Friday, February 27, 2009

The Worst Martini in the World

Last night I ate dinner under the awning of some random restaurant on South Beach (they all look the same). The food was quite good (curry chicken), but I drank the worst martini in the world, followed by with the second worst martini in the world. They had a special, half off your second drink. That was why we stopped there. We should have been able to figure out that giving away drinks meant they sucked.

This is what I ordered the first time:

- A vodka martini, dirty.

This is what I got:

- A glass of sweet vermouth with a splash of vodka and two olives. And when I say a splash of vodka, I'm giving them the benefit of doubt because that may have been 100% vermouth by the way it tasted.

This is what I ordered the second time:

- A very dry vodka martini, dirty. Put a splash of olive brine in it.

This is what I got:

- A glass of dry vermouth with a splash of vodka and two olives.

I don't know if you've ever tasted straight vermouth (sweet or dry), and if you haven't, don't. A martini should be primarily vodka, and a splash of vermouth. A small splash. For a dry martini, many people will put some vermouth in the glass, swirl it around, and then dump it out, so the liquid that clings to the wall is all that flavors your drink. A dirty martini has olives, but should also have a small splash of olive brine in it to make it taste like olives.

I seriously doubt the bartender for that restaurant reads my blog, which is unfortunate for the next poor schmuck that goes there and orders a martini.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fascinating Airport Statistics

I'm in Miami, I arrived yesterday. I am here for a call center trade show. Please contain your jealousy.

I came to two startling conclusions yesterday while I was waiting for my luggage at baggage claim.

1) My bag has never been the first one to come through. I have flown all over the USA on every airline, and I've flown internationally to Germany and back. Not. First. Once. Except the time this past Christmas when we went on a cruise. When we landed in Orlando, we went to the food court for lunch first, because we didn't want to lug our luggage all over the airport (even though luggage is made for lugging). We were not there, so our bags probably did come out first. See startling conclusion #2 for more information.

2) I have never seen anyone grab the first bag. It usually makes at least one full lap around the conveyor. I think the baggage handlers have a bunch of lost bags, and they always kick the chain off with one of those.

At least the airlines have never lost my bag. Gotta go now. Need to shower and get ready for the show. Just ran 3 miles on the hotel treadmill because my wife and I are training for a half marathon in May. Obviously we are both absolutely batsh!t insane.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

10 of My Favorite Movies

The darn kids didn't do one funny thing this morning, so I can't blog about them. They are so selfish sometimes.

So in my quest for a topic, I'm picking MOVIES. Here is a list of 10 of my favorite movies. Not the top 10, mind you, but this list is close to it. And they are in the order I thought them up, not in order of favoritism.

1. Pulp Fiction. Maybe this is my favorite, because it's the first one that popped into my mind. But then again, I am usually subject to completely random thoughts, so that really doesn't mean anything.

2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin. This is probably my favorite comedy of all time. I laugh out loud every time I watch it, especially during the dance number at the end.

3. Star Wars- The Empire Strikes Back. I was six years old when Start Wars first came out. My elementary school years were defined by new Star Wars movies and toys. But for all six films, to narrow it down to one, Empire is my favorite.

4. The Lord of the Rings- The Two Towers. Just had to pick one of these as well. Not Fellowship of the Ring, because there isn't enough Gollum. Not Return of the King, because I hate HATE HATE what Peter Jasckson did with the climax of the film, and indeed the whole series. Gollum bites Frodo's finger off, gets the ring, and then falls in. FRODO DOES NOT TACKLE HIM AND SEND THEM BOTH OVER THE CLIFF! This has major implications on Frodo's character, but also the irony that Gollum did himself in. After the years of hunting and desiring the ring, he finally gets it, and in a dance of joy, destroys himself and the ring. IN a dance of joy, I said, not in a fight because they are in the ring's evil grip. All that sweet, sweet irony, ironed flat. But I digress...

5. The Matrix. Totally kick ass on every level.

6. The Usual Suspects. Awesome twist ending, one of the best, in my opinion.

7. Batman- The Dark Knight. And not just because it's popular right now, it's just a damn good movie. It is very well written, there is depth to the characters, and the situations the Joker sets up have such a deep meaning on a moral level, you can find something new in the film each time you watch it.

8. Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. made this movie. Jon Favreau may have directed it, but Downey made it. Put someone else in that role, totally different movie, and no chance for being as good. But he did, and it was.

9. Rocky II. My favorite in the Rocky series. Best part: when he is in the hospital with Adrian, and he asks her what he should do. "Win," she tells him. Shit, I just got goosebumps typing that. Gotta fly now...

10. Toy Story. Pure genius. The voices are perfect, the animation is perfect, the story line perfect, all the cliche's are perfect. Humor suitable for adults and kids. They hit it out of the park with this.

Now, post a comment and let me know one of your favorites that I missed!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Follow the sun

Sometimes during the winter I look outside to the cold, gray Ohio sky and say to myself, "Screw it, I'm moving to Florida where it's warm."

And then I go back about my business, because I know that we're not moving anywhere.

At least this week, I do get to go to Florida for a couple days. I have a trade show in Miami, I leave tomorrow around noon. Right now it's like eleven degrees outside. Will I miss my family while I am gone? You bet. Am I eager to go and feel the warm Miami sun? You bet. Am I hoping my wife doesn't get jealous when she reads this? You bet!

Last year I took her down there with me, and we had a great time. This year I'm working for a different company, and I'll be there with different people, so I'm going solo.

I'm also expecting the show to be a practical ghost town, what with the economy the way it is. A couple days of warmth, then I'll be home Friday night, and stuck in Ohio for the rest of the winter.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Entry in the EE Writing Contest has got me hooked. He had a writing competion, here's what I submitted. It's up on his blog, along with eight may have to scroll down a bit for them.

The task was to write a scene in which Evil Editor and any celebrity and you are snowed in alone at a mountain lodge, have run out of food, and have started considering the cannibalism option.

The trio weighed their options. One of them had to go. It was a matter of survival, plain and simple. They had to eat something. And with no proper food and no route for escape, something readily translated to someone.

The celebrity spoke first.

“You can’t eat me. I have millions of fans who need me. I’m thin and pretty and young and beautiful and…”

“Annoying as hell,” Evil Editor

The writer laughed.

“Quit sucking up. I told you I’m not publishing your manuscript,” Evil Editor said.

“Then I have no use for you. That makes you look tastier than her,” the writer said.

The celebrity turned to the writer. “I’ll introduce you to my agent.”

The writer contemplated the offer, until the Evil Editor interrupted his chain of thought.

“You could write about this experience as narrative non-fiction. I would consider that.”

The writer was great at contemplating, and he had a notoriously short attention span. He forgot about the celebrity’s agent and sat silently, lost in thought.

“You think it will sell?” the writer asked.

“It depends on how it ends,” Evil Editor said.

“But I’m famous!” the celebrity whined.

“And annoying as hell,” the writer and Evil Editor said in unison.

“EE, judging by the cartoon caricature of you, you weigh the most and I have the most muscle. That’s one good reason for either of us to be on the menu,” the writer reasoned.

The celebrity listened attentively. She did not know where this was going, but she liked it so far.

“But there are two good reasons to eat her,” the writer pointed at the celebrity as her look of curiosity turned to surprise.

“First, it will finally shut her up,” the writer said.

“And second?” Evil Editor asked.

“We’ll probably get high as kites.”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Breakfast of Champions

I work from home. I was writing a proposal for a prospective client when my wife came in to deliver this breaking news, from the breakfast table of our children:

"Aunt Jemima made my pancakes," Max, seven, told Vic, four.

Now at his point you are probably suspecting as I was that there was going to be some racial slur born from childish innocent. But no. It's better than that.

"Who is Aunt Vagina?" Vic asked.

"Not Aunt Vagina, Aunt Jemima," Max corrected him.

"Where does Aunt Vagina get her pancakes?"

If anyone has the answer, please leave it in the comments for all to appreciate...

The Morning Productivity Award

This morning I'm giving out a productivity award. I'm giving it to Jack Shit, who inspired all of the inactivity I accomplished thus far today.

Jack and I go way back. I've always been a world class procrastinator. "Never put off 'till tomorrow what you can put off 'till the day after tomorrow," that's my motto. Also "There's no better time than some other time."

I actually woke up early to come downstairs and write. I usually drink a cup of coffee and check a few blogs while I wake up. Today that took longer than normal.

So 7am rolled around and an unusual fit of productivity kicked in, mainly because the video of the deadliest spider in the world was over, and I took the trash out. The sound of the garage door woke the kids, who came downstairs to make sure that my bout of usefulness was only temporary.

Of course I welcomed the reprieve, which gave me an opportunity to explore Google Earth with my son for a few minutes. He got hungry and went into the kitchen. Or I got frustrated and pushed him out of the room and locked the door. I can't remember which is fantasy and which is reality at this point, primarily because my coffee cup is empty.

Point of note, mid-way through typing the preceding paragraph I was interrupted by my wife, asking if we should keep a set of oil-based pastel crayons. Tough decisions like this are an added distraction. It's a good thing I was not on a productive streak, working on my novel and pondering a complex issue dealing with the narrative prose, or the delicate balance between deep literary characterization and the "just get on with the plot" pacing of a thriller, for I surely would have derailed.

Best way to avoid derailing: stay off the tracks.

And that's why, this morning, I dedicate all that I did not accomplish to Jack Shit.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Fake Plot is Selected

Evil Editor must have some time on his hands, he's pretty quick with the posts. I'm not the subject this time, but my fake plot did make it in. Mine was number two.

Click Here
to read it.

Crimey's query for JUST CAUSE should be posted in no time. I submitted a fake plot for that one, too.

It's fun, you just read the title and make up something absurd. Scroll down on my blog, there was an Oscar's Guess the Plot a few weeks ago, and my fake submissions were 1- e, 2-g, 3-b, and 4-d. For some reason he didn't include my plot for 5.

Monday, February 16, 2009

And the Synopsis got Shredded!

So there was more to come:

Click here
to read the rest...

This is one thing I learned about a synopsis: if you want to submit a synopsis but are limited to 400 words, and your synopsis is 850 words, you are better off to start over from scratch than to try and make cuts while hoping to retain any sense...


FATE'S GUARDIAN got a Face-Lift

Ok, I asked for it! I submitted a query and synopsis to the Evil Editor, and he and his minions had at it over the weekend. The results went up this morning. It has a guess the plot, some funny comments in the query, and some questions and advice on how to better sell the story.

Click here to see what they did to me!

This was from a query I sent before I "won" a critique on Nathan Bransford's blog, so I think I have made some great improvements to the query since I first submitted for this lashing...


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Home is where the Hectic is!

I got back from Chicago around midnight Thursday. Angie was still up and had a glass of red wine waiting for me. There are many things that fuel my love for her, and such an accurate anticipation of my needs is one of them.

We have friends over for the weekend, they arrived Friday evening after an hour long drive from Dayton. I'm in a solo mode, because it's my wife's friend (her husband is away on an extended business trip), and her two kids. Her children are about the same age as our children,. and they have all known each other since infancy, so they get along quite well (i.e. loud).

Last night I tried a new recipe: baked salmon with a cranberry-thyme crust. It was really good. Here's the recipe:

3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped green onion (1 stalk)
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp grated lemon peel (you can buy this in a jar at the spice rack of your grocery store)
3 tbsp butter (melted)

Preheat over to 375. Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl. Put 3-4 salmon fillets in a greased glass baking dish, skin side down. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper, then coat the top with the panko mix, pressing down so it sticks.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork and is slightly opaque in the center.

It was really good, a nice sweet flavor from the cranberries, but a savory edge from the thyme and green onion, and the panko has a unique crispiness.

Now Angie is starting to cook some bacon, and I'm going to make eggs a la Papa for the children, something my friend Brian O'Donnell's dad used to make for us when I was a kid. You butter both sides of a piece of bread, and using a small juice glass, press down in the center of the piece to cut out a small circle. Then in a skillet over medium heat, put in the bread and crack an egg into the middle of it. Fry the inner circle on the edges of the skillet, flip the bread to fry both sides.

Tonight's Iron Chef challenge: sushi!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Airport

First off, let's hear three cheers for free Wi-Fi!

Now down to brass tacks. Why is is that two people can block the entire aisle in the airport? I'm not talking about the narrow aisle on the plane, I get that, but rather the 10 yard wide corridor that stretches down the A concourse.

There should be room to fit 10 people side by side, but no. The corridor was blocked by two people moving side to side like they are on a ship in a hurricane; for every foot of forward progress there were three feet of lateral movement.

Then when I got past them, dodging their sway like Ulysses navigating the treacherous path between Scylla and Charybdis, there's a person just standing there in the middle of the corridor. Waiting for someone? I don't know. Just standing there with a vacant look, not looking at the line in Starbucks, or reading the monitors for arriving and departing flights. Waiting for a clue, perhaps, or the moment of clarity that helps alcoholics find the path to recovery...

Oh yeah, and there was the lady at the security checkpoint that thought she was the only one in the world with a black Targus laptop bag and tried to abscond with mine. She must not be a frequent traveler. She got chewed out by one of the Heros from the TSA, who keep us safe from liquids and aerosols, because she put her laptop bag in the tray, and then set her laptop on the bag, when we all know that the laptop needs to go through by itself in a separate container. Coincidentally, this is why my bag came through first, they ahd to run hers through again. But hey, at least she didn't try to get away with a small bottle of hand sanitizer that wasn't protected by a 1-quart ziplock bag.

I'll admit it. I did that once. To my credit, I didn't know the 0.5 fl oz container of hand sanitizer was at the bottom of my bag, for I had scanned that bag dozens of times at dozens of airports and nobody ever noticed it. That is, until I got to Green Bay, Wisconsin, the absolute heart of white-bread mid-America, and apparently a terrorist haven.

The Hero from the TSA carefully examined my black Targus laptop bag and found the offending item.

"Do you have a 1-quart zip lock bag to put this in?" She asked me, knowing that zip lock can contain any form of liquid explosive.

"No," I answered, primarily because I didn't have one, but I was also curious to see what would happen.

She threw the hand sanitizer away. Had a zip lock bag been available (a 1-quart bag, mind you, no bigger, no smaller), I would have been able to keep it.

That's how screwed up our government is. And do we really need to wonder why we are in such an economic mess? How misplaced is our faith that the same congress that passed the laws about liquid in airplanes will be able to fix the recession?

I know. Let's just put the economy in a zip lock bag. That will keep it safe. Just make sure it's a 1-quart bag...

Off to Chicago

I leave thins morning for Chicago. We have a prospective client out there, and I will do a sales presentation tomorrow afternoon.

Traveling can be a ear, but presentations and public speaking are actually my favorite parts of the job. In high school I was in theater and acted in over 10 plays my junior year, and I played in an state-wide production of Rome and Juliet my senior year that we took to international competition in Muncie, IN. I was the Chorus and County Paris in R&J, and I am pretty sure that had I not broken my leg after the second callback, I would have been cast as Romeo.

I was on stage rehearsing for a production of Scrooge when my foot got caught on the orchestra pit cover and I fell and broke my leg. Yes, sweet irony. They always say "break a leg" because "good luck" is bad luck. You are not supposed to break your leg, but I am an over-achiever. I completely dislocated my knee, kneecap popping all the way over to the side of my leg and chipping my femur and tibia before slamming back into place. I can sum it up in one word: ouch.

I had to have surgery and several months of physical therapy. No sword fighting, no climbing towers. I was bummed. If your gonna wear tights in a play, you should at least get to kiss someone or kill someone. I just got to dance.

Well, I need to get ready for my trip. Going to Chicago is kind of fun when your name is Richard Daley. I get double-takes at the airport and hotel every time.

I'm not related to the Chicago Daley family, but it's a blast to play it up when I'm there.

I'll be back on Friday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The agent got back to me!

...And declined representation. Bummer.

I did receive some very useful feedback, and while it was a rejection, it was not only polite but also had some very encouraging things to say. Plus I'm very excited to have finally gotten past the query letter rejection and on to the partial manuscript rejection. That's real progress!

The publishing market is not immune to the recession, and for an agent that gets a couple hundred queries per week but only takes on 2-3 new clients a year, getting in the door with a partial really is a win. Not as big of a win as a publishing contract with a six-figure advance, but a win none the less.

All for now. I am going to continue my hunt for success, if it does not find me first.

Monday, February 9, 2009

TV or not TV, That is the Question...

I hold the remote in the palm of my hand
On cable I hear my favorite band
I click on the guide to see what is in store
As I surf through the channels, there’s endlessly more

Movies and music, shows about games
Actors and actresses, who knows all their names?
What’s this now, politics? What crap, flip on past!
I can’t stand that garbage, must get away fast.

The news? If you dare call it that, you’re a chump.
For there’s nothing new, it is all just a dump
Of the same tired stories they played all last week
With facts so distorted I can hardly speak

I like DVR, it’s my favorite companion
It fills up the void, it crosses the canyon
Between channels I like and all of the rest
The shows stored in there are simply the best

So I hold the remote, and my thumb is there, poised
To fast forward beyond the commercials and noise
I watch what I like, and I like what I watch
As I sit here just sipping my single-malt Scotch.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Rude Awakening

Ah, Saturday. The end of the work week. The beginning of the weekend. My day to sleep in. After waking up early all week long to get up and write before work, even on the mornings when my wife tries to convince me to sleep in, I'm relieved when the weekend comes, the cycle hums, ready to race to you....wait, that's the theme song from Happy Days. Must be cautious not to Jump the Shark so quickly.

My goal is to sleep in until my body wakes up AND I am ready to get out of bed. Well, my body woke up at about 7:30, but I looked at my clock and said no f-ing way and went back to sleep.

"Vic's puking!" Max shouted as he ran into our room at 7:56.

Being a parent can bring you great joy, and children can be a tremendous blessing. But as the old saying goes, every silver lining conceals a thunderstorm of vomit (or something like that).

Luckily, Max (7) helped Vic (4) to the bathroom, so there was no mess to clean up.

Now, on with my Saturday...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Help us, we're trapped!

Enough with the cold already. I get it. It's winter. But we're done now, OK?

It's 11.7 degrees outside. We'll have a high of 20 today. Other than one odd 40 degree day last week, it's been like this for a month. In January we got over 20" of snow, which is 12" above average.

Oh, and that nice 40 degree day, do you know what happened? To melted the top layer of the snow. Not all if it, mind you, just the top layer. Then guess what happened next?

That's right! It got down to single digits again that evening and all the slush froze solid! Max fell and hurt his knee coming back from the bus stop. Angie fell twice...once in the parking lot at work, and once in the driveway at home. And she always does really good in tree pose at yoga, so I know it's not her balance. It's the frigging ice.

The dog is getting stir crazy. It's hard to walk him when it's this cold to begin with, but add in the ankle-breaking contour of frozen slush on the sidewalks and streets and you have a real recipe for disaster. We're trapped.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work
and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All
work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and
no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy. All work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I queried an agent over the weekend, and yesterday that agent requested a partial manuscript of Fate's Guardian!

Being the gifted writer I am, I think I can sum up my resulting emotions in one word: hell yeah that is totally kick ass awesome. (That's more than one word? So what. I'm a writer, not a mathematician).

Now, to sit and wait for a response...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Guess the Plot- The Oscar's

The Evil Editor posted his 3rd Annual Oscar Guess the Plot. I was one of the faithful minions who submitted fake plots. You should meander on over to his site and check it out, and then let me know if you can guess the plot, but here's the twist:

You have to guess which was my fake plot. I don't care about the real ones.