, it’s just the way it sounds. I’m not sorry I watched it, but it was definitely a one time viewing. This is a renter not a keeper.
Rating: 3 Stars.

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Last but not least, we take on the story of The Brothers Grimm . This movie also had great special effects, good acting and a (I hope) familiar storyline. It was a good watch, but again one that I will only see once. It incorporates several fairy tales into one adventure. The Brothers Grimm are actually con men, preying on the superstitions of simple villagers. That is until they come across a real life ghost. Will the con artists rise to the occasion and become actual heroes? What do you think?
Rating: 3 Stars.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Rents

We rented several movies over the weekend. However, I am only going to review two of them for now.

The first one we watched was The 40 Year Old Virgin . You know what; I’m not even going to waste my time trying to tell you about this stinker. I didn’t even finish watching it. I made it about an hour and a half before I pulled the plug. Where there some funny parts? Absolutely, but not enough to carry the movie. This thing is over two hours long. I think it is a prime example of why good comedies are historically in the ninety minute range.
Rating: 1 star (and I’m only giving that for the few times it made me laugh).

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The second movie was Cinderella Man. This movie was great. It is the story of James J. Braddock--a.k.a. the Cinderella Man, a boxer in the 1930s that rose from the ashes of a destroyed career to become the hero of the working man. This movie will touch your heart whether you are a boxing enthusiast or not. The sacrifices this man made to provide for his family are almost unfathomable. I highly recommend renting this one if you get the chance. It is going into my personal collection.
Rating: 5 stars.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Post Holiday Wrap-Up

Wow, that was a whirlwind couple of days! Two days of food, family, friends and wine is enough to fill anybody with the Christmas Spirit. I had the opportunity to spend part of it with relatives that I don’t get to see very often and others that I see as much as I can, but still don’t see nearly enough.

There were kids running wild, amped up on sugary treats. Cousins wrestling and playing chase (yes that mostly occurred indoors). The laughter that filled the air, from both adult and child, could be almost deafening at times. It was a glorious time. In fact, it may well be one of the most memorable holiday seasons we’ve had in years.

I hope all of you enjoyed your time and created as many (if not more) memories than we did. Regardless of gifts or the size of your family, fond memories are really the greatest treasure one can receive during the holidays.

Well, I’m off to see the wizard as it were. Perhaps tomorrow I will have time to post a few movie reviews. Until then, get out there and have some fun.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Smile Already...

Question: What's red and white and gives presents to good little fish on Christmas?
Answer: Sandy Claws.

Question: Why does Santa have 3 gardens?
So he can ho-ho-ho.

Question: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Answer: Frostbite.

Question: Why was Santa's little helper depressed?
Because he had low elf esteem.

Question: What do you get when you cross an archer with a gift-wrapper?
Answer: Ribbon hood.

Question: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?
Answer: Claustrophobic.

Question: What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Answer: Snowflakes.

Question: Why did the little girl change her mind about buying her grandmother a packet od handkerchiefs for Christmas?
Answer: She said "I could not work out what size her nose was!

Question: What was so good about he neurotic doll the girl was given for Christmas?
Answer: It was wound up already.

Question: What was wrong with the boy's brand new toy electric train set he received for Christmas?
Answer: Forty feet of track - all straight!

I wanna tell you what kind of luck I've got. If this year I cornered the mistletoe market, they'd postpone Christmas.

Christmas: When you exchange hellos with strangers and good buys with friends.

Christmas is the time when people put so many bulbs on the outside of their houses, you don't know if they're celebrating the birth of Jesus or General Electric.

Do you know what it is like to put up fifteen hundred Christmas lights on the roof of a house? The kids are giving two to one I'm gonna come down the chimney before Santa Claus does.

Christmas in Los Angeles is always interesting. Seeing carolers dressed in Bermuda shorts...groping their way through the smog singing: "It came upon a midnight clear."

Every Christmas pageant throughout the world has a scene showing Joseph leading Mary into Bethlehem on a donkey. Do you realize what would happen if the Republicans asked for equal time?

Did you hear about the Beverly Hills school Christmas pageant? Two kids dressed as Mary and Joseph and they are on their way to the inn in Bethlehem. On the other side of the stage, a boy in a shepherd's outfit is on a mobile/ cellular phone, calling for reservations.

Sometimes I get the feelin that if Christmas, Father's Day and birthdays did not exist, then aftershave too, would not exist.

I bought my friend some gift-wrap for Christmas. I took it to the gift-wrap counter and told them to wrap it, but in different paper, so he'd know when to stop unwrapping.

When I was young we were poor. We didn't have a Christmas tree, we had a Christmas stump.

When I was a kid our Christmases were very poor. We couldn't afford tinsel. We had to wait for grandpa to sneeze.

Christmas is a time when people get emotional over family ties, particularly if they have to wear them.

I remember my dad was chopping in a toy store. He said, "That's a terrific train set. I'll buy it."
The Clerk said, "Great, I'm sure your son will love it."
Dad said, "Maybe you're right. I'll take two."

They say that Santa comes but once a year. I can't understand that, considering all the bedrooms he visits.

Q: What do you get if you cross Raquel Welch and Santa Claus?
A: A thank you card from Santa.

Q: Why does Santa wear pink underwear?
A: He's a man. He did all his laundry in the one load.

It was so cold on Christmas Eve at the North Pole that Santa had to jump-start three of his reindeer.

Q: What do you call Santa's Helpers?
A: Subordinate Clauses.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Darwin Awards

It’s that time again. The Darwin Awards had several tasty stories to choose from this week, but this one stood out from the pack. I hope you enjoy it.

(October 2004, Chiayi, Taiwan) Most rutting contests involve two male mammals, like the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis dallis), which ram into each other at high speed in order to impress a female sheep and win the right to procreate. These mammals tend to have unusually thick skulls and extra fluid surrounding the brain to prevent damage from the competition. Humans tend not to have such thick skulls and other natural adaptations, and therefore do not generally rut.
Of course man, the tool user, can find artificial means to overcome natural limitations. One well-known example of this behavior is the medieval jousting contest in which participants wear armor and ride horses toward each other at high speed.
The most recent observation of human rutting behavior occurred when two Taiwanese university students donned protective helmets and revved their motor scooters in an effort to impress a comely female of their species. The two were the same class, but not friends. Other classmates reported that both men fancied the same female student.
After indulging in a few drinks during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the two encountered each other, and words were spoken. The gauntlet was thrown down. In lieu of horses, the two would ride their motor scooters at each other at high speed, and the one who didn't turn away would win the exclusive right to pursue the female.
Obviously both were very keen on her, because neither of them turned away. Their scooters collided head-on at 50 mph. Both died instantly. The girl at the center of the rut refused to comment, other than to say that she "wasn't interested in either of them."


Yeah, that’s about right.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Idle Hands and All That...

I’m starting to get a little antsy. I have been between stories for a couple of weeks now. I told myself (and yes, my wife) that I wouldn’t start a new project until after the first of the year. It sounded good when I said it. Now, I am feeling a little…adrift.

Oh, sure I could use some of that extra energy to write some mind blowing posts for the blog, but looking back through my entries, I realize that really isn’t my thing. I could turn to my poetry, but that always seems to be a little dark for this time of year.

I figured the synopsis dilemma would be enough to occupy me through the holidays, but apparently, you people are far more creative than I and have helped me get passed my hurdle in marvelous fashion. Thanks again for all of the wonderful advice (both in email and in the comments).

Today is my last day of work until after the first of the year. So, I have even more time to be tempted by the lore of storytelling. Oh, now that I think about it, I am sure my wife will be able to keep my mind off my obsession for the duration.

I do need to make a pretty important decision in the coming days: What do I want to write next? I have a few choices to make. I could finish the third book in my vampire series. Yes, I said finish. I was about 20,000 words into it when I abandoned it in favor of The Dance. I have also been tossing around the idea of a major re-write of my first novel. My writing has matured so much, that I can’t help but think that I can write the story better. My other option is to write another thriller. I had a blast writing the last one, but I was constantly aware that I had unfinished business with my characters from The Plains series. Oh, decisions, decisions, decisions. I’m sure I will figure it out by the first.

Happy Holidays and Happy writing…

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Meme Me, Baby!

Lime just tagged me (ok, she really more or less just suggested that she would like to see my answers) with a meme. It looks fairly interesting so I will give it a go.

Here are the rules:
The first player of this game starts with the topic: five weird habits. People who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don't forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says You Are Tagged (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

1. When I go to the grocery store I have to have every stacked in the basket in groups based on the purpose and temperature and when I load them on the conveyer to be scanned they also have to grouped properly.

2. The only time I leave the house in sneakers is when I am working out. I’ve tried to wear them casually, but it makes me feel all…twitchy.

3. When I make a sandwich the contents have to be uniform: Bread, condiment, tomato, cheese, meat, cheese, lettuce, condiment, bread. Dress right dress, sir (military saying)!

4. When I enter a room I have to make a mental note of how many entries/exits are available and how many steps it would take me to get to the closest one.

5. I can’t sit with my back facing a door. For that matter even in a restaurant, I have to sit where the majority of the patrons are within eyesight.

I am not a big fan of tagging people with memes; it just seems unfair to ask someone to do something if they’re really not up for it. So, if you find it interesting, go for it. Just drop me a note in the comments so that I can come read your answers.

Tic Toc

Not to sound like a scrooge or anything, but I can’t wait for the Christmas season to be over. Yes, I enjoy getting together with family. Yes, I enjoy eating the wonderful potluck dinners and reminiscing about the days of yore. Yes, I absolutely love to see the expression on my son’s face when he comes down the stairs and sees what Santa brought him. Yes, I even enjoy sneaking around after he goes to sleep and setting everything up. Yes, I enjoy nearly every aspect of the holiday.

What’s the problem then? I HATE the fact that I need to wear elbow pads and a hockey mask just to pick up a loaf of bread. It is unreal the way the shopping season turns normally friendly people into a mass of gibbering idiots, bent on running me down with a shopping cart. Those of you who know me, can attest that I am a rather large man and in the right light some have even said that I can be a little intimidating. Yet, for about three weeks a year, no one seems to think twice about ramming me carts, jumping in front of me to yank an item off the shelf (lest I take all twenty of item X before they can wait their turn), or any number of downright offensive behaviors that leave me scratching my head.

I blink my eyes rapidly, my nostrils flare and I envision yanking them off their feet by the hair as they struggle frantically to maintain their grip on that last bottle of Marsala while their feet dangle six inches off the ground.

When did Christmas shopping become an excuse to be rude? Isn’t this the season of giving? Then why don’t these people give me a break and show some manners. Oh well, it’s almost over. I think I will only have to brave the aisles one more time before the big day. Perhaps a bit of mistletoe tied to the back of my belt will send a clear message to the rabid throng that I have had enough.

End of rant…
Have a great day!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Groaner of the Day

A duck walks into a bar and says "Got any grapes?" and the bartender says "No we don't sell grapes!".

So the next day the duck comes back and says "Got any grapes?" and the bartender says "No we don't sell grapes, and the next time you come in here for grapes I'm going to nail your feet to the ground!!"

So the next day the duck comes back and says "Got any nails?" and the bartender says "No, we don't sell nails" so the duck says "Got any hammers?" and the bartender says "No we don't sell hammers!" So the duck says "Got any grapes?"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

On Memories and Dreams...

I see your lips moving, but I hear seagulls. Isn’t it bizarre some of the thoughts that flit through the mind when one has taken ill? I seem to be over the worst of it now. In fact, this morning is looking pretty promising. One good thing has come of all of all this (yes, I am an incurable optimist), I have several ideas to play around with in regards to my next writing project. Fevered dreams can be so vivid that you can’t help but to tuck them away alongside real life experiences. Imagination (at least, in my case) can only take you so far; the rest must be drawn from experience.

I write horror and dark fantasy. Does that mean that my life has been horrific? Up until about five years ago, my life was…a rollercoaster ride of the bizarre and wonderful events, but I don’t know if I would go so far as to call it horrific. I have experienced and witnessed the rise and fall of the human mind. I have seen human nature at its darkest and at its finest. I have known death and suffering, but even in the darkest of times I have seen acts of compassion that were so genuine yet out of place that it hurled me into private tears that welled over whenever I could snatch tiny moments of solitude.

Now that I have found balance in my life, that world seems no more than a dream to me or perhaps just the remnants of a really good story. My wife often asks me how I came to be so caring. I will go out of my way to right a wrong, whether it directly involves me or not.

“Are you vying for sainthood?”, she asks me playfully.
“No, I just have a lot to make up for.”

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t necessarily my own deeds that drive me, but rather my lack of intervention. Missed opportunities and wrong choices plagued my youth and truth be told, most of my twenties. Whether directly by my actions or lack there of, there existed pain, suffering and mental scars that could have, no should have been avoided.

I may never be able to right the transgressions of my youth, but now the memories and the dreams fuse and become fodder for my writing. It is when I write them to page, that I have an opportunity to make things as they should have been.

Whether it is a silent release or exercising my demons, my writing is my salvation. I can create a world of bad intentions, revealing each for what they are and correcting them one by one.

Ah, looking back over these ramblings, perhaps I am still in the grips of a fevered mind. Let’s dismiss them as that, but oddly enough my shoulders feel a little lighter now.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Blah....

It appears that I have contracted some nasty variant of the plague. Yes, that means I feel like death warmed over and I am just using the word plague to demonstrate how truly crappy I feel. It came over me all of the sudden yesterday evening.

It couldn’t come at worse time as I am trying to tie up some loose ends at work in hopes of taking the whole weekend off. Yeah, I don’t see me making it very far from home until this thing passes. Ah, such is life.

Normal posting will resume after my body decides to cooperate again.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Happy HNT!

It’s that time of the week again. I hope everyone is ready for the holidays. I was originally going to get a shot of my standing in the snow naked (or at least half) but it was just too damn cold out there.



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Happy HNT!

If you would like to play along, click on the link below.


HNTbutton

The Dumbass Darwin Awards

Oh wow…do I love The Darwin Awards . Check out this beauty:

(13 January 2005, Bizkupija, Croatia) On a Thursday afternoon around 4:30, 55-year-old Marko went into his semi-detached workshop to make himself a tool for chimney cleaning. The chimney was too high for a simple broom to work, but if he could attach a brush to a chain and then weigh it down with something, that would do the trick. But what could he use as a weight?
He happened to have the perfect object: it was heavy, yet compact, and best of all it was made of metal, so he could weld it to the chain. He must have somehow overlooked the fact that it was also a hand grenade and was filled with explosive material.
Marko turned on his electrical welding apparatus and began to create an arc between the chain and the grenade. As the metal heated up, the grenade exploded. The force of the explosion killed poor Marko instantly, blasting shrapnel through the walls of the shed and shattering the windshield of a Mercedes parked outside. Marko's chimney was untouched, however.
Surely, this has to be a made up story…doesn’t it? I mean, where did he get the grenade? If it was his, how did he not know what it was? Oh, wait now I am overanalyzing this thing instead of just enjoying it for what it is…good clean fun at the expensive of others.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mid-Afternoon Meanderings

I move without motivation.
I am idle though a flurry of activity.
My lack of conformity scares me.
I feel without touch.
I touch without feeling.
My emotions scare me.
I see though I’m blind.
Passion effects perception.
My visions scare me.
I hear all, but listen to nothing.
My callousness scares me.

My tears are almost as poisonous as my laugh.
My fears are unsubstantiated, but then…so are my comforts.
My pain gives me strength, but my pleasure will be the death of me.
My joy should be feared as the calm before the storm.
My reasoning abilities lack the conviction of execution.
My heart is too big for the tiny mind that wants to control it.
My tongue is rough, but smooth enough to change the world.

The rust around my heart will protect me from everything but lightning
And my wife’s breath on my neck
And my wife’s words in my ear
And the song on my son’s lips
And tears on my son’s cheek
And laughter
And sorrow
And birth
And death
And…
My heart is unprotected.

My life will not be wasted dwelling on things I cannot change.
It will be wasted on dream.

A Soldier’s Choice

It is quite unnerving when the Battalion Commander summons you to his office, even on a good day. However, when your Section Chief bails you out of a German jail just two days prior, you know your visit will not be a pleasant one.

I don’t know which bothered me more, the armed guard at my side or the fact that no one would believe that I was justified in my actions.

As we approached the closed door of Colonel Radcliff’s office, I found it odd that he had two guards stationed on either side of it. They must have been newbies because I didn’t recognize either one of them. This was not my first trip to his office, but then it was the first under these circumstances.

“So much for his famous open door policy,” I muttered as we came to a stop three paces from the door.

“You’d do well to check that attitude soldier,” The guard at my side scolded, before announcing our arrival.

“Send him in!” Colonel Radcliff barked at him from behind his desk.

I marched into the room, snapped to attention, and saluted the Colonel. “Sergeant Crow, reporting as ordered, Sir!”

“At ease trooper,” he commanded, returning my salute before retrieving his cigar from the ashtray.

I let my gaze drift over the two men in the room as I assumed the at ease position. One bore a single star on either shoulder that marked him as a general. The other soldier was a Command Sergeant Major. Both men bore the much-coveted Ranger tab and were holding black berets. I guess JAG was sending in the big guns for this one.

“This is General Seaton and Sergeant Major Stevens. Sergeant Crow, I have just been going over your records here. This is quite a mixed bag I’m holding in my hand. On one hand, I see several medals and achievement awards. This is absolutely stellar for a soldier your age. On the other hand, you are constantly in some sort of trouble, always pushing the limits of the law. Did you know your squad leader recommended that we seek your discharge on a section 8? Do you know what that means?”

“Yes sir, I do. It means Lieutenant McCrae thinks I’m crazy,” I answered, hoping it wasn’t a rhetorical question.

“Your damn right he does. It says here that he observed you jumping out of your barracks window and nearly landing on him. Your room is on the second floor, why would you do such a thing?”

“Sir, we were almost out of beer and the PX was about to close. I thought the window would be a much faster means of egress than the stairs,” I replied, trying not to let my face slip into a smile.

“Well, your just a regular comedian aren’t soldier?” Colonel Radcliff asked, clearly boggled by my audacity.

I knew better than to say anything. There was clearly no right answer to that question.

“It says here that you have been busted six times for assault. You must really enjoy fighting. Do you have an inferiority complex son?”

“No sir, I just have a little trouble knowing when to stand down.”

“And now you have stabbed a German civilian. What’s worse you did it in front of the Polizei. Of course, you couldn’t go with them quietly, you took it upon yourself to fight with them as well.”

“Sir, I stabbed him with the same knife that he tried to stab me with. That is what I was trying to explain to the Polizei. It was self-defense. I would have went with them quietly but they were handling me rougher than I thought was necessary, especially when I hadn’t done anything wrong,” I interrupted to plead my case.

“Oh, I see now. It is all a conspiracy. I suppose everything else in this report is just some sort of misunderstanding as well and the Polizei just happened to miss the fact that their boy had the knife first?” He baited me.

“No Sir. I have done everything else that you see in that record and worse, but the Polizei rolled up just in time to see me sink the knife into that German’s backside.”

“You stabbed him in the ass?” he asked as he shuffled through the papers on the desk in front of him.

“Yes sir, I told him when he pulled it on me that if he didn’t put the knife away I was going to shove it up his ass.”

All three of them broke into laughter. I guess the German Police had omitted that part of the altercation from their report.

“Well son, at least you warned him first.” Stevens quipped, still smiling.

The colonel nodded at him before returning his attention to his papers. I could feel both the General and Sergeant Major appraising me as I stood there.

“Your report also says that you have a knack for languages. You have listed six different ones that you are fluent in.. What drives a man to learn so many languages?” He asked, peering up at me over his glasses.

“I found it’s a great way to meet girls, sir,” I replied through a smile, rousing another round of laughs from my otherwise silent observers.

“You applied for Ranger training within two months of your arrival here. There is a war going on son. We are liberating Kuwait. You don’t feel that my unit is good enough to fight with?” He asked, leaning back in his chair.

“Sir, the way I see it, I am going to fight in this war sooner or later. I just want to be as highly trained as possible when I do it. You have a fine group of men assembled under you, but when the shit hits the fan, I don’t want to be surrounded by good soldiers. I want to be surrounded by the best.”

“Why was he rejected Colonel?” Seaton asked after casting a glance at Stevens.

“His squad leader claimed he was psychologically unstable,” he replied with a shake of his head.

“Ah hell, who isn’t in this day and age?” Stevens added with a nod.

“Well son, have you given any thought of what you are going to do when all of this is over?” The Colonel asked, returning his attention to me.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand the question sir.”

“I mean to say, you can’t soldier forever. You tour will be up in another year and they won’t let you re-up with the criminal record you have amassed. If the Army doesn’t want a man with a criminal record, how many civilian employers do you think will be willing to give you a chance?”

“I guess I haven’t thought that far ahead, sir.” I replied softly, realizing for the first time that I was not only accountable for my actions, but for the affects my actions would have on my future.

“What do you think, Sergeant Major Stevens?” The Colonel asked, watching him rub his chin.

“He is a little rough around the edges, but he has the look that could blend in with about any of them and it sounds like he has the tenacity to get the job done.”

“We have a mission for you that is highly unorthodox. It will put you through a highly modified Ranger course. If you choose to accept it, your record will be wiped clean and you will never see a courtroom over your latest transgression.”

“What’s the catch?” I asked wondering what they wanted from me that would be worth so much to them.

“You will only have two months of training in an undisclosed desert location. You will live off of goat meat and dried dates. You will live, eat, and sleep with the six men that will be with you on the mission. You will learn to speak as much Kurdi as possible in that time. When you deploy for your mission, you will not be wearing your Army Uniform.”

“Will I be issued an Iraqi Uniform then?” I wondered aloud, not sure if I liked where this was heading.

“The clothing we have seen worn by the Iraqi troops makes a mockery of the word uniform. But you will be given something that will pass for one.”

“What’s the assignment, sir?” I asked, realizing that this was sounding more and more like a suicide mission.

“I can’t tell you that, son. The only other thing I can tell you before you make your decision is how long you will be on the mission. We are asking for two weeks. Just two weeks worth of work and you get a brand new start.”

So I must decide between a life with no future and a life that will probably be cut short. I wondered what I would be doing for those two weeks. Oh well, sanity has never been my strong point.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!”

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Which one?

I blatantly stole this from Mean Girl. So much for making the good list…

You Are Dasher

You're an independent minded reindeer who never plays by the rules.

Why You're Naughty: That little coup you tried to stage against Santa last year

Why You're Nice: You secretly give naughty children presents.



So…which one are you?

Monday, December 12, 2005

WTF?

Ok, people…what’s the deal with that show Wife Swap? My wife watches it religiously and I gotta tell you, I just don’t see the appeal. Do any of you watch this show?

The basic premise is that they take two supposedly dysfunctional families, trade the wives and in the end, both families will see the error of their ways and magically live happily ever after. I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on this one.

I mean, does America really believe that two weeks submerged in a family that is the polar opposite of your own will somehow level you out? Maybe, but I don’t see how that would work. I suppose that each family is aware of their problems and are looking for a solution when they sign up for the show, but it seems more likely that they think their family life is ideal and want to encourage other people to join in their insanity.

Anyhoo, since I am probably going to be force fed watch this show for the rest of the season, I should probably try to keep a bit more of an open mind. Nah, I will probably just poke fun at it until it is cancelled.

Well, I would love to expound this post, but Las Vegas is coming on. Now, that’s a show I can get into….

Sorry, I just couldn't resist...

A frog walked into a bank to see the loan officer, Mr. Pattiwack. He said "Hi! My name is Kermit Jagger. I'm Mick Jagger's son, and I need a loan."

So Mr. Pattiwack said "What do you have as collateral." Kermit said "I have a pink ceramic elephant." So Mr. Pattiwack walked into his boss's office and said "There is a frog out here named Kermit Jagger. All he has for collateral is a pink ceramic elephant and I don't know what that is!"

So his boss said "It's a knick-knack Pattiwack give the frog a loan. His old man is a Rolling Stone."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Saturday Events

Yes, it’s official…my wife is insane. She ran in the Jingle Bell race today. There was still quite a bit of snow and ice on the trail, making the race quite treacherous. She did quite well considering the conditions, but was upset that she only took fourth.

An older racer (I’m guessing the guy was in his sixties) collapsed as he crossed the finish line, banging his face against the cement. That was pretty wild. I rushed to his aide, but by the time I could get there, he already had several people checking on him, including one of Tulsa’s finest. There were a few tense moments when I realized that he remained unconscious, but by the time the EMTs got to him, he seemed to be at least semi-lucid. My thoughts and prayers go out to him.

We dropped my son off with his Mema after the race. He loves to spend the night with her and I have it on pretty good authority that the feeling is mutual. It gave the Mrs. and I a good opportunity to finish up the last of his Christmas shopping. There is still the matter of a few stocking stuffers, but all of his actual presents are officially on hand.

We have experienced one of the first joys of owning a hot tub. After our marathon shopping experience, we thought it would be nice to unwind in the swirling steamy goodness. Sadly, something caused the heaters to kick out some time in the last 24 hours and the water was too cold to be endured. Oh well, best laid plans and all that…

Now, it is time to indulge in a time-honored tradition: The Company Christmas Party. Yes, it is the usually swanky little shindig with an open bar. It is a good time to dress up and cut loose. The company was good enough to hold the party at The Doubletree Downtown and reserve a block of rooms for something they referred to as “Take the elevator home.” I am guessing it has something to do with the open bar.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

If I’m not too hung over busy tomorrow, I will post an update of how the evenings festivities played out.

Oops...

A man appears before St. Peter at the pearly gates. " Have you ever done anything of particular merit?" St. Peter asks.
"Well, I can think of one thing," the man offers. Once, on a trip to the Black Hills, out in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of high-testosterone bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker. I smacked him on the head, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring and threw it on the ground, and told him, leave her alone now or you'll answer to me."
St. Peter was impressed. "When did this happen?"
"Just a couple minutes ago."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Rolling in it...

We had our first snow of the season, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Coming in at a whopping four inches, it was nothing more than powder. It was too dry to make snowballs with or anything. My son and I did manage to get out and make a few snow angels, but that was about the extent of it.

When you were a kid, did you used to love snow days? I did. All the kids in the neighborhood (and it didn’t matter which neighborhood I lived in) would get together and have these epic snowball fights. At times, we even went so far as building little snow fortresses to take defend us against the kids on the next block. Man those were good times. I can remember, on a few occasions, having homemade ice cream (made from only the freshest snow of course).

Now, for the most part, snow days are just a giant pain in the ass, especially when we don’t even get the good snow. I still managed to make it in to work. I considered staying home, but the winter weather stirred up several quasi-minor emergencies at both of my plants. It was nothing dangerous, mind you, but at least one of them required my immediate attention.

Maybe the next time it snows, I will get a chance to build a snowman. Until then, I’m waiting for the sun to wash this disappointment away.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Google me this, Batman...

I was browsing through the referrals in my site meter and it left me wondering what goes through the minds of some of these people as they type their search words into Google.

Oh, I know what some of them are thinking. For instance, every since I posted the book review for The God Particle by Richard Cox in which I mention the lovely Chera Kimiko, I have received some very…strange hits. Some of the tamer ones are: Chera Kimiko naked, Chera Kimiko partying, Chera Kimiko on Grand Lake. It makes me wonder if she has a lot of weirdoes emailing her on a daily basis.

Then I get the occasional hit that comes from way out in left field. Just the other day, I saw one that said, “Mother straddles his naked shoulders.” I mean, what the hell do you do with that kind of information?

In addition to these two, I have prepared a list of 10 things that people goolged that brought them to me:

1) “Hand in the Bush” Ok, were they looking for a reference to the adage or is this someone searching for porn, but afraid to use dirty words?
2) “I want you to dance” I see why this would bring them here. My problem is why they typed that into a search engine. Is this a song or were they actually telling their computer to dance? You laugh, but there are some dumb people out there.
3) “Funruly coworker” So, is the coworker fun or unruly? It could be that they are both, but then what makes this person think that they will find them on the internet? I guess there could be a group for such people FCA or some such. “Hi! I’m Bob and I’m a Funruly coworker.”
4) “Three men go to a cheap hotel” Are they looking for a cheap hotel or two other men to go with them? What will they do when they get there? I know…they’re going to Disney Land.
5) “Spank me” Pretty much self-explanatory, but I am not sure why that brought them to my site. That and it just made me laugh so I thought I would share.
6) “Rat atat tat that ass” I am assuming that it goes hand and hand with number 5, but with more enthusiasm. Perhaps number 5 and 6 should find each other. That could make for an interesting meeting. Might be even more interesting if they wound up be the other two men for number 4.
7) “Does semen cure sore throats” Of course, my inner pig wants to scream hell yes! But sadly all I can do is wonder what kind of a bad person takes advantage of someone that is so obviously naive?
8) “Why are women insane” Probably because of jackasses that try to use an illness to gain sexual favors. It sounds like someone is having some serious relationship problems.
9) “who’s your daddy” This one just makes me laugh every time I think about it. Why o why would someone google this?
10) “Hot hot hot” What the hell? Are they looking for the song, women, men, or peanuts? Get them while they’re hot.

I may have to build characters around the mental images I have created for the authors of these searches. Boy, do I love the internet…

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Happy HNT!

Is it a wolf? Is it a dog? Maybe a…zombie?


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Nope, it’s just me playing around with a picture of...er…me (one too many mes there).

If you would like to play along, click on the link below for details.


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The End of Innocence

My son has breached one of the subjects dreaded by parents everywhere. I cringed, I thought about the answer and…well, let’s take this from the top.

“Dad, where’s my Christmas list?” Tyler asks with furrowed brows.
“Why?” I ask, guessing at his motivation. “Do you have some more things to add to it? You know it is fairly long as it is.”
“No, Dad. I need to make a copy of it.”
“For…” I prompt.
“I need to send it to Santa pretty soon. Christmas is getting closer, you know.”
“Oh, yeah,” I smirk, mussing up his hair as I walk by him to fetch the list.
“Dad,” he ventures tentatively. “Can I ask you something?”
“You can ask anything you want. Now, whether or not I will answer you…that is a different story altogether.”
“Is Santa real?”

I freeze like a deer in headlights. We have a strict no lying rule at our house, one that he has tested the boundaries of more than once. I know that sounds strange coming from a fiction writer, but I keep fantasy and reality firmly separated in my day to day life (well, most days anyway). The rule is, “Lying is not an option. No matter how bad it is, the truth is always better.” This gives me quite the dilemma. Do I come right out and tell him the ultimate secret, crushing his dreams this close to the big day or do I disobey my own house rule. What to do…what to do?

“Do you believe he is real?”
“Yeah, but Tommy so and so says that he’s not.”
“Santa is an idea, an embodiment of the Christmas spirit. He is only as real as you make him. If you believe in him, then he is real for you and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or believes. Do you understand?”
“No,” he admits with a shake of his head.”
“Your belief is a powerful thing. Whether he is real or not, if believing in him makes you happy, then I say it doesn’t get much more real than that.”

So, the crisis is averted for now, but for how long? Or is it? Will it do more harm than good to let him continue to believe, if all of his peers no the awful truth?

Ok, I know several of you out there are parents. At what age did you tell your kids about Santa? Did you just let them figure it out on their own? Or do they still hold that childhood dream near and dear to their heart?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Rents...

It was brought to my attention that I haven’t posted any movie reviews in quite some time. So, in an effort to make amends, I now present you with three of them. I am instituting a five star system, which I plan to use on all future reviews.

First on Deck is Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Angelina Jolie is arguably one of the hottest actresses of our time and Brad Pitt is no slouch himself. You would think pairing the two would make for a dynamite movie. In actuality, it made for a decent movie. It was full of action and heavy on the idea of love conquers all, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I don’t know…maybe I was just expecting more, but this movie left me feeling unfulfilled. Most of the dialogue was a little trite and most of the action sequences were a bit overused. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t so horrible that I regretted watching it, but I definitely won’t be adding this one to my collection.
The basic premise is that they are both super assassins, living as man and wife, but totally ignorant to the fact that they share occupations. When they are both contracted to kill the same target, all hell breaks loose. They are pitted against each other, but where one is a formidable opponent, together they become almost unstoppable…almost.
I give this one two stars.



The second movie up for dissection review is War of the Worlds. If you don’t know what this movie is about, you’ve been living under a rock. Sadly, that may have been its downfall with me. It was a good movie, but I found it a little too predictable. The special effects were great and crazy scientologist guy Tom Cruise gave a fabulous performance. There were moments that touched the heart and moments that touched that special place that finds mass destruction kind of…cool.
Aliens attack the world and we flail against their superior technology. One man struggles against to get his family to safety as extermination squads tend to the masses. In the end, will man overcome this new menace? I guess you will have to watch the movie to find out (like you don’t already know…).
This one gets three stars.



And yes, I saved the best for last. The winner of this round of The Rents is Hostage. Bruce Willis is the tame one in this movie and that’s saying something. This movie is filled with bad guys, good guys and guys that you just don’t know where they fall. It has more weaves and turns than a drunken game of twister. Man o man, I can’t say enough good things about this movie.
Bruce Willis plays a hostage negotiator that looses his taste for the game, when a hostage situation results in the death of a child. He finds a job as The Chief of Police for a quiet little town. Unfortunately for him and his family, the town doesn’t remain that way. Two brothers, that are borderline punks, team up with a teenage psychopath bent on jacking cars. They try to steal an escalade from the garage of a seriously wealthy book cooker accountant. The heist quickly degenerates into a full blown hostage situation. Boy, did they pick the wrong house as the accountant works for some seriously evil and powerful people. There are several references that if read in just the right light, might suggest that the client is actually the government, but they never really come out and say it. Needless to say, when the shit hits the fan here, it is spread far and wide. I can’t really say more than that without giving too much away.
This baby rates a four and half stars.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday Morning Laughs (or Groaners if you prefer)

A chicken walks into a book store and says, "Book book book book book book." The person at the desk hands a book to the chicken and the chicken walks out. The next day the chicken walks into the book store again and says, "Book book book book book book."

The person at the desk hands a book to the chicken and the chicken walks out. The same thing happens over and over and over through the week. The person at the desk starts to wonder what the chicken is doing with the books and he finally decides to follow the chicken next time.

The next day the chicken walks into the store and says, "Book book book book book book." The guy behind the desk hands the chicken a book and the chicken walks out. The man follows the chicken into a forest with a long twisty path, after walking for a while the man comes to a pond and he sees the chicken and a frog. The chicken drops the book and says, "Book book book book book book." Then the frog says, "Read it, read it."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Good Times at the Goodman House

I have delved deep into the strange world of ADHD. I have fought against the notion for a couple of years. My son, isn’t ADHD. That’s a load of bunk. When I was a kid no one had ADHD. What he needs is more discipline. He just needs to learn a little self-control. Well…I was wrong. We had him evaluated by a professional who specializes in this sort of thing and she put him, us, his teachers, everyone through a series of questions and scenarios. In the end, she told us that it is rare that she runs across such a clear-cut case of ADHD. She said that the Attention Deficit portion was only borderline and quite possibly just a side effect of his extreme Hyperactivity, which scored off the charts incidentally.

We took the plunge and have now begun the somewhat trying process of finding the right medications. We began with a product called Strattera because it is a non-stimulant solution that works with the brain chemistry of the child to correct the “misfires” in the brain. We gave it several weeks, but had to abandon it because it had some strange side effects. Quite frankly, even at the lowest dosages, it left him in a zombie like state. That isn’t good for any of us. I don’t want to turn him into a rag doll, I just want to bring him down a notch, make him “Tyler lite” if you will. He has (which just breaks my heart) expressed that he knows he is different than the others kids in his class and wishes he wasn’t.

Ideally, you should be able to walk into a classroom and not tell which kids are on medication and which kids aren’t. To many people try to use this affliction as an excuse to over medicate the child until they no longer have to “deal” with the day to day trials of being a parent of a small boy.

We have moved him to Adderall XR. We started him out with the lowest dosage possible, 5 mg. We didn’t notice any real benefit. In fact after speaking with his teacher, her thoughts were that if anything he was worse, being more susceptible to emotional outbursts. More meetings with our family doctor and the specialist, and we decided to up the dosage. We all agree that we want to use the lowest dosage necessary to level him out, but now we have to find out exactly where that level is.

Today is the first day on the 10 mg dose. So far, the only real difference I have noticed is that he is more combative. It’s still early though.

Of course, nothing says that Adderall is the right medication at all. There are several of them out there and it could take months to find just the right one at just the right dosage.

Well, I’m off to make some more observations. This could become a long arduous process. Wish me luck…

Friday, December 02, 2005

Do you want to play with me?

Ah…I have written the end, but is the book really complete? No, of course it isn’t. Now I need to get it into the hands of Beta Readers. Do you have what it takes to cast a beady eye over this book? I need people that won’t treat the work with kid gloves. I want to have the weaknesses revealed and the mistakes pointed out. Said Beta reader has the opportunity to tear this story apart. So, go nuts! All kidding aside, if something doesn’t work, I need to know so that I can fix it.

Does this sound like something that would interest you? If so, then let me know. You can email me at jgoodman@goodysworld.com or just let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for playing...

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