Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

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

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Moment Of Silence

Yes, I mourn for a significant number of brain cells that perished this weekend. They will be missed. I need a moment of silence, not so much out of respect for the fallen, but because my head is killing me.

My son spent the weekend with one of his grandparents, which gave us an unexpected weekend to play alone. You may or may not remember Conestoga came to town this last weekend. Friday, we had full intentions of attending the opening ceremonies, but we wound up partying like rock stars hanging out with some raving lunatics friends and didn’t set foot in the conference. No harm, we made it out Saturday, though we did so still feeling a little out of sorts from the previous night’s debauchery. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a bar at the con. What better way to cure a hangover than a little hair of the dog. Yeah, we drank, played, acted like idgets and stayed up to the wee hours of the next day.

Sadly, most of that time wasn’t spent at the con. We were only there for a few hours, long enough to see a few friends, the art room and of course, the dealer room. Then it was off for a night of revelry and making fun of the odd taxi driver between destinations.

It’s odd that I still feel like a train wreck this morning. I suppose when you don’t drink very often, over doing it really takes its toll. My brain is seriously missing the lost brain cells, so I will close for now and let it rest. I should be back to my abnormal normal self tomorrow.

How was your weekend?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday 55

I wrote this one last week by request. Susie posted a picture and asked everyone to write a 55 word story about it. I have to say…it was a lot of fun.

Exhausted, she fell. She could run no more. She lived for her music. Some said she should die for it. Witch they dubbed her; called for her head. Born with the feral heart, she was only safe in the wild. Animals bowed to her song, her will. Hell, maybe they were right to fear her.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Movie Review: UltraViolet

UltraViolet is a movie about a virus that produces vampire like qualities. Viewing of this movie left us with a house divided. I thought it was decent, if not a little campy, but my wife couldn’t wait for it to end. I had to physically restrain her from smashing it beneath her heels when we took it out of the DVD player.

Here’s the synopsis:

Set in the late 21st century, a subculture of humans has emerged with a genetic mutation causing enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence. As more people are infected and the government becomes increasingly terrified of their growing power, those with the mutation are treated as outcasts, subjected to terrifying tests and put into quarantine. The government sets out to destroy them, but one woman is determined that that doesn't happen: ultra-beautiful, ultra-lethal Violet. With eyepopping martial arts skills and chameleon-like abilities, Violet becomes a rogue warrior bent on protecting her new race--and seeking revenge on those who created it.


I’m glad I didn’t watch it in theaters, but if there’s nothing else on T.V., it’s better than nothing.


Rating: 3 Star.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

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

(31 July 1995, Christchurch, New Zealand) An ice-maker may seem innocuous, but when it's big enough to walk into -- for example, one that supplies ice to fishing boats -- it can be so dangerous that safety procedures and fail-safe devices are required. So it was a bit of a surprise when employees at afish processing plant heard screams emanating from inside the giant ice-maker.

An employee had been running the machine when the flow of ice jammed. Access to the machine's auger chamber was restricted, and employees are trained never to enter the chamber while the auger is running. It would be easy enough to ignore the warning signs, but it is hard to get around another safety feature: the auger will not run unless the operator holds down a foot pedal outside the chamber. Take your foot off the pedal and the machine shuts down.

There was no way the operator could run the auger and also enter the chamber. Or so it seemed, but one enterprising employee found a way. He laid a heavy piece of metal on the foot pedal to keep the auger running while he entered the chamber to clear the ice jam. He was caught by the swirling auger and drawn inevitably, and fatally, into the ice machine.

Ironically, the employee had helped negotiate a labor contract stipulating that workers should scrupulously follow all safety procedures and abide by the company's operating rules.
This is such a…chilling story, I couldn’t help but share it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Agents On The Move

I read Publisher’s Lunch the other day (ok, I read it every day, but this particular day is what I want to talk about) and one of the announcements put the ol’ wheels a’ turning.

Jeff Kellogg left The Stuart Agency to start his own agency, Pavilion: Literary Management. There are others, to be sure, but his announcement is the one that prompted this line of thought.

Now, if you’re a writer, I’m sure you’ve heard about the horrible state of the publishing industry. Fewer readers, lower sales numbers, and a never ending stream of aspiring writers, make this industry a tough nut to crack for masochists folks who want to make a living telling lies entertaining others with their words.

With the current state of the publishing industry and an uncertain future to boot, what kind of brass does it take to set out on your own? What makes the risk worthwhile?

I feel it necessary to tell you that the following paragraphs are from my own rambling thoughts and in no way related to the circumstances that led Mr. Kellogg to found his own agency.

Does an agent just reach a point where their client list is so large (and lucrative) that the temptation to keep them all to themselves becomes too great? I’m not sure what the breakdown is, but of the 15% that goes to the agent X amount must surely go back to the agency. If one strikes out on their own, surely the ration of what actually makes it to the pocket goes up. But then, how do you know your clients will come with you. In most cases, they signed on with an established agency, what is the motivation for the writer to jump ship with the agent? How does that conversation even begin? Does the agent call up everyone on his client list, tell them he’s starting his own agency and wants them to come with him? Wouldn’t there be a high risk that one of them would let the cat out of the bag before he was ready?

Does something happen at the agency to make the thought of spending one more day with his co-workers unbearable? Did something happen to suck the passion out of the job? Did the focus of the agency change? Did the range of books they represent become too narrow? Have they become too broad?

Maybe, it has nothing to do with the old agency at all. It could be that it was one of his favorite places to work, but they were still working for someone else. If you’ve made all the right contacts and you have enough clients, why not have your name on the letterhead?

These are just some of the things I wondered about. Perhaps some of you could shed some more light. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Welcome To Hell Oklahoma

June 10th





Just moved to Oklahoma! Now this is a state that knows how to live!! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. What a place! It is beautiful. I've finally found my home. I love it

here.







June 14th:



Really heating up; got to 100 today. Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this. I'm

turning into a sun worshipper.







June 30th:



Had the backyard landscaped

with western plants today; lots of cactus and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but I love it here.







July 10th:



The temperature hasn't been below 100 all week. How do people get used to this kind of heat? At least, it's kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected.







July 15th:



Fell asleep by the community pool. (Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body); missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though - got to respect the ol' sun in a climate like this.







July 20th:



I missed Lomita (my cat) sneaking into the car when I left this morning. By the time I got to the hot car at

noon, Lomita had died and swollen up to the size of a shopping bag, then popped like a water balloon. The car now smells like Kibbles and $hits. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat. Good ol' Mr. Sun strikes again.







July 25th:



The wind sucks. It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer!! And it's hot as hell. The home air-conditioner is on the fritz and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he needed to order parts.







July 30th:



Been sleeping outside on the patio for 3 nights now, $225,000 house and I can't even go inside. Lomita is the lucky one. Why did I ever come here?







Aug. 4th:



It's 115 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today. It cost $500 and gets the temperature down to 85. I hate this stupid state.







Aug. 8th:



If another wise a$$ cracks, 'Hot enough for you today?' I'm going to strangle him. D@mn heat. By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over, my clothes are soaking wet, and I smell like baked cat!!







Aug. 9th:



Tried to run some errands after work - wore shorts, and when I sat on the seats in the car, I thought my a$$ was on fire. My skin melted to the seat. I lost 2 layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and a$$ . . . Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried a$$, and baked cat.







Aug 10th:



The weather report might as well be a d@mn recording . . . Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. It's been too hot to do $hit for two d@mn months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week.







Doesn't it ever rain in this d@mn state? Water rationing will be next, so my $1700 worth of cactus will just dry up and blow over. Even the cactus can't live in this d@mn heat.







Aug. 14th:



Welcome to HELL! Temperature got to 115 today. Cactus are dead. Forgot to crack the window and blew the d@mn windshield out of the car. The installer came to fix it and guess what he asked me??? "Hot enough for you today?" My sister had to spend $1,500 to bail me out of jail. Freaking Oklahoma. What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here??







Will write later to let you know how the trial goes

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Update

We had a great time at my mom’s house yesterday. My brother was the grill master and he served up a grand selection of ribs, chicken, steak, bratwurst, smoked sausages, and hot dogs. There was a ton of absolutely yummy side dishes as well.

We had the opportunity to meet my cousin’s fiancé (I haven’t seen him in a while). She was a lovely girl and seemed quite amicable. I wish them a long life of happiness together.

My nephew spent the night with us and I’m just waiting on him and my son to wake up so we can load them into the boat and head for the lake. Yep, it’s time for a little wakeboarding.
How has your weekend been so far?

Scenario:

You are driving in a car at a constant speed. On your left side is a
valley and on your right side is a fire engine traveling at the same
speed as you.

In front of you is a galloping pig which is the same size as your car
and you cannot overtake it. Behind you is a helicopter flying at ground
level. Both the giant pig and the helicopter are also traveling at the
same speed as you.

What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation?


Answer:

Get off the children's Merry-Go-Round, you're drunk.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I'm A Rambling Man

It looks like my shoulder is definitely on the mend. I returned to my karate classes this week with only minor protests from the injured area. I also managed to sneak in a little wakeboarding and was able to overcome what little pain that gave me with a couple of Advil. I’m not 100% yet, but it looks promising.

They finally repaired my boat this week. I went by the shop, picked it up and unloaded it at the house. This seems like a relatively mild task, but as it hasn’t been under 100 degrees F this week, by the time I was finished getting it stowed, secured and covered, I had quite the sweat going. Of course, it was nothing a little AC wouldn’t fix. Alas, I unlocked the house and went inside to find it a balmy 90+ degrees (my thermostat only reads to 90 and it was pegged). Yep, my AC died during the hottest part of the year. Luckily, it turned out to be a problem I could fix myself, so by midnight the house was back to a chilly 65 degrees.

It looks like I’ve sold my Sea Doo to one of the guys that works for me. He wanted one and I had a logistical problem with towing both the boat and the Sea Doo, so it works out well for both of us. I’m going to use the money from the sell to buy a new wakeboard tower and some racks for my boat. I think we’re finally ready to take it to the next level in our wakeboarding antics. Yep, I’m just itching to try some mega aerial tricks.

My mother’s birthday is tomorrow (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!!!). We are heading to her (new) house later today to celebrate. She just bought a new home (quite literally as she signed the papers last week) and is just tickled pink with it. I can’t blame her, it’s a great house. It even came with a garden that was already baring tons of tomatoes, onions and various other veggie type goodness.

On the writing front, I’ve finally managed to finish another chapter for Hell A (yeah, I haven’t come up with the new title yet). This chapter was kicking my rear. I knew what I wanted to accomplish with it, but everything I wrote just read like crap, or dragged or yeah I erased tons of drivel over the last week or so. I feel pretty good about it now though. Hopefully the next chapter will flow a little smoother. I have a couple of other writing projects going, but they’re not quite far enough along that I’m comfortable talking about them yet.

I also have a really crappy poem and a so-so 60 word story up over at Crabby Cows. Stop by, check it out, heckle me only if you feel it absolutely necessary.

Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have a party to prepare for. I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday 55

That’s right, it’s official….I’m addicted. I love playing the Friday 55. Wanna play? Drop your stories in my comments or send me an email to let me know you have posted them on your own sites. Enjoy…

Breath, warm, moist between my fingers. He gulps for air; my palm rises, falls with his efforts. Eyes are wide, wild. He bucks beneath me, nearly toppling me from his chest. He claws my arms, my neck, my face. The blade falls, warmth washes over my forearm. Sticky goodness squishes between my knuckles. I’m free.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Con! Con! Con!

Ok people, mark your calendars, buy your plane tickets, reserve your rooms…it’s time for Conestoga. It will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma from July 28th through the 30th. It’s a great con and a grand time. Check out some of the guests:

• Bill Allen
• David Lee Anderson
• Lou Antonelli
• Margene Bahm
• Paul Batteiger
• Marty Belsky
• Maggie Bonham
• Peter Bradley
• Robert D. Brown
• Taylor Brown
• Warren Brown
• james k. burk
• Glen Cook
• Richard Cox
• Sherri Dean
• Bradley Denton
• Larry Dixon
• Linda Donahue
• William R. Eakin
• Suzette Haden Elgin
• Rhonda Eudaly
• Randy Farran
• Melanie Fletcher
• James Fowler
• Melea Fowler
• Tony Frazier
• Tim Frayser
• Amanda A. Gannon
• John Gibbons
• Bennie Grezlik
• Talia Gryphon
• Beverly Hale
• Nikki Hartline
• Lance Hawvermale
• Carol Hightshoe
• James P Hogan
• James Hollaman
• Gary Jonas
• John Kaufman
• Lee Killough
• Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
• Mercedes Lackey
• Alexis Glynn Latner
• Deborah LeBlanc
• William Ledbetter
• Greg Lower
• Julia S. Mandala
• Shay Marion
• Lee Martindale
• Deborah Millitello
• Jim Murray
• Paula Helm Murray
• Jody Lynn Nye
• Cary Osborne
• Stephen Pagel
• Dana Pattillo
• K. Hutson Price
• Dusty Rainbolt
• M.T. Reiten
• The Royal Gauntlet
• Charles Sasser
• Susan Satterfield
• Mark Shepherd
• Rie Sheridan
• Bradley H. Sinor
• Susan P. Sinor
• Glenn R. Sixbury
• Dave Smeds
• Frank A. Smith
• Caroline Spector
• Keith Stokes
• Mel Tatum
• The Twisted Blades
• Laura J. Underwood
• Martin (T.M.) Wagner
• Steven Wedel
• Martha Wells
• K.D. Wentworth
• Craig Wolf
• Janny Wurts

I mean, come on, if that’s not enough to entice you, perhaps a few highlights will sweeten the pot.

Bubbas of the Apocalypse Pot Luck Social:
Friday night in the Con Suite, Yard Dog Press will throw a bash to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Come be the judges of the cooking contest! Each entrant has supplied a dish and a story explaining the origins of the dish. Each person will be handed a ballot as they walk in the door and will vote for best dish and best story. The winner of “best dish” gets the one and only BOTA cook book. Winner of “Best story” gets their chapbook published by YDP! For more details, see the 101010 writing contest entry on this website.
Twisted Blades: School of Stage Combat:
Conestoga traditionally includes a fencing demo and/or workshop. This year we’re proud to feature first time presenters, Twisted Blades, from the School of Stage Combat. They’ll be in Main Programming Saturday morning from 9:00-11:00.
Intro to Beaded Jewelry Workshop:
Interested in learning how to make your own earrings, necklaces and bracelets? Back by popular demand for a second year, and expanded to two hours, this workshop will teach you the basics. Materials and tools provided. Saturday morning 10:00-12:00.
Portfolio Review:
Artist Guest of Honor Don Maitz and noted writer/artist Janny Wurts will talk to artists about how to present themselves and their work. Bring your portfolio! Saturday 11:00 a.m.
Royal Gauntlet Educational Birds Of Prey Program and Charity Auction:
The Royal Gauntlet is a mainstay of Conestoga programming. Come learn about these magnificient birds. We’ve designated this rehabilitation center as this year’s charity, so we will weave the charity auction and the talk together. Saturday from Noon-2:00 pm will be the main event with both live and silent auctions. Sunday at 10:00 am will be a second chance to see them and take part in a silent auction.
Story Illustration Workshop
Interested in the process of illustrating a story from the blank page to the finished product? Don Maitz and David Lee Anderson lead this hands on workshop. The story and drawing materials will be provided. Saturday 2:00-4:00 pm
Yard Dog Press Traveling Road Show
Two hours of fun, entertainment and readings featuring the talents of the YDP writers and interpretive dancers. Saturday 3:00-5:00 pm
Conestoga International Film Festival
Saturday 5:00-6:30 pm. What will this year’s entries be like? Come see for yourself!
Art Auction
Always a don’t miss event capping our wonderful art show! Saturday 7:00-8:30 pm
Masquerade and Play
The ever popular Penguin Playhouse with this year’s movie spoof. But first, Ravenar with its belly dance celebrating 101010 and our masquerade. We’ll also announce the winners of the Film Festival and the Bad Metaphor Contests. The Penguin Playhouse has announced the name of this year’s venture. They are doing A NIGHT AT THE SPACE OPERA, commemorating the 50th anniversary of FORBIDDEN PLANET, though they’ll also be having fun with other classic science fiction movies (read: all the movies they never got to spoof), and space opera in general. Will Mal and Jayne show up? At this point, even the writers don’t know. Saturday 9:00 pm
Bad Metaphor contest
Come prepared with bad metaphors and similes! Index cards, pens, and the entry box will be available until Saturday at 4:00 pm
In Memoriam
SF has lost several writers, editors and fans over the past year, including Octavia Butler and Jim Baen. Our panelists will pay tribute to and remember those we’ve lost. Saturday at 5:00 pm
Meisha Merlin Anniversary Party
After the Masquerade and Play Saturday night, Meisha Merlin takes over the Con Suite for its 10th Anniversary Bash
Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense Workshop
Suzette Haden Elgin leads participants through this wonderful system for dealing with bullies without becoming one. Sunday 10:00 am to noon.
Conestoga 11 Preview
A new feature of programming this year is our “preview” panel, giving you a glimpse of what you can expect at the next Conestoga. In an effort to top Conestoga 10, we’ve lined up for Conestoga 11 our Guest of Honor Laurell K. Hamilton, Toastmistress (and back by popular demand) Elizabeth Moon, and Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio. Sunday at 2:00 pm
RPS Finals and Awards Ceremony
Yes, we’re hosting a sanctioned Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament! Sunday 3:00 pm
Reading Samplers:
You will notice that the reading room has been taken over by things called “Samplers.” Attendance at readings has sagged over the last few years, and we’ve decided to try something new. Instead of organizing readings around the author, we want to organize around subgenres. So someone who likes alternate history, for example, can find a new author or a new story to read. These will be 3 authors per panel, strictly limited to 15 min each. Keep in mind that these are “teasers” to get readers interested in new authors. Once the schedule is finalized, each Reading Sampler will be assigned a topic such as “humorous fantasy,” “space opera,” etc. We hope you enjoy it!


I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

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

(March 1995, Michigan) James Burns, 34, of Alamo, Michigan, was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police described as a "farm-type truck." Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns' clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped in the drive shaft."

I am at a loss for words here…

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Movie Review: Firewall

I watched Firewall the other day. I don’t remember seeing many previews for this one, but as it turns out, it’s a tasty little flick.

Here’s the synopsis:

Computer security specialist Jack Stanfield (HARRISON FORD) works for the Seattle-based Landrock Pacific Bank. A trusted top-ranking executive, he has built his career and reputation on designing the most effective anti-theft computer systems in the industry, protecting the bank’s financial holdings from the constant threat of increasingly sophisticated internet hackers with his complex network of tracers, access codes and firewalls.
Jack’s position affords a comfortable life for him, his architect wife Beth (VIRGINIA MADSEN) and their two young children – a standard of living that includes a beautiful home in a residential community just outside the city.
But there’s a vulnerability in Jack’s system that he has not accounted for: himself. It’s a vulnerability that one very ruthless and resourceful thief is poised to exploit.
Bill Cox (PAUL BETTANY) has been studying Jack and his family for many months; monitoring their online activity, listening to their calls and learning their daily routines with an arsenal of digital and video recorders and parabolic microphones that tap into the most personal of information. He knows the names of their children’s friends, their medical histories, and the I.D. code for the security station that guards their neighborhood. Having spent the better part of a year methodically infiltrating every aspect of Jack’s identity, Cox is now ready to make good on his investment.
Leading a tight team of mercenary accomplices, he seizes control of the Stanfield house, making Beth and the kids terrified hostages in their own home and Jack his unwilling pawn in a scheme to steal $100 million from the Landrock Pacific Bank.
With every possible escape route shrewdly anticipated and blocked by Cox, every potential ally out of reach and the lives of his wife and children at stake, Jack is forced to find a breach in his own formidable security system to siphon funds into his captor’s offshore account – incriminating himself in the process and eradicating any electronic evidence that Cox ever existed.
Under constant surveillance, he has only hours to accomplish the risky transactions while desperately hunting for a loophole in the thief’s own impenetrable wall of subterfuge and false identities to save his family and beat Cox at his own game.

There were a few scenes that had my inner perfectionist groaning, but overall, this was a damn good movie.

Rating: 5 Star.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Save A Book

Ok people, David Niall Wilson asks for your assistance. His book, Ancient Eyes is in danger…of not being released. The Publisher isn’t sure that it’s a sound investment. Not an unusual occurrence as markets shift and perception of readers taste change. They’ve decided not to let this book die without a fight. Click here for more details of how to save the book.

In case your too lazy busy to click on the links, here’s the abbreviated version. The book is edited, proofed, layouts are complete and approved. The book is basically ready to go, but a recent change in the publisher’s business has him reevaluating current projects. He’s decided that a limited edition hard cover is very risky at this stage in the company’s life. He has, however, agreed to proceed if he can pre-sell a couple of hundred copies.

Drop by either Dave’s blog or the publisher’s link (provided above) for more information.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A State of Rejection

There is a great post about rejections up at Storytellers Unplugged. There’s also a nice rant follow up on The Deep Blue Journal.

Rejections are a part of every writer’s life. If you don’t develop thick skin early on, you will crumble. The majority of my rejections to date have been the coveted form rejections, but I’ve been lucky enough to receive several that offered advice and even a couple that were down right inspirational.

Have you received any rejections that left you fuming? The good ladies over at Crabby Cows are posting a series of writer’s rejecting their rejections. Some of these are just down right funny.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday 55

Ok, so there’s this game floating around the blog-o-sphere called The Friday 55. Basically, you have to write a piece of flash fiction. Here’s the rub, you have to do it in exactly 55 words. Can you write something moving using so few words? Go ahead give it a try, but when you do (you know you want to), let me know so I can come read it. Cool?

Below is my first lame humble attempt. Enjoy


His eyes burned with desire. Nostrils flared. She turned away, his face too much to bear. Rain bounced from the tin-roof, comforting, distracting. His hands found her arms, pulled at her, strong with need. She resisted, putting her hands on his shoulders. He begged; she relented. Her teeth met his throat. He was her first.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Love is Blind

It’s stories like this that make me wonder why Americans have such a bad image in the rest of the world.

Basically, this jackass guy, Dr. Pandey, has a 37- year- old virgin son who can’t find a wife on his own. So, being good parents they decided to help out. Friends of the family tried to trick them suggested they pawn off arrange a marriage with their niece who happens to live in India.

When the girless goober strapping young lad rides in on his white horse to sweep away the lady of his dreams, he is a wee bit disappointed with her looks.

It’s not enough they decided to back out of the marriage, but in true American form, they’ve opted to sue the family for $200,000 for emotional distress (just how ugly is this woman?) and travel expenses.

Ain’t love grand?

He flew over there expecting,



And when he showed up he found,


What an ass…

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

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

(1970s, Northern Ireland) Back in the late 70s, intelligence units in Northern Ireland were issued exploding briefcases to carry sensitive documents. These briefcases were lined with oxygen bricks. To arm the case, one simply removed a small pin next to the handle of the case. Thus armed, an opened case would instantly combust, destroying everything within a meter of it.

Because there was a half-second delay before the bricks ignited, the lids were designed to stop on a spring catch, so that no document could be rescued or photographed before it was destroyed.

To open the case safely, therefore, the sequence was:

1. Make sure the arming pin is in place.
2. Open the case.
3. Using a thin object such as a ruler, push back the spring catch.
4. The case will now open.

I won't embarrass the unit or the female Lance Corporal involved by naming names, but in this particular case, the sequence went as follows:

1. Make sure the arming pin is in place.
2. Open the case.
3. Look for a small thin object to push back the catch.
4. Find none immediately available.
5. Notice that the arming pin is a small thin object.
6. Use the arming pin to push back the catch.
7. Kiss one "intelligence" unit goodbye.

That's as bad as the genius at the grenade range who pulled the pin on his grenade and launched…the pin, keeping the grenade in his sweaty little paws…

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pimpage

Well, I posted this on my myspace bulletin board, but I just realized, some of you may be interested in this information. So, without further ado...




----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Insidious Publications
Date: Jul 10, 2006 5:42 AM

Reposting one last time...




That's right! The mag is back and it's hot as HELL! Here's what you'll find in between the covers:

FICTION:
The Last Great Love of Cary Grant by Weston Ochse
The Survivor by Greg Rubinson
Out of the Cradle by J.F. Gonzalez
The Smile Thief vs. The Child Thief by Liam Davies
Theyre Everywhere by David Niall Wilson
The Church Grim by Jack Kincaid
Sensation by David McGillveray
The Milk of Human Kindness by John B. Rosenman

NON-FICTION:
An Interview with Edward Lee by Tracy West
An Interview with Wrath James White by Tracy West
Seriously Whacked Point of View by Jeff Strand
An Interview with Brian Keene by Richard Hipson
The Splattering of a Generation by Jenny Orosel
An Interview with Bob Freeman by Richard Hipson
An Interview with J.F. Gonzalez by Stephen W. Sommerville
Dead Beats by Dan Waters
An Interview with Noel Francomano by Richard Hipson
Literary Reflections
Celluloid Reflections
Good Night, Night Stalker by Jack Campisi


...not to mention some of the darkest art by some of the best artists in the genre.


That's a lot of good stuff folks, but wait! It gets better! Our cover price has dropped from $8.95 USD to a measly $6.99 USD.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and grab a copy while they're still smoking from the presses.

You can purchase directly from the IP website:

InsidiousPublications.com


What? Don't like to buy things online. Got credit card troubles? No problem. Take your cold, hard cash to your local bookstore. We're being stocked in many stores across the US and Canada - from New York to California to Grand Central Station to Colorado to... well, you get the picture. If we're not in your local store yet, just ask for us by name and ISSN - 1715-5916. We're distributed by Ubiquity Distributors and I'm sure they would just LOVE to order us for you.

Thanks for listening, folks. Run out and grab a copy and help support the small press. I know you'll love it.

Stay Insidious!

Paul Danda
Senior Editor
InsidiousPublications.com

The Fey Pirate

I took my son to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. I have to tell you…I liked it…a lot. I laughed, I groaned, I even flinched at a couple of “jump out and get you” scenes.

The storyline flowed with ease, questions were answered, new characters introduced and old characters were re-invented. They managed to tell the whole story and still set themselves up nicely for a third movie.

I will add this to my collection the moment it comes out on DVD. It was just good fun all the way around.



Of course, now I’m faced with the problem of trying to convince my son that there’s no such thing as a good man and a pirate. On the big screen, it looks like a rather romantic notion, but in reality the two things are mutually exclusive. I think I made my point without spoiling his daydreams too terribly much.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I found this over at Sandra Ruttan’s Blog and I couldn’t help but play along. Want to play with me? Drop your results in the comments.







Which Stephen King Book Are You?




Black House
Take this quiz!








Quizilla |
Join

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Top Ten Signs Your Agent is a Scammer

I blatantly stole this list from the good ladies at the Writer Beware Blog. The list is so funny and full of commonsense, I just couldn’t help but pass it along. Enjoy…

10. Your offer of representation comes via form letter (somehow, you never do get his phone number).

9. Whoever typed his contract didn’t use spel chek and can’t rite real gud neither.

8. You first heard of him when [pick one: you found his ad in the back of Writer’s Digest/you saw his ad on Google/he solicited you].

7. When you asked if he’d worked for another agency before establishing his own, he said yes--a real estate agency.

6. When you asked for a list of recent sales, he told you the information was confidential, because he didn’t want you pestering his clients. And by the way, only a bad, ungrateful writer would ask that kind of question.

5. When you asked what publishers were looking at your manuscript, he told you the information was confidential, because he didn’t want you pestering the editors. What is he, anyway, your secretary?

4. When you got his contract, you discovered you had to pay [pick one: $150/$250/$450/more] for [pick one: submission/administration/marketing/circulation/other].

3. He told you your ms. was great, but when you got your contract you discovered you had to [pick one: pay for a critique/pay for line editing/pay for a marketability assessment].

2. He got you an offer from a publisher--but you have to [pick one: pay for publication/pay for editing/pay for publicity/buy 1,000 copies of your book].

And the number one sign your agent is a scammer: You got an email from his assistant telling you he’d been killed in a car crash, but when you called to ask where to send the sympathy card, he answered the phone.

(And in case you're wondering, I didn't make that up.)

(This list was first published as part of an interview at Writer Unboxed.)

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Muse Me

Well, my creative juices seem to be in full flow this week. I just completed a fairly major re-write of Darkness on the Plains to tighten up the plot and remove a character role completely. The change allowed me to justify the existence of an earlier character that as written, wound up as a bit of a loose end. A friend (who happens to be an excellent Beta Reader, btw) was instrumental in coming up with the idea for the re-write.

I’m also put the finishing touches on, The New Kid for Spinetingler Magazine. I should have it ready to send out by, COB today.

I’ve knocked out another chapter for, Hell A, and have just about talked myself into changing the name. There seems to be a lot of confusion with this title and quite frankly, it may be a little easier to market if I can come up with something a little catchier.

With all of the spare time the above left me, I managed to work out an outline for a new horror short story, Esprit de Corps. I’ve decided to take my first stab at writing a zombie story and as the name suggests, the U.S. Army Rangers will be involved. How, you ask? I guess you will just have to wait and see…

Anyhoo, I would love to stay and chat, but that muse, she be a callin’.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rock On!

I watched the first episode of Rockstar: Supernova last night. They had some mighty fine talent on the stage for the season episode and they also had a few who left you wondering how they made into the final fifteen.

Basically, this is a reality show where the winner becomes the lead singer of rock band filled with legendary rockers, Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted, and Gilby Clarke.

Fifteen singers braved the stage tonight. Here’s the lineup:

Chris Pierson
Dana Andrews
Dilana
Jenny Galt
Jill Gioia
Josh Logan
Lukas Rossi
Magni
Matt Hoffer
Patrice Pike
Phil Ritchie
Ryan Star
Storm Large
Toby Rand
Zayra Alvarez

After the performance tonight, everyone gets a chance to vote. One of the bottom three singers will get the boot.

I’m thinking either Phil, Chris, or Matt will not have a repeat performance (you know other than their one last chance to prove themselves). Song selection is so important when you potentially only have one song with which to wow the audience. I’m sure these guys have talent or they wouldn’t be there, but the songs they tried to sing made them sound absolutely horrid.

The top three performers for me on this episode were: Dana, Storm, and Josh. My, oh my great voices, great stage presence and all around great performance.

I can’t wait to see the next show. Yes, my wife actually found a reality show I could get addicted to. Resistance is futile.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

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

(Late 1989s, Australia) A rather impressionable student of kung fu listened with rapt attention when his instructor dramatically informed the class, "Now that you have reached this level in your training, you can kill wild animals with your bare hands!"
The martial arts trainee took the statement as gospel, and headed to the Melbourne zoo to test his mettle with the wildest animal of all: the lion. In the dead of night, he slipped into the zoo, leapt into the lion enclosure, and engaged a suitable king of the jungle in combat.
He would probably have lost a one-on-one fight, but he never got to try. His naive fight plan didn't account for the enthusiasm of the lion's pride for a tender intruder; nor did it give sufficient weight to the possibility that his instructor didn't know what the hell he was talking about.
Zoo employees found his remains -- two arms and hands -- the following morning, with shreds of red fur grasped tightly in his fingers.

Heh, this sounds like something I would try…

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Mother of a Day

Well, we didn’t make it to the lake yesterday. We gathered all of our equipment, slathered up with sun-block and started prepping the boat for launch. I finished checking all of the fluid levels, climbed into the Captains chair, performed my systems check, raised the transom to full tilt, turned the key and…nothing. It looks like my starter’s dead and being a holiday weekend, it won’t be fixed anytime soon. Ah, the joys of owning a boat.

Some of you may remember that every year my sister-in-law and her crew run a Fireworks Stand to raise money for their children’s athletic endeavors. After the disappointment of the boat, we decided to console ourselves with large quantities of explosive devices. We bought the pyromaniacs dream, a bundled box dubbed simply, The Ultimate. This box ‘O fireworks is jammed packed with artillery shells, missile banks, rockets, fountains, boom sticks and well, you get the picture.

By the time night fell, we were chomping at the bit for some serious ohs and ahs. I lit up the skies with beautiful lights and echoed the streets with cacophonous wonder. I just lit the fuse on an 8 bank aerial display when a car pulled up in front of my house. Not sure how close they could come to the fireworks, I held up a hand to make sure they didn’t drive passed while it was going off. It was a cop car and he…wasn’t happy.

The police officer explained that we are officially considered inside the city limits now. This is the first year this has happened, but to be fair, shops, restaurants and other commercial goodies have sprung up all around us in the last year. He went on to let me know that this was just a warning, but if he came back, I would be ticketed. Fun hater… Just kidding, he looked really apologetic and he was in the position to be a real dick, but wasn’t. He was just doing his job and had a busy night ahead of him as nearly every other house in my neighborhood was breaking the law.


On a completely different subject, I received my first skinny envelope for the revised version of Darkness on the Plains yesterday as well. Let the rejections begin…

I’m hoping today goes a little smoother.


Happy Independence Day to one and all. Please take a minute to think about our troops today. If you see a soldier, be sure to give them your thanks for their efforts at preserving our freedom.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Home and Yet not...

We’re having a wonderful weekend (yeah mine isn’t over until Wednesday). Made it home with my son Friday night, but we had a few minor detours. We were talking, laughing and just generally catching up on all the things he did while he was away; next thing I knew I see a sign that says: “Topeka 35 miles”. Yep, I missed my exit some forty miles before and had to do some serious backtracking. Oddly enough we didn’t mind, it was just that much more time to visit.

We’ve played games, hung out, rode our bikes along the river (Ty and I rode, my wife ran ten miles), watched movies and just generally enjoyed each other’s company.

We are leaving for the lake in about an hour. It is my great hope that since today isn’t an actually holiday, the lakes won’t be overly crowded. My son loves to wakeboard and he says that’s one of the things he missed most while he was away. I expressed an interest in shredding some wake myself, but my wife was quick to remind me my shoulder injury may be the worse for the experience. I guess I will just drive for the day.

I did manage to finish a book this weekend, The Path of the Meteor by David Niall Wilson. This book was written and published in a nearly impossible short span of time to test out a new printing technology. As such, it has several errors. This would normally be too distracting to enjoy the story, but David did such a wonderful job filling out the characters, I couldn’t help but love this story. Sex, blood and Rock ‘N Roll. This is a story of great musicians, fierce hunters, ancient fears and a crumbling mountain keep. Yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Be sure to check it out if you get a chance.




So, what did you do over the weekend?

Unclaimed Money Search - It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people are owed unclaimed government money and don't even know it! Find out how much you're owed with our free trial search.