Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Magical Mystery Tour

A fellow witer Patricia Rockwell is having a Virtual Book Tour of her book Sounds of Murder. This is more of a question/answer session with the author than an actual book review.


  1. Hi, Patricia, thanks for stopping by on your virtual book tour for your new cozy mystery Sounds of Murder. Is this your first book?

    Yes, it’s my first attempt at fiction, although I’ve written an academic research book and several textbooks that are now out of print.

  2. I notice that I am the only male host on your tour. Does your book only appeal to women?

    Chris, I surely hope not. Cozy mysteries typically feature female main characters doing the sleuthing, but there’s no law about it. Men have read Sounds of Murder and told me they liked it. Of course, as a cozy mystery, it doesn’t have any graphic violence, explicit language, or gratuitous sex. But I think men will enjoy the mystery aspect of the story and will try to figure out who the killer is just as much as women.

  3. Do you write or do you like to write other genres of fiction besides mysteries?

    I prefer to read mysteries—mostly cozy mysteries, so I guess that’s why I only want to write cozy mysteries.

  4. What’s the book about?

    The book is all about Associate Professor of Psychology Pamela Barnes, who never envisioned herself a detective. But when she finds her department’s star professor and top grant producer Charlotte Clark strangled to death with headphone cords in the department’s state-of-the-art experimental computer lab, she feels compelled to track down the killer. Who could it be? The list is long, because, although Charlotte is nationally famous, she is despised by all her colleagues for her nastiness and her over-bearing manner. Pamela feels torn, because she did not like Charlotte any better than her colleagues did, but driven to find the murderer because she was the one who found Charlotte’s body. When Pamela discovers that the actual sounds of Charlotte’s strangulation have been recorded on a spectrogram on the lab’s Master Control panel, she makes a copy of it and begins a surreptitious attempt to analyze the sounds she hears. As she listens to Charlotte’s agonizing choking sounds, she also detects a strange double clicking noise—a noise that occurs after Charlotte’s death gasps have ceased. Could these clicking sounds be a clue to the killer? As Pamela’s questioning of and curiosity about various faculty members intensifies, she worries that she may inadvertently alert the killer to her suspicions. As she fears, Pamela’s insistent questioning leads her to an unexpected confrontation with the killer.

  5. It sounds exciting and fun. Is it?

    I think it is, Chris, but, of course, I wrote it so I’m a bit partial.

  6. I think maybe I heard about your book. Wasn’t there a trailer for it that got some notoriety?

    Yes, fortunately—or rather unfortunately. I made a short book trailer one night sitting on my bed with my digital camera. It only took about a few minutes and, on a lark, I submitted it to the Moby Book Trailer competition in the "Least Likely to Sell a Book" category. I really never expected anything to come of the entry, but, to my surprise—it won. Not much of an honor, as it says more about my horrible videography skills than it does about the book—or at least I hope it does. I recently uploaded a more polished version, so if you check it out online you won’t see the original which was truly awful.

  7. So you’ll stick to writing and give up your aspirations of becoming a filmmaker?

    Definitely. Making book trailers is a task best left to professionals.

  8. What made you decide to write Sounds of Murder and do you have any advice for new writers?

    Chris, I spent most of my career as a university professor (much like my heroine in Sounds of Murder) and I had to do a lot of academic writing for publication. Also, I worked as an editorial assistant for several years for one of the major Communication journals and also as an editor of a regional journal for eight years—so writing, editing, and publishing are in my blood. However, while I was working and before I retired, I couldn’t really write what I wanted to write—mysteries. Now that I’m retired, I’m free to write exactly what I want—and that’s what I’m doing. It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of work too. There are a lot of similarities with the academic writing I used to do and I rely on my experience in that domain. There are also differences. I never had to create a plot or characters or write dialogue in my previous type of writing—so there’s been a huge learning curve there. But I think I’m getting better.

  9. Will we be seeing any more books from Patricia Rockwell?

    Oh, yes. Next summer, my second cozy mystery, and Pamela Barnes’ second murder case—entitled tentatively Radio Murder—will be out. I also have a third in the Pamela Barnes’ series planned and will be working on that one this year.

  10. Where can we get copies of Sounds of Murder?

    From the typical online sources—Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com for print copies, and Amazon.com for Kindle versions and Smashwords.com for other electronic versions.

Friday, August 27, 2010

F2: Syrian Beans

Welcome again to Friday's Feast. Today I'll be sharing one of my recipes.


With inspirations from Mrs. Mackinac…

My wife makes this one a lot. We even have a friend of the family who is Assyrian who is familiar with this recipe… so it must be authentic. Serves 4-6.

Syrian Beans:
2 C Macaroni
3 C Water
½ lb of Ground Beef
½ Medium Yellow Onion
1 14.5 oz can of Whole Pealed Tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can of Green Beans
4 oz Cheddar Cheese
  1. Into a medium sauce pan add the macaroni and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low.
  3. While the macaroni is cooking… add the ground beef to a large frying pan on medium heat.
  4. Peel and chop the onions into small sized pieces and add to the meat.
  5. Add the onions to the frying pan and continue to cook until transparent.
  6. In a separate bowl, crush the tomatoes.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the pan.
  8. Drain then add the green beans.
  9. Stir all the ingredients together for five minutes to guarantee they are well cooked.
  10. Remove pan from the heat
    you can serve into a serving dish if you do not want to serve out of the pan.
  11. Drain the macaroni and place into a separate bowl
    you can add butter or olive oil to keep them from sticking together if you like.
  12. Shred the cheddar cheese into a separate bowl.
  13. Serve by combining the macaroni with the contents of the pan and cover with cheddar cheese.
  14. Enjoy

1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Attraction Factors

So often we try to figure out what is it about that person that we are attracted to. I have found that there are three different factors that come into play when we determine attraction: Striking, Double-take, and Charming factors.

Striking Factor
Anything that catches your eye can be considered a part of the striking factor. These are not only the physical attributes– the broad shoulders, the curve of the waist, etc.… but also the non-physical attributes– "he's so funny", "she's so confident", etc.
Double-take Factor
Something that makes you look again can be considered part of the double-take factor. People who have a high double-take factor have something about them that makes them more attractive than the first time around. You may not even have a high striking factor, but wind up having a high double-take factor.
Charming Factor
This is the factor that keeps your interest– "I can't keep my eyes off of him", "she always looks great". It does not even need to be something physical– "what is it about him that is so fascinating", "I always enjoy being around her".

I do not think that these three factors are directly related and can be viewed independently. However, when determining someone's attractiveness, you need to look at all three factors to get a full picture of their overall charisma.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gone Away

Before you start thinking that this is a Being Out Of Blogging (BOOB) message— I assure you that it is not. This was posted by a Friend in Facebook and I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and post it here since it also gets posted there. I don't like chain letters, much like I don't like the kinds of Memes that tell you to tag people. So, if you feel like participating you can… otherwise, enjoy:


RULES:

  1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
  2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
  3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS.
  4. Tag 20 friends
  5. Everyone tagged has to do the same thing.
  6. Have Fun!

IF SOMEONE SAYS 'ARE YOU OKAY' YOU SAY?
All I Want (The Offspring)

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
Operators Are Standing By (They Might Be Giants)

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GIRL/GUY?
Me By The Sea (Edie Brikell & The New Bohemians)

HOW DO YOU FEEL?
Kissing the Lipless (The Shins)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Maybe I know (They Might Be Giants)

WHAT'S YOUR MOTTO?
Channel Z (The B-52's)

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Twist And Crawl (The English Beat)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Psycho Killer (Talking Heads)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
This Eye (Edie Birk ell & The New Bohemians)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Dark And Metric (They Might Be Giants)

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Highway Blues (Mark Seals)

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Shu Zulu Za (Poi Dog Pondering)

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Honky Cat (Elton John)

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Language (Suzanne Vega)

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION IN LIFE?
Shake (P.M. Dawn)

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?
Black Coffee In Bed (Squeeze)

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Is That Love (Squeeze)

WHAT DO YOU WANT RIGHT NOW?
Counterfeit Faker (They Might Be Giants)

WHAT DOES YOUR LOVE THINK ABOUT YOU?
Reprehensible (They Might Be Giants)

WHAT WILL YOU TITLE THIS NOTE AS?
Gone Away (The Offspring)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

This past weekend I went to see the film Eat, Pray, Love. This is not your typical "Chick Flick" in that many of the feelings and situations are not reserved for women alone. Our main character feels lost in her life. The things that she has pursued hold no meaning for her, she feels out of touch spiritually, and feels that her relationships are a compromise at best. Our character decides to take a year to "find herself" and visit Italy, India, and Bali. Each location that our character visits reflects key points of the title:

Eat:
One would think that going to Italy, all the character would do is eat. Whereas eating was a main part of this portion of the journey— it is the experience of eating that needed to be examined. How often do we just mindlessly eat and never bother to enjoy what we are eating, or enjoy those to whom we are sharing a meal with. The scene that I enjoyed a lot was the one where the main character had a Thanksgiving meal on her last night together with all of her new found friends. At one point, she asks someone how long the turkey had to go to which they replied that they had not even thawed it yet. We later find a scene where all of the friends are crashed out on the chairs and couches (much like you would find after a heavy meal) and an alarm goes off. Our character then gets up and goes to the oven where we find the turkey is now done. They finish the scene carving the turkey and enjoying their final meal together.
Pray:
We open this part of the journey with our main character in a taxi traveling through a busy street scene in India. The entire scene is chaotic and jumbled with many things happening at the same time. Once our character arrives at the spiritual camp, she finds that the guru is not there but rather in New York where she came from. She is shown the camp and where she can go to meditate. During her attempts at meditating she becomes frustrated and unable to meditate at all. She meets a man from Texas who seems to be more of a spiritual leader than the guru she came to see. He appears cross and rude— which may be the kind of leading that she needs. After the man from Texas leaves the camp, our character is asked to be a guide for several new devotees just arriving. She is told that she cannot meditate, but rather should watch over the new devotees as they are meditating. This reminds me of the portion of the movie Woodstock, where the withdrawal patient is then shown another person coming into the clinic and is told: "they were just like you three hours ago. You are now the doctor and they are now your patient, get to work". It is at this point where she finally is enlightened and understands the meaning of her spiritual journey.
Love:
This is the theme of the movie that seems to come full circle. Whereas our main character files for divorce in the beginning of the movie and has a brief affair with another man before heading on her journey— there appear to be no men in her life in the first two portions of her journey. In the beginning of the movie she is in Bali interviewing a medicine man. His advice to her during that initial interview is what compels her on her journey and brings her back to the medicine man on its final leg. Once back in Bali, the medicine man tells her to try and maintain balance between all of the lessons she has learned so far. To not stray too far spiritually, and not to stray too far in the enjoyment of life. She meets a man in Bali and struggles between trying to maintain balance between the man she has fallen in love with and her lessons she has vowed to continue to practice. She breaks off the relationship for fear that she has dedicated herself too much to the relationship and has neglected the other lessons she has struggled to find over the past year of her journey. On her final consultation with the medicine man he indicates that it is OK to lose yourself in love since that is the glue that holds all the other lessons together. She reconciles with the man she fell in love with and we find ourselves coming full circle as well as starting a new beginning.

The movie is well worth going to see because many of us experience the same doubts and fears regarding our place in the world and how we relate not only to the world around us, but those people that we have encountered along our own journey in life.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spin Cycle: Wedding Disasters

This weeks spin cycle is about weddings. I thought I would spin it up a bit and talk about wedding successes or disasters depending upon your point of view.

I have noticed that at many weddings I have attended that there are certain situations and/or people that usually accompany those weddings. I would have highlighted those things that happened at my wedding, but I figured I would just list them (even if they didn't happen at my wedding) so you can say it happened at your wedding too.

I will try my best at listing them in the order of the ceremony as well as be discrete so as not to offend too much. Much like a party is not successful unless the police arrive— many weddings might not be successful unless some, if not all of these occur:

Someone in the wedding party must faint…
Someone in our wedding party nearly fainted, but I must admit that I was the one who had the fainting spell at my sister's wedding. I must have locked my knees because I started feeling dizzy half way through the ceremony. I had the frame of mind to step off the stage and sit down. Unfortunately I missed the breaking of the glass, but at least I didn't fall down.
Someones always late…
I know that everyone seemed to show up on time for our wedding, but I have heard that loud click of the door when someone was trying to sneak into the church.
The photographer does something stupid…
Yes I know that photographing the moment is important— but why then do you have to have your gigantic tripod blocking the aisle.
You never can find "so and so" for the family photo…
Enough said.
There's always some obnoxious drunk relative at the reception…
Given that many weddings do not have alcohol this may not always be the case— so just an obnoxious relative will do here as well.
The DJ or band fails miserably…
I have seen many a wedding where the DC decides they are done for the evening and leave early. I have seen other times when you request a song and they never play it. One would think that if they have it in their repertoire and you are the groom that they should honor that request.
Someone gets hurt on the dance floor…
I wouldn't say that I actually got hurt, but I did rip my shoes at my Step-son's wedding because I was sliding across the dance floor on my knees. I'll save that story about our dance floor for another post.
There's something wrong with the cake…
Our wedding cake was so delicious that the staff decided to serve the topper. We spent a good hour the next morning looking through the kitchen to see where they may have kept the top of the cake— but later found out that it all was served. Oh well, there probably wasn't room in our freezer anyway.
There's never enough coffee…
I just hate it when the wait staff decides that everybody gets just one cup with the cake and then disappear. I threatened that I would bring my own pot and start brewing at the head table if that happened at ours.

small cycle

Friday, July 30, 2010

You can get up off the floor now

I know that I have not been posting at all, and if that very infrequently. Rather than give excuses, I thought I would make a request.

As I have also not been reading posts either (I Marked all as read in my reader), I would like to read those things you are proud of. So… if you have a post that you wrote within the past month, or know of a post from someone else that you enjoy— please leave the URL to the post in the comments so I can have something to read on my vacation this next week.

Looking forward to reading…

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Lovin'

Given that we are now in the midst of summer, I thought I would compare and contrast two songs about summer lovin' (No, I will not do the number from the musical Grease— sorry to put that song in your head).

I must admit that when I was a teenager I never had a summer romance. During my teens I was either busy playing sports, or working a full time job during the summer and never had much energy or connections to pursue any romance. The first time I had a girlfriend in the summer was when I was dating my wife and that was when I was already 30 years old (definitely NOT a hormone ridden teen).

There are two songs that seem to epitomise summer lovin' as a teenager to me. Depending upon your perspective, each song is a reflection of a teen pursuing love, or pursuing lust.


The first song has a very "boyish" feel to it. It is almost as if this may be this person's discovery of love and their frustrations that accompany trying to hook up with someone.

Summer's the worst
Summer love is a scam
But I can't help dreaming of summer romance
My bubbles may burst but that won't hold me back
I've got quite a nerve
I'm giving summer just one more chance
1

Talk about your teenage angst… But all in all our character knows that you can't just try once. Even if you fail the first time, you need to still pursue love.

I'm in the crowd looking for a girl
I'm gonna drown looking for a pearl
Show your skin
You might get burned
But all the heat is worth the hurt
We'll fall in love
We'll dive head first
We'll never learn that summer is the worst
2


This second one you are probably more familiar with. Here is the reflections of a teen about his summer encounters:

Out past the cornfields when the winds got heavy
Out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy
Workin' on mysteries without any clues
Workin' on our night moves
Tryin' to make some front page drive-in news
Workin' on our night moves
In the summertime
In the sweet summertime
3

I think this second line seems to sum up the person's feelings and show that it was not for love, but rather for lust.

We weren't in love oh no far from it
We weren't searching for some pie in the sky summit
We were just young and restless and bored
Living by the sword
And we'd steal away every chance we could
To the backroom, the alley, the trusty woods
I used her she used me
But neither one cared
We were getting our share
4

Looking back on the type of person I was when I was a teenager, I seem to more closely identify with the first song, but I kinda wished I also had the second. So what about you… which song do you identify with?


1, 2 Excerpts from the Michael Leviton song: Summer's the Worst.

3, 4 Excerpts from the Bog Seger song: Night Moves.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

If you don't know already, I am currently a contributor over at the blog called In The Real World Venus vs. Mars. Back in January I was asked to fill out a survey which is used as a "Meet the Blogger" series. My number has been called and I am being featured today.

Please stop by and find out more about me here. If after reading my answers you still have unanswered questions, feel free to comment— I'll be glad to clarify.

Venus and Mars

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Cecil the Sock Puppet

In honor of Mamma Kat's Writer's Workshop I have decided to tackle prompt #4:
Write a funny story involving socks.

Authors Note: Even though this is a rehash of a post I made in December of 2008, I felt it should be mentioned again since socks and puppets go "hand in hand":


When I was a child my mother made a sock puppet out of an old sock, some buttons and a pom-pom and called him Cecil the Sea Serpent Sock Puppet. One time my grandson was using the "puppet hand" when we were playing board games and I had to pull out Cecil and show him. We had so much fun I neglected my turn every time. I always find that the "puppet hand" has so many uses that I thought I would highlight on one of them.

In theater I tend to use the puppet hand as a marker— indicating where a given person is if they are absent. You just take your hand and bend it a bit closing the thumb with the upper fingers. You can pivot the wrist a bit and have the hand puppet look around "playing their part". You can even go so far as to say lines by opening and closing the thumb and upper fingers accordingly.

When I was in the play Deadwood Dick there is a scene where we have a hangin' and proceed to take Pong Ping out to the nearest tree and hang him. Because we had to have off stage voices during the scene— and because Pong had to have a costume change— the posse would act out the scene in the far corner of the stage and use the puppet hand for Pong. Because we couldn't risk a flash during a performance, I had someone snap this shot in the green room as proof of what we were doing.

No socks or Sea Serpents were harmed in the making of this post.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watch Your Step at the Wishing Well

I just recently finished the book Watch Your Step at the Wishing Well by Lisa Hudon. This is one of those easy reads that you can easily go through while on the beach or poolside. I highly recommend adding this to your summer reading list.

The story is almost like a fairytale in how an average everyday girl from the Midwest named Nicolle Bocelli falls in love with a rock star named Gary LaForge. And much like Cinderella, just when you think our heroine is living the life of bliss— true reality sets in like the clock striking midnight as this fairytale life of hers becomes complicated with drama and intrigue. And just when you think you have everything figured out, an additional twist is added which keeps you in the story and keeps you reading further. Not only does the story line keep you interested, the scenery the author uses keeps you interested as well.

I must admit that growing up in the same home town as the author there is a lot of imagery about the heroine's home town that I can identify with— but I also believe that the settings are quite believable and paint an interesting picture that assists in the character development. The contrast between the home towns of both Nicolle and Gary complement each ones character and assist in showing where they both come from as well as showing why their personalities are the way they are.

I rather like the way in which Gary interjects from time to time with his own telling of the story. It is almost as if Nicolle sat down after the fact and was writing her adventure when Gary decides he needs to give "his" side of things.

And just as everything in the story seemed to come together and reach a dramatic climax, it quickly ended. Everything was neatly put in its place and a calm sense of normalcy returned. But this sense of a heroic and dramatic ending leaves the reader wanting more. There are a lot of unanswered questions… but I'll leave that to the author to answer when the sequel is released.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Spin Cycle: Running in circles

This week's Spin Cycle is a poetry spin. I thought I would contribute a poem that has spinning involved in it just to keep with the theme a bit more.

This is one of those self reflective poems I wrote when I was quite depressed at not having anybody. Even today I sometimes get that feeling that perhaps those people to whom you call "friend" are not there for you and you are left alone.


Running in circles the trail my own.
Again I must admit I am alone.

No one around to share the time
nobody at all to be just mine.

Again and again I'm in despair
I find someone but they're never there

And so I'll always be here patiently
waiting for someone who can find me.

But until then
I guess I'll never have a friend.

cj85'

small cycle

Friday, June 18, 2010

F2: Top This

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be talking about my wedding cake topper— or lack thereof.

Participants in this weeks Feast are as follows:


When I got married, my sister volunteered to make the wedding cake as a gift. Who could refuse— since she recently got a culinary degree and had a small side-line business making cakes.

It was a delicious cake that had cashew butter icing and chocolate ganache filling in between the layers. We were only expecting around one hundred people, so the cake wasn't huge. My sister came early to set up the cake and there were no disasters in assembling it at the hotel.


Picture of the wedding cake

There is a tradition that you save your cake topper in the freezer and eat it on your first anniversary. The next morning we asked around to see if we could get our cake topper. We even went searching through the kitchen only to find out from the staff that because people were asking for more they served up all the cake.

My sister offered to make us a cake topper, but by that time she was preparing to move out to California and I didn't want to busy her with one more task.


June means weddings to me. I'm sure that there are a lot of weddings that are going to take place during this month. Also, many of you have either participated or attended weddings so you should know what is served. Do you have any food related stories that relate to weddings? Was the spread less than what was expected? Are there any particular foods the must be served in order for the wedding to be a success?

June is also Father's day. Does dad like to grill… perhaps you can snag a recipe from him. Do you take dad out for Father's day— if so, where did you go?


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Writer's Workshop Spin: Eye Daubing

In honor of Mamma Kat's Writer's Workshop I have decided to tackle prompt #4:
Who first told you that it’s not nice to stare? Write about a time you stared when you maybe shouldn't have, or a time when someone stared at you.

Also, since this week's Spin Cycle is a free spin, I thought I would spin it up a bit as well and "turn it on it's head"…


I heard it said that if you are in a stand off with a mean looking dog to stare it down and wait for it to turn its head away. Once they do, you have the upper hand and can safely walk away. Armed with this misinformation I took this knowledge one step further and came up with eye daubing.

What I would do is stare straight at someone and wait for eye contact. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and it is that thrill that you get when you make eye contact with them. Most of the time when they happened to make eye contact with me across the room they tended to look away out of embarrassment— I then felt to myself that I had the upper hand and had won.

However… all of my eye daubing was when I was a young and stupid adolescent. I think I finally stopped when I realized that someone may just continue to make eye contact with me, walk straight up to me and slap me silly.


small cycle

Friday, June 11, 2010

F2: Don't bother me now; I'm digesting

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I realized that I have missed my posting two weeks in a row due to lack of content. Perhaps I'm trying to figure out how best to cook up this meme so that others can participate and enjoy the feast.

Much like a good meal, we all need time to digest. I think that I have been cooking up this meme for over a year and am unsure how to spice it up. So to you my faithful readers, here is your opportunity to by my sou-chef. So leave a comment and let me know…

How can I make Friday's Feast better?


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RTT: Bites and Series

It's that day of the week— time to Join Keely over at The Un Mom for some Random Tuesday Thoughts…

Bites Bite:

At the end of the past two weekends I have found the knuckles of my hands littered with mosquito bites. Really don't know why they decide to target my knuckles, but it is very hard to ignore and even more painful when I do scratch the bites.

So often I scratch to the point where the area around the bite swells up and it hurts like a bruise. I look at my hands and it looks like I have arthritis with my joints so swollen up. It even stings when I put anti-itch cream on the bite. Looks like the bites really bite.

Series Bites:

Lately I have been following the Stanley Cup series. I normally don't watch hockey since I never understood the game. I had a neighbor when I was in college who was on the school's hockey team and he tried to explain how it is played, but I never quite caught on. However, since the Hawks are from Chicago I like to show my support.

After the last two losses over the weekend I begin to wonder if the whole series is fixed. I've seen it before when the Bulls played in the NBA finals where you can tell that they just aren't playing the same and lose games that they should be winning. I always suspect that the TV stations just want more advertising revenue, so they fix it so that it goes on for seven games.

Bites Series:

I'm getting a little tired of all the Vampire Shows on TV. It kind of reminds me of all the Reality TV shows that suddenly appeared during the writers strike several years back. After a while you just get tired of the same thing rehashed over and over again.

Series Series:

Some of you may be here for the Random Tuesday's Thoughts regular series. I also have a weekly series you may want to "partake" in called Friday's Feast. If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page so you can join in on the feast.

That's about it for my randomness— so if you want some more random click that button… (I know you want to)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Runnin' down the drain

Recently I was inspired by a post by Sprite's Keeper called I believe torque is involved in some way or another. In it little Sprite lost her Little Mermaid down the toilet. This reminded me of the time I lost my Captain (no, not Captain my Captain) down the drain:

I'm not sure how many of you remember the Playschool wooden people— you know, the ones with the round heads on top of what looks like a sewing spool. When I was little, Playschool just came out with a house boat that you could play with in the water. This was the first time that I remember them making their wooden people out of plastic.

So, here I am playing with the boat in the bathtub and having a grand time. I'm sure that many of you jerry-rig your tub drains so that they don't clog and they drain faster. Being the age of 5 at the time, I was well familiar with how to pull out the tub plug to make it drain faster— what I was not familiar with was how the wooden/plastic people float in the water straight up and down.

The next thing I know the captain of the ship did not only go down with the ship, but he went down the drain as well. This probably wouldn't be a problem, but we lived in a ranch style house and who knows how you could access the drain to get something that went down it. I could just picture the captain stuck in the u of the pipe and causing the drain to not drain properly again. I'm sure that my dad just grabbed the drain-o and poured it down the bathtub drain to get rid of the clog— poor captain…

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spin Cycle: My mePhone

This week's Spin Cycle is about Technology. I posted this in April of 2009, but have decided to re-post it as a Spin Cycle entry since it seems to fit with the theme. This is a tongue and cheek look at how technology could go too far…


Do you have that new mePhone yet…

THEY SAY I MUST BE CRACKED
Until the brown paper parcel landed on my welcome mat
Even the pretty secretaries who wouldn't even
Let me HANG MY HAT
All recognize my handwriting
And return to sender as a matter of fact
1

Lately I've been receiving mail indicating that I have won a new cell phone which got me to thinking… What if they actually sent you the phone instead? I currently do not have a cell phone— nor am I going to fill out those forms to get the one I just won. Of course you have to realize that many new phones have GPS built in for E-911 tracking purposes— which makes you wonder what else is being tracked. I'm curious what would happen in a world where they forgo the application form and just send you the phone instead…
Come jump in my adjective dementia dimension machine and I'll take you to that world:


When I got home from work my wife lets me know that there is a package on the front stoop with my name on it and jokingly asked if would I please take it inside before the neighbors call the bomb squad again. As I open the box there appears to to be a green glow emanating from under the packing peanuts. I start reading the promo letter that came with the package:

Congratulations, you have just won a new mePhone.
There is no need to activate this phone because it has already been activated for you. Service is free to all mePhone subscribers. All we ask is that you use our service and enjoy your new mePhone.

I try to empty the box of the packing material and accidentally spill the phone on the floor and the glowing stops. My wife picks it up and says I broke it and hands it over to me. Instantly the green glow reappears the moment it touches my hand and the glow starts to pulse as well. I quip back… "it's not broken— it's just sleeping".

I snickered a bit when I saw "11G" on the case (4G is so passe— I guess it goes to 11 now). I tried calling a friend to test out the reception and got the following automated message:

******** is currently on the phone with ******
If you want to leave a message, press 1…
If you want to page this person, press 2…
If you want to leave a text on their phone, press 3…
If you want to locate this person, press 4

Intrigued, I pressed 4 and was instantly displayed with a map. Not only that, but the balloon indicator was moving rapidly across the map as if the person was in a car traveling along. Unwilling to continue, I hung up.

A few minutes later, I got a call from the person who I tried calling earlier…

Friend: Hey, I didn't know that you got a new phone
Me: Uh, I didn't even leave a message—
Friend: That's OK, pretty cool how it said it was you and that you were looking for me— how sweet.
Me: Yea, just trying to figure out the phone.

I hung up and was instantly asked to give an audio prompt to identify this caller for future reference. I spoke their name and pressed save and turned off the phone. I then wondered how it knew how to find this person and instantly the phone came back to life and proceeded to ask If I wanted to find ********… and repeated the name I just spoke using my voice. It was at this point that I knew something strange was happening.

If I were you I'd change my name again
They don't care what they do to you believe me
2

I put the phone down and decided to take the dog for a walk. Funny how I kept seeing a plain colored Civic with a strange tripod on top silently turning the corner every time I walk down another street with the dog. And why is it that all through my walk I kept thinking the phrase: "If you would like to make a call— please pick up and try again"… I think I'll return the phone now.

I'll write this story down, but you'll never guess the
Final Twist
Blow the whistle on the whole design
As they find my name on that fatal mailing list
I hear the clatter of a typewriter
Another rookie eating up the reams
I think it's time to place my feet under the desk
And PLACE MY MARK ON ANOTHER MAN'S DREAMS
3


1, 2, 3 Excerpts from the Elvis Costello song: "King of Thieves" from the album Punch the Clock.


small cycle

Friday, May 28, 2010

F2: June Gloom

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be talking about our next month's topic.


People from California are familiar with the term "June Gloom". Whereas this typically describes the weather, I am hoping that we can get away from the gloom and have a great June when it comes to Friday's Feast.

June means weddings to me. I'm sure that there are a lot of weddings that are going to take place during this month. Also, many of you have either participated or attended weddings so you should know what is served. Do you have any food related stories that relate to weddings? Was the spread less than what was expected? Are there any particular foods the must be served in order for the wedding to be a success?

June is also Father's day. Does dad like to grill… perhaps you can snag a recipe from him. Do you take dad out for Father's day— if so, where did you go?


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Hello Good-bye

In honor of Mamma Kat's Writer's Workshop I have decided to tackle Prompt #5:
What’s so good about it? Write an interesting poem or piece of writing where the last two words of the writing are ‘good-bye’.

I have been wanting to post this poem for quite some time. And since the muse spoke to me through Mama Kat— who was inspired by writingfix.com… it looks like my muse is pretty distant— but is still on speaking terms with me.

I wrote this poem in high school which pretty much sums up my frustrations at the time. It wasn't until later when I re-read the poem that I realized it could be construed as a suicide note. Bearing this in mind, you will need to treat the two Hello's as coming from someone else— the first with an inquiring tone, and the second with a reassuring tone. Someday I will have to record myself reciting my poetry so that you better understand the overall tone of this poem.


I feel I'm trapped inside of myself… Hello

I have no place to hide from the entrapment that has kept me inside.

Who's crude walls are those who push me aside.

Where is my hero of need who sits on their trusting steed?
Nowhere, for they heed to rescue me from my gloom.

The gloom that takes my hand away from the life that was meant to stay…Good-bye

Hello

cj82'

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tag... You're It

Quirkyloon tagged me in a photo-meme. Since I haven't done this one in a while, I thought I would participate. Here are the rules:

  1. Go to your photos files and select the 8th photo folder.
  2. Select the 8th photo in that folder.
  3. Post that photo along with the story behind it.
  4. Then challenge 8 blogging friends to do the same by going to their blog and telling them "Tag You Are It!"

Author's Note: I typically feel that memes are a lot like chain letters, so I normally do not participate. But this one is always fun for me to come up with a story based upon a picture. Here you go:


Last summer we did not go camping like we usually do. In order to make it up to our grandson my wife and I decided to have Grandma/Grandpa Camp where we would do those activities we normally participate in when we are camping— but closer to home. If you are interested in that story, you can go here— but I digress… on with the story about the photo:

Just before we had breakfast we were trying to park the car and found that one of the streets was completely blocked by a downed tree from the thunderstorm the night before. After breakfast we went down that street to investigate. Our grandson was greatly impressed by the downed tree— especially since it took up the tree at it's roots. I was a bit surprised that it didn't do more damage than it did. Upon further investigation we found that it fell right on the roof of one car which pretty much hid it from view, unless you were looking for it. Our grandson thought it was cool— I thought it must have totaled the car.


If you are expecting me to list eight other people to participate in this meme— you are wrong. However, if you feel obliged to participate— I am not stopping you. If you do, let me know so I can see your photo-narrative skills at work.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Blogiversary Two Me

No… it is not a type-o. I purposely used "Two" in my title to indicate that this is my second Blogiversary.

For wedding anniversaries, you typically exchange gifts with your spouse like Paper, Gold, Diamonds and the like. On those anniversaries that are not milestones such as the first, the 10th, 25th, etc. there does not seem to be any standard gift to give. The same confusion as to what to do to celebrate my second Blogiversary is very similar to this.

I wish I had something grand that I could share with you my readers, but I'm at a loss. Looking around at others who have celebrated this occasion I don't seem to find any consistent way of celebrating that would clue me in. The first Blogiversary is usually a momentous occasion, but the second seems more like a non-event. But much like the spouse on their wedding anniversary— I feel that I must do something or feel guilty by forgetting the occasion.

So, I'll leave it up to you. What do you suggest?

Friday, May 21, 2010

F2: Bag It

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be talking about school lunches your mother used to pack for you.


My wife was listening to the radio sometime last week and they were talking about the ultimate sack lunch. The question was: "What would be the ultimate sack lunch that you would eat". This got me thinking about the kinds of sack lunches Moms make.

I must admit that I never had anything really fancy when it came to sack lunches. The staple wound up being a bologna sandwich with white bread and mayonnaise. I remember seeing a classmate who had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with Doritos to which he promptly placed inside the sandwich and ate.

You always see those scenes in food commercials with kids trading the items in their lunch. I never experienced this myself, but am sure it still goes on today.

In high school I used to get a dollar from my dad to get some extra things at the lunchroom. I normally got a string cheese, a Little Debbie, a chocolate milk, and a chocolate malt ice-cream cup— each of which went to good use.

We typically called the string cheese "rat tail" because we used to pull off a good size chunk and stick one end in the corner of our mouth between our lips and gently pull at it while pushing out our cheek with out tongue (silly I know).

It always was a challenge to peel all the chocolate off the Little Debbie, then attempt to unroll it and eat it. We used to attempt to peel the chocolate off of Eskimo Pies (pronounced es-KOE-mo Pie) as well— but they weren't always available.

Since you normally shook up your chocolate milk, a friend and I used to make a contest out of it. We took the milk carton and placed it on the edge of the table. We then pinched the top and flipped it off the edge of the table and see how many times it would land like a cat on it's base.

Finally, we opened the milk and the chocolate malt cup and poured a thin layer of milk on the top and waited for it to freeze. Then we scraped off the frozen milk and repeated until finished.

How about you… are there any sack lunches that you remember eating as a child? Do you pack lunches for your children that the other kids would gladly trade their pony for? And, if you could pack anything and take as a sack lunch, what would it be?


This months theme is Moms and cooking. One of the things we all have in common is that we have a mom. Many of us even have fond memories of our mothers and even memories of her cooking or cooking with her. So what I'm looking for is anything that includes your mother and food.

If you don't want to disappoint your mother, be sure to leave a comment and include the URL so I can include you in an upcoming feast. Don't think that you have to come up with a post right away either. If you have already posted on this topic in the past— your links are always welcome.


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Senseless Sensibility

My wife and I caught the last half hour of the movie Sense and Sensibility on television Saturday night. We made a point of trying to watch the beginning on Sunday before church, but had to leave before we got to the point we started with on Saturday.

After church I suggested that I read the story to her. "You have Sense and Sensibility, I thought you only had Pride and Prejudice" was her reply. I assured her that I had the complete works of Jane Austen and could easily read the story to her if she didn't mind.

Please bear in mind that typically I read bed-time stories to my wife and she promptly falls asleep. I must have a relaxing quality to my reading voice because this has happened to others I read to as well. However, whenever I tried reading Pride and Prejudice to her she says that she can't sleep, so I figured that I could get away with reading Sense and Sensibility to her without fear of her falling asleep.

I know that many of us learn to read aloud, and that when you write you should write so that it can be read aloud easily. I don't know if it is because of the way Jane writes, or if it is because I am reading it cold— but I was tripping over many words and did not have a very good rhythm. Still the same, around the middle of the third chapter I noticed my wife is asleep so I stop. She wakes up realizing that she had fallen asleep and asks where I was. I back up a paragraph and she comments "what… you're only on the third chapter— you haven't even gotten past the opening credits of the movie yet".

We then sat there and discussed Jane's writing style. My wife feels that she tends to have a lot of narrative and wonders how anybody could pull a movie script from all those words. I tend to think that Jane uses a lot of big words. This could be that she is trying to convey the mood of being proper, but I think it just sounds like she's trying to show off.

I don't know how many of you have had to read certain authors and struggled. My guess is that this is one of them. If trying to read it aloud is any indication as to the difficulty, it makes me curious as to how it got to be such a popular piece of literature.

Friday, May 14, 2010

F2: Mother's Day Dinner

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be sharing when we took our mother out to dinner.


When I was little my dad decided to take mom out for dinner on Mother's day. Being diplomatic, he asked her where she wanted to go and we all hopped in the car and went to go eat. Unfortunately where we lived the places to eat were all far apart, so it took us a while to get there. Once there we found that there was a very long wait… so we went to the next place on her list… then the next… and the next.

By the time we encountered the third restaurant that had a very long waiting list we knew our hunger was far outweighing our patience. We then decided that we would just go to Mr. A's and pick up sandwiches to take home and eat. Why didn't we think of this to begin with? Mr A's is more of a hot-dog stand that served roast beef sandwiches and had no place to sit and eat. It was only two blocks from our house and having a reputation of being a "greasy spoon", never had a long line— especially on a Sunday.

Of course, my mother thought it was definitely worth the wait, so I guess it goes to prove that it doesn't matter where you go— it's the thought that counts.


This months theme is Moms and cooking. One of the things we all have in common is that we have a mom. Many of us even have fond memories of our mothers and even memories of her cooking or cooking with her. So what I'm looking for is anything that includes your mother and food.

If you don't want to disappoint your mother, be sure to leave a comment and include the URL so I can include you in an upcoming feast. Don't think that you have to come up with a post right away either. If you have already posted on this topic in the past— your links are always welcome.


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Introduction to Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Compassionate Comforting vs. Arm-chair Advice

When I was in high-school youth group there were many times I saw someone who looked like they needed comforting. I would then approach them and ask "Do you want to talk". They would decline and I would walk away. Then a few minutes later I would pass by and see that someone else was comforting them.

I think this experience has made me a bit gun-shy when it comes to approaching someone to give them the comfort they deserve. Sometimes it makes me wonder if people see me as one who can comfort. This in turn feeds my insecurities and makes me question my ability to be truly compassionate towards others. I do not think that I am any less capable of offering comfort than others— I just wish that I could get the opportunity to do so.

How often do you hesitate being compassionate towards others? Do you find that it is appropriate to offer your comfort— or do you shy away because it may appear to be too forward.

Whenever I am given an opportunity to comfort someone, I usually ask myself if I have the necessary background to be effective when I comfort them. In this I feel a bit at a loss because I do not know the history behind their need. I have experienced first hand the concept of Sometimes a stranger is better company than a friend— where it does not matter how well you know the person if the words you convey to them are truly sincere. Knowing this gives me the confidence to know that I can comfort someone, even if it is general and not specific.

Many times people put up a post that expresses their feelings and shows that they are looking for direction or advice. I think that many of us feel lost and don't know where to turn so we cast out our thoughts to the world in hopes that someone understands us.

Why do I sometimes feel compelled to offer words of advice?

I sometimes find that the words I offer sound a lot like "pat advice" which may seem empty and lacking sincerity. This puts into question my intentions when I make a comment on other people's blogs. Just to get the record straight:

I am not the kind of person who is saying these things in order to play Arm-chair quarterback and tell you how to run the play. I typically draw from experience and hope that my words impart of my experiences and assist you in seeing a different perspective.

I will leave you with two poems I wrote that summarize the giving and receiving end of things:


You find someone who's not yet there
and ask yourself now should I care.

Should I show the path to set them straight
or wait a while until it's too late.

So come to me and all the more
you'll find the door and be aware.

86'

You find a friend when life seems down
it seems like chance they've come around.

A friend you find who seems to know
to pick you up and help you grow.

Now be a friend I'll find so well
so we can tell that love has been found.

86'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Being In The Real World

You may be familiar with the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus— but did you know that there is a blog site dedicated to discussing this difference…?

If you don't know already, I am currently a contributor over at the blog called In The Real World Venus vs. Mars. This site has many contributors who post about relationships, and we encourage you to to join in on the discussions.

Since much of my personal philosophy posts revolve around relationships— this allows me the opportunity to talk specifically about relationships and give real world examples rather than talk abstractly as I sometimes do. So if you are interested in hearing my perspective on relationships— feel free to sign up and read not only what I have to say, but what others have to say as well.

Venus and Mars

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Old 300

Being a singer in a church choir you tend to hear certain hymns referred to by their number in the hymnal using the phrase "The old whatever". This typically means that the hymn is a popular one and is usually known by its number rather than the actual hymn name.

Television shows typically celebrate their something-hundredth episode with a special episode of their own. Even in the blogiverse many bloggers tend to celebrate their something-hundredth post with a special post to mark the occasion. So I guess what I'm eluding to is that this is my 300th post.

I usually strive more towards quality versus quantity— so it has taken me a while to reach this 300th post. If you are new here, or if you are curious as to what on earth someone would say 300 different ways— I encourage you to look through the Labels on the right to get a feel for my previous 299 posts. Think of it as viewing the reruns— many of the old shows are really good even though not many people actually saw them the first time around.

Being around as long as I have, I have seen many a blogger come and go. Those to whom I thought were untouchable and would continue blogging forever, either faded or fell off the face of the blogiverse. Some of them are still listed as being a follower, yet when you go to read their blog you get a blog not found or a message back saying that they have gone private. This worries me, and I wonder if I will ever run out of material. Safe to say, I do have a lot of ideas floating around in my head which should keep you occupied for quite some time now.

Sometimes I view myself as one of "The Old Guard" in the bloging world. In certain circles you typically find those individuals who can be considered a part of The Old Guard because of their longevity. These are the ones who have been around for a very long time and are looked up to because of their experience. I have found that many bloggers that I looked up to as being Old Guard actually started their blogs after myself. I never realized this until I read about their own blogiversary and noticed that they are actually younger than myself.

A clarification needs to be made between having longevity and being popular. I usually say to myself that I got my followers the old fashioned way— I earned them. It has taken me almost two years to get the number of followers I have. Even though many of my readers do not indicate that they are a follower, I can safely say that I have about 100 or so unique readers. If you compare that with other bloggers out there who have followers in the hundreds, I have a very small niche of dedicated readers.

So I would like to thank the Academy… oops, wrong speech. I would like to thank all of my readers— those who have been around from the beginning, as well as those who have just discovered me. I do not think I could write as much if I was writing into a void. I hope that you have enjoyed my first Three Hundred, now on to the next…

Friday, May 7, 2010

F2: Sweet and Sour Fish

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be sharing one of my mother's recipies.

Participants in this weeks Feast are as follows:


One of the first recipes I asked my mother for was one for Sweet and Sour Fish. I remember calling her from a friends house while I was making it to make sure I had it correct. This is one of those recipes that is real easy to make and does not require a lot of real cooking. Making the sauce is one that you may have to adjust since I don't have exact measurements.

With inspirations from Mom

Sweet and Sour Fish:
1 box of Battered Fish (usually Cod).
1/2 t Corn Starch
1/4 C Water
1/4 C Sugar
1 Clove Garlic
1 Lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
    or follow the recipe on the box.
  2. Place the fish in the oven and bake for the amount of time indicated on the box.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the corn starch and water together to make a slurry.
  4. In a frying pan or saucier pan, add the slurry and sugar.
  5. Juice the lemon into a small bowl.
  6. Crush the garlic.
  7. Add the garlic and lemon juice to the pan.
  8. Heat all over medium heat stirring as you go.
  9. Once thickened, remove the pan from the heat.
  10. Serve with the sauce on top of the fish, or on the side.
  11. Enjoy.

This months theme is Moms and cooking. One of the things we all have in common is that we have a mom. Many of us even have fond memories of our mothers and even memories of her cooking or cooking with her. So what I'm looking for is anything that includes your mother and food.

If you don't want to disappoint your mother, be sure to leave a comment and include the URL so I can include you in an upcoming feast. Don't think that you have to come up with a post right away either. If you have already posted on this topic in the past— your links are always welcome.


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I've been a Bad Blogger— Please Don't Hate me

I have been preoccupied with work lately and have not had much time to think, let along blog. I realize that if I don't say something, that people may just forget that I haven't posted in a while and never come back.

The sad thing is that I am three posts away from my 300th post and since I have not been reading your blogs either… you may never know of my accomplishment. I was going to write 300 things that I share with my wife— but after looking over the now 325 items, I realized that much of it makes NO sense when taken out of context. Also, many more of them have accompanying singing or hand gestures which makes listing them not worth listing.

I have been feeling my age (blog age) lately and will probably write my 300th post about that. Please spread the word around that I am going to have my 300th post and stay tuned.

Friday, April 30, 2010

F2: Chef Hats off to Mom

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be talking about this month's theme.

This months theme is Moms and cooking. One of the things we all have in common is that we have a mom. Many of us even have fond memories of our mothers and even memories of her cooking or cooking with her. So what I'm looking for is anything that includes your mother and food.

If you don't want to disappoint your mother, be sure to leave a comment and include the URL so I can include you in an upcoming feast. Don't think that you have to come up with a post right away either. If you have already posted on this topic in the past— your links are always welcome.


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spin Cycle: Character Development

This weeks Spin Cycle is about roles. I thought I would spin it up a bit and talk about a role I played in a musical and how that role was defined.


When I was a freshman in college I was involved in the spring musical "Showboat". Our director encouraged every one of us (no matter how small a part it was) to come up with a character history so that every character was more believable. In order for you to better appreciate my character, I think you need to know the parts I played so you can better appreciate the history (and future) of this role:

The only speaking role I had was Jeb the backwoodsman. Jeb was a sort of "Sidekick" to the other backwoodsman who intimidated a few of the main characters. All I was required to say was "I reckon"— but I had to say it about four different ways throughout the entire scene.

I later played a waiter at the Trocadero during the Chicago scenes. I also played a gambler who played poker with the lead character Gaylord Ravenal. With these three roles in mind, I chose to weave all of them together into one person. Here is what I came up with:

Well, you see Jud (he was originally named Jud) lived in Oklahoma as a hired hand until got into a fight with a curly haired jerk who swiftly pronounced him dead. So Jud changed his name to Jeb and moved east and hung around the Mississippi pestering Showboats up and down the river.

He then decided to go to Chicago for the worlds fair and landed a job as a waiter at the Trocadero. After work was where he took his earnings and gambled them and made his money grow.

Once he made enough money, he went to visit his cousins the Clampets. And then one day he was shootin' for some food when up from the ground came a bublin' crude… He then decided to change his last name from Fry to Clampet and move to California where he sold his story to some television writers and the rest is history.


small cycle

Friday, April 23, 2010

F2: April Showers

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be talking about rainy day recipes.

Participants in this weeks Feast are as follows:


Rainy days— they seem to change the whole dynamic. As a child it means that you can't go outside to play. As a parent it means that you somehow have to keep the children indoors and well entertained. I think it also changes what you decide to serve.

I'm not sure if it is the darkened skies, or something else— but I tend to not feel like cooking whenever it rains. I usually try and pull out a simple recipe that does not require a lot of preparation time. I tend to lean more towards things like soup and sandwiches… Tomato soup and Grilled Cheese is probably tops on the list. I also lean towards an occasional roast since I just have to add spices and throw it in the oven.

What about you… Do you change what you serve whenever it rains? Are there certain go-to recipes that you turn to when there is a change in the weather? If you are so inspired to write a post, feel free to include a link to your post when you comment so I can share it with others as well.


There is just one more week in April. Since I am moving more towards a theme a month, here are some ways of interpreting this month's theme if you want to participate in the feast:

  • April is in my [Blank]. What foods remind you of this month.
  • Spring is in the air. What spring like foods do you partake in?
  • April showers bring….
  • This year April also has Easter, do you have any Easter dishes or traditions you want to share.

So… if you have anything that relates to this topic, be sure to leave a comment and include the URL so I can include you in next weeks feast. Even if you have already posted on this topic in the past— your links are always welcome.


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spin Cycle: Let's Get Chalked

This weeks Spin Cycle is about catch phrases. This is a post that I made back in August of 2008, but felt that I should re-post this since it shows the actual birth of a catch phrase.



Photo source

I have found that a lot of terms that describe being inebriated are quite graphic:

Let's get plowed
—getting so drunk that you feel like you have been plowed under the ground.
Let's get pissed
—getting so drunk it is as if your blood has turned to urine (probably due to the large amount of alcohol you have consumed).
Let's get trashed
—getting so drunk it is as if your body has been thrown in a garbage can.
Let's get chalked

When I was attending Illinois State University I noticed what appeared to be an outline of a person on a wall. It struck my friend and I as particularly funny because it looked a lot like a police outline. This got us to thinking… what if this is "real"? Then it got us to wondering… what if you are so drunk that you pass out and everybody thinks your dead, will the police draw an outline around your body?

So…
Let's get chalked!!!


small cycle

Friday, April 16, 2010

F2: Jelly Bean Hunt

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be talking about one of our Easter traditions.

Participants in this weeks Feast are as follows:

NOBODY

Perhaps I am being too demanding— or perhaps I'm not promoting myself enough. If you can't contribute, perhaps you can spread the word around.


Many of us hide Easter eggs for Easter— we hide Jelly Beans. Even though I may have commented about this on other people's blogs I felt that I should share this tradition since I find it quite unique.

We take different colored pairs of jelly beans and hide them in the living room. Now the main rule is that you need to hide it in plain sight— "It's In my belly!" doesn't count. One of the other rules is that you can't hide it with other jelly beans (damn).

Not to give away some of the better spots, but I believe one of the most clever ones was when my step-son decided to put a white jelly bean on the ceiling. He accomplished this with that 3M stretch stuff that is used on hooks (because it's white too). I don't know how many times someone has hid a jelly bean on someone who is not participating. I rather like those that are hid when the color of the jelly bean does not match what it is hidden with. At this past Easter, my brother-in-law hid a purple jelly bean on top of a yellow tulip. I think that this past Easter we found a jelly bean from last year (but I can't be sure)

What about you… do you have any unique Easter traditions?


This month is April. Since I am moving more towards a theme a month, here are some ways of interpreting this month's theme:

  • April is in my [Blank]. What foods remind you of this month.
  • Spring is in the air. What spring like foods do you partake in?
  • April showers bring…. Mixology anyone?
  • This year April also has Easter, do you have any Easter dishes or traditions you want to share.

So… if you have anything that relates to this topic, be sure to leave a comment and include the URL so I can include you in next weeks feast. Even if you have already posted on this topic in the past— your links are always welcome.


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Friday, April 9, 2010

F2: Easter

Welcome again to Friday's Feast1. Today I'll be talking about our Easter celebration.

Participants in this weeks Feast are as follows:


Even though Easter has past for some of us, there are still the Greek Orthodox who seem to celebrate a week later. I like many of us celebrated Easter this past Sunday. For this year's Easter we had a pretty looking spread:


The Easter Spread

I don't know how many of you have ever bought butter in the shape of a lamb, but it appears to have become a tradition at our household:


Lambie Butter!

Being in a mostly Jewish neighborhood, we tend to see things like lamb in the grocery store. This year we saw that Leg of Lamb was on sale, so we got some. We also made a fresh green salad with red onions, dried cranberries, and walnuts:


Close up of the Leg of Lamb and the Salad

My wife works at a bakery so she was able to obtain a loaf of rainbow bread. This is bread that uses different colored dough that is braided together and baked. We also made green beans and parsley potatoes. We typically melt butter in with parsley to use to put on top of the red potatoes:


Rainbow Bread, Green Beans, and Parsley Potatoes

Since two of our guests don't eat meat but do eat fish (I know there's a term for it but can't think of what it is officially called)— we made some salmon fillets that were cooked with lemon pepper and topped with fresh dill:


Close up of the Salmon

For desert we exchanged chocolate eggs from Fannie May (no not the bank) as well as other Easter candies. My wife saw some orange flavored chocolate slices which she affectionately called "Chocolate Chips" at the store and bought those along with some shortbread to put in with sherbet:


The Aftermath (AKA: Desert)

I guess I didn't get pictures of everything— but all in all it was a festive meal enjoyed by everybody who attended.


This month is April. Since I am moving more towards a theme a month, here are some ways of interpreting this month's theme:

  • April is in my [Blank]. What foods remind you of this month.
  • Spring is in the air. What spring like foods do you partake in?
  • April showers bring…. Mixology anyone?
  • This year April also has Easter, do you have any Easter dishes or traditions you want to share.

So… if you have anything that relates to this topic, be sure to leave a comment and include the URL so I can include you in next weeks feast. Even if you have already posted on this topic in the past— your links are always welcome.


1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spin Cycle: True Beauty

This weeks Spin Cycle is on appearances. Since I tend to see the way people are rather than how they appear, I thought I would share a poem which sums up the difference between what is on the outside and what is on the inside:


Beauty they say is only skin deep
but why then do we want to keep

The skin we see has learned to hide
the beautiful soul that is trapped inside

Only with the heart can we truly see
to break the skin and set it free

So learn to see with your heart today
and find a way to free souls from sleep

cj86'

small cycle

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jay & Kai

If you read my post In and up around the letter K— I confessed that I actually dated someone to whom I nick-named "K". Here's the story behind Kai (AKA: K):

At one point in high school I thought it would be pretty cool to date someone with the same name as I. I knew a Kristen all through grade school— but she was one of the popular girls and I never even considered asking her out on a date. By the time I was a senior I was fortunate enough to have my wish come true.

In the second half of my senior year I decided to attend a second youth group at a different church. I was feeling quite typecast at my own church since I grew up there and felt that this would be a great way to see if I could meet people without any history. I did know some people from high school choir who attended the church, so I didn't go in totally cold. I even attended their winter retreat which included several churches at the same time which became a real confidence booster.

One day my friend from choir told me that he had a note from Kristen and handed it to me. I forget what the note was about, but I found it cute that someone wrote me a note. Kristen attended the other school in our town, so this was a complete surprise to me. I spoke to her at the next youth group meeting and soon after that we were a couple.

Because we both had similar sounding names, we both turned whenever anybody said "Chris" or "Kris". This was particularly confusing around friends and/or family who would always use the short version of our names. Fortunately, I had a solution that solved this problem.

My dad was an avid Jazz listener who used to play trombone in school. Because of this, he had many albums by Jay & Kai who are well known Jazz tombonists.

Since her first name begins with the letter K, she was Kai— and since my last name begins with the letter J, I was Jay. Therefore, I called myself Jay after J. J. Johnson— and she was called Kai after Kai Winding. I'm not sure if she got the references, so many times I wound up calling her "K".

But alas… all good things must come to an end. After a few months of being the cute couple, she said that she didn't want to go out any more. I suspected it was because I was going off to college— or perhaps it was the fact that she kept telling me that her mom hated me… until I met her mom and she actually liked me. All the same— Hi Kai, it's Jay… hope you're doing well.

Has anybody else ever dated someone with the same name? Do tell.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In and up and around the letter K

Sometime in my senior year of high school I came to the realization that all the girls I knew had their first names start with the letter K— or were only one letter off. I guess you become obsessed with statistics and patterns at a given age— and I was not immune to it.

I knew all kinds of J names:

  • Jamie
  • Jan
  • Janine
  • Jean
  • Jeannie
  • Jenifer
  • Jenni
  • Jill
  • Jody
  • Joni

And I think I knew probably every combination of Laura:

  • Lara
  • Larna
  • Laura
  • Lauren
  • Laurie
  • Lora
  • Lori

Not only did I know a lot of K names, but many of them I knew in multiples:

  • Kara
  • Karen
  • Kathleen
  • Kathryn
  • Kathy
  • Kelly
  • Kim
  • Kimberly
  • Kirsten
  • Kristin

In fact… I even dated someone to whom I nick-named "K" (but I'll save that for another post).

Do you notice any patterns to the people you know?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Find

Friend

Yes friend…

Find me.

How can I find you— you're right here…

That's not what I'm asking you to find.

Then what is there to find…
I see you standing before me
I can hear the words from your mouth
I can smell your presence and anticpate touching my lips to yours and tasting your sweet kiss.
Beyond that there is only two things left to look for— your heart and your soul.

Now that you know the direction— you can find the way.

cj-10'

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

This post is brought to you by Gretchen @ Second Blooming. Thank you for the weather report:


Here in Hollywood, you can always spot a tourist by their clothing. Not only are they wearing baggy athletic shorts, sneakers and souvenir t-shirts from Laughlin, Nevada, which no self-respecting Angeleno would be caught dead in, they are wearing baggy athletic shorts, sneakers and souvenir t-shirts from Laughlin, Nevada in 48 degree weather. Because for some reason everybody thinks that it's always hot here, which is absolutely not true. It is, to clarify, always PLEASANT here. In the winter it's cool, but pleasant, and in the summer it's warm, but pleasant.

I have now lived in Los Angeles for 21 years (Eek! How did that happen?), and I still can't get used to the weather. One must always prepare for the fact that the temperature drops 20 degrees at night, every night. So one must always bring a sweater. I have many sweaters. And it's kind of impossible to do the old switching-out-the-seasonal-wardrobe-in-the-closet thing. I mean, you're likely to need a tank top in December, and a heavy coat in June. Because, while we do have seasons, they are rather peculiar and nontraditional.

May can be iffy. Jude's birthday is May 6th, and when I look back on pictures from past birthdays, some years we're all wearing short sleeves and sundresses, and some years it's corduroys and wool coats.

In June, when the rest of the USA is enjoying the beginning of summer, we in Los Angeles are suffering from a phenomenon known locally as "June Gloom". An entire month of cold and overcast skies. Last summer, my little village of moms who do "Beach Fridays" every week, stubbornly took our children to the beach all through June and we all sat in our beach chairs shivering. The children's lips were turning blue, but we went anyway, because damnit, it was supposed to be SUMMER! But alas…

July, August and some of September actually are Summer. Usually in the 80's and, of course, pleasant. We will occasionally have a heatwave, when the temperatures go into the upper 90's or low 100's, but it's never for more than a few days. Friends who live in other parts of the country are shocked to hear that we don't have air conditioning in our house.  But the truth is that there are usually only about two weeks each year when you really wish you had it, and they're never two weeks in a row.

September, October and early November are what I think of as the Blissful Season. When the weather is SO pleasant, that it almost makes up for the freakazoid traffic and occasionally bad air. Warm sun, cool breezes. Ah! This is why people moved her in the first place. It's also the closest thing we have to Autumn. Leaves do, in fact, turn, though it's usually a long and confusing process.

November and December are the most peculiar and least pleasant time of the year, as it's when the mysterious Santa Ana Winds begin to blow. These are hot winds that blow off the desert like a furnace, whipping trees apart and sapping every drop of humidity out of the air. Your skin gets all dry and itchy. The Chumash Indians actually called these winds "Devil Winds", and I share their sentiment. Everybody gets in a terrible mood. According the LAPD statistics, the crime rate for domestic violence goes up substantially when the Santa Ana's are blowing. And they heat everything up so much that the idea of Autumn flies out the window. Or rather is blown out the window. It's very typical for them to kick up on Thanksgiving Day, which is, of course, the only day when one's required to keep the freaking oven on ALL day. Arrgh. This is also, because of the winds…Fire Season. When wild fires wipe out subdivisions and the odd National Forest, and your car is covered with a fine coating of ash.

January and February are Winter, I guess. It's usually in the 40's at night. It's also Rainy Season, and everyone excitedly pulls out their rain boots, because it's basically the only time of the year that it does rain, and golly, rain boats are so cute. And since the fires just burned up all the undergrowth in certain areas, it's also Mudslide Season.

But March and April?  Spring. Really. Real genuine Spring. Just like other people get. Bulbs come up and gardens erupt in daffodils. Trees leaf. Everyone runs outside and parks fill with picnickers. Easter Sunday is always the perfect day for Easter dresses and Easter bonnets and hunting for eggs.

And my very favorite thing about Spring in Hollywood? In our backyard, right outside Jude's bedroom window, is an orange tree, which every year, bursts into bloom. Orange blossoms everywhere. And the heady smell of Neroli fills the air and wafts into his room. When we bought our house, it was a secret selling point for me. I loved the idea of having that intense sensorial childhood memory of having an orange tree outside your bedroom window. It sounds like something from a book, doesn't it? 

So Spring has officially sprung here in Hollywood. Maybe I'll go outside and sit in the hammock and read. Smell the orange blossoms. Feel the sun on my face. Quickly, before the temperature drops and I need a blanket. Hmmm. Pleasant. Very pleasant.

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