Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

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

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Basketball Jones

I hate to use words like stomp when discussing children’s athletics, but I am not sure what else to say about a basketball game that ended up 20-2. Holy cow, my son’s team turned up the heat today. They played hard and had a good time doing it.

My son can flat move with the ball. It is amazing to watch someone so small have such control dribbling the ball while running. He still needs a little work with his shots, but he sure looks like a natural out there.

I am so proud of him and his entire team. They are a great bunch of kids.

Kicking It Up

As some of you may remember, last summer I signed up to take lessons at Apollo’s Karate. I only made it a month, before I had to drop the classes because I had a project that was going to eat up virtually all of my free time for months.

Well, I resumed my studies and last Thursday, I tested for my yellow belt. Yep, I officially advanced. Yep, I am still sore from the testing. It sure was fun though.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ha Ha!

A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus.
"It's a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway," he said.
"Actually," said his guide, "it's named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation."
The visitor was astonished. "Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?"
"Yes, indeed," said his guide. "He wrote a check."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

It’s that’s time again. Yes, Wednesday means we are ready for another installment of The Darwin Awards. Enjoy…

(22 November 1980, Missouri) The Gateway Arch soars 630 feet above the city of St. Louis. Around 9 a.m., a technician entering the park's interpretive center saw an object falling down the north leg of the arch. The object turned out to be Kenneth, 33, who was trying to impress his wife on her birthday.
His plan was to parachute onto the top of the arch. It didn't bother Kenneth that the park service had turned down his request for permission to jump. Kenneth had already made over 1,600 jumps. He knew what he was doing. And a true daredevil never needs permission.
The day dawned with howling winds and bitter cold. The weather would have given most parachutists second thoughts about making a jump. But Kenneth had psyched himself up by watching a documentary on parachute daredevils, and Kenneth knew what he was doing.
He left his wife a note asking her to come and photograph his triumph. At 8:55 a.m. he leapt from a light plane and soared successfully to the top of the monument. He had conquered the Gateway Arch, with his wife watching from the ground!
He grabbed onto the aircraft warning light, to steady himself against the raging wind. The first part of the plan had gone perfectly. Of course it had, Kenneth knew what he was doing. Now came the harder part: getting down.
The arch is hollow, with a viewing area inside, just beneath Kenneth's feet. Perhaps he was looking for a trap-door into the arch, but there was no trap-door. A gust of wind caught his deflated parachute and threw him off balance. He began sliding down the north leg of the arch. About halfway down, he tried to deploy his backup parachute, but it failed.
Another gust caught his parachute and blew him off the arch. He fell the rest of the way, landing head-first in the terrazzo below. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital about one hour after performing his last jump.
And that's what comes from thinking you know what you're doing.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

B-Ball (The Winter Games)

My son had his first basketball game yesterday. They started off a little shaky, but by golly, they sure rallied in the second half to squeak out a win. Even if they hadn’t, I am still mighty proud of him and his entire team. They played hard, ran fast, and basically had a blast. Which at this age, is really what it is all about.

Per his request, here are a few pictures from the game. Sorry they are so dark, but apparently, my camera sucks in the gym.


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I hope the weekend has been wonderful.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Opportunity Knocks

She may not be Miss Snark , but Elektra is offering a service to writers around the world. Yes, she has opened a full time Crap-O-Meter . Whether you post anything to the shredder blog or not, I am sure there will be some lessons learned for anyone who takes the time to read the comments.


So, drop by and check it out.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mo' Meme

Four Truths and a Lie
I have read this meme in various forms as it moves across the blogosphere and decided to give it a try.

Four things are true, one's a lie. If you care to figure out the lie, drop your guesses into the comments.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Welder
Soldier
Arms Dealer
Payment collector for a loan shark
DCS Programmer

Four movies you could watch over and over:
Lost Boys
Gladiator
The 40 year old virgin
Hostage
Underworld
Four places you've lived:
Dover, DE
Babenhausen, Germany
Long Beach, CA
Palermo, Italy
Tybee Island, GA
Four TV shows you love to watch:
Lost
Biggest Loser
Las Vegas
My name is Earl
Fear Factor

Four places you've been on vacation:
Bankok, Thailand
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Las Vegas, NV
Cozumel, Mexico
Ensenada, Mexico

Four websites you visit daily:
Miss Snark
Writer Beware
A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing
Publisher’s Marketplace
ST Literary Agency

(Bonus points if you can guess why the lie is such a blatant one)

Four of your favorite foods:
Ribs
Lasagna
Pork Steaks
Grilled Chicken
Beans

Four places you'd rather be right now:
On my wakeboard
Vegas, baby…yeah!
Cairo, Egypt
Alaska
Bali

Four bloggers you are tagging:
I think I may be one of the last people in cyberspace to do this, so I’m not tagging anyone else.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another addition of The Darwin Awards .

(31 May 2003, Indiana) Tamar came all the way from New York with her husband-to-be for the annual Stark Raven Mad Event at the Splashin' Safari, where members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts planned to rendezvous on Memorial Day weekend. The 32-year-old eagerly looked forward to riding the Raven, later described by Spencer County Prosecutor Jon Dartt as "one of the world's most terrifying roller coasters."
Tamar planned what coaster enthusiasts call "catching airtime," standing up during the ride to show bravery. The park staff warned the "spirited and intelligent" Harvard MBA, along with the rest of the group, to leave her seat belt buckled. "Don't mess with our safety equipment." Tamar's seat belt and lap bar restraint were in place when the train left the station. But you can't catch airtime that way.
As the train swooped over the precipice into the "infamous drop" on the fifth turn at 60 mph, where the G-forces are notoriously skyward, Tamar unlatched her seat belt and stood up. The train dropped, but Tamar didn't. She caught good air until she landed on the ground, 69 feet below.
All I can say is…wow!

Have a great day.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Hmm, there's something you don't see everyday...

Yesterday, I headed over to my local Supercuts to get a little trim. As I settled into the chair and the clippers buzzed to life, I hear, “Okay, Garth are you ready?”

Nah, the clippers must be playing tricks with my hearing, but sure enough, I look in the mirror and Garth Brooks is getting prepped for a haircut. I have seen him several places around town, but then it is to be expected since one of his houses is not to far from mine. However, Supercuts just didn’t seem like a place that you would run into a mega-star. I guess he really does just consider himself a regular joe like the rest of us.

It was almost comical, watching the ladies swoon over him. It seemed that nearly every stylist in the shop suddenly needed to borrow a comb or clipper guard from the station of the lady cutting his hair. I had to suppress a chuckle as I watched one of them fanning herself in dramatic fashion as she stood with her back to him. I guess she didn’t realize that with the mirrors running down both sides of the shop, she might has well have done it right in front o him.

We spent the evening with friends from work. It was a blast. Great music, better company and freely flowing libations…does it get any better than that? Oh, and I also managed to pimp out my websites several times through out the evening. Never miss an opportunity to reach new readers.

Anyhoo, I am off to play catch up. I hope everyone else had a marvelous weekend as well.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Rents

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a first. Someone actually requested that I review a rental. True it took me awhile to comply, but I am thrilled by the request. So, without further ado…

Dark Water is another in a grown line of Japanese horror films converted for American audiences. I had great expectations for this movie. It fell short. Don’t get me wrong; it was a decent film and worth watching, but it had the potential to be great.

The premise: Boy meets girl. Girl turns out to be a little off due to abandonment issues. Boy wants to divorce girl, but it doesn’t happen until after they have a daughter. The mother and daughter try to find a decent apartment that they can afford. What they find is apartment 9F. Strange things happen from the beginning of their first visit there. After the move in, the problems get worse. The ghost of a little girl wreaks havoc on their lives, with enough visual stimulation that even my skin crawled. Through the course of the movie, you discover why this little girl becomes a tortured soul, but you don’t realize the solution to her dilemma until the very end. I won’t ruin the ending here, but I have to say…it wasn’t expected.

This movie will keep you guessing and the conservative use of sudden movement is enough to make you jump. Of course, the action will make you feel a little foolish, because when it comes right down to it, this movie isn’t that scary.

I recommend it as a rental, but I won’t be adding this one to my personal collection.

Rating: Three Stars.


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Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Lost Boy

Does anyone else watch Lost? I have become obsessed with this show. It is dark, twisted, full of mixed signals and downright…yummy. Every time, I think I figure out what’s going on, they switch directions.

My overall take on the show is that they all actually died in the plane crash and the island is just a form of purgatory. Usually when someone dies on the island it is only after they have either a) made peace with their personal demons or b) revealed their dark secrets and rather than regret them, the embrace them. Thus, when they die they are merely moving on to either heaven or hell…or Newark.

The others, now that is where it gets really sketchy. Are they demons or angels or…? They, like Santa, have a list, if you’re not on the list, you’re shit out of luck. They took all the children, but you assume they are still alive. Yet, every adult they drag into the woods, winds up dead.

Then, there is the word creature that rustles the leaves and roars from time to time. What the hell is that all about? I can’t figure out how it comes into play yet.

And we can’t forget about the secret bunker with the button that has to be pushed every 108 minutes. Of course that’s after you enter the code that just so happens to be the exact same numbers that one of the survivors used to win the powerball. The thing is, they were told if the button isn’t pushed it could destroy the world. It is hard to believe for most of the survivors, but no one wants to take the chance that it is true, so they keep pushing the button.

So, does anyone else have any differing opinions about what is going on with the show? Perhaps, similar opinions, but more insights? Feel free to chime in.

Thanks for playing…

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Happy HNT!

It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t posted an HNT in a while. So, without further ado:
Body art…

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And wordplay…
A Writer's Journey
I answer the call
From my inner voice.
When the muse tickles my ear,
I have no choice,
But to put pen to paper, fingers to keys.
And so, the journey begins
With eyes so bright.
Innocence abounds
As my imagination takes flight.
The masterpiece takes shape
And my mind reaches for the stars.
I envision interviews with Leno
And my poetry read in bars.
The book is complete.
I hold it up with trembling hands.
The only thing left
Is for it to find its way to the fans.
I drop queries in the mail
And hope for the best.
My patience and resolve,
Will soon be put to the test.
Still the fantasy remains.
I will be the next big thing.
My fame will surpass
Anne Rice or even Stephen King.
Days, weeks, and months go by
Without so much as a word.
At last, I receive a letter
Address, written in my hand.
It is addressed to dear author
And they're not buying.
Well, what do they know?
Perhaps an agent is what I need.
I answer an ad in a magazine.
They like my work and for a small fee,
I will be published in no time,
Just you wait and see.
They had the speed,
I will give them that.
I had a dozen rejections,
In no time flat.
Don't let it get you down kid,
You've written a best seller.
We just have to find it a home,
Get it in front of the right feller.
Just send me more money
And we will be on our way.
I have a question or two
Before we proceed.
I've read through your list of publishers,
And I have to say,
You, sir, are a hack, a swindler, and a cheat.
If I had more than P.O. Box
With which to find you,
Your ass, I would beat.
My innocence has been replaced
With apprehension.
My sleep is still filled,
With the first timers dreams.
My words will be read
And hearts will be moved,
Emotions will be stirred.
With a single book,
I could change the world.
Someone, somewhere will read my words
And will be inspired to do great things.
I dream of a series of books,
crossing all genres.
I dream of books on tape
And book signings,
With throngs of people waiting
For a signature or at least a glimpse.
I dream of an adoring public
That falls so hard for my characters,
They become a household name.
All of this and more I dream.
No matter what happens,
I will always have my dreams.
My dreams are not goals,
They are fantasies and as such,
They will never be crushed.
I am a slave to the muse,
A whore for her voice.
I am a man that hears voices.
I argue with myself
And put it on paper.
I am a visionary,
A dreamer,
A fiend for the written word.
I am a writer.

Happy HNT!

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To play along, click this button and visit Osbasso.

Dar-Wednesday

Yes, it’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. As I browsed through these, I was amazed at how many of them say the alcohol was involved. Do you mean to tell me that alcohol causes stupidity? Say it isn’t so!!! Anyhoo, enjoy:

(20 July 2004, Tallahassee, Florida) The Kleman Plaza parking garage has the ideal bannister for a long slide, spiraling around an open stairwell all the way down from the fifth floor without a break. Brian, 24, was a real-life hero who had saved a friend from drowning that summer, but friends said he was also a "big fan of reality TV where high-risk stunts were performed." The bannister was his chance to do reality TV in real life. But just sliding down the bannister was nowhere near risky enough to be a real stunt. He planned to leap onto the bannister to begin his slide. He ran, he jumped...and he sailed completely over it, plunging 52 feet straight to the bottom of the stairwell.
According to a police investigation, "alcohol may have been a factor." A friend fondly reminisced that "Brian had done crazier things than this" before. That may be hard to believe, because this was the first time he earned a Darwin Award.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Here We Go Again...

As many of you know, I recently decided to abandon Darkness on the Plains. I finished it a few years ago and it was an utter mess. I made many…many horrible mistakes throughout.

Well, M.G. Tarquini convinced me that I shouldn’t give up on it. I sent her a copy of the MSS and she gave me several really good pieces of advice. To make a long story short, I have decided to re-write the novel.

Starting tomorrow, I will post a chapter every Tuesday and Friday (sound familiar?) for your perusal. As always, your comments/suggestions are welcome. Don’t be afraid to point out things that just don’t seem to work or out right suck. The occasional, “Wow, this knocked my socks off” would also be appreciated, but only if it really does.

Thanks for playing…

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Saturday Fun

We had a really good time yesterday, one filled with food, friendship and games.
Yesterday, my New England Patriots were set to take on Jacksonville in the first round of the NFL playoffs. I invited several friends over for the event.

I love to cook. It doesn’t matter whether it is in the kitchen on the grill, hell…I have even been known to work wonders with an open fire in the middle of nowhere. It just stands to reason that when we are having so many friends over that I should feed them.

I grilled just shy of thirty pounds of ribs, a ton of shrimp on skewers, and of course, a “healthy” batch of smoked sausage. We rounded the meal out with fried potatoes and some brussel sprouts in butter sauce. For dessert, we offered up a little cheesecake. All of this was prepared to feed six people, three of which were women. Overkill you say? Nope, the only thing left in the aftermath was a rack that consisted of four ribs and a tiny little sprout floating around by itself in the enormous bowl.

After the feast, it was time for the game to start, so we settled back into the living room. Once it became apparent that The Pats were going to toss The Jaguars a spanking (the final score was Pats-28 and Jags-3), we decided to play Cranium. We split up into two teams, men versus the ladies. That game is hilarious. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys board games.

We stayed neck and neck through the entire course of it, but in the end, the ladies were victorious. We had a chance to answer the winning question before the ladies, but I blew it. A skit from some comedy show that I can’t even remember the name of was my downfall. I had it stuck in my mind that George Washington Carver invented the phonograph. Did anyone else see that skit? They were talking about everybody thought he was nuts until the brother made a phonograph out of a peanut. Yeah, I felt quite foolish, but in my defense, it was late in the evening, and I was just a wee bit inebriated. Oh, well there is always next time.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

How to Stay Young

My Aunt sent this to me and I thought it was worth sharing.

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height.
Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay them.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. ( Keep this In
mind if you are one of those grouches;)

3. Keep learning: Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening,
whatever. Never let the brain get idle. "An idle mind is the devil's
workshop." And in this case, the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4. Enjoy the simple things

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you
have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and Lots of time with HIM/HER.

6. The tears happen: Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is
with us our entire life, is ourself. LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love: Whether it's family, pets,
keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable,
improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county,
to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.


10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

And if you don't share this with at least four people - who cares?
But try to share this with someone special.

Have a great day!

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Darwin Awards

Yes, it’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. There were some real “Thank god, these people can’t reproduce” stories this week. I finally settled on this one for your reading pleasure:

(22 April 2004, Georgia) At a Cave Springs "convenience dump" where local residents could drop off waste for later delivery to the main county dump, monitors were paid to ensure that residents deposited only allowed waste. One keen-eyed inspector noticed a bottle in the trash compactor that looked suspiciously like homemade wine. He fished the bottle out of the compactor. At this point you may be thinking this is a "man crushed in compactor" story--but no!
After safely retrieving the bottle, the gentleman in question and another local man proceeded to drink the "wine," which turned out to be antifreeze. Both men were poisoned and one died. Apparently neither of them considered that the bottle had been thrown away in a dump, leading to the reasonable conclusion that the contents were undrinkable.
By coincidence, there is an actual winery called Cave Springs Cellars, although it's located a thousand miles north of Georgia in Niagara, Ontario. It should be noted that the antifreeze was not a Cave Springs Cellars vintage.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Little Monkey With the Big Heart

I realize that this is a little late, but we actually went to see a movie while we were on vacation and I am just now getting around to telling you about it.

We took the plunge (with the one or two other Americans that haven’t seen it yet, apparently) and watched King Kong. I’ve gotta tell ya…twenty minutes into the movie I was thinking I made a mistake. I should have waited for this to come out on DVD. It started off a little dull and boring slow, but once Skull Island came into view the story broke through the starting gates, galloping through the plot at a breakneck pace.

This movie is around three hours long, but once the action starts, it seems like the credits are rolling before you know it. The special effects were awesome. The acting was better than expected (to be fair, I am a Jack Black fan so this opinion may be heavily biased). All in all, this was a damn good movie.

On the way out of the theater, my wife batted her eyes at me and leaned up to whisper in my ear. I knelt a little to facilitate and what did she have to say?
“You know…Kong kind of reminds me of you, baby.”

I was instantly torn, did she mean that I was ferocious yet caring and tender or did she just think that I needed to shave? Either way, I picked up a razor on the way home. You can’t be too careful about these things.

If you haven’t seen this one yet, I highly recommend you do so.

Update: For a completely different take on the movie, check out Ric's blog.



Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Is it Friday yet?

Wow, what a first day back in the office today was. I hit the ground running and barely had time to breath until about ten hours later. You know how work piles up when you take a few days off? Well, I took eleven days off, so you can imagine what I walked into this morning. I had to visit three out of four of my facilities today to make troubleshoot broke equipment and modify complex programming sequences.

Having said all that, I’m still not caught up. I managed to put out the most prominent fires, but it looks like I am going to have a long week ahead of me (Yes, I’m aware that it is only a four day workweek but, I will be damned lucky if it plays out that way).

I know this post is extremely short, but honestly…I just don’t have time to say a whole lot more today. I am hoping to resume my lengthy and boring normal posting by next week, until then remember, “No matter where you go…there you are.”

Peace…

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

That's not right...

On a Trans-Atlantic flight, a plane passes through a severe storm. The turbulence is awful, and things go from bad to worse when one wing is struck by lightning. One woman in particular loses it.

Screaming, she stands up in the front of the plane. "I'm too young to die!" she wails. Then she yells, "Well, if I'm going to die, I want my last minutes on Earth to be memorable! I've had plenty of relationships in my life, but no one has ever made me really feel like a woman! Well I've had it! Is there ANYONE on this plane who can make me feel like a WOMAN?"

For a moment there is silence. Everyone has forgotten their own peril and they all stare riveted, at the desperate woman in the front of the plane.

Then, a man stands up in the rear of the plane. "I can make you feel like a woman," he says.

He's gorgeous. Tall, built, with flowing black hair and jet black eyes, he starts to walk slowly up the aisle, unbuttoning his shirt one button at a time. No one moves. The woman is breathing heavily in anticipation as the strange man approaches.

He removes his shirt. Muscles ripple across his chest as he reaches her and extends the arm holding his shirt to the trembling woman, and whispers:

"Iron this."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Monday Musings

At last, my son finally comes home today. He has only been gone a week, but it feels like an eternity. He has been staying with one of his grandmothers that live about two hours from here.

They have a farm and let’s face it, that is just like a magical wonderland to an 8 year old. He gets to play with various animals, go fishing, roam and explore, well…you get the picture.

His grandmother called us yesterday with a rather funny story. She said that he had been moping around the house; you know…dragging his feet and sticking his bottom lip out, that sort of thing. Anyhoo, here is the breakdown of the conversation:

GM: “What’s wrong?”
TG: “Will you take my temperature?”
GM: “Ah, are you coming down with something?”
TG: “Yeah, I think I’m homesick.”

Ah, the things that come from the mouths of babes. I sure do love that little guy.

Well, I had better go get ready as I have quite a drive ahead of me.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The White Flag

Ok, here’s the deal. I have been going through my first novel, Darkness on the Plains, with the high hopes of doing what few say is even possible. I hoped to turn it in to something that people would enjoy reading. I am sad to say that I have failed in that endeavor. I love the characters I created and there are many portions of the story that I think are both original and fun to read, but that isn’t enough to make it a good story. I tried to look for ways to make the plot more…cohesive. I tried to tighten the portions that seemed to be nothing more than my ramblings about things that I thought important at the time, but really did nothing to move the story along in the proper direction.

Many have said that a writer’s first attempt should be looked at as a great learning experience that should be locked away so that the masses will never know how bad they stumbled with those first steps. At this point, I tend to agree (at least, in my case).

When I discussed this with my wife, she felt it appropriate to quote (loosely) Kenny Rogers, “You have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Know when to walk away and know when to run. Baby, I think its time to run.”

But wait, didn’t you write a sequel to the book? Hell yeah, and I started a third one to boot. I will just have to make Blood on the Plains more of a stand-alone book and take it from there.

It’s a new year and I have a new outlook on my work. I will begin the re-write of the second book soon and I will post it a chapter at a time here, in hopes that your feedback will help me see the holes that I can’t. I have never posted the first book in its entirety, so for most, if not all of you, it will be easier for you to find places that need more explanation before they will work. I thank you all to be as frank as possible when commenting on the chapters that I post. If something doesn’t work for you, by all means let me know.

I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year.

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