We have long enjoyed Chef!, Lenny Henry's hysterical BBC short-lived series. I was looking for the series - sadly, it is no longer broadcast and one must find a DVD or a site that carries the video online - when I came across this fabulous interview he did some time ago.
Moogie and I had to listen to this several times to understand all of the words. We were laughing too hard to hear it!
I will never attend a funeral with quite the same expectations again...
Not only that, I've joined a group of fabulous authors and we're dedicating our time to providing a series of weekly free reads! Every Saturday morning, look for another short story to be released on our blog.
Eventually, there will be 26 of us, each contributing two stories a year. That's manageable for us and wonderful for you. You'll have the opportunity to sample prose and storytelling styles across a wide range.
The first series of stories is required to have a song title. I had a lot of mental angst over mine. I really, really, really wanted to do "It's Hard to Kiss The Lips at Night (That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long)". Of course, once I had given the song another listen, I couldn't get away from it!
This presented a number of problems. First of all, I tend to write dark stories. A dark story with that song title is not only just wrong, it would betray reader expectations because with that title, who would expect a dark tale? I did come up with a short story premise but...it was dark. Very dark. As in, a futuristic slave/overseer kind of dark. Not what I needed.
After I got the Notorious Cherry Bombs out of my head, I went back to my shelf of CDs.
Years ago I got the album dwightyoakamacoustic.net for Christmas. It has a lot of songs that stayed with me, and I have thought that it would be a fun project to write a story for each song. Maybe not to be published with that association and not sharing titles, but for my own interest. I'd keep that secret, while using the songs as the basis for plots and characters.
So which song would work for this project? I listened to the album a few times and afterward, Two Doors Down was the one that lingered. I'm not good at constructing short stories featuring drunks. I thought and thought about what a neighborhood bar provides and represents. Comfort, the reassurance of the predictable. But what if that is changed suddenly? When the outside intrudes, it's a wake-up call and shakes up everything. Like a kaleidoscope, then the colorful shards settle, it can well be a very different world.
Different worlds are good. I write most of my stories in different worlds. Different worlds offer a lot of opportunities to shake things up, make things up to suit my needs.
So who should be shaken up? Someone with something to hide...or to fear. It's very difficult to build a world, introduce at least two characters, throw them a curve ball to complicate their lives and resolve it all in less than 5,000 words. The reader needs to know enough to understand how much this event is pivotal, and how desperately the main character needs to maintain her equilibrium. That requires space on the page.
If the fear--and the intrusive element that complicates things--comes from the past, it can be introduced with hints and a bit of introspection from one character rather than having to be explained as it unfolds. So, the main character needs something fearful in her past that will send her into a tailspin. It's even better if at first she thinks it might be the answer to questions she has had that no one else can answer...
And thus was Two Doors Down born. It departs from the song in many ways. I couldn't redeem a drunk in that short a story, much as I'd like to. I hope it's not a betrayal of reader expectations but I KNOW it's not as much as it would have been if I'd posted a dark story with the title, "It's Hard to Kiss The Lips at Night (That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long)".
Several years ago, we moved to a larger house in a wonderful neighborhood. My elderly mother moved in with us (yes, I am old, older than you can imagine).
I have never been big on buying convenience foods, that are prepared in some factory by someone else's mother. However, running 3 small businesses, caring for her, running the household and over the past year, caring for Mistah Midnight, who has had some pretty serious health scares, has made me more open to buying prepared foods.
Periodically I will post here with the results of our forays into packaged, ready-to-eat stuff.
This week, in Pathmark, a dump display (that is what the industry calls the big heavy cardboard stand-alone racks) caught Moogie's eye. The dump contained a variety of SimplyAsia noodle bowls, labeled "premium natural". She loves Chinese food and is always on the lookout for a good deal. These were on sale, plus there was a $1 coupon taped to the front of the box.
She picked her flavor, spicy kung pao. It comes in a nice reusable/recyclable bowl with a lid. Inside were four packets: a large one with the noodles, one of freeze-dried vegetables, a medium packet of sauce, and another small one containing crunchy topping. The instructions are simple. Merely place the noodles in the bowl with the veggies and sauce on top. Zap it for a minute and a half, followed by standing time of another minute.
This had no protein and Moogie wanted it for dinner, so I dug some cooked shrimp out of the freezer, thawed them, heated them by pouring water over them from the InstaHot dispenser in our sink, and stirred them in when the noodle bowl was done.
Wowza, was that sauce HOT! Moogie ferreted out most of the shrimp and came looking for something else to eat. She couldn't take the heat. I ate the rest of it and it was tasty but quite spicy. (She missed three shrimp.) I liked the burn but I do like spicy foods.
Our verdict: RECOMMENDED, with high quality noodles, tasty sauce, good if you like really spicy dishes. We consider it to be FAR above Ramen but also much higher in price. I'm not sure I would pay up for this on a regular basis but then, I'm not drawing a reliable salary and I'm a penny-pincher to start with.
Getting ready for this year's RT convention, I've been combing through my pix of previous years. I am not sure that I ever posted this anywhere, so here it is.
I was very impressed with Fabio. He not only is a huge supporter of our troops, he has no personal space whatsoever, and talk about nice - he stayed as long as anyone wanted a picture taken with him. The event organizers wanted to speed things up by having two women with him for each photo, and he flat-out refused. What a guy!
Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson on being a role model: "I wan all them kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I want all the kids to copulate me."
New Orleans Saints running back George Rogers, when asked about the upcoming season: "I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first."
And, upon hearing Joe Jacobi of the 'Skins say: "I'd run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl," Matt Millen of the Raiders said: "To win, I'd run over Joe's Mom, too."
Torrin Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach John Jenkins: "He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings."
Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann, 1996: "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."
Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes."
Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach: "You guys line up alphabetically by height." And "You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle."
Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson hooking up again with promoter Don King: "Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton."
Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: "That's so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes."
Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regime of heavyweight Andrew Golota: "He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is."
Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to Coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt."
Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president, on a former player: "I told him, 'Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?' He said, 'Coach, I don't know and I don't care.'"
Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four F's and one D: "Son, looks to me like you're spending too much time on one subject."
Oiler coach Bum Phillips when asked by Bob Costas why he takes his wife on all the road trips, Phillips responded: "Because she is too dadgum ugly to kiss good-bye."
Once more, I'm part of the most fun Hallowe'en contest on the web! As always, Michelle and Mandy at The Raven Happy Hour throw one hell of a party. Happy hunting and have fun finding new fabulous books to read! Hugs, Liddy
I've been doing some research into alignment sites. In case you're unfamiliar with the term, those are the Neolithic or megalithic prehistoric sites that are constructed so that the either the winter or summer solstice sunrise illuminates the interior.
The most famous of these in Ireland is Newgrange, which I had the great fortune to visit on a short vacation in the summer of 2004. Mistah Midnight was supposed to speak at a conference in Dublin and I went along. I lived in Europe for a year back in the '70s but never got to visit Ireland. To our surprise, although the conference was cancelled a few weeks before we were scheduled to go, the organizer still paid for his plane ticket. Gotta love that! So I had the pleasure of his company for the whole four days. And he got to see all of the sites that I would otherwise have run around and seen without him.
We stayed in Temple Bar, right near the River Liffey and within walking distance from Trinity College, where the Book of Kells is on display. Lovely!
The most important thing for me was to visit a stone circle. Since there are more stone circles in Ireland than anywhere else, it seemed an easy goal.
However, since we didn't want to rent a car and have to drive on the wrong side of the road, we lucked into discovering the bus tour to the Boyne Valley. This includes the Neolithic alignment site of Newgrange, which is surrounded by a stone circle. Woo-hoo! It was awesome, and I mean that in every sense of the word.
The other sites on the tour were Trim Castle (where Braveheart was filmed) and Tara. The hill at Tara is best known for either the stained glass window in the church or the Stone of Destiny.
My favorite place was the Sacred Spring at Tara. It's at the bottom of the hill, below the gift shop. We were the only people from the tour who walked down to it.
There is an iron gate that shields the spring itself from the local livestock, although they have access to the trickling stream that it spawns. Inside, there is a small cavern, with ferns growing above the water. I asked permission from the local spirits before I cupped my hands and drank.
The water was cool and tasted very clean. It should be, cleansed by its trip across the Atlantic and filtered as it is through the bones of warriors up on the Hill! (I spent months exploring the extent of my newfound superpowers. LOL) My only mistake was not to drink more deeply. That gives me a reason to go back.
The bus driver assured us that the water has tested perfectly clean, free of chemicals. But I knew that. LOL
I'll get the pictures up here in the next day or two. The Photo Gallery on my website isn't getting set up as fast as I'd like. Enjoy the links and learning about alignment sites! I think one of the most fascinating is Newgrange. Amazing that there were no signs of soot from torches or candles or lamps when it was discovered in Victorian times. And the structure is still watertight, after 5,000 years.
Mistah Midnight thinks that the carvings on the portal stone are the Neolithic version of guys going down to the firehall to play poker and drink beer. The men carved spirals while they gossiped and drank beer. This made them look industrious while they hung out.
Gee, I'm horrified to realize that I haven't been blogging at all. I used to blog fairly regularly over at the Moonglade Elite Authors blog, but that site has been having lots of technical problems and hasn't been available for what seems like months.
I need to change that no-blogging thing,s o here I am.
This week, I'm participating in a Book In A Week class directed by April Kihlstrom. If you're a writer and haven't come across the concept, it's an eye-opener.
For one week, you clear the decks, prepare your storyline, gag your internal editor and spend the whole week just writing. No editing, no reading over what you've already written. Every day, just get as many words done as you can. Squeeze it in around meals, family, work, school, whatever. Pen and paper, PC, laptop, Alphasmart, anything you have access to.
The goal is to produce a first draft of a book in the week you set aside for it. Editing can be done later, when the whole story is structured and ready for the meaty work of layering in sufficient emotion, foreshadowing, action and dialogue. Make notes to yourself on index cards or use MSWord's Comments feature, which lets you embed your notes for later research right there, where it's needed.
One thing I've learned this week is that while navigating the obstacles that life throws at me, I forget how magic the cumulative totals can become when even just a little gets written each day. Writing a full page a day, anyone can finish a book in a year. Writing 1,000 words a day, I can finish a novella in a month or four books a year. Not bad!
If you writers ever get a chance to participate in April's workshop, jump at it! You'll increase your productivity for at least that week, you'll learn a lot about how you write, you'll learn about how others write, and you'll have fun.
Charm Bracelets in Brenda Novak's Charity Auction!
Hey, everyone! This is an opportunity for you to nab one of my loaded charm bracelets and support a great cause.
Every year, Brenda Novak runs an auction to raise money for diabetes research. I have a lot of in-laws who are Type 2 diabetics, and my maternal grandmother developed this in her old age. It's a growing problem for many Americans.
But back to the bling! The auction items are for winner's choice of my themed bracelets. These truly are Not Available in Any Store! I only make them for gifts, prizes and charity auctions.
The Faery Ball charm bracelet is pictured in every auction listing. The Blue Moon bracelet can be found here.