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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I blogged TWO other places.

1. For left-wing ranty politics, please click here. Be warned, it's on the dailykos site and sometimes that place is just too far over the edge--and ....er....I might have been influenced by the tone. Kate eyes ferfe nervously. Actually the only interesting part is a link to this story.

2. For a continuation (or perhaps the repetition) of the discussion of romance** as Rodney Dangerfield please click here.


More than enough Kate in the blogosphere, I'd say. I just got back from Bosnia and the ladies did NOT want to hang around long so we ended our day early. We went to an apartment, had cups of kill-me-now coffee and I came home as soon as I could. Now where did I put that bottle of TUMS?

____________

** check the comments, particularly Bookseller Chick's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

well, it's one way to train the family

Thanks to Ari for the link to this auction.

The woman is scary. Do not cross her. Do NOT leave anything lying on any tables. (I'm talking about the woman running the auction--not Ari)

the WINNER IS. . .

brace yourself, sock lovers. . .

SAM!

A poignant slice of life--Can't get more poignant than wishing you weren't so different from your sisters. Slice of life? Line o' ants fits that bill. Click on the email thing on the right corner, Sam. Supply your footsize and tell me if you want a book too. Oh, and I'll need an address.

Robyn's entry would have been perfect, but the word-count went over 100.
Cheryl's also fit, but she has socks and anyway, she claimed it wasn't a real entry.

Heck--as usual, all of the entries were great. A round of applause! And the judge gets some chocolate.

****


Speaking of poignant, it's sort of piteous to think that my former guest the PIL will soon move out of the heavily drugged love stage. . . Or at least that's what these people say. Here's what I say: I'd buy stock in a company that produced Lurve in a nose spray.

****

and shark scribbles, too bad you're too late, because that really is poignant and a slice of life--even without the ants.

Monday, November 28, 2005

why it works, SBD

It's all endorphins.

I'll bet I've said it before: romance can help what ails you. Everyone else has said it. Every conference I go to has a big name romance writer speaker who talks about the most horrible moments of her life with the climax of her speech being How Reading/Writing Romance Helped Her Through It.** We're all sniffling along with her and then uplifted at the conclusion. Yowza, talk about endorphins. (Not to mention the buzz brought on by sharing common experiences)

I was just yammering about Depression. and Embarrassment. those downers that we can revive with no effort. Sometimes it's like yawning. Just recall an incident and bang! you're in that state of mind vividly. (ever noticed that about certain words? Say "yawn" aloud and I bet you'll yawn within minutes. Say the word "lice" aloud and your head itches. I've never had lice and I have that response. Weird.) Anyway, those negative emotions are so easily accessed...well, okay, some of us can get right into those files, no trouble. The joy, pleasure, pride, contentment might be accessible but seem to take more work. I know, I know. NOT everyone is like this. Just shut up about it, you happy types.

Reading intellectually stimulating stuff can distract you from the whole emotional route. But heck, why not go for happy? Romance provides a shortcut.

The secondary glow of romance shoves the reminders into your little lizard brain. Yeah, sure we're talking pornography--as in physical responses brought on by reading. Romance doesn't usually have the immediate schwing of a grunty sex scene. It's more like that bit about how "put a smile on your face and eventually you'll feel better." You know that line--you've wanted to kick people who remind you of that. Never mind that they're right.

Tragedy provides catharsis? I'd rather take a short cut when I'm in the dumps. Jump right over into happy escapism drugs, preferably natural ones produced by me with the boost of romance.

Okay, now I've convinced myself. I'm going to go pack a box for C. since I can't seem to produce the happy-time drug of romance myself just now.

________________________

** Or maybe she talks about the letter from the seriously ill patient who thanks her for the lift (and it's at that moment she Knows She's Doing Important Work. That's the key: Before That Moment, she thought Romance Was Not Real Writing or Not Really Important.

Tangent to my tangent: SOME DAY I WANT TO HEAR a romance writer who's NOT defensive about romance. OR maybe someone who does both literary fiction and romance and has no problem with either? I guess Eloisa James is the closest we've got these days--and she's not a bad advocate. Better'n a poke with a sharp stick.

The Contest is Ending and Kate Does Depression

Only 13 entries? That is pah-thet-ick. But quality not quantity counts.
HEY go on. You have til midnight to enter.

* * * *

The Thanksgiving crowd is gone. I got a long email--half apologetic, half amused--from my niece who'd brought along the PIL. Next time the niece visits, she's going to bring along a friend who's never petted a dog or a cat. Can you imagine?

I'm not so sure Sooz the 70 lbs neuroto-pup is a good place to start pet patting, but that's between the niece and her friend.

Our dishwasher is relieved that the extra people are gone. The kids are in mourning. I did love having extended family here. They're such good extended family, too. My siblings have done a wonderful job with their kids.

* * * *

I'm grey, grey, grey. Glomming onto anything that is hopeless or sad and being very November about life. I'd like to give a miss to being a depressive, thank you. I'll take a cheery attitude for ten, please, Alex.

I wish I could use all this brain chemistry gone south to concentrate on helping two friends, C and M.

1.Today C is going under the knife for breast cancer for the third time.

2. My pseudo-mother M's most important and helpful friend died on Thanksgiving. "I thought I'd be able to finish up my time without any more of these losses," she said. An interesting way to put it.

So maybe exuding useless sorrow can somehow draw off their pain? Huh. Then again, maybe not. Cards and flowers are probably a better bet for them. I'll put together a box of romance for C and send up a silent thanks for the glorious escape of books. I wish M would read some trash, but she's an intellectual full time and requires brains with her books, poor thing. She did read my first book but that's because I dedicated it to her.

I have to get my travel legs back so I can do something actually useful for her. Right now I'm trapped in my maze again.

Right.

Time to see if I can switch to Romance Writer Mode now that I've finished blogging. A run around the block with the dog. Another cup of good coffee. Reading some SBD entries.

Here's one thing I won't do: watch the video of our tax dollars at work again. Heck, I dreamed about this last night. Not sure why the video of a dog's demise had more of an impact on my subconscious than all the human suffering out there (I dreamed the video was showing in an ice cream parlor. Feel free to tell me what the heck that means). God knows I had to look at those human suffering videos too. That's the news link. The link to the actual video, in case you wish to be dragged into that particular mire, is here. I know the worst of human nature shows up in war but I have to hope it all turns out to be false or exaggerated. The dog one doesn't spell Michael right. That could be a sign of errrr ummm. A sign.

I'm off to don black.
YOU enter the damned contest.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Burp

We still have guests. Nieces and nephew and a niece's friend. The friend is young PIL**. It's been a long time since I've interacted with one of these and I must say, I'd forgotten what a bore they can be.

You'd think that a romance writer would be more sympathetic. Heck, I should probably sit the girl down and interview her. Does your heart actually beat faster when you see your adored one? Do you think of the object of your desire when you first wake up? Can you see anything interesting and not immediately think of how you're going to relate it to her? (they're PILLs**)

Fact is, I rarely see our houseguest. She's usually hiding in her bedroom IMing the object of her desire or talking to her on the phone. We're talking deeply, deeeeeeply in love. The guest has missed a couple of meals because of this obsession. She panicked when we went to the movie theater and discovered she didn't have her cell phone--turned out she did. And of course, part way through Harry Potter, she had to leave the theater. Okay, maybe she went to the bathroom, but I did see her holding the cell phone.

I've considered being pissy about this lack of interest in being a part of the holiday group (I did get pissy about missing dinner tonight) but then . . . oops, I recall being a PIL myself, more than once--though the last time was about a thousand years ago.

I was far worse.

When I couldn't talk to the object of my desire, I insisted on talking about him. Our current PIL is spacy in company but doesn't mention her lover every other sentence or bore us with stories about how wonderful she is. I pulled out my lover's name whenever I could, usually citing him as some kind of expert on whatever the subject at hand was. The niece's friend doesn't do that, and she's reasonably pleasant company when she does appear. She even apologized for being so distracted. In fact she's nice enough that I hope to meet her again some day--once the fever stage of love has passed.

The worst of me was when I was 15 or 16 and in lurve with eric. I distinctly recall spending Thanksgiving in New York City and feeling as if all the people around me were hardly worth my time and effort to speak to because they weren't him. Oh. Lord.

I interact with our guest, a much more pleasant version of a PIL, and I cringe.

Aunt Henriette? If you ever read this blog? I'm really, really sorry.

_________

**person in love

***people in love, lesbian

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

schedule

Today's schedule--preparing for guests

1. Begin vacuum entire house.
2. Stop vacuuming when reaching boys' room because of huge mess on floor that they did not clean up even though I asked TEN TIMES over the last few days.
3a Begin to clean mess.
3b. Get mad and discouraged, leave vacuum cleaner in boys' room and decide to clean bathrooms instead.
4. Get wet cleaning shower stall, remember that I need shower.
5. Forget all towels still in laundry.
6. Walk, dripping and nekkid into bedroom.
7. Scream when dog puts cold nose on butt.
8. Dry off with clean unfolded bit of laundry.
9. V. cold from having no towel. Get dressed and make more coffee to warm up.
10 Check email.
11 NAG PEOPLE TO ENTER MY CONTEST.
12 Realise still need to pick up special order 28 lbs turkey from store closing early. Realise out of norvasc--contemplate fact that norvasc (newest of the godawful high blood pressure medications) sounds like some kind of missile treaty. Realise still need fair number of groceries. Wonder where massive turkey and groceries will go since no room in fridge.
13 Realise niece's bus is coming in in half an hour. Panic! Run into boys' room for handbag I left there. Trip over vacuum cleaner. Hurt left foot in same place it's been broken about three times. Weak ankles.
14. Hobble off to bed. Call husband and tell him to pick up niece.
15. Open laptop and start writing.
16. Okay, now I can concentrate.


Wish me luck. I'm starting with step one, the vacuuming, in three minutes . . .. First I'll need to skip to nagging, step 11.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Today's Blog Find

She gets a number of comments so the blog's not an undiscovered treasure that might bring out a possessive streak in some weirdos.


Hey, speaking of fab finds, what's the problem? You know you want those socks. Enter the contest, already.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

enter if you dare.

1. contest ends a week from Monday . . . I mean November 28, because it's nearly Thanksgiving and we're going to have a bunch of people here. Three cousins and one cousin's friend will stay with us. On the big day we'll also get another family coming over. Lots of people and have I started to clean my house? nope. Will I? maybe. No refugees this year. I don't know anyone new any more.

2. maybe while I'm cleaning the pit of doom, I'll find the Billy and Blaze tape and will include that as part of the prize. It's read by David Cassidy. I have no idea how it ended up in our lives, but it's sure to be a collector's item fetching huge prices on ebay. Yours, if you enter and win the contest--and I find it. Don't forget you'll also win the Bosnian Socks, which now come with an informative pamphlet.

3. More rulz when I think of them. Void where prohibited by law.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

TWO HUNDRED!!

Yep, this is the 200th post.

I have to drive around the greater Hartford area and then act as a Stern Overseer, sitting in an empty house with no internet connection.

That means you'll have to write this post for me. Make it a poignant slice of life** and less than 100 words. You might want to look at some of my previous back cover contests and maybe I'll even include links to them. Later.

In the meantime, here are some photos to inspire you. Extra points if you incorporate all four.



Write a good one and I'll send you sox. And maybe a book.

This might qualify a contest even, but I'm too tarred, tarred, tarred to pimp a contest. Maybe after the Day of Endless and Bizarre Errands (one includes the use of Vaseline tm), I'll go around to other blogs and push this as a real contest.

____________________________________


** I think we can agree that Beth's belly dancing boy qualifies. Billy Elliot with a spangled crop top and finger cymbals.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Private Life Check In

I'm printing out manuscripts. We're talking about half a box of paper, hundreds of pages, nearly three reams. Holy shit, I sure am a chatty person. My main emotion about the mountains of paper is embarrassment. Who are you to use up those natural resources? What makes you think your work is worth a minute of an editor's time? Naturally this is just a stage. Later on, when those editors send rejections, my outrage will be directed at them.

I'm telling you, the writer's lot is one of ego inflation, ego deflation and other really silly bits of torture, mostly self-inflicted.

Speaking of torture devices, have I mentioned my printer is 13 years old and cranky? It jams every 20 or so pages just to remind me who's in charge. I have to dissect it, fish out scraps of paper, reassemble it and then reassure it I love it. I do, too. HP Laserjet 4P, my fourth favorite baby.

As the stuff clunks out of the machine, I turn over and read random pages and immediately see how I could improve that sentence, cut that paragraph, use a stronger word there, get a little drunk and land in jail. . . Right. Put down that paper, Rothwell. Back away from the manuscript.


A lot of Bosnian action this week--mostly carting ladies around town. One of them is trying to save enough money to go back to Bosnia. The others have been telling her she's nuts, I think. They yammer in Bosnian and I listen, picking up a word here and there.

One thousand for the tickets? they want too much.

If any of you live in Hartford, come see us Sunday. We're going to be at the Unitarian Church on ummmmm . . . errrrr damn. I'm talking about the Unitarian Church that looks like a public swimming pool--it's near Prospect. We'll be in the basement at 11, selling socks, rugs etc. Buy some. If you ask nicely, I'll give you some of my borek.

The ladies always give me borek when I give them rides. They don't have money but they have an endless supply of borek and baklava. When I cart Afghans around they give me yummy nut pastries too. They all hand me food and watch like the elementary school lunch monitors to make sure I eat it. Urrp.

Monday, November 14, 2005

eye rolling

The kids recovered from their temporary insanity. They felt the need to scream "SKILL CRANE" . I dunno. I suspect the moon was full.

I hid from them and read blogs. Right blogs, left blogs, black blogs, white blogs, big blogs and little blogs, par-tay blogs.

And now I'm the one who's insane.

From Bill O'Reilly to a standard vegfemPETA blog, everyone knows what's Good for This Country. And the other side? NOT TRUE AMERICANS. Nope, only if you're [fill in blank] can you be considered a TRUE AMERICAN. Guess what, Bill? A bunch of the people of San Francisco are truer Americans if only because they get the point--it's okay. We're all in it together.

a true American is on welfare
a true American joins the military after high school.
a true American works two shifts at the Colt factory then quits to join a cult.
a true American works 80 hours a week.
a true American owns three homes.
a true American knows all three verses of the star spangled banner.
a true American only drives volvos. Or fords. Or a bike. maybe not a hummer....no shut it. okay, they drive hummers too.
a true American marries and divorces six times.
a true American carries mocking effigies of the president in protests. She might even burn the flag.
a true American lives in a series of homeless shelters.
a true American wears his wife's dresses. They look better on him than they do on her.
a true American doesn't stand up at the ball park when they play the national anthem.
a true American does yoga every morning.
a true American is gay but doesn't tell anyone until he hits 30 and gets drunk.
a true American pickets the local army recruiting office.
a true American thinks the government put little green men in his tooth fillings.
a true American thinks sex should only be performed for making children.
a true American doesn't wear underwear.
a true American has voted in every election.
a true American weeps at parades.
a true American flies seventeen American flags on her property and takes them to be properly disposed of when they wear out.
a true American wouldn't recognise George Bush if he showed up at her front door.
a true American hasn't left his couch in six years. He's going for a record.

Get it yet? It's not a club. No one gets kicked out for being an idiot or clueless. We don't have to do the morning exercises as proscribed by the chairman. We don't have to take loyalty oaths and we don't have to know the words to the national anthem. We can be stupid, brilliant and/or crazier than a loon. We might not all get the same protection as the richest people in the country but, by God [or Goddess, or even Satan], we're still true Americans. Tell us otherwise and you're being as unpatriotic as is American-ly (did write humanly, but that's silly) possible. Melting pot, dude--doesn't matter if some of the ingredients stick to the sides and some sink.

See? I get it. I love this country more than you do. So go back to wherever you came from. (That last bit is a joke, son)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

my kids

They are driving me crazy. Pure up the wall and over the edge.

Time outs all around, but the longest one for the woman blithering quietly in the corner, yanking out tufts of her hair.

Friday, November 11, 2005

more veteran's day

I figure the best way to celebrate (and avoid work) was to actually read about what it's like to be a soldier so I wandered around that Operation Truth site a while.

I found blogs and other sites....and here's the summary: It's usually a really, really crappy job.

from one blog about the current war:


Counterinsurgency operations (COIN) present tons of challenges, not the least of which is how they complicate the moral calculus of killing.

A Soldier who fights in a high-intensity war against a uniformed enemy can confidently assume that every enemy soldier is a combatant, a threat, someone whom it's morally permissible to kill. That's why Soldiers don't fire warning shots; instead, they aim to "put two in the chest." People downrange are to be killed unless they surrender or become incapcitated.

In contrast, a Soldier who is part of a security force in a situation where his mission is to protect the people and where a non-uniformed enemy hides among the people, such as the situation we face in the Iraq COIN, faces a calculus more like that of a police officer. He must assume that people are innocent civilians until evidence suggests otherwise. People downrange are to be protected unless they show hostile intent.

This puts Soldiers in a bind; it gives the bad guys a huge advantage. The bad guys usually get to initiate fires, forcing Soldiers to transform from cops to killers in an instant.I worry that this too easily creates an over-reaction. Our Soldiers are doing a remarkable job overall of limiting collateral damage, but one area I worry about is some units' "react-to-contact drills" that include firing every weapons system, immediately in all directions, as suppressive fire, with or without targets. Doing this, of course, often leads to harm to innocents, which can be traumatic to the Soldiers who did the firing. Needless to say, it also furthers the insurgents' cause, "proving" that we don't care about the lives of Iraqis.


Here's a blog entry worth reading. Now I'm going to go teach the neighbors how to make jam.

Update: Good jam!

Back to the war one last time--and this guy's perspective on how to end it, or at least lead it. I hope this dude goes into politics. His book sounds pretty extraordinary (and as one less-than-complimentary reviewer said, written as if he was contemplating running for office some day).

"It sounded like a typewriter"

That's what a veteran said about the bullets hitting the side of his lander during World War Two. He didn't realize what the tapping was until a couple of hours later--which was just as well because he had to wade ashore through the rain of bullets.

It's Veteran's Day! Or Remembrance Day or Armistace Day. . .

To celebrate Veterans Day, here's a short list of sites run by veterans and/or soldiers' families that aim to make the troops veterans -- and not casualties.

bring them home now.

operation truth, advocacy

[note to anyone visiting twice: I took down one site devoted to collecting air tickets for military on leave because it had no activity after 12/04--not because it was pro-Bush policy]

veterans for peace

iraq veterans for peace

military families speak out

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm supposed to be writing

Instead I'm thinking about the blog post I'm not going to write. No, no, stop me, I beg my computer Don't let me rant.

I lose readers when I rant. People email me to say, "I want to read your books but your political POV puts me off. I'll never read your stuff now." I understand that--hey I can sympathize with it.

Here's what I want to post but I know is inappropriate, alarmist and overwrought, not to mention so left-wing it makes my teeth hurt.

Chemical warfare[warning: link has graphic images], torture, secret prisons. Who's the bad guy again?

To stop myself from obsessing about this and getting to work (not to mention not posting this damned entry in a romance rioter blog, Teresa) I went looking for reassurance that we're really not a Bad Guy. First of all, the above methods seem to be seriously stupid actions in the circumstances--not the way to win the hearts and minds of a country we "liberated" and want to retain as an ally. But the reason I'm obsessed with the issue is more personal and emotional. I'm a patriot and I want to know that the country I love is not involved in these activities--particularly the first. I remember that image of the kid running down the road naked.


Those three--chemical warfare that hits civilians, torture of prisoners and the secret prisons--go against everything we as Americans are brought up to believe.

- We went to war against Sadam because he used chemicals on his civilians. (Once the WMD were discovered to not exist, that became the reasoning I heard in the political speeches.)

- We study basic government in grade school and learn that torture is classified as cruel and unusual punishment--it goes against the basic tenets of our country. Basic Human (and not just American) rights.

- Our leaders used the existence of Eastern block secret prisons to scare the bejesus out of us--this is what went on behind that Iron curtain and why the Soviets must be stopped. Remember? A free and open society does not have secret prisons where people just "disappear". Remember The Gulag Archipelago--a lot of us read it in high school.

ANYWAY
I figured it would be easy to find a middle ground so I could calm down and work. . .and not post this entry. I want someone to tell me that this stuff is exaggerated. Most of the sources of my information are far-left blogs and news groups (and The New Yorker and the Washington Post and Salon.). I really want find out that at least some of this stuff is rumors spread by rabid anti-war activists.

I wish.

1. Chemical warfare? Italian mainstream media ** has clips of the use of white phosphorus at night and vivid descriptions of what it does to people who are unfortunate enough to be near the stuff. As the rant on kos in link above puts it: it melts the skin off kids. We're taking up where Sadam left off. An army magazine confirms we used it in Iraq.

Okay--what about the other side of the issue? Is there justification for this stuff? Here's what I found: Use of white phosphorus is "legal". It's used to help our soldiers fight at night. Napalm was legal too. Remember napalm? It was used to clear dense jungles. That picture. Of the kids.


2. Torture? Not a rumor and I've already been on about that one. It doesn't work--although it does seem to unite the torturers' enemies. Would McVeigh have talked under torture? Who knows? I'm certain that anyone who remotely agreed with his nutty principals would have only grown more sympathetic to the cause if he'd been tortured.

3. Gulags? Yes, the authorities say they exist, ironically in those ex-iron curtain countries (hey they already have the facilities). The facilities have nicknames like "the Salt Pit."

And the response? Outrage! Frist and Hastert demand to find out who illegally leaked the existence of the prisons to the mainstream media!

* * * *

I give up. If I'm such a patriot, I really can't shut up, right?

I thought war was bad enough****. Over the last six years working with refugees, I've heard about war from the civilians' point of view. More than once I've been shown a treasured but rumpled photo of a smiling baby. I look at the blurry photo while the still-grieving relative explains in broken English that a soldier swung that sweet baby by the legs and smashed its skull against the wall or that the baby died of hunger in a camp.

The stuff I'm reading now is worse--sanctioned by the authorities is worse. Less personal, institutional dehumanization is even more horrible than brutality.

The worst villains of the last century were the architects of camps and policies that regard their enemy as less than human. Chemical warfare, torture and gulags are all signs that, as a country, we're too close to that edge.

___________________

** from the Italian report: "I heard the order being issued to be careful because white phosphorous was being used on Fallujah. In military slang this is known as Willy Pete. Phosphorous burns bodies, melting the flesh right down to the bone," says one former US solider, interviewed by the documentary's director, Sigfrido Ranucci. "I saw the burned bodies of women and children. The phosophorous explodes and forms a plume. Who ever is within a 150 metre radius has no hope," the former soldier adds.

"A rain of fire came down on the city, and people targeted by the different coloured substances began to burn. We found people dead, with strange injuries, with their clothes intact," a biologist from Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji tells Ranucci.

The evidence in 'Fallujah - the hidden massacre' claims to show the US forces did not use phosphorous in the legitimate way - to highlight enemy positions - but dropped the substance indiscriminately on the city, and on a massive scale. The documentary also shows the terrible damage wrought by the US bombardment of Fallujah, and the carnage to civilians, some of whom lay sleeping.

Equally disturbingly, a document in the report claims to prove that the U.S. forces have used the MK77 form of Napalm - the chemical used with devastating effect on civilians during the Vietnam war - on civilians in Iraq.


****Yes, war is hell. But the argument that the enemy is forcing us to use these methods? Okay, talk about simplistic thinking on my part: it reminds me of the "you forced me to hit you back" justification of wife beaters or gangs.

We have a choice. We're a smart, wealthy (well, formerly rich) country. We must be able to figure out responses that won't turn us into something as loathesome, feared and stomach-turning as the terrorists we're allegedly fighting and instead are likely producing. [see mcveigh note above]

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

cold rain and a synopsis and more self pity

November in New England ... Feeeeeeeel my pain.

When my hard drive died, it took all my synopses with it. I mean honestly--who remembers to back up synopses? The agent wants to send out a book so I have to write another five pages or so about it. Oh lordy lord, I dislike producing a synopsis under normal circumstances but I know this means I'm going to have reread this book.

Can't I do something more palatable instead, like clean the boys' filthy bathroom with a toothbrush? Or the other task I'm avoiding -- trying to reconstruct the lost 200 pages of another novel.

Skip the second project. I'd much rather just grab the toothbrush and bleach and start scrubbing the grout. (I think an application of bleach behind the boys' toilet produces some dangerous chemicals. Seriously--ammonia and chlorine bleach? Didn't they use that in the trench warfare of WWI?)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Got a minute? You can go wish Teresa Bodwell happy birthday. You have to click the link to "Visit Teresa's LiveJournal" because it doesn't seem to have its own direct link. Hmmm.

Happy Birthday, TB.

Possessive ...Hey, that's my air you're breathing

Okay this is an astonishingly stupid quirk that has to go. We're talking a character flaw that I shall now reveal to the world.

I feel possessive of** the blogs I visit.

I'm adding booksellerchick to my list of blogs . . . and as I went swooping by to pick up her address I noticed that suddenly other people are visiting her and I think, hey, wtf? This is my blog. It's like going to my neighborhood Indian restaurant that was sort of quiet and suddenly there's a line waiting to get in.

Except it is nothing like that. I don't have to wait for a table--and the more people who contribute to a discussion the more interesting and livelier it gets. I know this. And the the wtf response doesn't last (well, at least until I notice that my blogger is over posting at other blogs and not at mine).

Never mind that it's not really my blog, that I don't really know the blogger and what the hell difference does it make. Just because I got to read Beth before most of the rest of you? I don't have dibs on her. And even though I've actually met Megan Frampton -- I guess that still doesn't mean anything, huh.

This bizarre bit of nonsense is not on the list of things that keep me up at night. I noticed it for a split second and then moved on. When I did pick up on it, I thought:
1 whoa dude! the internet spawns some sick cookies.
2 how about an entry about this slice of nuttiness.

Trivial? Yes. So?
Tomorrow's entry: dryer lint, better or worse than belly button lint?

Oh hey, speaking of posting sites, if I ever said I would post yours and I haven't, would you remind me to put you on my sideboard? Thank you. Sideboard. Yum, yum. We have a piece of chocolate cake on ours. Uh oh.

update: we had chocolate cake on ours. Back to work.

_______________

**where's my Fowlers? is it possessive of? possessive about? Naw, this entry is not worth digging out the Fowlers and anyway I still have 250 pages of a book to reconstruct. Time to work.

Monday, November 07, 2005

SBD what is it with the food?

I think it's funny that bookseller chick and Candy and everyone else is doing food. I'm going to jump on the ice cream wagon. Candy got all shy about the analogy but nawwwww. . . Why not take it all the way to the coffee and biscuits?

what I'll eat:

John Gardner = a thoughtfully prepared and rich meal. Say...something with complex cheeses and home-made pasta. Traditional but with lovely twists. Can't gulp it all down at once though.

Annie Dillard=just like John Gardner only made with green peppers and I really don't like green peppers much.

Judith Ivory or Laura Kinsale= one of those chocolate cakes that's so rich that you moan through every bite but don't want to eat the whole cake at once.

Standard Category= twinkies. Sometimes NOTHING ELSE WILL DO. You can wolf one of these down and not even moan about the wasted calories. but don't kid yourself into thinking it's always homebaking.

Really Good Category= twinkie-like sometimes it is home baked and the filling is a wonderful surprise. Woowee, better than you expected.

sub-standard Category=stale halloween candy. You can eat it, but why bother?

REALLY REALLY bad category (or a Connie Mason School of Writing drop out) = ohhhhhhh wow. So beyond stale it's grown some kind of new and interesting crust that takes it out of the edible foods world and turns it into something resembling a drug. Not quite 'shrooms dude, but it can do something to your brain if you take on too much of it. Don't try to drive after eating this . . . as in don't write after consuming one of these puppies. You might injure your audience.

Really good literary fiction (and the best science fiction/fantasy too)=a meal kind of like the standard great dead white guys (Gardner's my example) except with some funkadelic additions and substitutions. WHO knew you could enjoy guava fruit and shrimp? Oh, yum, avocado ice cream? But it works, dude. WOW. It makes you really think as you digest it, doesn't it?

Really bad literary fiction= see above, only the meal tastes like hell and gives you indigestion and it makes you puke. The worst kind of book because it's served up as something seriously nutritious rather than some kind of funtime cake. Plus it's usually sold in trade paperback so it'll set you back more than it should--particularly when the publisher should be paying you to experiment with the iffy cooking.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

silver lining to the death of a computer

When you go to the back-up disks, you find old stuff you forgot about.

Here's a short story I wrote years ago. It was published in a now-defunct literary magazine and it's not romance. [eb--you've read it already] It won an award.

I loaded another short story at my website, a more recent one. That one is romance.

This hunting down and displaying old stories is almost like fun--I'm looking for my other short stories so I can put them on my site. I can't find my very favorite about a compulsive liar and her patient husband. It wasn't my best short story, but it was the first thing of mine ever published for cash** It appeared in the Monocacy Valley Review, yet another defunct literary publication. (I have the touch, eh?)

.
** Twenty-five dollars.

even more depressing than a dead computer

I finally finished reading Dude, Where's My Country?

Yeah, Michael Moore can be annoying. Scratch that--he is annoying. But if he's correct about even a single one of those accusations. . . even if the accusation is only partially correct . . .There are far worse things than being annoying.

The drive for money and power are apparently the only motivators for Bush and Co. What ugly souls they must possess.

Do I believe it all? I'd go look at the rebuttals that are plastered all over the internet, but just now I can't bear to read another sentence about the issue. Maybe later.

Ugh.

* * * * *

oh and this is the best answer ever for Cheney's love o' torture:

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile."
- Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon to Berthier 11 Nov 1798, Corres., V, no. 3606 p. 128 quoted in Napoleon on the Art of War)

Granted, Bonaparte eventually lost but he was a kick-ass general, dude. Just watch Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. . . .ziggy piggy! ziggy piggy!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Long Day of Reconstruction

Jennifer--Watch out for that little stick. My once fabulously reliable fujifilm stick somehow got corrupted. I spent hours trying to work with it and it's really fried says the tech dudes.

Yeah, the hard disk isn't wiped, it's corrupted. I called a data recovery place and they said they'd do it for about $1000 a gigabyte, and just recovering one story would be about 400. They explained it's like reconstructing a shattered mirror, and they have to hunt around for the bits of things. The place I talked to does a lot of reconstruction for blue collar crime--cool junk.

Anyway, I sob in gratitude to the editors, my agent and crit partners who've emailed back copies I sent out to them. I'm reconstructing that way. I'm going to put everything in gmail again and I'm going to just have to corrupt--hmm, smash into pieces?--my poor boys by putting my stuff on this computer again. (I found one of them reading one of my stories on this computer and stopped sending things over here) . And after I stomp the stuffing out of that damn stick and run over it with the car and spit on it, I'll get another one.

Okay. Back to work trying to regroup, reorganize, reconstruct. Did I mention this is the FOURTH time I've had a laptop fail in two years? The other times I had backed up pretty well and only lost a few days of work. This time even a lot of my old back-ups are gone. They were on that godddamn stick.

click, click, click, whine, whine, whine.

Time to get the hard-drive out of the freezer and try one more time. Thanks for all the pats on the back! I need a day or so of awwwwww, poor baby before I stop slouching around the place looking piteous.

update: Freezing the hard-drive didn't work. Maybe I should try the oven next?

Friday, November 04, 2005

bye-bye hard drive

bye-bye several hundred pages of stories, a couple hundred email addresses, photos of my family, every single work in progress I have.

I'm now going to take the hard drive out and put it in the freezer. My husband says that sometimes works. Wotthehell.

sob.

In the meantime, the boys will let me share this computer. They're scared of me just now so that should work out well.

Hard Drive Death Rattle?

Maybe.

We have the blue screen of death.

We have the expensive call into Dell Software types to make sure it's not Windows XP messing with my mind. (I did my blogging at the belfry while on hold.) Don't bother to ask: of course I haven't backed anything up this week.

This is the fourth time in two years I've had a laptop go south. Have I learned anything? Not enough, apparently. I might have lost 30-60 pages this time,** depending on whether or not Linda has the copy I sent her. That doesn't beat my old record of 80 pages of the unfinished Someone To Love going ffffffftttttt.

Damn. I don't haul the damn computer around any more. I treat it with kindness, consideration and a light touch. I keep it well stashed and away from boy and dog abuse when I'm not using it. Apparently this is not enough for Mr. Dell "OOooo She's lookin' at me funneeeeee" Inspiron Laptop.

I can't work. I might as well do Doug's meme. Lyn Cash's meme, really. Ms Lyn is evvvvil.

Three screen names I've used: Kate, emmeline, miskate

Three things you like about yourself: creativity, humor, (occasional) passion . . Hey, it works for Doug, I'll take it. No reason creativity has to apply here.

Three things you don't like about yourself: sloth, short attention span and...other stuff

Three parts of your heritage: polachintas, depression and anxiety, dobos torte

Three things that scare you: nasty illnesses in which you drown in your own bodily fluids or blood pours from your orifices, Dick Cheney, the problem with my damned laptop

Three of your everyday essentials: coffee, bugging my four guys, being bugged by my guys

Three things you are wearing right now: grey teeshirt, grey sweatpants, blue and red and yellow Bosnian socks.

Three of your favorite songs: whatever is playing. I'm not very well informed about music. If I hear Crosby Still and Nash again, I'll have a fit. Lately my husband has been trying to make us feel old by playing a disk of their music over and over and . . .

Three things you want in a relationship: someone who'll bring me coffee in the morning, someone who'll give me lots of creative guff, and someone who is generally more optimistic than I am (I wrote cheerful, but I'm plenty cheerful. It's optimism I lack)

Two truths and a lie: my grandfather was an inventor, I am an inventor, my brother is an inventor

Three things you can't live without: my laptop, as it turns out. Breathing? Pfah. Two other things...hmm. I can live without tech support. Coffee, and occcasional sunny days

Three places you want to go on vacation: Denmark, somewhere in the Carribean, any place with high quality room service

Three things you just can't do: keep my laptop healthy, watch any kind of suspense movie without screaming "I HATE this. Make it stop! No, don't turn it off!", bend over backwards and make a bridge. I used to be able to do that and tried to show my kids and oops -- just can't do it any more.

Three kids names: What? Any three names? Okay--Gertrude, Matilda and Ethel.

Three things you want to do before you die: eat at Morimoto's in Philadelphia, force my husband to dance with me, see my siblings again under happy circumstances

Three celeb crushes: Jon Stewart, Patrick Fitzgerald, Rufus Sewall (have to have one standard movie star type, right?)

Three of your favorite musicians: Whatever my kids are willing to listen to...hmmmm Bare Naked Ladies, U2 and Weird Al. NO, GOD, NOT HIM. I'll take Green Day over Weird Al.

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to you: sense of humor, inner beauty, and a deep reservoir of compassion. Stolen from Doug. No, really. This one is true. Must be a boy/girl thing, or maybe I'm kidding myself.

Three of your favorite hobbies: hobbies? I write and I have kids. Who has time for hobbies?

Three things you really want to do badly right now: throw Michael Dell and Bill Gates off the deck, throw my laptop off the deck, eat more Halloween candy

Three careers you're considering/you've considered: psychologist, mechanic (not that I had any aptitude--I worked in a garage and they got good pay), sales help in Susanna (I'm not sure the store still exists, but it was my favorite job. I love Barbara Dollar). I've never suffered from over-ambition.

Three ways that you are stereotypically a boy: I'm a slob, I think about sex too often, I laugh at crude jokes

Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl: I own some dresses, I've given birth, I write and read romances

Three people that I would like to see post this meme: Bron, Elsewhere and Teresa.

Will I be surprised if they ignore this: no

______

**Oh. GOD. I just went to check my back-up at gmail and ohhhhh GOD. t might be more like 100 pages, about 75 of which are a new story. Oh. GOD OGGGGGGGGGGGRrrrrr

update to Oh. GOD part Deux. The little stick that I use for back-up is corrupt. Everything I've written is gone. All of it. All the story starts, the partially finished, the nearly done and Little Lord Fakeleroy--gone. Finished and published stuff is at gmail. Everything else. pffffffffttttttttttttt


Thursday, November 03, 2005

advice for you nanowriters

1. Read this. (An absolute must)

2. And this.

3. Maybe my extremely basic romance writing advice at Amazon? Only slightly outdated. *

I could add some other great sites, but I won't bother because pbackwriter has the best lists around. Go on, check them out if you absolutely must, but keep in mind there's only one really vital piece of advice for people turning/churning out ten or more pages a day:

JFDI. **

GET THE HELL OFF THE INTERNET (that includes email, bub) AND WRITE.

______________________________
* included mostly because it's a pitch for me me me.

**just fekking do it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

it's the grammar that got me

Scooter Libby's book is getting a lot of attention just now. There are some interesting pieces of it posted here and there and this is one bit all over the internet that has people screaming and racing for the hand sanitizer.

"At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest. "

Scooter--Let me give you some advice. I've been looking at erotica venues so I can tell you that most places won't take mss. that contain bestiality. Those publishers your ex-bosses love to hate? They won't be into this book, man. It's waaaaay too much for them. And worse than doing it with animals is the ten year old madam. No pedophilia, dude.

Make her eighteen and under-developed, okay?

How do you arouse a bear with a stick? I mean if it falls asleep yeah, it'll wake up if you poke it, but wouldn't that just be rousing it?

Bosnians Today

I get to drive someone to the hospital after class. Oh joy.

Only a couple more days of Ramadan and then it's PARTY TIME! Bajram! Yowza! A couple of the ladies tell me that they gain weight over Ramadan. I think the three days of steady partying can't help.

Ramadan is going but . . .

Christmas is coming. Don't your nearest and dearest want lace, sox, mittens, purses or rugs?

Here are pictures. (blogger is refusing to load more than two)

Ordering information. NOTE: The socks are now $14 a pair, not $12.
It takes the ladies about 6-7 hours to make a pair so this is still cheap--too cheap, but what're we gonna do? Can't charge more, unless you live in Manhattan and are used to paying $24 for a pair of sox.

Bye!


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

is it sick that I think this is really, really funny?

Ladeezman and kickass43 do the IM thing.

Tchah. No respect for the office.

Reese's cups, Almond Joy, Kit Kat Bars, Snickers

Hershey's Chocolate Bar, Hershey's with Almonds, Hot Tamales, Baby Ruth, Krackle, Three Musketeers, Mounds, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Twix bars, Double Bubble gum, Jelly Bellies, Gummy Bears, Froot by the Foot. . . that's what I recall seeing dumped out on the couch. I can't go check because it turns out the bags have been hidden from me and the dogs, thank goodness.

Today I moan at RU about the subject. Whine, whine, whine. Now I think I'll go write a novel about life, death, love, family, war and other more interesting subjects than diet. Not than food, mind you. I don't think there are many more interesting subjects that actual food. It's people interacting neurotically with food that can get dull.

signed,
The Fat One