Apr 30, 2012

Z is for ... Invader Zim

The last day of A to Z, I chose my favorite cartoon. Yes, I still watch cartoons. When preparing for this post, I Googled to see if there were any awesome new releases I was unaware of, and for a moment, rejoiced that a movie might be coming! But it was NOT TRUE. *sob*

Invader Zim may be out of production, but I still love it! Also, I couldn't think of anything else Z-related. Except other cartoon characters, like Zoidberg. I just realized this is my third post involving cartoons or comics in some fashion. Hmm. Wonder if I should worry about that...

Reasons to watch Invader Zim:

1) Awesome dialogue. (This is totally important for you writers out there.)

Dib: You can't make me look! I'll just shut my eyes.

Zim: Oh, you'll open them. You have to breathe sometime.

Dib: No, I - Wait... What do my eyes have to do with breathing?

2) His minion robot. 
      (It's not stupid, it's advanced.)

          Zim: GIR! I've been captured!
          Gir: YAY!
          Zim: No, that's bad GIR!
          Gir: YAY!

3) Absurdity can be an artform
Ms. Bitters: Zim!
Zim: Sir!
Ms. Bitters: There's a pigeon on your head. You've got head pigeons. Go and see the school nurse before you infect the other children.
Zim: Yes, Ms. Bitters.

That's it. Oh, and because I need to reassure myself that I have not yet gone past the manageably weird stage, there's an InvaderCon that I have no urge to attend. Yay for being less completely inappropriate for my age bracket!

has been kind of anti-climactic for me. I like the middle of the challenge. All the hard letters are saved for the end, and I have a theory about that. When people make up words and names, they only recently started shooting straight to X and Z for the cool factor. In the 22nd century, 87.59% of all words will begin with either an X or a Z. It's true. It will be Xtremely Zcool, except for during A to Z: all the other letters will be hard to find relevant words for that don't sound anachronistic. *nod*

Apr 27, 2012

Y is for ... Hardcore Yogurt Addiction

When Maggie came home from the shelter, her tummy was a mess. She was sick a lot and we asked the vet what to do. He said: GIVE HER YOGURT. Probiotics. Belly health. Blah blah blah.

So we gave her yogurt. 
  • The first day, she didn't really want to eat it, but after a while, decided it was pretty good. 
  • The second day, she ate it all up in one sitting. 
  • The third day, she inhaled it like it was some kind of puppy crack.
  • The seventh day, we decided she was doing well and were gonna stop the yogurt. Cue more barfing.
  • The eighth day, and everyday since then, she inhales her yogurt.
She expects it now, at a certain time of the day. And tells me, in no uncertain terms, that it is Yogurt O'Clock and to get my rosey red rear in gear and make with the yogurt. 

I don't actually know if she still needs it, but I do know if I am late giving it to her, she looks at me like I ruined her life.

I'm so whipped.

Apr 26, 2012

X is for ... Xkcd Rocks

I'm going small today. And probably the last three days :)


Best webcomic ever.  
Well, I love the ones I understand. The rest are all ... math-y.  Here are a few that make me squee :)







Don't forget to mouse over the cartoon and read the caption!

Apr 25, 2012

W is for ... Willie Nelson Got Me Thrown Out of a Movie

During my really early twenties, I had a roommate. She was pretty weird too, so we got along well, good for a roommate. We had lots of deep philosophical conversations like this:

Roomie: What do you do if a guy you don't want to go out with leaves a message saying to call him? Do you call him back? 
Me: Er, well, I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings... so I probably wouldn't call him back. I'd just pretend it never happened and hope he did the same.(I know this is terrible...)
Roomie: Okay. What if it was someone famous? (Because all good deep philosophical conversations involve such realistic  scenarios) 
Me: Someone famous wants to go out with me and I don't want to go?
Roomie: Willie Nelson! Willie Nelson wants to go out with you, you don't want to go, do you call him back? 
Me: Well, I guess. I mean... it's Willie Nelson. You kind of have to call Willie Nelson back when he calls you...

We never revisited this conversation.

Fast forward a year, we went to see As Good As It Gets. Jack Nicholson kisses Helen Hunt. I'm young, stupid, and a bit shallow. He's much older than Helen, and it Ooooged. Me. Out.

I leaned over and whispered to Roomie, "I would never kiss Jack Nicholson." And in a flash, our earlier conversation came back to me and I added, "Even if Willie Nelson asked me to."

And then I got tickled. It struck me as the funniest thing in the history of funny.

All this is happening during a very emotional part of the movie, and I was trying so hard not to laugh. Out of the corner of my eye, I see her shaking with contained church giggles. This makes it funnier. In the space of a few seconds, I am laughing like a crazy person. And I don't want to!

I try so hard to put the cork back on that bottle. It doesn't work. Not long after AN USHER COMES and makes me leave. Which just makes it funnier.

I can't walk. I am laughing too hard to stand up properly. I'm forced to navigate the stairs and hallway hunched over like I had to keep an eye on my kneecaps--you never know what those bastards are up to...

Once outside the theater doors, I collapse into a giggling heap of stupid on the carpet.

I'm crying. I can't breathe. I'm a little nauseous. It takes me 15 minutes to get hold of myself.

I'm pretty sure they thought I was drunk. Or maybe a crackhead.

At 20 minutes, I think I've calmed down enough to go back inside. I get halfway down the hall to the stairs, the giggles burble back up, and I must once again flee the theater.

This happens a few more times. I make it back to my seat when there's maybe ten minutes left in the film.

For years after, I can't even LOOK at a picture of Willie Nelson without giggling. The other thing I can't do is explain why it's so funny to me.

This is what I can say, "It made me a lot more forgiving of people who make noise during movies."

Apr 24, 2012

V is for ... Van Gogh vs Appalachia

Ow, my ear!
I love bookstores. I know they're a dying breed, but I love them. I love the atmosphere. I love the smell. I love looking at covers and seeing what other folks gravitate toward.

Until last summer, the closest bookstore(a 45 min drive away) was Waldenbooks. But they closed(don't ask how far to the new local bookstore). So on my last visit, I was grumpy, and more sarcastic than usual.

It was packed, Going-Out-of-Business style. The girls working constantly ran to and from the backroom, coming out with armloads of books to shelve. You had to feel bad for them.

One especially small girl(I'd be surprised if she scraped 5'), came out with a massive load of books in one arm and delivered them to the art section. In the shelf space she'd intended to fill, sat a massive coffeetable book on Van Gogh, turned so the cover faced out. Huge thing. Top shelf.

With her plucky spirit, and clearly no concept of how heavy that book was going to be, she anchored her book-bearing elbow to her hip and tried to shift this crazy Van Gogh book with one hand.

I was a few rows back and I could just tell this was going to end badly, so I started weaving through the sea of bargain-hunters to try and help her. She tried all different ways to maneuver it. On the shelf. In the air. Using her thigh as shelf... And just as I got near her, her frustration went nuclear and she lobbed that sucker to a curiously empty spot of floor beside her.


Her supervisor looked like she was gearing up to yell at the poor girl. I hate to see that kind of thing, so I thought... I'll save her! I'll distract them! Yeah! They'll laugh, tension will dissipate, and no one will cry.

The only thing that came to me was: "I heard that's how he lost an ear!"

They both turned and looked at me like I had some version of Tourette's that made me shout out random weird stuff in public--no idea what I was talking about.

The cover of the book? The self-portrait of Van Gogh at the top of the page. Note the placement of the BANDAGE on the former ear.

Still, they had no idea. At that point, my well of clever stuff to say went dry. After turning the color of a bloody ear-stump, I just kind of slunk off to another aisle...

This is what I learned: A mall in Appalachia is no place to waste a perfectly good Van Gogh joke.

Apr 23, 2012

T is for ... The Story Within

Yes, another book on writing. I've read it before, but during a time when I wasn't struggling with writerly confidence. You know, when I didn't really need it. But the past couple weeks, confidence gremlins have been riverdancing through my mental happy place. The more I wrote on my blog, the less I wrote on my projects, the less productive I felt, and the more certain I became that everything I write is crap.

Which, of course, snowballed. I couldn't be sad about being a crappy writer without berating myself for being sad about it. And then I felt worse because I had to berate myself for being sad that I was a crappy writer, and then I felt stupid for being sad that I had to berate myself for being .... in a spiral of lameness that was periodically interrupted by me flinking myself with a  rubberband(it seemed less silly than swatting myself on the nose with rolled up newspaper).

But then I found my book! And I didn't even have to read all that far before I found a short sentence that somehow made everything better, so I'm going to share it: No one hates himself more than a writer who isn't writing.

That was like a prescription to write crap just to feel better about writing at the level that simply fails to live up to expectations. The equivalent of take two of these and call me int he morning... So I dashed to www.writeordie.com and in Strict Kamikaze mode, pounded out 2100 words in 62 minutes--which I think is some kind of record for me.

Six hours later I re-read it, and it didn't suck sugar-frosted monkey nuggets, as I expected it to. I revised and edited, layered in emotion, clarified the conflict, wrote a synopsis and query letter, and submitted it to the Riva Fast-Track in about 24 hours time elapsed time. It might get no where, but I feel confident stating: It's not crap! I'm even kind of happy with it.

There's something very cathartic about forcing yourself to produce fast. There's no time for second-guessing or berating yourself. It's a good feeling. I've never been one who can shut off the internal editor. But if this is what it's like, I'm so going to have to do this more often.

Apr 21, 2012

S is for ... Sourdough (tomato recipe)

Step one -- The Sponge -- Mix. Cover. Refrigerate 8-12 hours
  • 16 oz pureed and strained tomato (Note: You can substitute tomato sauce/juice, or marinara sauce) 
  • 1 1/4 c sourdough starter (100% hydration, 1:1 water/flour ratio) 
  • 2 c All-Purpose flour

Step Two -- Flavor Enhancing -- Mix and add to sponge.

  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
  • 2 t salt

Step Three -- The Dough: Work in flour in 1/2 cup increments until you can't stir it with a spoon anymore. Then turn onto floured surface and knead in more(3-4 cups flour total for this stage) until desired stiffness, then spray with oil and cover with either plastic wrap or a bowl. Rest one hour, it will develop more gluten while it rests.
  • If you want a free-form loaf, you'll need a stiff dough so it doesn't flatten out to a pancake during rise, so knead in however much it takes to make the dough not sticky, just smooth and elastic. 
  • For loaf pans, you can stop short when it's still a bit sticky.

Step Four -- Forming -- I usually use loaf pans, and this technique shows how to do both styles, free-form and loaf pans. The first two loaves are done the same way and that's what I used for the loaf pans, and the last is the round loaf. (As you can tell from the picture, I'm less good at the free-form loaves -- mine's all lumpy!)

Step Five -- Panning -- Whatever the pan style, lightly spray with oil and dust with cornmeal. It will stick without the cornmeal. After, spritz again and cover with plastic wrap. Rise to double, 1-2 hours

Step Six -- Baking -- Preheat oven to 365F and bake on center rack for about 30 minutes. I like to rotate the pans halfway through. Cool on wire racks.  (If you want soft crust, run a stick of butter over the surface of the top when it is hot.) Cover with clean kitchen towel and cool. If you cut it when it's hot and tempting, it will smash and gum up on the inside. Serrated bread knife necessary.

Makes best grilled cheese sammiches ever!

Apr 20, 2012

R is for ... Rockets & the 4th Grade Space Program

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my dad wanted to turn his homemade gunpowder into model rocket engines. That idea never came to fruition, but not because we didn't love model rockets. The first one dad got was a tiny thing. He put it together, we launched it and everything was awesome except... the rocket was too small. We needed a bigger rocket fix.

Next, he used learning from the kit to build his own, bypassing bigger, more expensive kits. This one used the tube from a roll of paper towels, balsa wood fins, and the nosecone was an old pill bottle hotglued to one of those plastic bubbles you get gum in for a quarter from the tiny machines in front of stores. Parachute from a plastic bag and thread! All he had to buy were the engines and igniters.

We loved that one so much that I made a replica for the fourth grade science fair. We saved the last bit of nosecone assembly to catch a grasshopper and seal him into his capsule. The hope was that it would come down where we could retrieve him, and ask what he was going to do now that he was the first grasshopper in space... But wind caught the parachute as it drifted down and blew him far away on the hills behind the school. A tragic blow for the fourth-grade space program.

After this, Dad was always on the lookout for bigger, sturdier cardboard tubes. He came home with one that was five foot tall and six inches in diameter. But we knew we couldn't get it off the ground with our current model rocket technology, so it was stored for 2 years while we built and launched increasingly bigger rockets with separate stages of ignition. Stage #1 gets it so high, ignites stage #2 and #1 pops off as #2 fires... Then we added a stage #3 and #4...

They went high enough that no one could see them anymore, but the parachutes were colored with markers by this point, so when they drifted far enough down that binoculars could see them, the chase began to retrieve the rocket.

Except for the times that we had rocket engine failure. Turns out, it's really hard to time the ignition on the separate stages. Sometimes... the next stage of engines wouldn't fire until the rocket had already turned and was no longer pointing up. Sometimes they fell and didn't kick on until they were more or less at ground level and could chase people--so you couldn't come watch our launches unless you were ready to run.

Finally, the learning curve progressed to the point we felt confident enough to attempt the five foot rocket. It launched beautifully. I think it had five stages... We lost it in the sky before all the stages ignited. But we caught sight of it again when it was speeding down without the parachute. One of the stages delayed igniting until the sucker was pointed at the ground... It rocketed into the middle of the road and the top 12-18 inches smashed down like an accordion. Luckily, no one was in the road at the time.  That was the best launch ever. Height. Speed. Drama. Destruction. Perfection!

I highly recommend building model rockets with your kids :)  Just maybe ... don't Wile E. Coyote it...

Apr 19, 2012

Q is for ... Q&A on Pigs

Did you know pigs are extremely smart with unbelievable problem solving skills? It's true. Every time we had pigs on the farm, they could escape their pens at will, I think. They ate so much because they were plotting while eating. We'd just think... "Man, they sure like that corn and stuff. They're oinkin' a whole lot!" Untrue, as it turns out, they were discussing weaknesses in the fencing.

How do you keep pigs from escaping? You don't. Oh sure, someone may hand you a 2x4 and say... "The first pig that comes out that hole they made, you hit in the head as hard as you can! I'll go get the other ones!" But I couldn't hit a pig in the head! I stood there and tried to look menacing with my longish piece of treated lumber, and the pigs were unimpressed with me.

What else can you do with a piece of lumber to keep a pig in a pen? NothingCertainly not poke at it and try to hold it back. Pigs are round, slippery with muck, and cut-throat! It doesn't matter if you had too much courtesy to hit a pig, they'll run right over you and leave you helpless, clutching your lumber while your farm is transformed into an episode of Benny Hill--except with fewer naked chicks and more pigs running about.

Do pigs help their brothers and sisters escape when they've made a hole in the pen? Heck no. It's every pig for himself! Which is what lead to that unfortunate incident with me guarding the pig hole with a piece of lumber . . .

Don't be fooled by how cute they are when they're little. If a pig asks to come live with you, you say NO. They're perfectly capable of building houses of straw, wood and bricks. I heard a story about that a time or twenty.

Apr 18, 2012

P is for ... Party Games of Survival

My little brother was born on Halloween. When we were little, we'd have his party, then get dressed up and Trick or Treat. But at around ten, he didn't want to Trick or Treat, but we all still wanted to get dressed up and eat sugar. This began big Halloween parties with lots of candy and danger.

First party was in our old farm house with 10ft ceilings. For the game, they put prizes into balloons stapled to the ceiling, which we popped with the aid of metal rods with a nail on the end.

The balloons popped, candy and quarters rained down on us. No one lost an eye, but there were a few light stabbings. Well, light pokings. Some Scrapings. Holes in costumes... But we did alright! No one got tetanus. Good time for all! Oh, and there were also a bunch of holes in the ceiling after that. Whoops. Every little kid loves being given a tiny sword with a really long handle to stab the ceiling with. It was AWESOME. Everyone remembers this game.

A couple years later we had another party, this time in the barn. Mom and my aunt spent a week decorating and converting the barn(it had four rooms) into a haunted house/birthday party. Not just for all the many cousins this time, friends came too! It was actually very impressive. I'm still impressed with what they managed to do to the barn that week. But what everyone remembers is THE GAME.

Open rafters meant a new game. Popping balloons had been a hit, so they tried a new game: spinning metal wheel with balloons tied to it. And a bb gun. For the kids to shoot at the metal wheel. Well, to be fair, they tried darts, but it didn't work so they switched to the bb gun(forgetting the wheel was metal).

After the first shot, which ricocheted, each shooter wore safety glasses and mom shouted... DUCK AND COVER YOUR EYES! Then we'd hear POP... PING! ... OW! (bb's sting even after bouncing off a few surfaces). In short? Another hit! We loved that game too. But I think mom feared having to top it--we stopped having big dangerous Halloween parties after that.

Apr 16, 2012

N is for ... That Sick Feeling You Get

I've finally overcome my inability to spell nauseous,  but for years if I had to write that word, in a fit of laziness I would write nauseated  instead. I didn't need a dictionary for that one.

The special case of two very similar words with the same meaning bugs me. What's so special about feeling the urge to hurl that needs two naus+suffix  words to express it? And it's not just one naus+suffix  word that has the same meaning. There's a nauseous/nauseated  combo, and there's also a nauseous/nauseating  combo. Is it something to do with the same illustrative mechanism that causes us to have a million ways to say blowing-chunks? (This could get its series of posts. I have no idea why puking euphemisms make me laugh, I am older than 12, but 'Shouting Groceries' might be the best vomit euphemism ever.)

This pattern doesn't work with other illness-related words ending with -ous.  For instance:
  • Infectious. To infect someone. You can say infected,  which doesn't mean the same thing, but you can't say infectiated.  No infectiating.
  • Contagious. Could spread disease.  There's even fewer options for contagious.  No contagiated.  No contaged.  No contagiating.
I want to endorse nauseated  as the goto word for that going-to-hurl feeling, but I can't. Sure, it's easier to spell, but people will always want a -ous  sick word for it, and nauseous goes better with infectious  and contagious.

Instead, I call for a ban on all other forms of naus+suffix  words. Seems like nauseous  can mean anything anyway, at least this way I only have to remember how to spell one version of this word. Even if this plan does mean supporting a word which has more vowels than is healthy. Seriously, three vowels in a row? Pfft.

Apr 14, 2012

M is for ... Morality Evolution & the Apocalypse

I cannot testify to the ridiculousness of this subject, but it's been on my mind and times well with A to Z letter M, so I'm tossing it out there. As a life-long weirdo, I feel qualified to babble about it.

It used to be a lot harder to be unabashedly weird in small-town USA.  It's not exactly easy now, but it's a lot easier to be yourself when you can find like-minded support online.

The internet has also expanded what Average Joe is exposed to--like a small-scale version of mind-broadening you get from world-travel. Even if it's simply exposure to different cultures, if it hasn't made people more accepting, it's at least made them aware of/more used to exposure to cultural differences.

Morality is always evolving, I know that, but I think this mind-broadening influence is speeding up the process.

Which brings me to the Apocalypse. Or actually the fascination with an Apocalyptic future. I feel like the two are related. Like all this doomydoom we're drawn to in movies and fiction is an unintentional metaphor. That it isn't really about melting ice caps, pollution or the super volcano under Yellowstone... it's about the evolution(or death) of the traditional Judeo-Christian culture.

That's what I like about the apocalyptic theme, at least--the complete upending of society and pole-shift in ethics after disaster. Zombie movies, for instance: Sure, there are mobile, possibly supernatural, diseased dead-cannibals roaming about eating people, but that's not the best part of movies like Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, The Walking Dead(tv).

I think the theory holds true for other types of apocalyptic entertainment: The Terminator, The Book of Eli, The Stand, The Matrix Trilogy... It's like six in the a.m. and my brain is still a bit sleep-fuzzy, so I'm not coming up with lots of examples.

Anyway, thoughts? Disagree? Think I must have had a weird dream to prompt this? :D

Apr 13, 2012

L is for ... Grenade Launcher

Keeping to the theme of ridiculousness for A to Z, it's time for another thrilling post of childhood memories!

If you read about the camper-bus, you may have gleaned that my dad liked to build stuff out of other stuff. Kind of like McGyver, but with less spies and more random danger.

It all started with him repacking his own bullets. If you didn't know you could do that, you can. You get bullet fixins and assemble yourself with a tiny scoop for gunpowder, and a tiny hammer for taptaptapping the slug into the shell (Which freaks everyone out. What's the first rule of bullets? Don't hit one with a hammer, duh.).

From there, it progressed to mixing his own gunpowder. This is also dangerous, so he commandeered a rock tumbler(just the rubber container bit), and then built a little machine to spin the tumbler out of old typewriters and a sewing machine motor (we didn't have that bit for some reason), and took it all out to an old shed in the back pasture--where it wouldn't hurt anyone if, by chance, it exploded. After that, he had lots of gun powder! Which, thankfully, never randomly exploded.

This lead to the idea that he maybe could make his own model rocket engines(coming R post). And from there, the natural evolution . . . the realization that it might explode the rockets. One day all this came together in a flash of I-COULD-BLOW-STUFF-UP brilliance, model rocket engines we already had were added, along with the bent metal tube from an old vacuum cleaner... and later a few smallish holes in the front yard. I think he may have also exploded an old tree stump with it... Good thing we lived way out in the country.

So all that stuff about country people being crazy? Probably truer than we'd like to admit.

But I cling to the fact that no one in the family has fixed a dead deer head to the hood of a car. Yet.

Apr 11, 2012

J is for ... Jeopardy (aka Nerdvana)

As a complete nerd, I feel aspiring to one day be on Jeopardy is a sacred duty. But at this point in my evolution, there are a few hurdles between me and Nerdvana.

One: I don't like speaking in front of people. First day of speech class at college, after I stood up and said my name, I had to flee and hurl.

Two: I know I'm not as smart as I think I am... But every now and then I watch an episode full of categories even simpletons know the answers for, and for several minutes I imagine myself standing behind my carelessly-scribbled name on a field of blue, a five-figure cash amount lit up in front of me.

Three: Final Jeopardy. I find Final Jeopardy inexplicably terrifying. That music everyone hums? Freaks. Me. Out.

Even if all I'm doing is drinking tea and watching Jeopardy, that cheerful little fricking song causes me instant panic. Not entirely sure why. Maybe because the category always feels like a trick. Like it would be Marshmallows, and I'd be all.... I KNOW ALL ABOUT MARSHMALLOWS... and wager all my five figures. But then the question would be: This was the first person to squirt marshmallows into a Peep shape.

Final thoughts: I am not evolved enough yet for Jeopardy. But one day...

(brought to you by the letter J and A to Z blogfest.)

Apr 10, 2012

I is for ... Interesting People

I had an idea all lined up for I-themed post for A to Z, but I got Writer's Regret before ever actually writing it and I decided to talk about something else instead! Luckily, I was inspired to do so by a workshop I attended tonight.

My little rural county is full of writers. Monday nights, my local library has been hosting writing workshops with different published writers from the area, which they also did last year. I went to all of them last year, but the first few this year were repeats of the year before, so I'm only attending the last two.

Kay Stockham
Tonight, Kay Stockham and Serena Miller teamed up to presenting. Kay writes small town series for Superromance, and Serena writes inspirational romance, both historical and Amish suspense.

Kay spoke about writing in series, Scrivner(ProTip: she's a huge fan), RWA membership advantages, and answered some questions about submissions(Sekrits about unagented subs to publishers--shhh).

Serena Miller
Serena spoke about her methods for historical research, differences between the language in old books versus modern historicals, the value of interviews in research(ProTip: She went to make friends with Amish folks in order to get setting and culture right for her Amish stories), importance of writing conferences, tips about pitching to editors and agents.

I've read some of Kay's books(if you want to read emotional punch, Kay's a master), but was unfamiliar with Serena's(I don't tend to read Inspirational) before tonight. Now I've written her name into my TBR list... something about Amish and suspense... I kind of have to check that out.

And since I've gone entirely off the rails with my theme for this post, I am closing with something ridiculous so it's not a total wash:
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.”
Dr. Seuss

Apr 9, 2012

H is for ... Hillbilly Ridiculousness

A couple weeks ago, I was on the way to town(the closest grocery store) when I saw the most redneck vehicle ever created. I didn't take a picture. I actually didn't even continue driving while it was coming down the hill and driving past me, so I was lucky it was a back country road--no one behind me. I was just so stunned by this vehicle that I sort of coasted to a stop and watched him pass, my jaw falling open.

Interesting characteristics of the most redneck vehicle ever created:
  • Homemade spray-painted camouflage big truck. Not just any homemade camo either, it had a reverse stencil of a maple leaf strategically placed here and there. (Reverse stencil: hold leaf to car, spray paint around it. Tada)
  • Really big tires.
  • Lots of mud to prove those really big tires were necessary
Up until this point, there's nothing extraordinary about this vehicle, I see this kind of truck/SUV fairly regularly. I never actually understood the idea behind camouflaging a car, I've never seen a forest driving down the road before. Not fooling anyone!

Anyway, what made this truck special was the hood ornament. A deer skull with a massive antler rack sat front and center, likely obstructing the view of the driver at least a little bit. The skull actually may have started out a taxidermied head, what I saw seemed a bit fuzzier than bone would look and I imagine that wind buffeting the hood of a traveling car is enough to blast the fur off. I've never tested this theory, but I speculate.

Rest assured, next time I will have the mental capacity to take a picture. I'm not leaving the house without my camera until I get a shot!

Some things simply require documentation.

Apr 8, 2012

Guest post: Author Ju Dimello

Note from AB:  Ju's been a writing pal for a couple years now, so I'm tickled to help her celebrate her release blog tour. And since it's Sunday, and not A to Z day, this post brought to you by the letters J and D and Cake and Yummy-shirtless-men. What? Those are letters where I come from.

.~*``*~...~*``*~...~*` Ju Dimello `*~...~*``*~...~*``*~.

Thanks so much, Amalie, for hosting me in your blog to celebrate my debut release!

My characters like to cook...Maybe it's because I have a love-hate relationship with cooking, or it could be the fact that I need a lot of comfort food to get me into the writing mood or it could just be that I can try whatever dishes I'm in the mood for through my characters. Whatever the reason is, I wish I could say that incorporating food into my stories is much easier than me preparing them! The sad truth is, it’s often not. :sigh:

In Fiery Icicle, my debut release (Look at my cover pretty), the heroine is a witch. To make it interesting, I put in a point that she doesn't eat eggs. Well, I didn't realize the amount of research time I might need, where I ended up searching for recipes that doesn't contain eggs and in making sure the heroes (yep!) take double care in that aspect :)  

Why am I doing this? I think there's a lot one can find about characters from the way they eat or show they care through food. At the very least, I feel so nice when my DH (Dear Husband) steps in to cook for no reason at all...and there're times we substitute eating in instead of going out to celebrate and it's fun to cook together. Of course, the kitchen looks a lot messier that day but well, it gives me a chance to get worked up and start on a whirlwind of cleaning (which btw, is my usual style). LOL! 

How about you? Do you love to cook, hate it? Or in between - where you do it because it has to be done? Let me know in the comments.

I have one copy of Fiery Icicle to giveaway during the blog tour and every comment during this week will count towards it. I’ll pick a winner around the 15th of April and contact them! Don’t forget to leave your email id.

Blurb and Excerpt:
I thought I’d share a short version of the blurb and excerpt here, while a longer one can be enjoyed at : http://www.jasminejade.com/p-10002-fiery-icicle.aspx

This story contains a half-fae intent on claiming his woman, a half-demon bent on resisting her and a passion that's hot enough to melt the alpine snow


She placed a plate with an omelet topped with peppers and tomato in front of him, while another one simmered on the stovetop. She obviously remembered the part about double the serving. Toast accompanied by homemade muffins followed before she poured generous glasses of orange juice for both.
Following up her promise, she brought out a tub of butter and a bottle of strawberry jam. She didn’t eat eggs and his skeptical glance at the tempting omelet didn’t go unnoticed.
“Cooking helped me focus on something besides school and wanting to run away. Mom never bothered with anything except her ranting. I prepared the meals every day, leaving them on the table for her.”
He cleared his throat to distract her. “You mean to say I can dig in without fear?”

If you liked the teaser, you can also check where I’ll be during this week at: http://judimello.blogspot.ca/p/fiery-icicle-release-week-celebration.html

You can also find me at the following places.

Drop me a line..I’d love to hear from you!
`*~...~*``*~...~*``*~. Ju Dimello .~*``*~...~*``*~...~*`

Apr 6, 2012

F is for ... Fun Family Traditions

While rifling through my mind to come up with some ridiculous post ideas for A to Z, I started thinking about the things that make my family different.

Part of the charm(and horror) is the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants nature of my family. We have very few traditions, aside from just doing stuff on whim. We're real good at doing stuff on whim.

My list of family traditions became a list of things we do without making a fuss about it.
  1. We name things. Everything. Cars. The lawnmower. People who already have a name...
  2. We fish. We're not good at it. We get distracted a lot. Although none of us have ever been hooked while another cast willy-nilly out into the water, we've somehow developed a fear of losing an eye during the wild flailing of line and hook. Like golfers, we yell warnings before casting. Like "DUCK!" or the ever popular "Watch out, Mom's casting!"
  3. I saved my favorite tradition for last: BugBall.
My parents are chicken fanatics, so we always had them and it's a long-standing tradition.
    Baby chicks are kept warm and safe(separate from evil adult chickens) in a cage -- the perfect arena for a good game of BugBall.

    BugBall Rules:
    1. Get a ball: Junebugs are best, but any beetle works. If can't find good bugs, slivers of tomato skin will do. The ball must be sturdy.
    2. Throw ball into the cage. 
    3. One chick will grab the ball and run. The running alerts the other chicks to the presence of something good in the cage, and they all start peeping like mad and give chase. They run run run, but eventually the urge to eat the ball overwhelms, and the chick stops and tries to eat it. No chick is ever fast enough to do so. It usually gets one bite as another steals the ball, and the running starts again. This is why you need a sturdy ball.
    It's hard to say why this is so funny to us. We aren't a sports-watching family, but even the extended family will stop by to go watch a game of BugBall with the Spring chicks.

    Do you have any silly family traditions? Or have you ever had the pleasure of watching a good game of BugBall? (BugBall is like pizza, even when it's not so good...)

    Apr 1, 2012

    A is for ... Adorable Animal Adoption

    See, I set a theme, but can I stick to it for even one day? No! Not when there's a new puppy in the house. So we're calling this... Ridiculously Adorable.

    Introducing: Maggie! She's a beagle+basset mix. 9 weeks old, and desperate to make friends with the cat(who is full of hate, especially for anything smaller and possibly cuter than she is).

    So tired. Surgery is exhausting, and even Squeaky Sock Monkey can't keep her awake.

    Please Please Please pick me up. Up with you. Up on the couch. You can't resist sad Basset-hound eyes.

    The couch is less fun than anticipated . . .