Monday, March 27, 2017

The Narciso Family Cookbook...Great food, hardly any bugs*

Rice Cake was perplexed when he realized I wanted to take a picture of him with a potato.

My sincerest apologies for not blogging last week. I forgot. Seriously. I just forgot. I spent that weekend over in Lakeland at the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo, which was a lot of fun. I might do it again next year, but Lakeland is awfully far away.

Yesterday, I was at a new writers conference here on the Space Coast. They had a good turnout and I hope they'll do it again. We need a conference here, I think.

I'm still struggling to write my latest fantasy novel. I think I'm paralyzed by a suffocating, panic-inducing fear of failure. I just want it to be so good! And I'm scared it won't be as good as I imagine it in my head. There's a lot of laziness involved, too, but we don't need to go there.

Today, I'm going to give you an excerpt from The Narciso Family Cookbook. And mid-week, I'm going to post some more pics I took at Viera Wetlands last weekend.

I wrote The Narciso Family Cookbook for my sons. It's got some stories for them and recipes that they grew up with. Here's a little story about potato salad and Nazis.


Potato Salad
 Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 
Eggs, same number as potatoes, hard boiled, peeled, and quartered 
Mayo 
Mustard 
Onion 
Celery 
Salt 
Pepper 
Paprika
 
Potato salad comes with a story. A sad story. It involves Nazis. Now I know that it’s not right to put the label “Nazi” on things because it dilutes the evil that was Nazism. But what do you call it when a person wants his food pure and bland...like white? He’s a food Nazi.

When I was young and free, I ate garbage. Garbage pizza—Pizza Hut’s Thin and Crispy Super Supreme. My spaghetti sauce had ground beef in it (all my Italian food had meat in it), and green pepper and onion and mushrooms and who knows what else? I’ve forgotten now. 

And garbage potato salad. It had all kinds of stuff in it. I know it had olives in it but I can’t remember if they were black or green. I know that I added in pimientos that came in little glass jars (really cute jars) so I think the olives must have been black. (See? Diverse potato salad.) But I can’t remember how it must have tasted, those black olives with pimientos. Maybe it was green olives and I just wanted extra pimiento. And I think I put in bacon, cooked and crumbled. And the eggs were chopped up. It was loaded potato salad! 

But then I married your father and all that was in the past. My Thin and Crispy Super Supreme became doughy Little Caesar’s pepperoni. And my spaghetti sauce, my lasagna, my ziti, all lost their meat. We’ve become purists. 

Alas, my potato salad. Now the recipe is to be strictly adhered to. One egg for every potato, which is ridiculous so sometimes I cheat. Seriously. What if I use 12 potatoes? I’m supposed to put in a dozen eggs? Pffflllttttt. And the eggs have to be quartered because there’s some kind of “have to see the eggs” fetish going on. 

Anyway, as to the recipe, I tend to go for more of a mustard base than mayo and the paprika (after having been thoroughly checked for bugs) is only sprinkled on top after it’s been shoveled into the serving dish. (Okay, it’s possible that I sprinkle a bit into the mix, too. I cook by mood, รก la George Costanza’s packing ritual.) 

Refrigerate and serve nice and chilled. Heil Potato! 


*I do tend to obsess about paprika and bugs in the cookbook. But honestly, you get pantry bugs once and the rest of your life is spent a little freaked out about it.









Monday, March 13, 2017

They key to confidence...BE the idiot

This is so embarrassing.

I'm a nitwit. I freely admit it. I have done some of the most embarrassing things imaginable.

When I was in early high school, I went to the beach with my family and a friend and as I was splashing around in the surf, one of my boobs popped out of my swimsuit. And my friend pointed at me and said, "Your boob!" And then she laughed. Everybody saw my boob. Looking back on it, I now wish I hadn't covered up and stomped up the beach to where my family sat, plopped myself down and refused to budge for the rest of the day. I wish I'd flashed the other boob, too, then laughed, and had a good time. But I didn't understand yet.

One time, when I was working at Waldenbooks (I was, ahem, the manager), I was talking with my assistant manager...the store was quiet...and...I farted. Loud. I didn't know what to do. So I did nothing. My eyes glazed over and I just kept talking. Like, maybe she didn't notice. I should have laughed. Then she could have laughed and we could have had a good time. But I was too ashamed.

Once, I was on a date with this guy at a restaurant and we were drinking beer and I burped and beer spilled out of my mouth onto my shirt. I was so embarrassed I ran to the bathroom and tried to clean up and then didn't mention it, as if he hadn't seen it. As if he couldn't see the wet spot on the front of my shirt. I never went out with that guy again. How could I? Nobody else could ever be so crude, except on purpose and I certainly hadn't done it on purpose!

Another time, I was on another date and he was driving. I was sitting next to him and there was a dead something in the road. It looked like he was going to run over it, so I grabbed the steering wheel and made him swerve to...hit it! I made him run over it! And he looked at me like I was a serial killer and said, "I can't believe you did that!" I wish I'd had the nerve to explain to him that I was trying to do the opposite of what I did. But I didn't. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I didn't know that he was an idiot, too.

Sometimes when I try to talk to people, I stutter. And other times, I'm so nervous I talk really loud and really fast. This one time, I was taking this herbal drug hoping to lose some weight and one of my weight-losing acquaintances found out. She wanted to know more about it and I was so freaked out that I couldn't stop myself from raving like a lunatic. She asked me, "Will it make me antsy?" "Oh, no!" I said, jumping around and shaking. She must have thought it was an amphetamine.

I don't answer the phone and I don't like public speaking because I know that things are going to fly out of my mouth. Random things. Things that I probably shouldn't say.

For instance, I was at a writers and readers festival of sorts once and agreed to be on a "panel" of fantasy writers. I was lucky, because there was another, more popular, panel at the same time, so we had only one person, a woman, at ours. The panel was just me and this guy. And this guy mentioned a friend of his...a well-known to this particular community friend. And his books. Books that I'd read. And I proceeded to tell him and the one woman who'd come to hear us talk what I didn't like about this man's books. I could almost hear myself in my head telling me to shut up. "You're being rude," I said. "In public. You're dissing this guy's friend. A fellow author! In front of him! Stop!" But I didn't stop.

I'm an idiot. Can we just admit it?

And that is why I don't like leaving the house. It's just too stressful to navigate the world knowing that at any moment, idiocy is going to pop out.

Apparently, however, according to this brief video, the key to confidence lies in accepting that we are nitwits and realizing that we are all idiots. Every single one of us.



But this video doesn't go far enough. Don't just accept it. Because the problem doesn't lie in our lack of awareness that we aren't alone. It lies in our unwillingness to BE idiots. We might understand that idiot happens. But we would still choose not to let it happen. (Except for the comedians who really get it.)

So, embrace the idiot. Be the idiot. Rejoice in it.

I am an idiot! And if you want me to speak to you in public, expect great idiotness! Aw, come on. It'll be fun it'll be fun it'll be fun.

Seriously, though, this is an amazing revelation to me. I've always known I was an idiot. I tell myself I'm an idiot nearly every day. And people say not to do that. They say, be nice to yourself. But maybe that's the problem. I keep trying not to be what I am.

I mean it. I'm ready to embrace the idiot inside me and I think you should too. Because you are, you know.

An idiot.

(I mean that in the nicest way possible.)






Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sewing: Knocking off my favorite t-shirt pattern...



I'm about to do a knock off. I don't really want to kill anybody...exactly. Though sometimes I feel like I could hit a few people. Better to knock off a pattern. Fewer bad consequences.

Here's the thing. I go through t-shirts pretty quickly. They wear out, they stretch out, they shrink, they get splattered with chocolate syrup. And I get tired of clothes shopping. This is the whole reason I started sewing again: I want to make clothes that I can wear.

Easier said than done, apparently.

I have yet to make a manufacturer's pattern that fit me. Even after I learned to fit the pattern, measure the pattern, and fit it again, they just don't fit. Every time, there is too much fabric under my arms and the sleeve starts way too far from my body. wth? So, I am learning to tailor clothes out of necessity. And I'm struggling to just make a simple t-shirt. How hard could it be?

I want a pattern that I love and can use again and again. I am determined to make this happen.

And so, here is another chapter in the t-shirt saga. I took an online class on how to create patterns from clothes in your closet. Maybe I didn't need that class. I already did it once and it turned out...okay. But it was my first time and I'd only just started sewing again. Still, I thought I could learn a few things. And the instructor said I should make the pattern differently than I had the first one.

The first one I made, I just laid the shirt out flat and stuck pins in it. But the instructor folded the shirt along the center front, and did the back the same way. So that's what I did. It didn't work. I'd like to blame the technique, and I do think there were flaws there. But it was also due to some finagling on my part. I thought the neckline couldn't possibly be right, and changed it--making it very wrong. And the sleeves were way too gathered.

So, my solution was to try another manufacturer's pattern. And, naturally, despite fitting it the way they said to (I even pinned the pattern together and put it on!) it still gaped under the arms. I fought and fought with that shirt until I was sick of it. (And I burned it with the iron. What I need is a class on proper use of an iron.)

So, I went back to the pinning board and tried again--my way. Here I am, pinning up my favorite tee.



When it's laid out there like that it looks ginormous, doesn't it? And shaped funny. Looks like a shirt for a Weeble.

Anyway, you want to put the shirt on cardboard. I use the back side of my big fold up cutting board. And put a piece of paper behind it. Then you spread it out as smoothly as possible, and stick pins all along the seam lines. Front. Then the back on its own piece of paper. This puts holes in the paper underneath it. I actually took a darning needle and poked the holes to make them bigger.

Then, connect the dots and cut it out.



What I do then is pick a side, left or right. Whichever side looks nicest. Because inevitably they won't be the same. I blame this on the original shirt being all stretched out and not on my pinning capabilities. Then I fold it down the middle, trying to cut the neckline right down the middle and still get the side seams to meet up. It never works out very well. I press the middle fold and then lay it flat again and, using a ruler, trace down the center line. Then I cut it, very carefully. I do all of that for the back as well.

At this point, I throw away the half that I didn't like, thus burning any bridges that might help me out of a mess later. But...it's my way.



If I need to, I use my French curve and hip curve to smooth out the curves and lines. I also do my best to get end points (where two lines meet) at 45 degree angles--like at the underarm and at the shoulder. I do that because I'm pretty sure an instructor in a class said to do that. But who knows?

Now, a word about evening up these lines. I put the front and back shoulder seams together and made sure they were the same length. I'm always finding that one is longer than the other and I thought it was my bad. But last night, I was reading a new book on sewing that I got at Amazon. Janet Pray, an excellent online instructor at Craftsy, says that you are supposed to ease the back to the front at the shoulder seams! Lightening struck my brain! All this time, I was supposed to be easing the back to the front. wth?

Why? Why is the back shoulder seam longer? So, I did some research and...nothing. I can't find out anything about this issue. So for now, I'm going to go ahead with my pattern as I've made it--with the shoulder seams the same length. But I'm going to contact Janet Pray and ask her about it.

Anyway...



Next, the sleeve. Again, in the class I took the instructor had this weird way of doing the sleeve. You draw two lines, one horizontal and one vertical, intersecting it, then line up the folded sleeve along the vertical, pin that side, then flip it...whatever. I ended up with the weirdest, funkiest shaped sleeve ever. And in the end, it had way too much ease in it, giving me a puff sleeve basically. Something that I could have easily fixed, but for some reason, forgot all my lessons on checking the ease of a sleeve. (How long do I have to sew to start remembering these things?)

Anyway, I decided to do the sleeve my own way. Like this:



I made one piece for the front and cut it out. Then turned the sleeve over and made another piece out of the back. And then I put the two pieces together at the shoulder line to make one sleeve.

And guess what? It was one wonky, funky looking sleeve. And I did not like it one bit. I have never seen a sleeve that looked like that in my life. (Except for that first time I tried to do this.) So once again, I blamed stretch. And I took out a manufacturer's sleeve pattern, looked it over, and trimmed up my sleeve pattern to look more like a sleeve.



Note the mark at the shoulder seam at the top, and the marks for the front and back of the sleeve. Very important! You don't want to put your sleeve in backwards.

Okay, so, the next step is to trace these patterns onto my pattern paper and cut them out. Then I went around and added a half inch seam allowance on most of it, with a one-inch hem allowance on the sleeve and bottoms edges.




The neckline was a problem. I'd decided to pin and draw the neckline as it was, as opposed to at the seam line because I wasn't sure what I was going to do about the neck facing. So, I figured I was going to do a half inch facing with a quarter inch seam. I hate math. I think I figured it out right.




Next was cutting out the pattern pieces and walking the sleeve.



The great thing about this pattern paper is that I can see through it. You line up your sleeve at the underarm, matching the pieces at the seamlines not the cutting lines. Then you "walk" it up toward the shoulder. And along the way, when you get to the front and back marks that you made, you add those marks on the armscye (that's sew talk for armhole) and keep walking. You're looking now to see at what point the sleeve comes to the shoulder line. It should be a bit before the shoulder mark at the top of your sleeve because the sleeve should be a bit larger than the hole.

For a knit tee, and to match the one I'm copying, there should be very little ease--about an inch. That way, there won't be a bunch of gathers along the top and it won't look like a puff sleeve. You especially don't want a puff sleeve that sits a bit off the shoulder. Blech.

Anyway, mine looks good so far. Next I need to make a pattern for the neck facing. Then I'll try to find some cheap knit fabric in my stash and make a muslin. Wish me luck.





Monday, February 27, 2017

Dead dolls, Bookish Meets Boy, and some bird pictures...

Creepy doll head. Viera Wetlands. Feb 2017

You know how when people find dead bodies and at first they think what they're seeing isn't real, because what are the odds, right? And then they realize it's real and they freak out. Well, when I saw that doll head, of course my first thought was that it couldn't be real. Seriously. Just a head? And a baby's head?! And, like, we're the first ones to come across it right there just off the road in the Viera Wetlands? I don't think so.

And then...yeah, then nothing. It was totally a doll's head. Somebody's playing games. That's what I think. Ah, ha. Ha. Good one.

February is over! Remember last year when I wrote about February and the vomitorium? That was so cool. Anyway, I got flowers for Valentine's Day; what did you get? And I bought a bunch of Girl Scout Cookies, because where I live, that's what you do in February. You have to make a point of going to Walmart on the weekends or you miss out. Can't let that happen!

I've been trying to blog at least once a week and I didn't have anything really interesting happen to me this past week so I'm going to post the review I got for Bookish Meets Boy. I think you're supposed to do that when you're a writer. You know...blog about yourself and your books. So, whatever. Here goes. Oh, and at the end, I'll post some pictures I got over the weekend at the Viera Wetlands.

I've been entering books, etc. into the Royal Palm Literary Awards for a few years now. So far, I've always won something. This past year, all the entrants were sent a survey about the competition and one of the questions was, "Why do you enter?" The two options I remember were 1. To win an award or 2. to get feedback. I got the idea they were hoping that most people were going to go with "feedback." And sure enough, according to the Florida Writers Association 54% of respondents said "feedback" was "very important."

Well...not for me.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I just don't care what anyone thinks about what I write. I write it the way I want it and if other people like it, that's great. If someone doesn't like it, then they don't like it. And as far as mechanics go, well, I've been writing since I was in fifth grade, at least. I think I've got it well enough to suit me and, like I said, I'm the one doing it so I'm the one that counts.

I enter competitions to win awards.

That being said, if you want feedback, the Royal Palm Literary Awards is the way to go. The rubric you get for each entry is comprehensive and informative. I just don't look at it anymore.

So, I enter a lot of contests. It's fun, I guess. And sometimes you win stuff. The biggest competition for self-publishers is the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards. By big, I mean, huge numbers of people enter it. You're doing great if you get an Honorable Mention in that one.

And what do you know? I got one for Always Magnolia.

I did not get one for Camelia or Bookish Meets Boy. But the feedback I got, which in this contest is a review, for both books was fantastic. Perfect scores! A perfect score doesn't mean a win, though. Oh, well.

Here's the "review" I got for Bookish Meets Boy:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5 
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5 
Plot and Story Appeal: 5 
Character Appeal and Development: 5 
Voice and Writing Style: 5
  
Judge’s Commentary*:

BOOKISH MEETS BOY by Dianna Dann is a fun, thoroughly modern romance novel that will especially appeal to writers, cat lovers, and avid readers who love and understand the romance genre. As for readers who’ve been dumped (and haven’t most of us been at one time or another?) they’ll especially love this fun romp!
This has to be one of the most original titles I’ve seen for a romance novel, and it works! The cover is well done and with its colors and whimsical illustrations, including cute cats, and lets the reader know right away what type of story the book entails. (ha ha!) The back cover is well done, though I might have chosen to include a color photo of the author rather than black and white. I do like the spirit of the photo, though, because it's in line with the book. The writing is lively and engaging. I am rooting for these characters.
I like the notation that this is A DOWNTOWN DIVAS ROMANCE, because that tells me this author has big plans for a series. That's exciting and wonderful news for this authors' readers – and reviewers! No doubt Dann’s following will continue to grow with each subsequent book.


Yeah...my following...sigh. That's not to say I don't have a fan. I'm pretty sure there is one out there. Anyway, so yes, five is the highest score you can get in each category.

So, that's what you get with Writer's Digest. You can try to take out praise-y snippets to post on your book's Amazon page. I haven't done that yet. I'm not so good with the "selling" part of being an author-preneur. But if I did, I'd use this bit: "The writing is lively and engaging. I am rooting for these characters." That's a back cover blurb if I ever read one. But when it comes to quoting, you don't have a name to put on it. You have to say that Judge #10 in the WDSPB Awards said that. I don't know...sounds fishy, doesn't it?

Okay, enough about me, here are some photos to inspire you.

First is a limpkin. I'm beginning to think the limpkin...this one right here...is my favorite bird. Just look at the way he's standing there in the road waiting for us! As we approached, he was making these cute, pitiful squeaks at us. I got it on video! I'll post it later. Anyway, we figured that what we thought was cute might be his way of feeling threatened, so we walked on. But according to wikipedia, they don't fear humans. Maybe I was right to think he liked us!

Limpkin. Viera Wetlands. Feb 2017
Here's a sweet little alligator taking a snooze on a log.

Florida Alligator. Viera Wetlands. Feb 2017

And here's a juvenile anhinga, I think. He has some cool eyes, doesn't he?


Anhinga. Viera Wetlands. Feb 2017
 
Okay, it's time for me to get back to work. 









Monday, February 20, 2017

Goosebumps, books, and birds: our weekend on Amelia Island




Sea birds on Fernandina Beach

Yep. We spent the weekend on Amelia Island! Our primary purpose in being there was (meaning, we wouldn't have been there if not for) the Amelia Island Book Festival. I take part in the Author Expo every year. A room filled with authors and their books. It's fantastic.

This year, our table was mere feet away from the Book Signing table. Here is a picture of me:


FAKE NEWS!

It looks like I'm standing at the book signing table addressing my many fans. When hubs dared me to weasel may way in front of Jacques Pepin (who was actually sitting at the table) and turn toward the people waiting for his autograph, he didn't think I would do it. But I showed him!

R.L. Stein spoke in the auditorium at 2:30 and before he was finished, the line started forming in front of our table. By the time he arrived, the line extended down the entire aisle and began to wrap backward toward us again. They had to enact a one-book rule! Mr. Stein didn't break the rule when he signed this kid's dummy and his book, because that's still only one book, right?


R.L. Stein signs Slappy
Amelia Island Book Festival 2017

Our best seller this year was [Surprise!] Bookish Meets Boy. We had it with us last year and only sold one or two. This year, I nearly sold out of stock. You just never can tell with these things. And a little birdie told me that while Bookish Meets Boy did not win the new Book Island Literary Award, it did score very highly. It's always nice to hear kind words.

I'll take this moment to also brag that Bookish Meets Boy received a perfect score in the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards. That, unfortunately, did not translate into a win but a great score and a wonderful review are nothing to sneeze at. (Maybe I'll post the review and score here later this week just to show off.)

While we were there, we enjoyed some of Amelia Island's natural (and not so natural) beauty. Here are some pictures!









The first four were taken on the beach accessed through Ft. Clinch State Park. The fifth is a view of the beach through one of the slit openings in the fort. The last was taken on the shore in Big Talbot Island State Park. It looks to be debris from Hurricane Matthew.

We were a bit disappointed in the lack of birds on our trip. But I did catch some pics of a few that I needed.

We're pretty sure these are black skimmers. But the white stripe separating the black on the head from the black on the back and wings is a bit odd.

Black Skimmers on Fernandina Beach

If you ask me, below is a female Gadwall. But of course, it also looks a bit like a female Northern Shoveler. Either way, it's a duck.


In a pond in Amelia Island State Park

I caught this fabulous Osprey standing in the shallows off shore in Big Talbot Island State Park.


Osprey in the shallows

And I finally got a woodpecker! There was one hanging out in my neighborhood, but he's been elusive so I was glad to find this one.

In Big Talbot Island State Park


This is almost certainly the Red-bellied Woodpecker. And naturally, once I got home, I was finally able to capture some great pictures of that one, too, plus a short video. I'll post them later.

We had a great weekend and can't wait to do it again next year!






Monday, February 13, 2017

I'm just a sucker with no self esteem...


You really shouldn't leave the house, you know that?
photo by Andrew Butitta via Flickr

I just got back from Publix and on the way home there was this song on the radio and I was, like, this song is so me. The lyrics went like this:

Oh ay ohhhhhh ayo ayo eh Yeaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh YehhhAH ahhhahhh Ahhhhhh, OOHHHHHHH Ohhhhhohohaoh Yeahhhhhhhhhh Yeahhhhhhhh ahhhahhhahhh Oooohhhhhhhhhh ohhhhhohohoah.

Seriously. Those are some of the lyrics, paraphrased of course. But, you must know the song. I'll find it for you before I leave. Anyway, truer lyrics have never been sung, I'm sure. So, now I'm sitting here at my desk (not the writing desk but the other desk) getting ready to--oh, hey, wait a sec--okay now definitely binge eating those tiny chocolate muffins from Publix. It's been a hard day, trust me.




I took part in a writers forum this morning and I showed up thinking it was going to be a panel discussion with questions from a moderator and the audience. As it turned out, each writer on the panel was going to speak for about fifteen minutes and then take questions.*

Right. Yeah. That's going to work out just fine for me. At least I got to go last. Then again, unfortunately, I had to go last. Naturally, what I said--my completely unplanned, unrehearsed speech--would be informed by what all the others had said before me. So, I will paraphrase for you, as well as I can, my ramblings this morning.

I'm yadda yadda. I write in a bunch of genres under all these pen names. I write downer fiction and romantic comedy, because the downer fiction is so depressing, I need some laughs after it. [This led me to get all moody and so I began...] I started writing very young as a way of trying to make sense of my world. I was raised by a woman with narcissistic personality disorder and a...well, I guess my father had a shrug disorder. His life has been just one long shrug. [Pretty sure I got some laughs there, maybe because of the body comedy that went along with it.] I remember writing a short story in fifth grade [may have said something about that story, but it's all a blur now.] and my father found it and read it and said it was really good. [At this point I think I tried to explain how that made me feel as a child. I don't think it went well.] The next Christmas my parents gave me an electric typewriter. The next memory I have of that typewriter [Did I say that? Very strange. It seems this speech has suddenly become about a typewriter.] was when I was a young adult. My father had left us [audible "aw"from the audience] and I was living with my mother. I wanted to go to a writers group but I was afraid to go alone so my mother went with me. At the end of the meeting, we all took pieces of paper from a bowl with phrases on them and we could write about them and bring them back next time. I got "red umbrella." So, I was at home later typing away, writing about the red umbrella when my mother came into my room and said, "Now, Dana. Don't you write anything that would upset those people."
I stopped writing the story, put away the typewriter, and never went back to that writers group again.

Hey, great story! Then I think I went on to talk about becoming a drunk and thinking that I was writing such great stuff only to come back to it sober to find out it was utter crap. Good times. Whoever said "write drunk, edit sober" was full of crap.**

Anyway, it wasn't all that bad of a speech. But at the end, I did talk about what an independent snot I am and about how I do it all myself. After all the other writers talked about how important it is to have an editor and a cover artist, etc. I stand up and say, "Forget that! I don't care what anyone thinks." Somebody called out, "Beta readers?" Like, seriously? You don't even use beta readers? And I'm like, no. Not me.

It's true, though. I just don't want any help from anybody. And where does that come from, do you think? It starts really young, I'll tell you that.

I remember once, as an adult, sending my father a short story I had written. I just sent it to him. I liked it. It was a pretty good story, and it was set in Asheville, where he grew up. I might have asked him what he thought of it. Well, he called me and wanted to come visit me. He showed up with my story, red-lined, sat me down, and proceeded to go through my story line by line telling me what was wrong with it and how I could fix it.

Another time, I gave my mother a book I'd been writing. This time, I did ask for some critical comments. Two weeks later, I went to her house to get my book back. She hadn't read it.

So, thanks Mom and Dad. It took me until I was an adult to realize that things work out a lot better if I just do them myself.

Anyway, this nice lady came up to me at the end of the meeting and she said, "Your father didn't leave you; he left her." And I said, well, he left the country, so what's the difference? Paraphrasing, of course. Then I think I said, "He's back now." As if that means anything. Still, it was kind of her to say. And she said a lot of other very kind things which made me feel like my speech maybe did something, good or bad. It was a speech.

So, note to self: when giving a speech in the future, go for the sad stuff. People will feel sorry for you and maybe buy a book.




*Now, this was totally my fault. It had been suggested by the organizer of the event that I go to a few of the other events to get a feel for the format. But I rarely leave the house, so it serves me quite right.

**We all seem to think that Ernest Hemingway said, "Write drunk, edit sober." But apparently he did not.

Still, I found this article about "science!" saying that there might actually be something to the idea. Rubbish! Rubbish I say. (I haven't read the article. If they're saying to write with abandon and then edit with a more logical mindset, then absolutely! But drunk? Not for me.)

Okay, here's the song.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

My Tom Brady, Patriots conundrum...

I thought you said football season was over...
photo by Ivva via Flickr


Bill Maher recently went off on the Patriots. He would normally not care for football, from what I gathered in watching the clip. But Trump has caused him to hate the Patriots and root for the Falcons tomorrow in Super Bowl LI.

Me? I don't know.

The only team in the NFL that I actively dislike is the Seahawks. I find them and their fans arrogant and prone to bouts of childishness. I mean, seriously...the 12th man? The crowd in their ridiculously loud stadium makes as much noise as it can while the other team is trying to call plays and then makes nice and quiet when the Seahawks are up. They're basically stomping their feet and claiming their team wouldn't be able to win without their ability to handicap other teams. I can't express the happiness I felt when the Seahawks lost Superbowl XLIX. And who did they lose to? The Patriots. I was so, so, so happy.

I like watching football and I do root for a few teams. Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because I'm from Florida and I'm supposed to root for them. Jacksonville Jaguars, sure, but even though their mascot is a cat, the Dolphins and the Bucs come first. Of course, those two teams suck. Really bad. But I root for them anyway.

Outside my state, I like the Broncos, the Packers, the Eagles, the Vikings, the Ravens, the 49ers, the Steelers (except when they wear the bumble bee uniforms), the Bengals, and the Jets, And the Patriots and the Falcons. If I had to put them in order (behind the Dolphins and the Bucs), the Patriots would be right up there near the top, maybe first.

I like the other teams well enough, except for the Seahawks. I just don't root for them when they're playing one of the teams I like more. And when two teams I like play against each other, sometimes I pick one to root for and sometimes I root for both of them.

I did not buy into Deflategate. I thought it was much ado over nothing, and I thought Tom Brady was maligned. I agree with a lot of football fans, and Dan Wetzel, that the whole thing was a "bizarre and shoddy investigation into the air pressure of footballs."

And worse, in Wetzel's words:
Goodell and his office are blamed for a rush to judgment on deflate-gate, for conducting a lengthy investigation that was about proving a conclusion, not seeking the truth, for leaking prejudicial and inaccurate information to frame the Pats in the arena of public opinion and even completely misrepresenting Brady’s under oath testimony, essentially punishing him for saying the exact opposite of what he actually said.

So, what I'm saying is that I still like the Patriots.

And I hate Donald Trump with an icy hot passion unrivaled by anything I've ever felt before.

Maher's reasons for suddenly deciding to root for the Falcons this year is that the Patriots' owner, coach, and quarterback all support(ed) Donald Trump. But I can't find it in me to hate the Patriots just because some of the people involved with the team are idiots. Seriously, though. Such. Fucking. Idiots.

Yeah, I'm really disappointed in Tom Brady. But he's always seemed a bit stuck up, hasn't he? He's a privileged, cocky, rich, white guy without much of a clue or a care about anybody's suffering. And he's clearly not very smart.

But I just can't turn against an entire team of players because their owner, coach, and quarterback are dumber than rocks. I can still root for the Patriots tomorrow. And I might. I think they're going to win. But since I like both teams, I'll probably just root for both of them.

Oh, I'd unfriend Brady, Belichick, and Kraft on Facebook in a heartbeat. If they were my friends and went all gushy over the Orange Blowhard. (So don't even send me a friend request, guys. Not even.)

I guess there wasn't a conundrum after all... Oh, well. Maybe there will be some controversy over the commercials.

Enjoy the Big Game!