Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why I Write - Additional Thoughts

Waaaaaay back on October 1st, I attempted to explain Why I Write.  It was a worthy attempt but I heard something over the weekend that I need to add on to it.

I was watching a documentary over the weekend about my favorite band, The Slackers, when Vic Ruggeiro, the keyboard player and soul of the band, said something that really resonated with me.  He said that his father always asked him why he worked his ass off playing a kind of music that not a lot of people listened to.  He said that ska made his life so much more beautiful and made his life worth living during the darkest times that he felt like he had to try to give something back.

The notion of giving something back really hit home for me.  Who among us hasn't taken solace in a favorite book when life kicks you in the testicles (or ovaries, as the case may be)?  Who hasn't pondered a throwaway idea in a sci-fi or fantasy novel for a lot longer than the author intended?  Who hasn't had a line of dialogue floating around in their head for weeks or months after reading a book?

That's another reason why I write, to try to give back some of what books have given me.  I want to shelter people from the storm.  I want to keep people thinking long after the reading is done.  I want one of my lines of dialogue working its way into people's everyday life.

That's all I have to say about that.  For now, anyway.

Snakes vs. Sharks: The Battle Wages On...

I mentioned a while back that I changed my Goodreads security question to ask which is scarier, snakes or sharks.  Since then, I have received 25 friend requests.  Not one of them has simply answered one or the other.  Some of the results have been humorous or attempts at humor, but I'd say at least 18 of them have included some kind of rationalization for the choice.

Some people choose snakes over sharks because the odds of running into snakes are much higher.  Others give the nod to sharks since while a snake can be poisonous, a shark can bite you in half before you know what's happening.

I wish I'd been keeping tally of the responses so far so I could give exact statistics.  Right now, snakes are definitely leading.

In other news, not a lot has happened since the Christmas burglary.  I read a lot, took pictures, as you may have noticed, and watched my new 40 inch TV a bit.  I felt a little guilty that my dad splurged and got my brother and I new TVs, especially when my brother and his wife have a baby coming in February.  I've since gotten over it and embraced the new television.  I should probably find something to watch on it besides badly filmed British comedy from the 80's, though.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Benevolent Christmas Burglary

During National Novel Writing Month, I mentioned to my dad that I'd bought a new computer chair since mine was like a torture rack.  He said they should get one since theirs was like sitting on a tree stump.  I knew then what I was going to get them.

Last Friday, I went to OfficeMax and picked out a chair for them, slightly superior to mine.  It was in a massive box which barely fit in my car.  I knew I wouldn't be able to take it and my dog over to their house on Christmas day so I began formulating a plan.  Once I subtly determined that neither of them would be home today, I sprung into action.

I drove to their house, used the code to open their garage door, and hauled the chair components inside.  On my second trip, I could tell their cat was going to be the complication.  She was already getting too comfortable inside the garage.

While humming the Grinch theme song, I quickly assembled the chair, having pre-assembled most of it before bringing it over.  Once it was complete, I wheeled it into the back of their utility room and cunningly stashed it behind some empty Christmas decoration boxes.  Once that was complete, I looked for any trace of my passing and went outside.

Sure enough, the cat was sleeping on a high shelf in the garage.  I finally got her down and put her outside the garage so I could close it and she kept running back in.  Finally, I gave her a gentle toss and keyed in the code. There was a brief moment where I thought she'd try to get past me but she lost interest and walked away.

I got in my car and started her up.  I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the cat was laying in the driveway, directly in my path.  After briefly imagining running over the cat and having to hide the carcass so no one would know I was there, I honked the horn a few times and started backing up.  Luckily, she got the hell out of the way and I was on the road, my burglary a complete success.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Baby Makes Me Gravy

I heard this song when I was Christmas shopping Friday.  Other than old Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and similar artists, I don't like much country music but I really like this song.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Want to hear something weird?

I had a lot of nightmares when I was a kid and I eventually developed a defense mechanism: As soon as I thought there was a possibility I might be dreaming, I'd try to figure out for sure if I was dreaming or not.  Now that you have the background...

Once, when I was in high school, I dreamed I was standing on the sea shore.  I'd never been to the ocean before and was convinced I was dreaming right away.  I crouched down and scooped up a handful of seawater and tasted it.  Since it had a taste, I thought the dream was real.  I woke up sometime later but never forgot the dream.

About fifteen years later, I finally got my chance to taste seawater when my gf at the time and I went to Tybee Island.  It tasted exactly like it did in the dream I had years earlier.

My Dreams are Weird

It started with me in bed with a woman, her head resting on my chest.

"Can you believe we've been together almost eleven months?" she asked.
"Really?  It doesn't feel that long," I said.
"It's been great, though, hasn't it?" she asked.
"I'm not sure.  Now that I think about it, I can't remember anything before this conversation. I think this is a dream."
"Of course it's not a dream!"
"I think it is and I'll prove it," I said.
I grabbed a notepad off the nightstand and wrote my name on the top page.  I held it up so we could both read it but it had already become an unintelligible mass of squiggles.
"See?" I said.

She laughed. "Fine. Just because it's a dream doesn't mean you're going to wake up."

She vanished and the light came on.  Every surface in the bedroom was covered with weird creatures.  They were the size of golf-balls and looked like ladybugs with shrimp tails. They had a red and white pattern on their backs that looked like clown faces.

I tried to force myself awake but couldn't. The beetle-shrimp things starting buzzing and flying around the room. I grabbed a lamp and started smashing the little vermin with it before they could attack me.  Once the last one was gone, I woke up.

I find it really interesting that the logical part of my brain tries to pick my dreams apart.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Good News and Bad News

Let's start with the good news.  I'm beginning to think I should have grown a beard years ago.  This week, the woman who cuts my hair, some random mailroom guy, and the grumpy old cook in the cafeteria all complimented my beard.

Now, the bad news.  Looks like I have to get on the computer tonight at 9 and work until who knows when because other people can't be trusted to get their shit done on time. I was planning on being asleep or several sheets to the wind by 9! 

I guess I'll have to spend my evening in a more constructive fashion until 9 rolls around.  I'm thinking about taking apart my Roomba and see if I can get it working again.  I'll also be drinking some coffee and cursing a lot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Does he need help?

Sometime over the summer, Belle and I were out surveying her territory one day after I got off work.  We reached the cemetery and I saw something odd.  There was a very old man, his back bent into an L shape by age, leaning against a tree at the edge of the cemetery.  His truck, a rusted out hulk, looked almost as old as he did.

He just seemed to be standing there but didn't look very comfortable.  I wondered if I should ask him if he needed help or directions or something.

I took a few steps in his direction when I noticed something.  The old man wasn't just standing there.  He was, in fact, urinating on the cemetery fence!  Since he clearly had the situation in hand, I no longer felt the need to help him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


As you may have noticed, most of my blog posts recently have been pictures.  That's because I feel like my writing gears are a bit exhausted and that chapter of something I wrote a week and a half ago were like the last swallows from the bottom of the beer bottle.  I still haven't started editing, even though this year's NaNo-prize is even better than years previous.

I'm still getting ideas, though.  The one in the forefront at the moment is about a family that has been in charge of guarding a portal to another universe for centuries while using its resources to live high on the hog.  Things go askew when the youngest daughter gets engaged to a man who has his eyes on wresting the portal from their grasp.  It's a bit too much like Roger Zelazny's Amber at the moment so I'll have to think on it a bit more.

Not a lot else going on.  If I don't get moving on my Christmas shopping, the only one getting a gift is my brother.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dan on Driving

My commute is an hour each way so I get ample time to think about various subject at great length.  Hey, it beats paying attention to the road. One of the subjects that inevitably occupies my time is driving itself.  There are several sticking points with me.

  1. Speed Limits:  The way our speed limits work is a joke.  To me, a speed limit sign means "Hey, don't go faster than this or you'll get a ticket but we probably won't catch you so don't worry about it too much."  Instead of a speed limit, there should be a posted speed range.  If you go above or below the range, you get a fine.  Instead of having to get caught by a cop, cars should be equipped with some kind of monitoring device.  A speed bill is sent out at the end of the month and becomes just another bill to pay.
  2. Skill:  I estimate that maybe 10% of the people who have driver's licenses actually know how to drive.  That might be a high estimate, actually.  A lot of people can't seem to maintain a consistent speed or even keep the car between the lines.  I wish cellphones and drinking were to blame but, sadly, I don't think they are.  I think some people just can't drive.
  3. Rubbernecking: There needs to be a much higher barrier in the median to prevent people from gawking at accidents.  If I was in an accident and saw people gawking, I'd fling blood on them.  The gawkers impede traffic even more than the accident and sometimes cause even more accidents.
  4. The Weather: Ever notice how many people forget how to drive any time there's even a trace of precipitation?  I can't decide if they are worse drivers than the people who think it's perfectly fine to drive 80 mph on snow and ice on bald tires.
This concludes today's rant. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Go-To Mood Elevating Read

I've been feeling crabby and directionless lately so I picked up a P.G. Wodehouse novel and started reading a couple days ago.  While I'm still somewhat crabby and directionless, I'm also working a lot of 1930's British slang into my regular routine.  The point is, I'd enjoy reading P.G. Wodehouse even if I was simultaneously hacksawing one of my own legs off.

I had originally planned to devote an entire blog entry to old Plum, as he was sometimes called, but I already did that last year.  Instead, I think I'll add a list of Wodehouse quotes and get back to work.

  • The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number.
  • I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

  • He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.
  • At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.
  • I pressed down the mental accelerator. The old lemon throbbed fiercely. I got an idea.
  • It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.
  • Warm-hearted! I should think he has to wear asbestos vests!
  • A girl who bonnets a policeman with an ashcan full of bottles is obviously good wife-and-mother timber.
  • Intoxicated? The word did not express it by a mile. He was oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto.
  • He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.
  • This was not Aunt Dehlia, my good and kindly aunt, but my Aunt Agatha, the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How did I forget to blog about this?

Thursday, I ditched the work holiday party in order to go see Bonerama.  Bonerama is a New Orleans jazz/funk band featuring three trombone players.  It was awesome.  At various points, they invited local trombone players to get one stage.  During their cover of Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group, there were six trombone players on stage and so much sound you could feel it inside your chest.

There was no opening band and Bonerama played for almost three hours.  They played a lot of songs I'd never heard before, along with the two covers I really wanted to hear, Frankenstein and Helter Skelter.  My ears were ringing until noon the next day but it was totally worth it.

Here's a clip I found of them on Youtube.

So yeah, Bonerama was amazing and they'll be added to my list of bands I'll clear my calendar for when they come to town.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December goals

Trisha over at W O R D + S T U F F asked the question "What are your goals for December?"  I think I should attempt to answer it since I've been feeling pretty directionless since about twenty minutes after finishing my NaNoWriMo draft of Bullets Don't Blink.

  1. Write at least 2k per week of something besides blog posts.  It doesn't sound that hard.  Hell, I did it last week without a lot of effort.  I'm afraid of falling out of the writing habit completely and this will make sure I don't.
  2. Read at least four more books.  Since today is rainy, I don't think this will be a problem.
  3. Commit to an idea for the next big project.
  4. Surreptitiously print out a paper copy of Bullets Don't Blink at work
  5. Figure out what my read will be between Christmas and New Year's.  The past two years, I've done the two halves of Roger Zelazny's Amber saga.  Not sure what I'll read this year
There.  I feel slightly less directionless now.

In non-writing news, my brother decided to grow a beard as well.  He swears I never mentioned growing one but I'm quite certain I complained about the itchiness quite a few times in the first three weeks.  This leads me to believe he wasn't actually listening.