Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday 55: The Kill

Alright folks, the object of the game is to write a story using exactly 55 words. Susie is the one that started it all, so be sure to drop by her site as well.



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.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fair Tax

I want to take a minute to discuss The Fair Tax movement. Have any of you heard about this?


I first caught wind of it around this time last year. It seemed like a grand idea, but I didn’t put too much stock in its chances of ever becoming a reality. There are too many people in this country that make copious amounts of money, helping others avoid paying all of the taxes they owe.


What is Fair Tax? Here is the description straight from their website:


The Fair Tax plan is a comprehensive proposal that replaces all federal income and payroll based taxes with an integrated approach including a progressive national retail sales tax, a prebate to ensure no American pays federal taxes on spending up to the poverty level, dollar-for-dollar federal revenue neutrality, and, through companion legislation, the repeal of the 16th Amendment.


The FairTax Act (HR 25, S 1025) is nonpartisan legislation. It abolishes all federal personal and corporate income taxes, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, and self-employment taxes and replaces them with one simple, visible, federal retail sales tax administered primarily by existing state sales tax authorities.


The FairTax taxes us only on what we choose to spend on new goods or services, not on what we earn. The FairTax is a fair, efficient, transparent, and intelligent solution to the frustration and inequity of our current tax system.


The FairTax:


• Enables workers to keep their entire paychecks
• Enables retirees to keep their entire pensions
• Refunds in advance the tax on purchases of basic necessities
• Allows American products to compete fairly
• Brings transparency and accountability to tax policy
• Ensures Social Security and Medicare funding
• Closes all loopholes and brings fairness to taxation
• Abolishes the IRS


If it sounded like a great idea last year, this year it sounds like the best idea ever. You see, I’ve officially been hammered by the tax laws for 2007. Between bonuses, additional income from writing and a few other activities (stocks and such) and my wife’s (who is a chemist and also happens to be a manager) income, we ran into a bit of a problem. Before I go on, I feel the need to tell you that we both file single and 0, to avoid having to pay in. This theory has worked for us in the past, but last year it failed us. By the time it was all said and done, we owe the government and additional $30,000. Yep, that is with four zeroes. Turns out that our combined household income was just enough to put us in a new tax bracket.


With Fair Tax, surprises like this would be completely eliminated. Every single penny I earn will come directly to me. If I buy something, I pay taxes. If I want to save for the future, I’m not taxed for thinking ahead. Not only that, but everyone will pay taxes, not just a select few, tourists, illegal immigrants, even billionaires, anyone who makes a purchase in our great country will be doing their part.


Those who spend more, will pay more. That means, in essence the wealthy will carry the brunt of the burden and the moderate to low income families will continue to spend as they are, but with the benefit of having their entire paycheck.


One of the cons with this movement, that instantly came to mind was that all of our consumables would go up by 23%. That’s not actually the case. The businesses that offer us the consumables are taxed heavily and they pass that cost on to us in the price of the product. Without the upfront tax, the overall cost of the product will go down so that the increased sales tax will appear negligible. Again from the website:


Americans who produce goods and earn wages must pay significant tax and compliance costs under the current federal income tax. These taxes and costs both reduce after-tax wages and profits and are then passed on to the consumers of those goods and services in the form of price increases. When the FairTax removes income, capital gains, payroll, and estate and gift taxes, the pre-FairTax prices of these goods and services will fall. The removal of these hidden taxes may also allow wages to rise. Exactly how much prices will fall and wages will rise depends on market forces. For example, in a profession with many jobs and too few to fill them, wages will likely increase more than in fields where there are too many employees and not enough jobs.


This really sounds like the way to go to me, but maybe I’m overlooking some detail. What are you thoughts on it?

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dar-Wednesday

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



(Date Omitted) Three hale and hearty young men had finished their basic training. Before heading out to their respective assignments, they decided to spend their few days of leave with one's grandmother, who lived in the town where they had endured basic training. The privates descended upon Grandmother, who filled them with home cooking. Grandmother had a swing job to make ends meet, so the privates were left alone late into the night.



Grandmother had three children. To commemorate the birth of each child, a pine tree was planted in her front yard. In the fifty years since the last tree was planted, the pines had grown considerably. The middle tree now blocked the view from the living room window. To repay Grandmother for her kindness, the privates decided that they would cut down that tree, letting the sun and the view into the room.



A case of beer went into the planning.



To keep the 50-foot tree from crushing Grandmother's house, the privates reasoned that they would tie a rope to the top of the tree and pull the rope away from the house as the tree was cut.



The middle pine tree was slightly closer to the house. The privates climbed the end tree, wound a rope through its upper branches, and threw the rope to a private in the middle pine tree. He tied the rope to the middle tree. By this device, they could pull the rope from the ground, and the middle pine tree would fall away from the house. And the privates were also clear of the path of the falling tree.



Climbing a pine tree is a very sappy event, and scrapes and gouges are infliced by the natural roughness of its bark. But the hale and hearty privates completed the preliminaries, and the middle tree was lassoed and levered by the rope running through the end tree.



So far, so good.



Two privates were situated on the ground, each straining to pull the pine tree away from Grandmother's house. The third private revved his 20 HP chainsaw and started to cut. Lo and behold, the tree actually fell away from Grandmother's house! However...



The rope-pulling privates had wrapped the rope around their waists, not considering that the falling pine weighed several tons. As the middle pine tree fell, both privates were ripped off their feet and smashed through the branches of the end pine tree. At the height of their acceleration, they broke through the top branches of the tree, and were briefly airborne before being jerked toward the earth when the middle tree hit the ground. The privates entered into Darwin history, either on the way up through the branches, or on the way down to the cold, hard ground.



The event spoke for itself.






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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

RP PR

Well now, I’m the RP Author of the week. How cool is that? Click on the link above to read the post and comment if you so desire.

This publisher has been an absolute delight to work with. I highly recommend you check out some of their titles. Not into e-books? Not a problem. They have several print books available as well. They can be purchased from their website, amazon.com, a few other online sources and yes…brick and mortar bookstores.

Well, I’m knee-deep into my next story, so I must keep this brief. I hope you all are having a wonderful week.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday 55: Transitions

Alright folks, the object of the game is to write a story using exactly 55 words. Susie is the one that started it all, so be sure to drop by her site as well.



Fingers grip me, tender, rough, urgent. Breath comes in gulps between the moans. Her body glistens with sweat. My hands slide under her, grip her shoulder, brings her closer. She gasps. She pushes. Her body falls limp. I grip her hand. The baby’s cry pulls me away. Tears of mourning fall on tears of life.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Dance

Have you read The Dance yet? It is available in e-book format and will be released in print version in the near future.

The Dance




Here is a little taste:

Chapter One


“You’re not real,” Kyle yelled at the shadows as they swirled in the corner of the room.
He sat in a worn leather recliner. Watching television, he tried to ignore the faces that mocked him in the darkness. They giggled at him from just inside his peripheral vision, but if he dared to turn and look at them, the shadows would solidify against the wall.

Guilt could play tricks on the mind, at least that’s what his shrink kept telling him. Kyle was sure his grip on reality was slipping. The faces taunted him everywhere he went, and no amount of Haldol was going to make them go away.
“The fact that I know they can’t be real should be enough to tell me I’m not crazy, right?” he asked the TV.
“My dear boy, we have seen what you’ve done. We see them as they go, as they transition. We are always with you. We are always… watching,” they called from the corner.
“Go away!”
“But, we want to see more. We need to see more. Entertain us.”
“Stop it! Stop bothering me,” Kyle barked at the wall, hoping to quell the voices. Why couldn’t he have a moment’s peace in his own house?
“We want to be entertained. Dance for us. Do your Dance so we might see,” they called from the shadows behind the TV. “Dance so we might… live.”
“For the love of God, just leave me be!” he cried, clasping his hands over his ears while squeezing his eyes shut.
“Your strength gives us strength. Your life gives us purpose. The Dance gives us… pleasure.”

The light from the TV prevented his closed eyes from shutting out the images of the room. Shadows danced in that glow, penetrating the comfort of his palpebral shield. He strained harder to keep them sealed tight for fear of what he might see. How could they be between me and the TV? Don’t they live in the shadows?
“Open your eyes,” a woman’s voice urged, the sound slithering its way between his fingers.
Kyle began to whimper as fear gripped him. “This isn’t real. This can’t be real. You’re all in my mind.”
“Then open your eyes. If it isn’t real, you will still be alone in your living room,” the lady said. He could feel her breath against the fingers of his left hand.
“Why won’t you just let me be?” Kyle’s voice broke as he began to sob.

He had seen things he knew he shouldn’t for years. But it had never been this bad before. Seeing things that weren’t there was one thing, but feeling them, now that was something all together different.
“Because, no one else can do those things you do. Dance for me, lover. Make an old soul’s heart go pitter-patter.” She caressed his cheek. The touch sent shivers through him.

A shadow was now blocking every inch of light from reaching his face. He let his left eyelid crack open, just a sliver. He glimpsed a luscious mouth hovering before him. He let his eyes open fully, hoping to end the illusion. She didn’t disappear. Her skin was so pale it was almost translucent. The only color in her face was the red in her lips. Look at those beautiful lips, so inviting, so moist, so… tasty. What I wouldn’t do for a taste of those lips—

“Of course, lover… if you will but Dance for me, I will let you taste anything you desire.” She tossed her head, her long black hair swung over her right shoulder.
“But I don’t want to do your Dance anymore. It is only a matter of time before someone figures out what I’m doing. They will come for me. It will be like it was before.”
Her face hardened into a scowl. “Do you really think it’s a matter of want? You will Dance for me.”
Kyle hung his head in shame; her words rang true. He needed his Dance like his mother needed heroin.
He didn’t have the strength to argue. “What shall I call you?”
“You may call me whatever you want, but my name is Nina,” she whispered as she sat in his lap.
He could feel her there, but she was light as a feather. This isn’t real. I’m just sick; my mind is still jacked. I should call Dr. Pearlman.
“Your mind is fine, more than that… it’s brilliant.” She attempted to quell his unspoken fears. “Will you Dance for me?”
“I’ll try, but these things take time. I have to find the right partners. I have to plan and prepare. I have to—”
“I have taken care of all that for you, lover. I found the perfect couple. They are waiting for you, anxious to see what wonders you have to share with them.”
“How did you—”
“Shh,” she interrupted, placing a finger over his lips. “Now is not the time for those sorts of questions.”
Kyle relented, not sure if he had a choice. “I’ll get my things.”
“That would be splendid, lover,” she said, rising to let him pass. “I will be here, waiting with baited breath.”

He went to his bedroom, stepped into the closet, and emerged with a large canvas duffle bag slung across his shoulder. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw Nina sprawled seductively across his chair. He knelt beside her, intoxicated by her fragrance as it floated on the air.
He stared at her expectantly as she ran her fingers across his bare chest. “If we’re really gonna do this, let’s get started. Where do we need to go?” he asked.
“Come… I will show you, lover.” She sprang from the chair with an almost feline ease, extending her hand to him, smiling.
He took her hand as he rose to stand before her. Something in her smile gave him the overwhelming urge to drop to his knees and grovel at her feet. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life. He fell to the floor, his entire body trembling. He let his hands stretch out, praying she would deign to let him feel her.
She lowered into a crouch, placing a finger beneath his chin. Her touch stilled his tremors. As she helped him to his feet, calm washed over him, the likes of which he hadn’t experienced in years.

“If you will just focus on the task at hand, I will do everything in my power to make your dreams come true.”
He would have prayed for guidance, but he was sure his words would fall on deaf ears. They always had. “I’m yours. Do with me what you will.” His voice was tiny, a stark contradiction to his massive frame.
“This is only the beginning. Many people could benefit from your talents. You know we mustn’t keep them waiting.”
*****

Kyle scrubbed his hands in his bathroom sink. He cranked up the hot water in hopes of letting the steam obscure his reflection in the mirror. He didn’t want to see the scratches on his face.
“I can’t believe I botched that so bad,” he whispered.
“How could you be so careless?” Nina stood in the doorway, her arms folded across her ample chest.
“She didn’t want to Dance with me,” Kyle replied. “Can you blame her?”
“It was very sloppy that time. I want it to be graceful, like it was before.” She stepped behind him, traced a heart on his back with a fingernail. “You remember how it was before, don’t you?”
“If you hadn’t been laughing so hard, they wouldn’t have woken up before we were ready.” His anger grew by the second, anger at himself, her, the world… everything.
“They couldn’t hear me. Neither of them moved until you told me to shush.”
“You’re so full of it,” Kyle snapped, turning off the faucet. He yanked a towel from a ring mounted on the wall next to the sink.
“Oh, really? Maybe you should think about what you did and we will see what actually happened.”

Nina pressed her fingers over his eyes from behind.
Kyle struggled to no avail. Her hands were so small, it was unimaginable that she could overpower him, but it was as if her grip was on his brain rather than his face.
Images rushed through Kyle’s mind in a blur, his memories playing in reverse order. Suddenly, they slowed to a halt. To his surprise, he found he was no longer in his bathroom, but kneeling with Nina behind a row of bushes.
It was like he’d been transported back to the recent past to relive the night’s events. He could actually smell the aroma of damp earth wafting up and mixing with the fragrance of the brush.
But much like an actor compelled to follow the script during a movie shoot, he realized he could not deviate from his part.
Kyle started to rise when he saw a shadow cross behind the curtains in the window above them, but Nina placed a restraining hand on his forearm.

“Now is not the time,” she whispered, shaking the finger of her other hand at him.
They waited for what seemed like an eternity before she motioned for them to move. He carefully reached for the windowsill and tried to push it open.
“It won’t budge. Let’s try another one,” Kyle whispered after a few attempts.
“No, the more time we spend out here, the greater the chances become that someone might see us.” Nina wrapped her arms around him and placed her right hand over his face.
When she removed her hand, they were standing in a darkened bedroom of the house. There were two forms lying motionless beneath the covers.
She gestured to the bed. “I would like to introduce you to Carl and Terri.”
“How did you do that?” he mouthed to her silently.
“I call it jumping. It’s a way of using your mind to take you places,” she whispered in his ear.
He turned to face her. “What the hell are you talking about?”
She only laughed in reply.
“Shh!” Kyle insisted, causing movement from the bed.
“You had better tend to that,” Nina teased in a playful voice. “But, don’t forget your steps. Oh, how I love to watch you Dance.”

His heartbeat quickened, pounding in his chest. He lunged at Carl just as he sat up in the bed. Kyle slammed his hand over Carl’s mouth to stifle the scream he knew was sure to come. You’ll have your chance to scream, but not before I’m good and God damned ready.
Before he could subdue Carl, Terri sprang up from beneath the covers, clawing at his eyes. Kyle let go of the man to protect his face from her whirlwind assault. He then fell to the carpet beneath a powerful blow to the side of his head. Somehow, Carl had snatched the lamp from the nightstand beside the bed and swung it with all the might he could muster from his precarious position.
Kyle curled into the fetal position, covering his head with his arms to protect himself while he gathered his wits. He waited for more blows, but they never came. A wave of vertigo washed over him. He nearly fell again when he realized he was standing.

How’d I get off the floor?
He looked down at the blood soaked bed. “What the hell? How did you do this? I thought you said you couldn’t do the Dance by yourself.”
Nina cast him a quizzical glance. “I didn’t do it by myself. I merely helped you do what needed to be done.”
“What is that God awful racket?” Kyle glared at the stereo.
“It’s music. You said you like to hear music as you worked.”
“That’s not music. It sounds like some sort of Hindi prayer bullshit.”
“I like it and it’s important to me,” Nina insisted. “In time, I’m guessing it will become important to you as well.”
“Where did it come from?”
“Silly, you helped me make it. Don’t you remember?”
“Uh, sure…” he lied. I don’t think I would have had any part in recording something that horrible.

Kyle’s eyes darted around the room as he tried to process her words. He wasn’t sure what happened, but he was sure he didn’t remember doing anything. He glanced down again, admiring Nina’s handiwork. Carl still sat in bed with his back and head leaning against the headboard. Kyle didn’t need to look into his vacant eyes to know he was dead. The cut along his belly that let his innards spill out over the blankets was more than enough evidence; he was no longer among the living.

Terri wasn’t in the bed, which gave Kyle a terrible start. Did she get away? What if she makes it to a phone? Are the police on their way even as I stand here with my dick in my hand? He looked down at his blood-covered hands. His shirt was absolutely soaked with the dark sticky liquid. The aroma triggered something in him that must be what most people would experience if they smelled a fresh cut rose.

“Oh, Loverboy!” Nina called from the hallway.
Kyle sprinted toward her voice. He found her standing at the top of the stairs, motioning for him to look over the railing. As he approached, he could see one end of a sheet tied to the rail, Terri’s ankle fastened securely to the other end. She shared the same fate as Carl; gutted like a fish. It appeared Nina had been particularly brutal with her slaying. Kyle felt sorry for Terri as he watched her body gently swinging above her living room floor, tracing a line of blood on the carpet beneath her.
Suddenly, everything went dark.
Nina released her grip from his eyes, snapping Kyle out of his trance. He gazed into his mirror’s reflection, seeing Nina smiling behind him. He turned to face her, wondering why he found her so mesmerizing. A tiny voice nagged at him from the depths of his mind. It told him she should repulse him. He should see what a monster she was by what she had done. She didn’t even take the time to enjoy the Dance. He squashed the voice. How could I find her repulsive? She and I share the same love, the same needs, the same desires.

“I still don’t understand how you were able to kill those people. You said you couldn’t…”
He let her take his hand in hers. “I already told you I didn’t do it. You did the Dance for us, sloppily, but you still did it,” Nina said in a husky voice.
“That’s impossible! I was laying on the floor, trying to keep my ass from being handed to me.”
She batted her eyes at him coyly. “Really? Then why are you covered in blood?”
“You must have spilled it on me when you gutted Carl,” he answered as he stomped into his bedroom.
“Whatever,” Nina said in a dismissive voice. “Is that really what you want to believe? I guess I can understand. The truth of any situation can be a little hard to handle if your heart isn’t really into what you’re doing.”
“I’m not saying I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, but we both know I had nothing to do with what happened in there,” he replied.
“If that’s what you have to tell yourself to sleep at night.”
“Sleep… yeah, I should get some rest. We have a busy day tomorrow.” He flopped onto his bed, covered his face with his forearm.
“Yes, we need to practice your steps. They have gotten rusty from lack of use.”

He just lay there, stewing. The events of the night troubled him. Even if he did kill that couple, still other things didn’t make sense.
“How did you carry me into the house?” he asked.
Nina stroked his cheek. “I think that’s enough contemplation for the night, lover.”
As she rubbed his face, a voice filled his thoughts, urging him to relax. He found it hard to resist. His eyes grew heavy, and the need for answers faded away.
“Perhaps this will all make more sense tomorrow,” he mumbled as he drifted to sleep.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dar-Wednesday

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



(August 2006, Libreville, Gabon) In August, a congregation's 35-year old pastor insisted one could literally walk on water, if one only had enough faith. Big and bold was his speech. He extolled the heavenly power possessed by a faithful man with such force that he may well have convinced himself. Whether or not he believed in his heart, his sermons left room for only shame should he leave his own faith untested. Thus, the pastor set out to walk across a major estuary, the path of a 20-minute ferry ride. But the man could not swim.


Lacking the miraculous powers of David Copperfield, let alone holy Jesus Christ, this ill-fated cleric found only a Darwin Award at the end of his final path.


His flock rushed to his aide, but he swore them off citing, “My Lord will save me!”


Which reminds me of a joke…


There once was a flood and everyone had reached safety except for one man.
He climbed to the top of his house with the water lapping at his feet.
A helicopter flew over his head and hung down a rope for him to climb, but the man was deeply religious and said, "It's alright! The Lord will save me!"


So the helicopter flew away. The water continued to rise and a boat came to him but, once again, the man shouted, "No! Go AWAY! the Lord will come and save me!" and, once again, the boat sped off.
The water was getting dangerously deep by now so the helicopter came back and, on cue, the man repeated, "I don't need saving! My Lord will come"


Reluctantly, the helicopter left.
The rain continued to pour, the water continued to rise and the man drowned.


At the gates of heaven, the man met St. Peter. Confused, he asked, "Peter, I have lived the life of a faithful man - why did my Lord not rescue me?"
St. Peter replied, "For goodness sake, he sent you two helicopters and a boat! What the hell else did you want?"






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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Book Review: The Liar's Diary

I recently read The Liar’s Diary by Patry Francis. This is a mesmerizing story of betrayal, murder, unthinkable acts and the overwhelming desire to force a smile through it all. It is full of twists, turns, and enough surprises to keep you on your toes until you’ve read the final page. Patry did a wonderful job of conveying myriad of emotions both from and for her memorable characters. The rollercoaster journey undertaken by the protagonist (Jeanne Cross) will often leave you wondering what you would do if faced with similar dilemmas.


Synopsis

What would you do if your best friend was murdered—and your teenaged son was accused of the crime? How far would you go to protect him? How many lies would you tell? Would you dare to admit the darkest truths—even to yourself?

Jeanne Cross is an ordinary suburban wife and mother with a seemingly "perfect" life when Ali Mather arrives on the scene, breaking all the rules and breaking hearts. Almost against her will, Jeanne is drawn to this powerfully seductive woman, a fascination that soon begins to infect Jeanne's husband as well as their teenaged son, Jamie.

Though their friendship seems unlikely and even dangerous to their mutual acquaintances, Ali and Jeanne are connected by deep emotional needs, vulnerabilities and long-held secrets that Ali has been privately recording in her diary.

The diary also holds the key to something darker. Though she can't prove it, Ali is convinced someone has been entering her house when she is not at home-and not with the usual intentions. What this burglar wants is nothing less than a piece of Ali's soul.

When Ali is found murdered, there are many suspects; but the evidence against Jamie Cross is overwhelming. Jeanne's personal probing leads her to the question none of us would ever want to face. What comes first: our loyalty to family—or the truth?"

Patry is a phenomenal writer and a terrific person. Pick up a copy of this book. You won’t be disappointed. This was a fantastic read.



Rating: 5 of 5 Stars


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

V-Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day has arrived. It is the day of lovers, the day of joy, a celebration of life, love and the pursuit of sex happiness. I contemplated delivering another post extolling the undying love I have for my wife, but I figure most of you are sick of hearing me talk about how much she means to me. Before you ask, yes I still love her as deeply if not more so than the day I met her.

Instead of my regular tribute, I’d like to take a minute to recognize the agony this day causes so many. I’m not just talking about the ones who find themselves single with bad timing, the hopelessly lonely, the devout misers, nor the tragically isolated. No, I’m going to talk about the poor schmoes who underestimate the importance of letting their loved ones know how much they care on this most commercialized revered of all holidays for couples.

Whether it be from folly due to only dating for a short time or from being in a relationship for so long, they take the holiday for granted, there will be dullards who show up on the door steps of their significant other with only a card and a smile and fully expect to make it through the evening alive.

Hear me brothers (and sisters in some instances), if you want the evening to end with copious amounts of heavy petting, followed by marathon sessions involving baby oil, candle wax, nipple clamps, leather garments, odd vibrating toys and/or a midget or two, then you have to lay the groundwork first.

Sell your plasma, hawk your baseball cards, put your prized comic book collection on eBay, make a trip to the local sperm bank, hell take a second mortgage on your house if you must, but I beg of you, do everything in your power to make sure you shower her with flowers, boxes of chocolate, stuffed animals, a hand selected music list of romantic songs for her iPod (in the old days a mix tape would’ve sufficed here, but the times they are a changing) and enough jewelry to make her look like a female Mr. T. Nothing says I love you like going so far in debt it will take the rest of your natural life to pay everything off.

All kidding aside, you shouldn’t need a holiday to remind your soul mate how much they mean to you. If you really love someone, everyday is like Valentine ’s Day. Gifts, while nice, are a poor substitute for intimacy. A well time caress of the cheek can create just as strong a memory as a tennis bracelet. A passionate kiss for no other reason than you’re just glad to see her walk through the door can pack the same wallop as a box of assorted chocolates. A heartfelt “I love you” as you lay with her in your arms will last far longer than a dozen roses. Actually listening, to what she has to say will give her something to hold onto long after the stuffed gorilla goes into the closet.

Treat each other with love and respect. That is the sole secret to a long and healthy relationship. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt if you can work in porn star amounts of sex as often as physically possible.

What was that? Does this mean I’m not getting my wife anything for the big day? Do I look suicidal? I’m getting her anything and everything she wants.

So, how do you plan to celebrate?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dar-Wednesday

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



(10 December 2007, Russia) As a child, Sergei promised his grandmother, "I will establish for you the elixir of immortality! I want you to live forever." As an adult, we find Sergei sitting in his college biology class, licking potassium cyanide off his palm. He had found the magic elixir: swallow poisons daily, to strengthen his body and protect him from death.

He regularly consumed small quantities of toxic mushrooms, arsenic, and cyanide salts, and urged others to join him during daring night-time excursions. "I shall not die," he said. "I have long drank poison, and my body today, nothing can kill."
After swallowing the KCN, he began to feel ill, and asked his comrades to fetch him some water. But instead of drinking plain water, he dissolved the rest of the cyanide powder in it, and consumed the solution.

Sergei was an intelligent 18-year-old, interested in chemistry and anatomy. He earned "a gold medal" and was "easily accepted into two universities, the Medical Academy and the Ural State University." But Sergei's scientific premise was flawed. Instead of immortality, he had discovered the elixir of mortality. He suffered convulsions, slipped into a coma, and died without regaining consciousness.
His father called Sergei a gifted chemist who died for the sake of science.





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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Movie Review: Shoot 'Em Up

Shoot ‘Em Up lives up to its title. This movie was just good not so clean fun. I went into the thing expecting mindless violence and cheesy quotes. Sometimes after a particularly excessive brain use week, such a movie is just what the doctor ordered to quiet the shouting demons of the day job. What I found was a movie that was fast paced, campy, well choreographed and well written. Sure, in the mindless violence department, its cup still runneth over, but it still managed to tug at several emotions, not the least of which was humor.

Synopsis


For an action film, boasting a body count higher than its IQ isn’t always a bad thing. In director and screenwriter Michael Davis’s stylish SHOOT ‘EM UP, inventive set pieces, and tongue-in-cheek humor make for fun, fast entertainment. Clive Owen (CHILDREN OF MEN) plays Smith, a man who is minding his own business and chomping on carrots when he is forced to try to save a pregnant woman in trouble. After she is killed, he takes charge, keeping her newborn child safe from a snarling villain (Paul Giamatti, THE ILLUSIONIST).

Aided by a prostitute (Monica Belluci, THE BROTHERS GRIMM), Smith shoots his way through the big city as he cradles the baby in his arms. Davis hails from the same school of thought as fellow directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Like those filmmakers, Davis doesn’t take the medium too seriously, as he pays homage to action classics and peppers the film with playful dialogue and set pieces. This film might not be the standard choice for an Oscar-nominated actor such as Giamatti, but he’s clearly enjoying his role as the bad guy, and it’s just as much fun for the audience. With SHOOT ‘EM UP, Davis has crafted a movie full of jaw-dropping action sequences sure to please fans of high-energy films from directors such as John Woo.

Though I rented this movie, I fully intend to add this to my personal collection.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


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Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend Recap

We had an excellent weekend. Spent some time with some friends, rented some movies and just generally enjoyed each other’s company as much as possible.

Friday my son had a friend stay over, so we took them out to eat then over to our local video shop. We picked up a couple of movies for us and let them rent one as well. Why only one, they were more interested in video games, but had been talking about the movie Game Plan all through dinner.

Saturday, we went to dinner over at Chez King. James and Christine provided a very yummy spread of BBQ chicken (that incidentally had been slow smoked first, before the sauces was seared in), vegetables, and mac salad.

After dinner we played a variety of games including, Scene-It, Farkle, and a card game they Backwoods Rummy, which was a lot like the game Phase 10, but played with two decks of regular playing cards.

Sunday was spent catching up on a few home projects we needed to get done, but mostly we just lounged around the house.

Overall, it was a great three days.

So, how was your weekend?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday 55

Welcome to Friday 55. The object of the game is to write a story using exactly 55 words. Susie is the one that started it all, so be sure to drop by her site as well.

Want to play along? Let me know if you do so that I can come read your entries.

I fall forward. The air that leaves my chest spirals dust in my face, little sand devils taunting me, begging me to stay down. I pull myself further from the hole, dirt falling from my legs as they drag behind me. I’m free, yet not. I’ve been summoned. The world will fear me once more.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Book Review: The Deluge

I just finished reading The Deluge by Mark Morris. It was a fantastically chilling tale of death, survival and the enduring human spirit. This book will sink its teeth into you and leaving you gasping for more. I devoured the entire thing in two sittings.



Synopsis
It came from nowhere. The only warning was the endless rumble of a growing earthquake. Then the water came--crashing, rushing water, covering everything, destroying everything. When it stopped, all that was left was a gentle lapping of waves against the few remaining buildings rising above the surface of the sea.

Will the isolated survivors be able to rebuild their lives, their civilization, when nearly all they knew has been wiped out? It seems hopeless. But what lurks beneath the swirling water, waiting to emerge, is far worse. When the floodwaters finally recede, the true horror will be revealed.


Mr. Morris is a master at plotting and pacing, making it easy to lose yourself in the world he created. His characters are unforgettable and he manages to give us enough background to have an emotional interest in what happens to them, without bogging the story down with the details.

I highly recommend this book.



Rating: 5 of 5 Stars


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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. And another one bites the dust...

(9 December 2007, Indiana) Russell, 19, had a grudge against a semi truck abandoned on a rural property. And Russell was not the silent, brooding type. He was a man of action. He built a gunpowder/propane tank bomb, attached a timer, and planted it in the moldering truck. He retreated to a distant vantage point and waited for the fireworks.

And waited.

And waited, until he could wait no more. No boom? This was not right. Why was nothing happening? Russell approached the stubbornly intact truck--just in time for a close look at a cloud of rapidly expanding incandescent gas. Apparently the truck had a grudge against Russell, too.

Detectives found bomb-making materials at Russell's mobile home, and believe he was responsible for two explosions the night before his death, one at the mobile home park and another at a hobby shop. Although Russell will be missed, we are all a bit safer now.





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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Movie Review: Good Luck Chuck

Good Luck Chuck is a gripping tale, filled with pertinent life lessons. Oh, wait that was the other movie I watched. This movie was silly, funny and more than a bit raunchy. I feel compelled to mention that this movie should be watched only when there is no chance whatsoever of your children walking through the room. Some content is highly inappropriate for anyone under the age of thirty.


Synopsis


It all started when Charlie Kagan was ten years old. Breaking the cardinal rules of spin-the-bottle, Charlie refused to lip-lock with a demented Goth girl – and she put a hex on him. Now, twenty-five years later, Charlie (Dane Cook) is a successful dentist... and still cursed. While his plastic surgeon best friend, Stu (Dan Fogler), pursues as many of his patients as possible, Charlie can't seem to find the right girl. Even worse, he discovers at an ex-girlfriend's wedding that every woman he's ever slept with has found true love – with the next guy after him.

Before he knows it, Charlie's reputation as a "good luck charm" has women – from sexy strangers to his overweight receptionist – lining up for a quickie. But a life filled with all sex and no love has Charlie lonelier than ever – that is, until he meets Cam (Jessica Alba). An accident-prone penguin specialist, Cam is as hard-to-get as she is beautiful. But when a genuine romance develops, Charlie realizes he's got to find a way to break his good-luck curse... before the girl of his dreams winds up with the next guy she meets.




Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


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Friday, February 01, 2008

Paid in Full (A Friday 55)

Welcome to Friday 55. The object of the game is to write a story using exactly 55 words. Susie is the one that started it all, so be sure to drop by her site as well.

Want to play along? Let me know if you do so that I can come read your entries.

Tick-Tock. The sound should be reassuring. Its rhythm matches my heart. Tick-Tock. For now, at least. Tick-Tock. Soon, I’ll feel the surge. Tick-Tock. My mind will fade. Tick-Tock. Faces stare at me through the window, remorseless, hateful, sobbing. Tick-Tock. I give them a wink and a smile. Tick-Tock. The warden hits the switch. Tick--

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