Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to be Unfortunately Named

I'm driving down the street towards work and I see that a brand new apartment complex for 'senior living' has just been named. The new sign was out front and I immediately thought, "Whoa, didn't anyone run this past a let's-make-sure-this-isn't-stupid committee?" Who in their right mind names a retirement home "Shepherd's Garden"? Is it just me or isn't that a place where the Good Shepherd goes to plant his people in final rest? Ya gotta wonder sometimes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Firmness of Our Beliefs

SCENE: Dentist's office. PATIENT is laying in chair, slightly nervous but not showing it. DENTIST swivels around after consulting x-rays.

DENTIST: Well, we could save the wisdom tooth but it would require a root canal and those run fifteen hundred dollars. Now, it's entirely up to you. If you want to keep your teeth I understand. We'll do whatever you want if that's what you want.

PATIENT: You know, it's always been my goal in life-- (raises arms and smacks a fist into his palm to emphasize his words) to keep my wisdom teeth.

DENTIST: That's a worthy goal. We can do that.

PATIENT: However, what was that you said about fifteen hundred dollars?

DENTIST: (laughs; mimics the hand smacking) How quickly our goals can change!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Unnatural Act

No, I'm not talking about some of the more obscure and outdated laws of South Carolina. I'm talking about getting one of my wisdom teeth pulled yesterday. My dentist referred to it as an 'unnatural act' and that your body doesn't want things that are supposed to stay in to be taken out. Judging from the involuntary and quite primal reaction I had to the event, I believe her.

In my writing I've often used the term 'bone crunching' to describe sounds of combat. I now know what that sound is... from up close. I'm laying back in the chair thinking about how I really wanted to keep my wisdom teeth all my life; sort of a personal goal, if you will. They start tugging, pushing, and twisting. I can hear the soft, crackly sounds of ligaments tearing away. Then there's this bone crunching crack and the dentist's hands jerk a little. My arms recoil and I shudder. I can feel the adrenaline flush into my system. The dentist pats me on the shoulder and says that's it. I was minus one wisdom tooth.

It was one bizarre experience that I'm certain I don't want to repeat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When Worlds Collide

Well, the Inescapable Black Hole that is Facebook is slowly dragging me under the event horizon. There is no denying that Facebook is a technological jump of quantum significance and it is bringing the modern world along for the ride. It is allowing people to connect with each other in ways never possible before and, like Frankenstein's errant lab experiment, I'm not sure we know exactly where it's headed.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing. (Shoot, the good doctor mentioned above managed to unite the citizenry in a righteous cause and increase market share for burning pitch.) I'm just saying that in days gone by, one was able to leave the past in the past if that was one's inclination. Now, thanks to another technology called a 'camera', the combination of modern advancements and antiquated record keeping are colliding like doomed protons in Geneva. The result could be catastrophic destruction on a global scale or it could be a few red faced explanations to current significant others.

Only time will tell.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Joy and Dismay in .03 Seconds

It is tradition on Valentine's day around here that there is See's chocolate and helium filled balloons. In fact, it has become such a tradition that Daughter Number One has been talking about it all week, wondering what kind of balloon her daddy is going to get her. So when I showed up with a pink heart balloon she beamed with a radiant joy that could melt a Yeti's scowl. (Son Number Three got a monkey 'be mine' balloon but that's not important right now.) She showed it off to the rest of the family, drew little hearts and flowers on it, and took it everywhere with her for the rest of the morning. Then I'm upstairs watching the Olympics and I hear her little voice say, "I'm going to go outside with it!" Yes, the astute of you know what's about to happen and so did I.

I hear the door open. I hear laughter so joyous you could see the skip in her step with your mind's eye. Then, exactly .03 seconds later, I hear a wailing scream of the most heart wrenching magnitude in all of human history. It is long and drawn out and soul crushing, followed by heaving sobs and the plaintive words of ultimate loss, "My balloon!" The door closes. There is crying and more mournful wailing. It gets slowly louder as she comes up the stairs. I meet her on the landing and she falls into my arms. "I lost your balloon," she says between sobs. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry, Daddy, I lost your balloon. I tied it twice but it slipped off. I'm sorry, Daddy, I'm so sorry."

I pat her head and rock her back and forth a little. I tell her I love her, I'll always love her, and I'll never not love her.

Then we go to the dollar store and get another balloon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Idiot Savant

All of us have special talents. All of us have God given gifts that set us apart from fellow mortals and make us stand out like a green M&M in a bowl of reds. Mine happens to be Star Wars trivia. Wife Number One and Only got me the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game for Christmas. She knew, rightly so as it turns out, that the game would never be played because I would win in one turn. So now I amuse myself with my unerring ability to pick any card at random and correctly answer six out of six questions. The one or two times that I only answered five correctly it was clearly the card's fault for not being clear enough so I promptly rephrased the question and described the scene in which it happens.

It may not be the gift of tongues or faith healing or whatever, but it makes me special.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Early Review on Love and Revolution

Wife Number One and Only asked to read Love and Revolution so I emailed her a copy. (From across the room, too. How sad.) Anyway she read it today and her first comment was, "Are your stories always so bloody?"

I kind of scrunched up my eyebrows in a puzzled sort of look. Perhaps, just perhaps, I've become a little de-sensitized to the violence I write about. Perhaps the common person is not quite up to speed on the typical fare that heroic fantasy brings you. I thought back on the action sequences, the fire, the knives, the multiple painful deaths. My response: "That one was tame..."

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A Bit More on Love and Revolution

Love and Revolution is off on the submission circuit. (There's nothing like a deadline to get your creative juices boiling.) One of the things I really like about this story is the hero I've created. For years now my protagonists have been serious and somber and, you know, heavy. I've been wanting to create a hero that's funnier and more flippant yet still heroic. A few attempts here and there have just been failures because I couldn't capture the right mood or the plot developed around the hero hasn't lent itself to that kind of interaction. This time, however, I think I've nailed it. The hero is named Izan and he's a North African Berber trying to rescue a princess from the clutches of the murderous Roman pigs who've taken over their land. Young and rakish, Izan is mostly light-hearted throughout the tale, only becoming dark and murderous himself when it's most convenient. As for the princess, well, she doesn't start out as enamored of him as he is of her. That makes for good fun right there.