Monday, December 29, 2008

I read too

I don't always write. Sometimes I read. Yes, it's true. Like most people who try to write, I read. Although it's a laborious affair because I have pitiful vision [just another ailment in my long line of woes] and the precious pooch chewed up my glasses a long time ago and I need an eye exam before I get a new pair.
What was I saying? Oh right, I read.

Currently reading:

Jonathan Strange and Mr. NorrellJ by Susanna Clarke. No, you can't look inside. I just stole that image off Amazon so you'd have something to look at.
This book was recommended by a great a wonderful person who writes Giselle Sauveterre in the novel L'Affaire on PanHistoria. It was recommended to her by her by another wonderful person who writes Georgiana Lyon in Vices & Virtues.

Next on the reading list is Et Apres by Guillaume Musso. This is the book the movie Afterwards starring Romain Duris is based upon. Who knows when the movie will be released in the United States or I can get a copy of it, but the trailer looked really good.

Since the book is in French I'll probably be spending a lot of time with an unabridged French dictionary.
All the books could be useful to me in a way. The Jonathan Strange book takes place in Regency England and I write in "Vices & Virtues" which is set in that time period. I believe it was originally created by people with an interest in Jane Austen. I've never read Jane Austen. That might explain why I have a French character running around.
My French character is in two novels; one set in 1810, the other in 2006. You can imagine how the French dictionary might come in handy. The two novels have fantastical elements to them, and I write in a fantasy novel. So, my leisurely reading is really research!
Amazing how anything can be rationalized.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

from the line cook

I had to share this post from Richie who writes the line cook blog.

I especially liked this part:
Pastry is one aspect of cooking that most hot line cooks will tell you strikes fear deep in their hearts. It's precise and difficult and completely unforgiving. It means early mornings, little to no help on prep, and a constant fight for space on the stoves. It also means a strong lesson in efficency, humility, and cooking delicately. After working pastry your approach to everything from mise to plating changes. Your palate adjusts to appreciate not just taste, but texture. And in the end you are a stronger, more competant and confident long as you've been minding the salt.

Can you tell I do pastry? I love pastry, but I'm one of those who obsesses over the detail.


I'm at the beach. The Perfect Brunette [PB] kidnapped me after she got off work last night. Someone gave her the use of a condo at Orange Beach for a holiday gift so we're taking advantage of it. We drove all night and now PB is sound asleep.

I could be writing for one of the fine novels at, but at the moment I'm sitting on the balcony enjoying the view of the ocean, the wind ruffling the three palm trees, and the fact it's in the mid-70s and it's late December.

When I asked PB what great plans she had for us, she said, "Just the romantic things. You know, walk hand in hand down the beach. Admire the sunset. Push you into the water then run away laughing."

If I go in, she's coming in with me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Suspicious Activity in Perfumes & Colognes

Apparently I can't resist telling a story to embarrass a friend. Not if it's funny!

My roommate Mike got off work early and decided to go visit his guy, Mark, who works at an upscale department store. Mike changed from his spiffy suit into sexy button-fly jeans. [I added the spiffy and sexy part. You who know Mike, know he does not talk that way.]

Mark was occupied with a customer so Mike strolled about. Luckily for him because he noticed his second from the top button on his sexy jeans was undone. Oh my! Potential embarrassment avoided, right? Right!

Not wanting to draw attention to himself, Mike simply pulled down his shirt, buttoned up his suit coat and oh so discreetly did up the button one-handed while continuing to browse.

To hear Mike tell it, what must have given him away was that after he was finished he looked about him to see if he had in fact drawn attention to the fact that he was fiddling around in his crotchal region. [Mike did say crotchal.]

Noticing that Mark was finishing up the sale he headed toward the shoes, but ah no, it was not meant to be. The intimidating men in intimidating suits who pass for security in the upscale department store intercepted dear Mike. Seems they had noticed Mike and his suspicious activity and wanted to know just what he had been doing fiddling about in his crotchal region. They had it on video and everything. They thought he was shoplifting goodies and stuffing them down in with his goodies.

Poor Mike. All he wanted to do was see his honey after a hard day at work.

Perhaps I should have changed the names to protect the innocent, or at least to not disgust you with the fact that Mike is dating Mark. "Mike + Mark = 2 Cute!" It's true! Miss Montez made a magnet and put it on the fridge.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another Bit of Surreal

Mike, my roommate, and I just went to the post office. Coming around a long slow curve the song "Stop the Cavalry" was on the radio and there's this yard full of inflatable soldiers and little wooden soldiers. I guess they were supposed to be nutcrackers maybe. It was just strange. He stopped the car and we just stared for a minute.

Music mp3 Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie

And for whatever reason I keep speaking in a French accent and Mike has picked it up too. "Monsieur, what are wee having for dinayre too-night?" "Oh, wee ayre hafing baked ap-ples, honeyed ham, and but of course zee Kripsee cremes zay haf brought to us."

Something Entirely New

Hanging on my closet door is a new winter coat. My girlfriend PB gave it to me. Last week when it was in the low thirties she saw me walking down the road wearing a raincoat over a hoodie and realized that was it for me. One of the perils of dating a guy without a full-time job is eventually his winter coat gets pretty shabby and has so many holes it doesn't really stop the cold and has to be thrown out. And when you're as tall as I am it's hard to find something that fits in the thrift store.

So she went and bought me a new winter coat.

I've never had a new winter coat before.


They've always been second hand. Even back before the state took possession of me, when I was a tiny little Scarecrow, I remember my sister, Amber, helping me try on coats at the Salvation Army and telling me to make sure it was comfortable with the hood up so I could sleep in it too. The others got new things, but not us. They had grandparents to buy them new things, but not us. The grandparents wouldn't buy things for us because we didn't count. So we got to pick out coats at the Salvation Army on the days when everything was half price.

Even when I've had the money, it's been hard to part with it for something that wouldn't get worn much. A new good coat starts at $100. That's a lot of money. That could go towards rent, or utilities, or food, or towards those medical & dental bills I have that the other guy's insurance is still refusing to pay. So I've always just gone to the thrift stores.

But now I have a new winter coat. No one else has owned it before. It's all mine. And somebody gave it to me. Somebody I love who loves me, gave me my first new winter coat. She doesn't expect me to go out and buy her anything in return. She doesn't want jewelry or shoes or a night out on the town. She just wants me to be warm while I'm out walking around.

That's something entirely new to me too.

People always want something in return. Don't they? Well no. Over the last few years I've been learning that's not true.

Plus she's so confident I'm getting that job after Christmas she doesn't want her Scarecrow freezing walking to work every day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Like an episode of Three's Company

I've always hated the show Three's Company. At one place where I lived I never got to control what we watched on television, and the guys who did for some reason had a fixation with Three's Company. So there I sat during TV time, trying to read a book, but being endlessly tortured by that damned show instead.

Almost every single episode boiled down to one of the roommate's misunderstanding what another roommate said or was up to, then supposed hilarity ensued, lah lah lah. And it all could have been easily resolved if the one roommate just asked the other roommate what the deal was. You would think after countless embarrassments they would all eventually learn to communicate better.

I have a tendency to talk to the television and voice my opinion even then. I got punched a lot, but eventually I, unlike Jack, Chrissy, and Janet, learned my lesson.

Right, so, this has nothing at all to do with Three's Company, although it does involve one person being on a different page from all the rest.

[This was several months ago. Something reminded me of it today.]
I was headed to Birmingham with some friends. We pass through this area on the highway with a lot of businesses, strip malls, traffic lights, and everywhere we look there are banners up for different activities, almost all of them seemed to have something to do with children's activities.

Free Children's Clinic. Karate Lessons. Free Soccer Clinic. Fall Festival. Sports Clinic. Mom's Day Out. Ballet registration now! Enroll in this. Enroll in that. Free this. Tot Shots this Saturday. Low cost that. Your child must do this now or be ostracized forever and you suck as a parent!

There were so many different signs for so many different activities I don't know how any of them was supposed to stand out more than the rest or how anyone was supposed to decide what to do. I see one that said "Learn about microchipping!" and that just seemed weird. Because all the signs I see are pertaining to children. So I'm thinking this is about putting microchips in your children.

So I asked, "They microchip them? Why do they microchip them?"

One person in the car replied, "That's in case they get lost. If someone finds them, they bring them in and they just run a scanner over them and they know who they belong to."

I say, "Ooookay. That's just extreme."

Then someone else says, "Or you know, like if they find them dead on the side of the road and some nice person scoops them up and brings them in then even though they're all squished up and all they can still identify them and send them home."

"What!? What the f-?! What?"

About this time everybody else in the car figured out I was a little slow and began patting my head and saying, "Now now, Scarescrow. It's all right. It's for little furry animals. Not children. It's okay. Calm down. Stop freaking. It's okay."

Warning: this gets a little twisted.
All I can say is Thank Shmoo they decided to let me off easy and immediately tell me it was about pets and not kids, rather than just have a field day messing with me. To this day I still have a mental image of a toddler road pizza being bagged by some kind passerby, who then drops it off at the local morgue. The coroner then scans it, reads the info, puts toddler-pizza into a bag, vaccuum seals it, pops it into a FedEx box, prints out a label, and sends it off. Then parents of said missing toddler-pizza open the box, transfer contents into the box their latest home computer came in, and bury it out in the back yard next to Scruffy, Bootsie, and Bobo. Blech!

Surprisingly I very rarely have nightmares and when I do, I write them down and share the stories with friends.

A Song For Her

Everything - Ben Harper

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rudolph is Dead!

Here's a funny story for the day.

Miss Montez's mom is one of the maid's at a hotel. We dropped by to visit her. She and the cleaning staff were having a good laugh and shared it with us so I thought I would share it with you.

One of the maid's had gotten a call from the school about her son. Seems the little boy, who is in kindergarten, had told everybody that his grandfather shot Rudolph this weekend upsetting all the other children.

Yes, it's deer season. The woman's dad had bagged him a deer. The woman's best comment on it was, "I don't know why he had to say it was Rudolph." I guess it would be less traumatic if he said Comet or Donner.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Be Kind

There are lotsa little ways to be kind, but might I make a simple suggestion that's pretty easy and won't take much of your time.

If a door has to be pulled to open it... please open it for the guy wearing the straight-jacket. He will really appreciate it.

Oh, and bring a straw with his drink unless you want to hold it for him all night. Unless you're PB or one of the goth/fetish models and then he really didn't mind you holding the drink for him at all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Writing with a Reader

Wyatt, who is the head pimpmeister over at PanHistoria, has a really good post in his blog about writing with a partner in collaborative writing and the methods available to you at PanHistoria. Wyatt at Pan Historia: More on Collaborative Writing. So I'll let you go read that.

What came to my mind was the trick of writing with a new partner who is also a reader.

Over in the horror novel FLESH I've been having a blast with my long time writing partner Miss Montez. She writes Dathne. I write Andre. I had been wanting to create one of the NPCs as a writable character since Andre and Dathne will be separated more and more. I was talking to a friend on Pan who is also a reader and she was telling me about a character she had always wanted to put into FLESH, one geekly Anabel Lee, but said she'd never seen a way to do it or how to keep her alive. I liked the character, I like the writer and her style fits with ours, told her I was creating DiDi, and asked her to join us.

So far it's working out great. Miss Montez and I write at a breakneck speed, and write fairly far ahead, except lately with holidays and other mishaps we've been kind of coasting. [We've still got quite a few posts in the bag and plenty more planned out, at least for her. I'm the one snoozing.] What we've been doing with Ana is a little bridgework to connect her character in with ours and it's been a blast. Her character is going to fit in perfectly with our disfunctional zombie-slaying redneck-thwarting household.

Where's the problem? The only hitch is Ana's writer is also a reader of FLESH. I don't want to spoil any surprises for her. This doesn't mean she isn't a part of the planning. We're both asking her for input on the planning, both short and long term. What we're holding back from her, to keep from ruining the story for her, are little plot twists that Ana wouldn't know about anyway. She's clever, she's picked up on things other people haven't, which is why I knew she'd be the perfect person to ask to join us. So she can anticipate certain things will happen, but I'm not going to spoil it by telling her how. I'm not going to deny her any information she needs to know to write her character or to interact with the rest.

Miss Montez held out information on me. I had no idea Dathne intended to use Andre as a bargaining chip. If I had known that from the start I might have let my knowledge of that cloud his perception of her.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, sometimes you have to treat your writing partner like a reader. Save some surprises for them. Even if you plan and plot the way we do, they don't have to know everything your character is going to do if it doesn't affect their character. Plus it can also make a difference in how they write in relation towards your character.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Overheard Randomness

Just things I overheard and wanted to share...

Mdme: Who said I was a wannabe cougar? What's that all about?
PB: You totally misunderstood. Not you want to be a cougar. They want you to be a cougar. Big difference.

BK Employee to Obviously Blind Guy who asked where the woman he was with went: I don't know. What does she look like?
Blind Guy: I honestly don't know.

Mekah: Stupid ass white woman getting all uppity with me like she's all upper class when she's got a daughter with a made up black person's name.

Mdme: She's so crazy about him she has butterflies in her stomach and wanted to know how to make them go away. Normally I'd tell her to just f@!# him. They'll go away. But she's a virgin, so what can I say? I am so not equipped to give advice to virgins.

PB: He's totally sober acting like this. Can you imagine what he was like on drugs? [Referring to me being wrapped around her legs because she was dressed like Dr. Girlfriend, white go-go boots and all.]

Victor: You don't get it because you haven't got it. Get it? Of course you don't. There's a reason you've never gotten any and it's not because you're saving it. Unlike your sister, it's because you've never had the choice. I'm sorry. Am I being catty again? I'm feeling like a little pussy.

Prado: [Explaining someone's bizarre tendencies as normal.] Well, he is German.

Lee: Maybe his mother was the other girl he knocked up.
Mdme: Oh! Ohhhhh! That is so sick! Why didn't I think of that?

Miss Montez: Lita's new white in-laws were being so politically correct Turkey Day it was hilarious. I thought the mom was going to asphyxiate when one of the kids told her most of us were swirl babies.

Walmart Customer: Are you waiting on me to pay?
Walmart Employee: No, but everyone else in the store is.

Odd Person: You're so tall that I bet if you fell down and hit your head really hard it on the sidewalk, it would really hurt.

Barney Fife Cop upon seeing my track scars: Let me guess, you used drugs.
Miss Montez: With your powers of deduction why are you a traffic cop and not a detective?
Barney Fife Cop: I think you're being sarcastic.
Miss Montez: In a sing-song voice. Somebody's bucking for a promotion. Stage whisper. I bet he's even noticed you're not short.
Barney Fife Cop: Miss, I think you want to get arrested.
Miss Montez: Darn. There went the promotion. So close.*

*Miss Montez has several criminal lawyers in her family. She knows how much she can get away with, especially when she hasn't done anything illegal. When you know you can get quality legal defense for free, it apparently makes you a little bold. Notice I said nothing.

Captain: I am so a Meredith fan-girl now.

Jayn the Dragon Quote: Don't do drugs. Drugs are bad. Pixies on the other hand are all natural and non-addictive. They can be smoked to provide a pleasant high, but they're screaming can be a little irritating so I suggest ear plugs. They can also be eaten, but the effects take longer to kick in and their little bones can get stuck between your teeth.

Jayn the Dragon is the intellectual property of Madame S. and used with her permission. So if you are a Jayn fan don't go running to her saying someone is ripping off Jayn or threatening to sick Jayn on me. Jayn already wrecked my car. I am on Jayn's phone text list. Remember: WWJaynD? Eat You!


If you have a nickname, I hope it's a good one.

Mine is a good one. Scarecrow. I could have been called Slim. Or one of those reverse names, Shortie or Half-pint. I'll stick to Scarecrow. It's what everyone calls me.

I inadvertently gave my friend Brandon a nickname and with the most recent Scarecrow Day and Miss Montez adding a new addition to it, everyone now calls him by it. The new addition was "Call Brandon Milkshake."

Yes, thanks to me, everyone now calls Brandon Milkshake. Noone even cares why. He's just suffered through the weekend being called Milkshake by everybody. It was one thing when I was the only one calling him that, it was an inside joke between us, but now everybody is.

OK, here's the story of how the name came in to being.

Brandon, Miss Montez, Lidia, and I all hopped into the Fairlane to take a road trip to the big mighty bookstore. Along the way we stopped to get milkshakes. Mine was a vanilla malted. Very yummy. When drinking milkshakes it is obligatory that someone has to start singing Milkshake by Kelis. I don't know who started it just that it got started. Eventually we got over it. Stopped singing. That was the end of it. Or it should have been.

Barney Fife cop pulled us over because Miss Montez when she renewed her car tag several months before had forgotten to put the stickers on the tag. So while she's talking to him the rest of us were talking to each other. Brandon was in the backseat. I was in the front. He is a photographer. I asked him something about how he did this effect with his camera, because he uses film, not a digital camera, and he leaned up and said, "I could teach you, but I'd have to charge." This caused me to snort malted milkshake up my nose. Not pleasant.

Ever since then I greet him with "Hey, Milkshake!"

I didn't mean to scar him for life with a stupid nickname.

Brandon, you have my sincere apologies. It could have been worse.

Milkshake - Kelis


The writing prompt on the One Minute Writer was Scar Story. Just tell how you got a scar.

No problem, except which one would I pick? I have short sleeves on, so just the visible ones... Do I tell about the ones on my left hand that look like my hand was made of plastic and someone kept poking it with a hot stick and my flesh melted. Do I tell about that ugly scar on my forarm, all the way up to my elbow, that's all discolored and disgusting and has that spidery varicose vein look going on? How about the one on my right forearm that starts in the palm of my hand and is jagged and at least not discolored?

Want me to pull off my shirt and then there would really be a variety to choose from? Let me just strip down. I could tell some tales that would make you realize why I spent the better part of my life looking for a way out. And yes, the ones on my arms are the result of my own stupidity, but none of the burns are, none of the cuts, and trust me, I never stabbed myself.

I'm not proud of my scars, nor am I ashamed of any of them. Some of them don't belong to the person I am now. But they helped make me.

I carry the scars of a ghost. I don't carry the ghost.