Saturday, January 31, 2009

People who don't cook don't get it

Yesterday I had an accident at work. People who've never worked in a commercial kitchen don't get how I kept working or that no apologies were made.

I can't really piece together how it all went down. Somebody slipped or started to drop something. One body fell into another. Like dominoes falling into each other, bump bump bump, on down the line it went. Unfortunately for me Leland wasn't aware this was happening. He was in the middle of something. I caught the point of his knife in my arm. Just above my elbow.

No biggie. This happens. Knife gets tossed. New one comes out. Leland was a swell guy and grabbed my elbow with his free hand to keep the blood to a minimum and hopefully not get it on anything and lose our work. It was the middle of lunch. Finally somebody had to come over and wrap a towel around my arm and hold it there. One of the scrubbers stood there through lunch holding a towel around my elbow because it would not stop bleeding.

It wasn't that bad. Just sprang a leak. After lunch I got it super glued together. Funny though how people were so surprised I didn't stop working and how many people asked if Leland apologized to me. I said, why would he apologize? It wasn't his fault.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hazing Days

Hazing is a way of life in a restaurant. You've got to haze the new guy.

I started work at a restaurant on Thursday. Most everyone there knows me. They know I'm not "the new guy". I'm not another cookie coming in to work on the line, I'm the new pastry guy, the one the new pastry kitchen that's been sitting there locked up is finally being opened for, the sweetie who unlike the last guy, will actually be stepping onto the line and filling in, especially on sauces.

Everybody that is except for the last new guy hired. The one hired after the last time I did an emergency fill-in. The one I call Twit.

Twit took some cooking classes in high school and junior college. He may be taking some at culinary school. Not clear on that one. But he has dreams and aspirations of being more than just a guy on the line. He's going to be a chef, which automatically has him thinking he's way better than any of the guys on the line who simply see it as a job. Doesn't matter they do it damn well.

I get the heads up that they've all lied, including Chef, and said I'm just a new guy hired on the line and he's all hepped up about having someone lower on the totem pole than him. So before everyone else is due to come in, I stash my chef's jacket, which is orange of course, and put on the ugliest one in the store room, and lock up the pastry kitchen so he thinks I'm just on the line.

First off, Twit does not wonder about if I'm the new guy, practically off the street, why is he on salads and I'm on pastry and sauces? Second, guy's about 5'7". I'm 6'7". He's either got a lot of balls or is just plain stupid to mess with me. We all voted on the latter. Third, dimwit even after figuring out I was the pastry chef, couldn't figure out why people called me Sweetie. It's a name some people call the pastry guy. It's got to do with all the sweets. We had to explain it to him.

It was great fun. It finally got blown when the owner was expediting and the first dessert order got called out and she slipped up and said "Chef B~"

No, I'm not being pretentious making them use my last name. When not called Scarecrow I am usually called by my last name, not my first. It's been that was for so long, a lot of people are surprised when they hear my first name. Chef is called just Chef or Chef S [his first name] and I'm Chef B~. Wannabe chef has to call me Chef B~.

And yes, I give the kid hell. Last night one of the salads he was making used this very white shoe peg corn.

Shoe peg corn, you say? Yes I say. I have a lower front tooth that won't stay mounted to its post. Narrow removable tooth. Narrow white corn. Can I resist? No. I walked by. Sneezed. Oops. Where's my tooth?! Find my tooth. You have to go through every single bit of that corn to be certain my tooth is not in there. Check those salads! Somehow I made it his fault too for not protecting his station better. Chef said he'd get me a ride home when I was ready to leave if I'd put my tooth back in and go over and bitch out Twit for not having found my tooth yet. I did, and when Twit noticed it I completely denied my tooth was there. "Where the @#$^ do you get off questioning me? I think I should know whether or not I have all my teeth in my mouth and can you even see this far up? Ah, but you're so damn cute when riled up. Fiesty even! Rowr!" People who work with me spend a lot of time laughing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting Opinions

I am not one for writing advice. By that I mean all those self-help styled writing tips. Yeah, I know, on my twitter account I do follow two people who offer that sort of stuff, but I don't actually read it. There's a story behind why I follow them. I'll tell it some other time. I rather prefer things like my friend Bayley's twitwall where she asks questions such as where do you find your inspiration and why do choose first or third person. That's interesting. I like to hear why other people do something rather than being told why I should do something in a certain way,

Anyway, what was I saying?

Oh right, getting advice.

I write the character Brame for two different stories on PanHistoria - FLESH which is about zombies and 666 West End Avenue which takes place in present day New York in a creepy apartment building. I had written a post for Brame I was unhappy with and asked my friend Wyatt to read it for me.

There were several problems with it and talking to Wyatt helped bring them to light. Overall the post was fine. Standing on its own, no problem really, but you'd have to see the big picture to understand the problems with it. First, it revealed too much about the building. That was one reason I wanted him to okay it. He's aware of the story line in there and when you're writing in a collaborative novel you have to be concious of the overall story arc. Don't push too soon and I also thought this was giving away too much too soon.

Second the post was too clear. Brame is a confused little mess. Sometimes he is quite lucid, but this post was too lucid. Too clear. It practically sparkled with clarity. It lacked his confusion and his quirkiness. I think part of this was due to I wrote this too soon after writing a post for FLESH-Brame. That Brame has very distinct multiple personalities. 666 Brame has more of a fractured personality. He's erratic, not fully in control of his emotions whereas FLESH-Brame has a personality that when it surfaces everything becomes very clear and precise and focused. I wrote this piece too soon after writing that Brame.

And yes, that was a problem because this post in question was a filler post.

What is a filler post? A filler post is when you write a post just to be writing one and have something to put up. Maybe you haven't written in awhile, maybe a writing partner is pushing you to get something up in response to her post, or maybe you just like to see your character's name on the boards. Whatever, it's a post that doesn't progress your plot, doesn't really serve a purpose. It's just filler.

This post was filler that I tried to make serve a purpose and failed at.

Brame just happens. He's great that way. He pops up, knocks on my skull and says "I want to do this. Now let me out." So I let him out.

What happened was Brame had plans for 666, but I had just put up a post in FLESH where he was about to go out and let the zombies have him. In 666 his next post he appeared quite suicidal also and I thought, hmmm, don't want him going all suicidal in two posts. Looks like I couldn't come up with anything better for him to do. Even though originally these posts were planned very far apart, circumstances have led them to actually go up relatively close together. So I decided I would just write another post in between for 666.

Bad idea. I end up telling more than I want to tell and not writing true to this character. Plus I realize this scene would not really get me to where Brame wanted to be in the first place.

And I got all this just from asking my friend Wyatt to read over my post and give me his opinion.

Some people write completely alone without ever getting to know other writers. They don't want opinions or criticism. They're afraid of construction criticism. They only want the praise. I want both. I probably won't trust your praise without the criticism. And if all you do is criticize my writing and never say one good word about it, I'm probably going to start doubting your word too. Unless of course I'm just that bad.

Find yourself a writers community or even just one person who can be a little objective once in awhile. Praise is great, but you really need that person you can bounce ideas off of or turn to and say "what the hell is wrong with this?" who will honestly tell you what the hell is wrong with it. Plus sometimes it's when you hand that piece over to another person that you start to see from another angle.

It's like a friend told me about painting. He said there's a little trick to do when you're painting and need another angle on it. Put it in front of a mirror and look at it or even reflected in two if you need to see it without being reversed. It gives a new perspective.

Get opinions on your writing. Get a new perspective.

Here are some links mentioned in this post:
Me on Twitter
PanHistoria : check out the new Writers Muses area for daily writing prompts.
Bayley's TwitWall
Wyatt on Blogger
666 West End Avenue*
*To read FLESH or 666 West End Avenue you can sign in as a guest. It's easy. To use the guest login, sign in with pseudonym: guest and password: pan and on the next screen re-enter the password pan. You can sign in from the front page at or use the login link you'll find just below the upper left banner on most all of the pages at Pan. PanHistoria is free, by the way. So don't think I'm trying to sell you something. It's free to use. Free to read. Free to write on there too. You get three characters with your free acount and can delete and remake them all you want. I'm such a shill for the site, I love it that much. I should do a whole post just on Pan.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Story From A Friend #1

I figured I should start numbering these. I'll have more.

I left out the name of famous dude so I wouldn't be name-dropping on the friend's behalf. I've seen the photo of her and famous musician guy so I know it's for real.

A bunch of us were outside in the cold drizzling rain smoking because what's a little cold drizzling rain when you're slowly installing cancer, right, and Madame kind of laughed to herself. We pestered her until she told us what amused her.

She said for no apparent reason a Halloween night about 18 years ago had popped into her head. She was in a little corner tavern, the type of dive friends hang out in, shoot pool, make plans about where they'll go later in the evening for the real party, just sitting at the bar having a drink waiting on everybody else. It being Halloween, and she's all about Halloween, she was wearing a long white dress from the late sixties or early seventies with embroidered flowers and sleeves that were skintight to her elbows then flared out, and a wreath of flowers in her hair.

The man at the bar next to her struck up a conversation by asking her about a cut on her face if a man did it to her. Bought her a drink. They kept talking. She said he had this great voice and this great battered leather jacket.

They smoked and drank and watched the other people in the bar and critiqued costumes. Then he said to her. "You're beautiful, whatever you are."

She said to him. "You're an amazing XX." [XX being his actual name. She just thought he looked and sounded remarkably like the rocking singer-songwriter and was way into his costume.]

He replied. "I am XX." He was in town playing a couple shows or something.

Now here is where your average person would probably lose their cool upon realizing they'd been sitting around with a pretty famous person shooting the sh!t. Not, Madame. She just raised one of those already arched eyebrows at him and said. "Excuse me.You're just amazing, XX." And reminded him the next round was on her.

After telling us this she finished her cigarette, smushed it out, and picked up the butt to throw it away later. Then she kinda scrunched up her nose on one side in this cute way she has and said, "Ten years ago, I wouldn't have to explain to anybody who XX is." Then she walked back in singing one of his songs and those who didn't know who he was until then were all "No effing way! She met him?"

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Since it's a new year I've decided to read something new. I've started Turnskin at PanHistoria. It's a story about werewolves, mainly in New York City. I know several of the writers in there and they're all very good writers.

One great thing about Pan is that it being collaborative fiction if a novel really interests you, and you're a writer, you can join it. If you're a writer or interested in writing [or have been roleplaying at some place like yahoo groups and want something a little more sophisticated] and aren't familiar with story play or collaborative fiction please visit PanHistoria or my friend Wyatt's blog to learn a little more about it. I would try to explain it simply, but I tend to ramble. It's people who enjoy writing getting together to create stories. It's a friendly place, and you don't have to write with other people if you don't want too. There are places to write your own story alone, or you can join a novel and write individually. [My character Brame in 666 West End Avenue rarely interacts with other characters.]

So what was I saying about Turnskin? Oh yeah, it's about werewolves. It's into its second chapter and things just started picking up again so I'm going to have to settle down and do some reading quick before they race ahead of me. It's modern day. I enjoy reading things on Pan as opposed to just a novel for several reasons. The first is that I won't have to wait a year for the next installment. If I have to wait a year that means unless it's by Terry Pratchett or Simon R Green I've probably forgotten all about it and won't ever read that series again most likely. I can just wait until the next writer puts up their post. And also because there are so many different writers contributing to each story, it doesn't get dull. Yeah, some of them are better writers than others, but each of them have a story to tell and so what if some of them have a better style. One person might like this style better than me. So there's something for everyone.

I'll report back in on whether or not I'm still liking Turnskin as I get more into it.