Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Smelled Blood.

I very much would like to write; to sit at my laptop and create, or, better yet, at some table somewhere with a pen and notebook, scribbling away the lazy afternoon hours. I tell myself there isn't time, I procrastinate, and I waste time doing inconsequential things. Those are the lies. The truth of the matter is that I, like many before me, am afraid of failure. I am afraid that I will not write something that others will want to read. Take the title of this post for instance; I smelled blood. It catches the mind in a way, if we knew who, where, when and why...but we don't. We would know who if this was a line in the middle of a story, and perhaps it will be someday, but for now, let's assume 'I' is a character that we know.
As I stood in the cavern, I smelled blood. Better; at least we know where the character is, sort of. But still lacking. And I know it is lacking because I read...all the time. This is good for a writer, or so we are told, but can be a bane as well. I am constantly comparing my descriptions to those of much better writers than I. I look at faces every day and can't seen to describe them on a page. Oops, that is another post.
The dark, musty cavern held the aroma of freshly spilled blood, the smell unmistakable, firing the synapses of primal fear.
Okay, that isn't bad, I guess. A little work and it might approach this:
The place, by the by, was very stuffy and oppressive, and the faint halitus of freshly shed blood was in the air.
That is H.G. Wells, from The Time Machine (pg, 76, Airmont classic, 1964), and captured the scene rather well. The time traveler was in the cavern of the Morlocks for the first time and was scared. He just didn't know yet that he was scared, that came later.

Of course the object of this post was to stick with writing about writing, by proving to myself that if I take the time to edit my thoughts, I can write.

Drive by post

The Mayor of New York is considering banning soft drinks (sugary) over 16 ounces.  I know, it will never happen, but to be even considered is pure insanity.
And I noticed the 20 ounce margarita wasn't on the list, nor the 24 ounce beer.
When do I get my government sponsored helmet?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interview with J.R. Wagner

Recently I had the great fortune to spend some time with author J.R. Wagner. We were on bikes and I figured this would be a good time to get that interview I needed for the virtual book tour he is putting on right now. Is putting on the right term? Oh well, it doesn’t matter because by the 5 mile mark I couldn’t breathe let alone ask questions and when we hit 16 miles, pulling back into his driveway (which is a freaking hill), I had forgotten all about the interview. This led me to send the 10 questions in an email. The following is what arose from that email; the answers are in red and my after interjections (in other words, as I type this right now) are in blue.
1.       You have been interviewed several times by other blogs, all of the literary questions have been answered. So this interview will go in different directions, any problems with that?
Depends on the questions   I got approval from the boss for the rest of the interview, so phhhlpt.
2.       Boxers or briefs?
I don't think making my readers nauseous by prompting them to think about what kind of underwear I typically don is a good marketing techniqueAgreed, but I am a product of the ‘80’s and that was the big question back then.
3.       Okay, we have that one out of the way, let’s borrow an idea from Barbra: If you were a Lego piece, which piece would you be? (classic pieces only please.) Why?
I like your obscure reference to someone most likely zero readers will relate to.  Well done!  I suppose I'll humor you with an answer on this one.  I'm the long skinny piece that usually connects two other groups of pieces together -the bridge. The gray one in the second to last row in the attached picture.   Ahhh, but if you were to be sitting at home during the day instead of working to support your family (yes, new authors must hold jobs), you would know that Barbra Walters has a very popular day-time talk show called The View. 
And yes, good choice!

4.       I have heard that you didn’t care for episodes 1 through 3 of the Star Wars franchise. Is that because you are stuck in the past and just can’t accept change?
I appreciate change when it's a good thing.  Episodes 1-3 were an abomination and an insult to Star Wars fans all over the world.         Moving on….
5.       Fuzzy Side Up, Volume II tells of a flying bed. What was your favorite destination?
Unfortunately, my crappy memory can't recall a particular destination.  It was fun just to sit back with my mom, dad and brother and imagine the bed lifting off the ground and slowly rising above the house.  The visualization my dad provided of the house fading away was always right in line with my own.   And your Dad wrote that the destination didn’t matter, it was the closeness of family that mattered, as it does today for you. Your memory isn’t crappy, it’s dead on.
6.       Aren’t you going to tell us all about Fuzzy Side Up? Sheesh, I led you right to it…
Fuzzy Side Up is a collection of my Father's life stories. All true.  Most funny.  His memoirs more or less. One day, they will be properly formatted and released for public consumption.    Formatting is a matter of personal choice, The anecdotes are wonderful!
7.       What weekend this summer/fall are you available to climb several of the state high-points in New England?
You'd better ask my wife that one. But, if I were climbing said high-points, I imagine I'd be climbing them alone unless they allow wheelchairs or walkers up the they? You might as well tack a marathon on there too -equally likely to be bested by my one-legged brick-laying friend. What's his name again?   Delaware and New Jersey are on paved roads, the other 3 I picked are less than 5 mile hikes…much easier than say…16 mile hilly bike rides.
8.       Really? Where in Maine are you going?
Boy, your ability to predict my answers needs work!  See my answer to question #7 for this answer as well. If I listened to Google maps, I'd be going down a forest service road at 50mph until reaching... well, nothing.  Touche…
9.       Besides Antarctica, where in the world would you most like to go?
New Zealand. It's been my wife, Lisa's dream to visit Antarctica for as long as I've known her and she's more than earned some dream-fulfilling with all the help she's been during this process.  I couldn't have done it without her -literally.  Agreed; our wives have endured quite a bit over the last few years, what with my silly training and your constant writing…or…almost constant writing. I think we need to hear from a Searcher pretty soon.
10.   Okay, last one; role play. You are one of the spies in Vegas, you have just watched the woman (can’t remember her name) slice her own head off in a broken window and Flagg turns to you. What is your next move?
Ahh yes, another obscure reference unless you're a Stephen King fan.  Me?  I'd put my head between my legs, kiss my butt goodbye and give that detonator a squeeze turning Vegas into a irradiated wasteland for the next few centuries.
 Now I feel obscure, I thought everyone read The Stand!  I should have made you pop a balloon for that last one!

Speaking of balloons, Josh will be at the Chester County Balloon Festival June 15th and 16th signing books and answering more pertinent questions (event staff will make sure he knows all the directions you need). If you can’t wait that long, he will be at the Chester County Book and Music Company on June 5 in West Chester. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Interesting thought

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Makes sense right? In your neighbors house, follow your neighbors rules. This idea is credited to St. Augustine, about 390 AD. My question is why? How come St. Augustine gets credit for a concept that was clearly laid out by Paul in Romans 14?

No, this is not really a religious post, this is a question of why something in the Bible is ignored when it it comes to crediting an idea or concept? There are two schools of thought on this (at least in my mind).

One is that the New Testament wasn't written when most think it was written. Generally it is believed that the books of the New Testament were all completed by 100 AD or so, due to the ages of the writers at that time Jesus lived. If ideas from the Bible are credited to later writers, it makes it easier for those who ignore the Bible to ignore the Bible.

Others will say that this is a blatant slap at Christianity; that the Bible is ignored because scholars hate religion. There are many instances of this throughout history I guess, where those of a scholarly bent feel it is important to denounce anything that is faith based...silly if you ask me.

But I tend to fall into a third category, one that  actually fits the meaning of the concept at hand. I think St. Augustine gets the credit so more people will follow the idea. This way one does not have to be a disciple of Christ to agree, one only has to be a student of history.

That God guy is pretty sneaky sometimes!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Obvious, but noteworthy

So last week we were all told we shouldn't elect Mitt Romney because he allegedly bullied someone back in high school. The poor kid who had his hair cut is no longer with us, so he couldn't be reached for comment, but his family said the story was a little 'embellished'. All over the papers, months of research.
Right in our current President's own book are many descriptions of using illegal drugs and then either driving or getting into someone else's car. Crickets from the media in 2008, crickets from the media today.

The double standard has become so obvious to possibly not being noteworthy, you say, and I say that is exactly why it is noteworthy. We simply accept that the people who give us news are in the tank for one political party. Oh, except for faux news, right? Why is it such a big deal that Fox leans right? Every other outlet leans left, admittedly, but it's Armageddon because Fox leans right? And we accept that, hanging our heads in shame if we're caught watching Fox (for the stories of course, we read the stories).

Our President made statements on the campaign trail, heck, all through his life, that were and still are counter to what the wonderful country stands for, and many people just don't know this. Those who do are treated are right wing nuts, or are in agreement with the socialistic direction he is taking the country.

Ahhhhh...yanno what? I am sitting in the shade, selling books for charity. Books I have collected on my own time, not even taking gas money from the proceeds, which will all go to youth groups.

But I'm a heartless conservative.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Words and how we don't use them

Yes, there are words that we don't use so that the items being discussed aren't real. I am guilty of this, more-so lately, and I was wondering why. Not using particular words don't change the outcome of anything, that's for sure. Take dental stuff for instance. Dentures have become symbols of old age, so now they are called partials, or bridges. Really folks, when we lose our teeth we need fake ones, called dentures.

Other words are even more difficult to come to grips with though. Death is the biggest. No one dies, they pass away, leave us, succumb to an illness. No, people die. And I am just as guilty. My aunt didn't die, we lost her, Belle didn't die, she went peacefully in our arms. See, makes things easier when we lie to ourselves.

So I will continue to do so.

Because I can.

Re-read the post, boy am I tired!  But there is another word, one I forgot, that many never use...Love. Too embarrassed, means too much, comes with strings. Tough word, love. Yet an emotion that is palpable, real, and unlimited. This is the one that needs to be used, even if we ignore/forget/refuse to use the other ones.

Tell 'em; today!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Again (because I am a tad lazy)

This one was written in the midst of the building of the third West Chester Area High School, Bayard Rustin. 

The other day, while perusing a storm water management plan, standing in the resulting mess as the plan was not followed, it dawned on me that Government entities have become rather arrogant in their treatment of us common citizens.  Think about this for a minute with me, will ya?
     Imagine, hypothetically of course, that a school district wants to build a new high school.  The first step is to find the land for that school.  It doesn’t really matter who owns the land, they can just take it if they want it bad enough.  Sure, there is the matter of just compensation, but that never truly amounts to the true property value that was taken.  (And in the case of Coatesville, attempting to take land for a golf course; that compensation isn’t even close to the funds that would be realized by the property owners if they decided to sell to a builder.)  Once the land is decided upon, the engineers step in, along with a myriad of environmental groups, ensuring that everything is done as friendly to the bog turtles as possible, neglecting the wants and even needs of surrounding home owners.
     Then the construction companies arrive, inconveniencing all that happen to pass the site.  (Yes, it is a necessary evil, and can’t be avoided,  but it sounds bad so I added it to this rant.)  Noise, dust, mud, and workers that don’t usually live in the community they are working in, so they aren’t too terribly concerned where their Tasty-kake wrappers end up.  They do their jobs, hopefully according to the plans, dutifully ignoring the locals who express any concerns, directing them instead to the supervisors trailers that always pop up on these huge construction sites.
     Now the buck passing starts.  None of the concerns of the locals are the problem of the site supervisor, they are the problem of the township.  The township directs you to the school board, the school board directs you to the engineers who send you back to the site.  It can be inferred that all of this passing around of responsibility is designed to fatigue the injured party to the point where they give up and if this doesn’t happen…well…
“You can always sue us, but you are going to lose.”
     What kills me, figuratively of course, is that we pay for all of this nonsense.  When mistakes are made, no matter who’s fault, the tax paying citizens are held accountable for the bill; that is, if the situation is ever fixed.  The bureaucrats are not responsible for anything, and they let you know that in no uncertain terms.

We were tenacious, we fought, and we won. It helped that I could read site plans and noted that the 'emergency' fix that was being sold had been created with the original plan, omitted from the plans distributed to my Aunt, but part of the package at the Westtown Township Building!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

First in a series

Many of the posts that are going to be a part of this series were written in the early aughts, just after the election of 2004. I am going to leave many of them as is, they are still relevant, others I might have to edit to fit the changing times...not this one:

     Ahhh, the Boy Scouts of America;  A wonderful institution? Or a secret indoctrination into Judeo/Christian religious beliefs?  Think about it for a minute with me, will ya?
       Across the Country, on any given night, one can find a group of boys and young men taking an oath.  That oath, among other things, includes a promise to do ‘duty to God and my Country’, and the phrase ‘morally straight’.  These phrases have come under fire recently as the liberal, socialist, atheistic, left-wing nut-jobs rant and rave how the zealous, religious, conservative right-wing nut-jobs are taking over the world.  Somewhere in the middle is the rest of the Country, and we believe that Scouting is a good thing.
     Starting with the claim that Scouting pushes Judeo/Christian beliefs.  It only takes a minute to peruse any one of the many scout guide books to realize that every and all religions are represented.  There is even a disclaimer at the bottom of the page that directs a boy to talk to his parent/guardian about their belief system if it wasn’t mentioned.  With that in mind, if you simply believe that nature is a higher power then yourself, that you do not run things, you can fit in with the scouts.
     Perhaps there is more to this attack then meets the eye.  Let’s eavesdrop on a conversation that must take place in those liberal households:
Little Johnny:  Mom, I want to join the Cub Scouts.
Progressive Mom:  No, Umm, I mean, don’t you think there are better ways to spend          your free time?
L.J.:  But all my friends have joined.
P.M.:  We’re not Christian Johnny, you can’t be a Cub Scout.
L.J.: But Sika is Hindu, he believes in reincarnation and he is a Wolf, that sounds so cool, and even ‘back to nature’ish.
P.M.  Such a violent animal the wolf is Johnny, hardly appropriate for children to emulate, all that clawing and biting and killing…
L.J.:  It symbolizes the pack…and that is how the wolf eats Mom, it has to eat to survive.
P.M.:  Speaking of eating young man, finish your tofu and we will be off to your soccer Awards ceremony.
L.J.:  I would rather go to the Scout meeting tonight, they do such cool stuff, and they earn these badges and pins and ribbons…
P.M.:  You get a trophy for soccer.
L.J.:  Yeah, one in the spring, one in the summer, fall, winter.  And we never win, heck Mom, we have never scored a goal, we just run around in circles.
P.M.:  Your learning to be a part of a team, it doesn’t matter who wins, and besides, they actually have to complete achievements to get those badges and stuff, who ever thought up awarding kids for actual completion should rot in…well, it is so much better now that we recognize everyone equally.
L.J.:  But Mom, they get to go camping, in the real woods, and build fires and whittle and…
P.M.:  And contribute to Global warming with the fires, destroying the forest with their knives and hatchets…no, no more talk of this, we’re going to the soccer awards ceremony and that is final…unless you want to stay home that is. 
     Okay, a little poetic license I admit, but hopefully you are now thinking a little differently about Scouting, or at least thinking about it.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I am sorry, Patrick Ness

"What a sad thing men are. Can’t do nothing good without being so weak we have to mess it up. Can’t build something up without tearing it down."(Ness, P. 545, 2010)

There, I found it. I am not going to argue the point. What bothered me is that Patrick felt it needed to be stated so blatantly. This was very close to the end of the third book in a series where the above sentiment was pretty obvious. I found it insulting that Mr. Ness implied that the reader was too stupid to get what he had been driving at. Sure, he makes his main character dumb, and then not dumb, and then dumb again so the character can think these things throughout the series, but this one was just too much. I get it Mr. Ness, you hate humans and what we have done to the planet. 

Get over it. 


Ness, Patrick (2010-10-18). Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking) (p. 545). Candlewick Press. Kindle Edition. 

Monsters of Men

Finished. I did finish the book, but I am not sure if I am going back if Patrick Ness creates a second trilogy, or a pre-logy, or what the heck ever. and why? For this one two word paragraph, wholly un-needed:
And now I can't find it, but I will, later today. I just don't have the time at the moment.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Mutually Assured Destruction. From the mind of the Land. Really. And I am not buying it. The Land wouldn’t use terms associated with Earth, no matter the contact with the Clearing. Of course I am talking about the book Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness. His Chaos Walking trilogy is great, and I am happy that I stole the first one from J.R. Wagner after a Toastmasters International meeting a few weeks ago. Immediately hooked, energized actually, enough to want to write, to want to create.
Patrick created characters I liked, that made sense, in a way. Then the envelope began to stretch, right at the end of Book 1. Book 2 had the envelope bursting at the seams, but I still love the story, the characters (the two main characters), but Ness began to weave his political world view into the story. I know, I am to ignore that, to put it out of my head, like I did when reading The Dome by Stephen King (also stolen from Josh). And for the most part, I managed.
Book Three made this difficult, especially when he began to tell the story from 1017’s point of view. This, in and of itself, wasn’t a bad thing. I wanted to learn about the natives of the New World, but it (so far, I began this post as soon as I read MAD) just confuses things. Maybe this is because feelings are confusing, but I tend to think Mr. Ness is trying to justify the violent nature of the Land by making the Clearing worse than they really are. 1017 should have by now forgiven Todd, not held the grudge this long. It just makes the coming epiphany that much more predictable.
All Clearing did not enslave the Land…
Okay. I am going back in, trying hard to remove 2012 political ideals out of it, but if he makes one more good character ‘kill’ based on erroneous emotions, then filling that character with guilt, I might not be able to finish.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Re-joining the blog world

Yes, I am going to come back this week. I am going to sit down and figure out a list of topics, I am going to steal from my list that I told myself was going to be published in the Daily Local News but I guess they only want journalism grads (yes, I tried twice). So mixed with some literary stuff will be political stuff!