Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Time Travel

"I slept good tonight," my son told me this morning.

I found this very interesting, because I was not aware that he could travel into the future.

NOTE TO SELF: explain concept of lottery to child, practice memorizing numbers.

This opens up a ton of potential, and I plan to exploit it to its full extent. Wouldn't you? I mean honestly, if you found out your son had some kind of super power, would you make him get a job as a reporter and dress him like a nerd, like Clark Kent's parents did, or would you capitalize on it and become a gazillionaire, like me?

Sure, the world needs saving, and I do plan to conduct a few philanthropic events with my mountain of cash, just like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Sally Struthers. But I still want to deck my wife out in the finest bling, and get a lot of cool guy-toys for myself.

Oh, and the kids, some stuff for them. Especially little Mr. Future. I think I'll get him some flashcards and the Memory game.

It's exciting to think of all the good I could do with a gazillion dollars, all the sadness I could end, all the hungry people I could feed. I mean, here's a prime example: we are out of Girl Scout cookies. This makes me sad and hungry. But with my new fortune, I would have enough Thin Mints to last the whole year, not just two lousy months.

NOTE: Thin Mints are best when frozen.

I know that focusing on myself is narcissistic and selfish, but I just wanted to use the word narcissistic. Big words make me feel smart. Someone please look it up and let me know if I used it in the proper context. If I didn't, keep it to yourself so I don't have to go on a power trip and delete your comment, cause I'll do that in a heartbeat. This is MY blog, damnit.

And in case you are thinking that this time travel incident was a fluke, an innocent slip of the tongue by a four year old, I give you this other example:

I offered him Taylor's Ham with his breakfast. "I've never had that for a long time!" He replied.

NOTE: Taylor's Ham falls somewhere between bacon and SPAM on the food pyramid. That is, it is totally delicious, but devoid of any nutritional value whatsoever. It's popular on the east coast, and there's only one store in Columbus that sells it. That store happens to be right next to the trail head that we ran on last Sunday, so I picked some up.

But enough with the distracting notes (NOTE: for now). Had he said "I've never had that for a long time before," then I would know his period of reference is confined to the past.

For him to know that he's never had it for a long time, period, he is obviously taking the future into account. Which brings me back to my plot to become a gazillionaire. This is the most exciting day of my life, and I'm halfway through maxing out all of our credit cards in eager anticipation of my future wealth.

NOTE: My expenditures are likely to raise consumer confidence and help lift the world out of the recession, so start investing today before the stock prices all go back up. Don't say I didn't warn you!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ten Miles. In the cold rain. We are dedicated.

We dropped the kids off at our next door neighbor's house, and drove a few miles to the trail head. As we left, it started to rain, a nice forty degree drizzle.

By the time we left the neighborhood, it was coming down steady. The car shifted a little bit on the road.

"Is that the wind pushing the car?" My wife asked.

"No, I'm just not steering good," I lied. I was trying to get mentally prepared, and she was trying to get me to agree to call off our ten mile run.

The rain came down harder, as if trying to prove a point. She looked at me, concern evident in her eyes.

"It just sounds like that because we're driving fast," I lied. My mental preparedness was getting stronger.

We parked at the trail head. It's about 13 miles in total, along the Olentangy River. All we had to do was run 5 miles (then turn around and come back).

The rain slowed to a drizzle right before we started, which is good because otherwise we would have driven to Starbucks and sipped coffee while our kids were next door with their friends. But alas, we were determined to do it, and do it we did.

It was hell.

I was surprised at how many other insane people were out running, too. There must be something in the water around here.

So now I'm sitting here, writing an abnormally long and detailed blog post, simply because I am afraid to stand up, let alone walk any distance. It's not that I want to be here, but I am more or less trapped. The last time I straightened my left leg my knee crackled and popped in what I am certain was Morse Code for "do that again and I will kill you. And your toes will help me do it."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vacation Day / Happy Birthday

Today is the last day of spring break, so I took the day off work. Last night we drove three hours to Charleston, WV, and we're staying with my mother-in-law. This would be an excellent place for a mother-in-law joke, but I can't do it. She's wonderful, and I can't think of any witty barbs. Also, she reads this blog sometimes. I love you Linda! Happy birthday!

Later today we're going to take the kids bowling. I don't expect any of us to play as good as we do on the Wii. I've made four strikes in a row Wii bowling, and when I don't get a strike I usually clear the frame in a spare. I don't think I've ever made one strike in an actual bowling alley. Although, to be fair, I think I've bowled in a real bowling alley about 4 times in my entire life. And that includes a fairly intoxicating venture to Dave & Busters in Nashville last year in a work-sponsored event.

in real life, if I could switch my bowling score with my golf score I'd be a pro at each, because I bowl a 63 and I golf a 300.

PS Blogger spell check doesn't know that Wii is a word. It doesn't have a problem with Atari though. Get out of the 80's and catch up to modern times, Google. I expected more from a high tech giant like you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nucking Futs

I did it.

It wasn't terrible during the run. It was sunny and warm enough to run in shorts and a t-shirt. Around mile 6 I started wondering where those endorphins are that I always heard about, and the "runner's high."

It turns out that the endorphins really kick in after you stop. I felt fine yesterday afternoon. But endorphins don't last that long. I was hoping they would go for at least a week, until I do my 10 mile run, instead they made it until 10pm and then bailed on me.

This morning I am dealing with the challenge of walking. My toes and my knees are very, very mad at me.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are you freaking insane????

Not you, dear reader. That's actually a rhetorical questions directed at myself. Although if you are insane, I applaud myself for pointing it out to you.

The answer, for me at least, seems to be an unfortunate yes. You see, my wife and I signed up to run a half marathon in May. On May 2, to be exact. Which happens to be our 10 year anniversary.

Tin is supposed to be the gift for a 10 year anniversary. That seems inherently lame (although it is recyclable, so maybe we'll get back to it in a few years). We decided to ditch it, opting instead for pain and sweat.

What does this have to do with today?

Today I have to run 8 miles for training.

I don't mind running, the weather is nice today, I have a new battery in my iPod so it should go silent after mile 4. But holy crap, 8 miles is a long way to run, and I am not mentally prepared for it. I've never run that far before, not even when being chased. I have to psyche myself up for it. Make it right. Make it real. Here goes...

8 Mile was a movie starring Eminem. And M&M's are candy. And candy is a treat, like cake. So running 8 miles is a piece of cake.

OK, good. I have no clue what I'll do next week, when I have to run 10 miles, but I think I'm covered for today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spelling Games

Messing with kids can be fun some times. Our 4 year old is learning to read and spell and now he spells out words to us when he wants stuff. We retaliate by spelling things back. That leads to lots of spelling.

Recently, this fun phrase came up...

"What does W-H-A-T-V-I-C spell?" Vic asked us.

"What, Vic?" We all said, laughing.

"I said, what does W-H-A-T-V-I-C spell?" He asked again.

"What, Vic?" We all said, laughing harder.

"Tell me! What does..."

We let it go on for a while. Funny stuff. Really. Don't tell me "should have been there." You just were there, biatch...My writing transported you. Oh, snap!

P.S. Is that the right way to use snap? I hear people say it ALL the time and it sounds so cool I thought I would try it. Someone hipper than me please offer guidance and direction. Thanks.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Does your Muse amuse you?

OK, enough staring at the blank screen. Write something. You have to start working for real, so get this over with. The Day Job does not consider blogging a priority.

Muse? Oh, Muse? I need your input. Where the hell is she? I've never seen her, but I think she looks like a cat. Definitely not a dog, they are loyal and come when you call. My Muse only shows up when she feel like it. Doesn't matter if I'm ready or not. 5:45 am, woke up early to write- Muse nowhere to be seen. Sitting in traffic or standing in the shower- Muse presents too many ideas to remember. Bitch.

So let me ask you...Who or what is your muse, and what do you love or hate about him/her/it?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Peek between the sheets, I want to show you something...

Whose sheets? You may ask. Well, I’ll tell you. My seven year old son, that’s who.

I was getting his bed ready the other night. I pulled back the comforter to find the sheets and instead I found:

· A box of tissues
· A little monkey flashlight
· A plastic bug
· A piggy bank. Actually it’s a treasure chest, but whatever. It has cash in it.
· A box of tissues
· A stuffed monkey. Not a real monkey, a toy one.
· A horse’s head. No, wait. That was in the Godfather.
· The Moon Dude. It’s a little plastic snail, it used to whistle like a dog toy when you squeezed it. When my son was four we used to get in the fort on our old swingset and pretend we were in a rocket to the moon. We met this Moon Dude there and fed him moon rocks.
· An iPet (small plastic bobble-head lookin’ thing).
· A small stuffed dog with Christmas crap on.
· Pirate Scooby Doo. Yes, you read that right.
· A Max & Erma dog
· Another Max & Erma dog
· A third Max & Erma dog. Several years ago we went to a Pets Without Parents charity event. They gave these little stuffed animals away to the kids. One per kid, in most cases, but somehow my boy got his hands on three of them and refused to let any of them go. I’m no psychic, but I could tell a tantrum of epic proportions was in the near future. They say “choose your battles” and we did. And he has three of these little f$@&ing dogs.
· A Mickey Mouse
· I m not even halfway done here
· Another box of tissues
· A Snoopy
· A heart shaped earth that says “Save Me” on it
· A little cheetah thing. Or some stuffed spotted cat-like animal.
· A stuffed frog.
· Spiderman (what seven year old boy’s bed is complete without one?)
· Another Snoopy
· A random small stuffed dog
· Batman. No Robin, because that would be gay.
o NOTE: I have absolutely nothing against gay people. Or Robin, for that matter. I’m just an unrestrained smart ass, and I call ‘em as I see ‘em. We cool?
· Marley, a small stuffed white tiger named after one of our old cats.
· Mickey, a small stuffed orange tiger named after the other of our old cats.
· Kitty Frog, his Webkinz toy that is a leopard-print frog.
· Another random stuffed dog
· A chick (a baby chicken, not a hottie). It’s hard plastic with feathers glued to it.
· Another chick, but this one chirps if you touch both electrodes on its feet
· Razmataz, my other son’s Webkinz toy. He’s a little pug puppy.
· And, of course, his blankey.


Monday, March 9, 2009

What You See is What You Get

Today I watched my wife’s eye get sucked out of her head.

Well, not the entire eye, just the lens, but it was still really cool. She went in for cataract surgery this morning. They called me back into a room to talk about the post-
op care, and there was a large TV screen with her eyeball on it. That’s all it was, her eyeball, opened wide. The surgery was being broadcast live.

There was a small implement that looked like the tip of a calligraphy pen poking into the bottom center of her eye, where there was a 3mm incision in the cornea.

“…and after she wakes up, which will probably be around 2:30pm, she can take the bandage off if when she can blink,” the nurse explained as I stared at the screen. It was hypnotic. This big eyeball staring at me. Kind of like watching Lord of the Rings.

“Do they take the whole lens out?” I asked, although they were quite obviously doing just that. I didn’t need to ask. I could see it right there in front of me. After all, I wasn’t the one going in for surgery. But I was fascinated watching it.

The nurse explained that a cataract is a medical condition where the entire lens becomes dense and cloudy, not just a film covering the surface. The procedure is really a lens extraction, and they put in a new lens, custom made for her eye.

The calligraphy pen broke up the lens, and when it finished, a small vacuum took its place. Small in real life, that is. On screen it was the size of a Dirt Devil. It sucked out all the lens pieces, and then another tool came onscreen to insert the new lens. The lens went in all folded up, and I watched as it slowly unfolded, like a flower blooming in slow motion, the bright orange backdrop of her retina helping to illustrate the thin black edges of the transparent lens like some jellyfish dancing in front of an underwater volcano. Now how cool is that?

She’s back home and doing fine. She napped for a couple hours. I took a vacation day so I could be caregiver, and she’s remarkably self-sufficient when she isn’t sleeping, so this is more like a standard vacation day for me. Just without the beach.


Movie Review- Coraline

We took the kids to see Coraline yesterday. It's a kids movie, filmed with stop-motion animation and presented in a new kind of 3-D. The 3-D doesn't try to make the objects float out into the theater as it used to. This seems to give depth to the screen, extending the distance between the characters at the front of the screen and the depth of the background. It was pretty cool.

I liked it. My wife liked it. My older son (age 7) liked it.

"That movie was just terrible," according to my younger son (age 4).

I don't think he liked wearing the 3-D glasses, for starters. I can't totally blame him. They aren't the cardboard kind like they used to make, but at least with those kind you looked cool, as long as you didn't wear them outside of the theater.

These days they have these plastic glasses with big over-sized grandma frames that make you look like a dork, even in the darkened movie theater.

But I don't think it was a style issue that my little one objected to. This is a kid who will wear a green Power Ranger costume to the supermarket. He's not all that self-conscious (yet).

I guess he thought there were a couple of spooky parts. SPOILER ALERT! Like when the "Other Mother" turns into a tall stringy witch and locks Coraline in the dank dungeon bedroom where there are three ghosts of kids that died in there, and Coraline has to find their missing eyes to free their souls. Or the part when the Other Mother wants to sew buttons onto Coraline's eyes with a needle so sharp you will hardly feel it, because everyone in that world has them. Or the part toward the end where the Other Mother's arms and legs turn into sharp metal spider legs and she traps Coraline in her web.

So for most of the movie, the little one sat there without his glasses on, starting at the blurry screen, just so he could complain about his headache once we got in the car.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Art of Brevity

'Nuff said.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Snack Attack

The kids asked for a snack. They wanted Apple Jacks. Dinner's not going to be ready for a while. While I was working, Angie took them and the dog for a walk, so they are legitimately hungry. They are not on the brink of starvation, though they adamantly claim this to be fact.

So I got the cereal and milk and then put two bowls on the counter. One bowl had a picture of Spider-Man at the bottom, the other The Cat in the Hat. Both reached for the Spider-Man bowl, and in a photo-finish, both grabbed it "first." In the absence of a video replay, I had to make a judgment call. I needed to resolve an unwinnable argument, and neither side would ever dream of conceding.

Would it be worth it to reason with them? To make them understand that the Apple Jacks and milk would completely hide the picture at the bottom of the bowl, the image of Spider-Man that gave this whole battle its reverence?

Hell no. I took those bowls, put them in the cupboard, and got our two plain black salad bowls. Argument over. No one gets the Spider-Man bowl.

Kids, -2. Dad, 1.


Public Query Slushpile

I need your help promoting a new project I've started. It's a blog for a Public Query Slushpile:


Here's the pitch: Aspiring writers submit their queries with 3-4 sample pages as a comment to the main post (link is at the top-right of the blog). I will create a new post for each query received, posting as-is. Then the reader community (which is currently just me...I need your help!) can comment on them.

Aside from peer reviews and feedback, this may also give us writers insight into the world of an agent, sifting through a daily deluge of queries, trying to find a needle in the haystack. Of course, this all depends on how many writers know about this new blog and choose to submit queries for public viewing. Hence the plea for help...

I would hope that at some point this gains enough momentum that some agents/editors may take interest and occasionally go trolling through this slushpile to see what's out there. It gives them the chance to find a talented writer that didn't query them.

Check it out when you get a chance, and tell all your writer friends!

Writing Question #1: What is Voice?

If you've been following this blog, you know that I take a shotgun approach to topic selection. I just wheel around and shoot from the hip, oftentimes clueless as to what I am really bloggin about until I'm done writing (or until a collect enough WTF's in comments).

Today is a little more focused. I just read a good post on Anita Laydon Miller's Blog about qualities of books she loves, and it boils down to: VOICE.

But my question for you is: What is Voice?

What makes it good? Bad? Ugly?

How do these elements fit in: vocabulary, grammar, syntax, rhetoric, POV, tense (past/present), and plot?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guess the [Fake] Plot

Evil Editor posted a new face lift, and I, being the loyal minion, again had a fake plot posted. Here are the plots for Surviving Eden (you can read the query at EE's blog, it's Face Lift 609). Since this is my blog, your challenge is to pick the fake plot I submitted. Post your guess as a comment:

Surviving Eden

1. Life isn't easy when you're a snake in the grass. It gets worse when you piss God off by spoiling His creation, and you realize that you only have Hell to look forward to after . . . Surviving Eden.

2. On an alternate Earth, where the apple went untouched and mankind continued naked and unashamed, would-be fashionista Carlotta Jones yearns to design the perfect apron of fig-leaves.

3. In an unspoiled part of America, Sarah moves into the home of a mysterious spinster. But can her ambition to become a spinster herself survive when she meets hunky Tyler wandering in the forest?

4. They called it Eden: a mythical planet of beauty and fruitfulness, hidden in the far reaches of the galaxy. Jonah Starfarer found it at last--but no one had mentioned the sword-wielding angel who guarded it.

5. Everyone knows about Adam & Eve. But what about the poor animals? Lion Aslan must lead the animals from their world to the dangerous one of humans. But is there a snake in his path, too?

6. Eden seemed so fragile and delicate that Walter dedicated himself to protecting her. But after five years of her mood shifts and erratic behaviour, he was forced to acknowledge that he was barely . . . Surviving Eden.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Follow-up Martini

So you know I recently had the worst two martinis in the world in Miami last Thursday. I got home Friday night, but we were out of olives, so no martinis over the weekend. Today my wife went to Costco, and she called and asked me if she should get me olives. I said sure.

She got me this:

My God, I truly love that woman.


How to Create Heat Vision

The following story is true. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Screw the innocent.

"Hey Dad, I know how to make my eyes into heat vision!" Max told me.

"Oh really, how?" I asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

"You get a hot piece of metal, and you poke little holes all around your eye..."

"You what!?" I looked at him closely. Both of his eyes were intact, for the time being.

He sighed, exasperated that I would make him repeat himself, and use big words like exasperated on my blog.

"You get a hot piece of metal, and you poke little holes around your eye. Than [sic] you get a lamp, and you plug it in and hold the light bulb next to your eye, and the light bulb makes the metal hot, and than [sic] it goes back in behind your eye. And when it's done, it will be all red and glow and than [sic] you'll have heat vision."

"Is that so? Who told you that?" I asked, though I already knew the answer. Jake and Max have become mad Scientist buddies, and are often dreaming up potions, and now apparently they have graduated to optical induction gadgetry.

"Jake did. And it's true because he did it and Jake doesn't lie," Max said, matter-of-factly. "And you can test it by putting an eye patch over your eye-" this part makes sense to me, I'll bet he needed an eye patch, "-and then the eye patch gets really hot and you know it worked." Nope. Lost me.

"And when I go over to Jake's house, we're both going to make heat visions." Max concluded.

"Oh yeah? Well, just make sure Jake goes first."