Thursday, November 30, 2006

Charlie The Unicorn

I might be the last person in the world to see this, but just in case...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Not George Clooney's Dream Gal (but maybe his dream horse...)

Read a tidbit-o-gossip about George Clooney today in which he described his perfect woman as possessing Nicole Kidman's laugh, Julia Roberts' personality, Michelle Pfeiffer's beauty and J.Lo's ambition. It got me to thinking about what celebrity traits I might possess. Here's my list:

Julia Roberts' laugh--Yeah. That big, obnoxious, masculine HA! HA! HA! But only when something is really, really funny.

Elizabeth Montgomery's face (?)-- Kathy Love swears I look exactly like Sam on Bewitched. I don't really see it, but there it is. My kids think I'm a mix of Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Kidman. I tend to agree more with that one.

Alice Kramden's deadpan humor--technically, she's a character, but she's alive to me and since this is my blog, that's all that counts. It's a style I tend to use around men more than women. The openings they leave are just too hard to resist.

Lassie's hair--I look like a collie, and shed like one too!

Since no one reveals their real personality in Hollyweird, I won't even take a wild guess. But if I had to channel someone, I'd probably pick Mr. Ed .

What about you? What celebrity traits do you possess? More importantly, are you George Clooney's dream gal? Dream pet? Tell the truth!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Keeping Satan's Playground Safe...

My family likes road trips. We enjoy the journey almost as much as the arrival and over the years have noticed each trip takes on a theme.

In 1996, when the girls were three and five, the drive from PA to NM was the Buckwheat Zydeco Choo Choo Boogaloo trip. If you've never heard Choo Choo Boogaloo, you haven't lived. Crank the music, roll down the windows and head across the Great Plains on Route 66. Ain't nuthin' better.

In 1998 the drive out to Kansas City was the Beach Boys trip. We sang all the way there and when we got there, my sister's kids wanted the Beach Boys too, whenever they rode with us. I can't listen to them today without reliving that trip and looking out over the mighty Mississip or standing at the beginning of the Oregon Trail. Great memories.

So, we just got back from another 4-day round tripper to Kansas City. What was the theme? Er, the theme for this journey had nothing to do with music and everything to do with a logo child number one glimpsed in a restroom at a truckstop in PA.

There we all were, lined up three across in the stalls, doin' our thaing in silent contemplation. The children exit their stalls and head for the sink. I get ready to join them. A faucet flows. Soap gets pumped. Child number one activates the motion sensored towel dispenser. My hand hovers above the sliding lock on my door when she says: "Did you know the locks in this bathroom are made by a company called Hiney Hiders?"

My fingers freeze on the lock. "What?"

"The locks are made by Hiney Hiders."

An image of a man in a pale blue suit, bolo tie and enormous cowboy hat leaps into my brain. He's on the TV and he's talking to me in a long, tall Texas accent: "Hi! I'm Hiney Hider! Bringing you the best bathroom privacy systems in the entire nation, and parts of Eastern Europe..."

Through the course of the journey, ole Hiney Hider grew into a Southern Baptist Cultural Icon, ensuring our privacy, leading us away from temptation and delivering us from the evil of an unsecured Satan's Playground. Not bad for a humble sliding door lock. Or for a roadtrip theme.

Although I'm not entirely sure FabDame will appreciate her fab-ulous Thanksgiving being remembered as "The Hiney Hider" trip, I imagine it's preferable to "The thick, hot dog-breath" trip, which, thanks to our beloved pooch, was the only other theme on an otherwise uneventful ride.

Don't trust your privacy to just anyone. Hiney Hiders. Because


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Closin' Down for Thanksgiving Week

Have a tasty one!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bedtime Stories from Hell

So last night I let the children sleep with me, something I rarely do for reasons that will become clear to you very soon. Of course, this meant the dog had to be allowed into the bedroom too, so she wouldn't get lonely. God forbid.

At 13 and 15, the children are pretty much grown-up sized. So there we all were in my King-sized bed. The biggest bed available in the world has never looked smaller. How did they do it in the olden days?

Anyway. Long about midnight I awaken to a conversation taking place.

Child no. one: Vere du snaftel cidden whopper?
Child no. two: Mim.
Child no. one: Kwafka gibbel dronen.
Child no. two: Propenshitzel underfueher. Where's the bed?
Me: Be quiet!


A little while later...

Child no. one: Gvitzenshuden!
Child no. two: Mim.
Dog starts scratching, licking, jingling...
Child no. one pulls the covers off me and the arctic blast jolts me out of bed and onto the potty.

This continues for two more hours.
Child no. two: Kriggle popsun decens?
Child no. two: mmmftrpmnnnstprofgtsssss.
Child no. one: Mrs. Klein.
Me: Shut up!


A fist gets wedged between my ribs.

3:45 am--more muffled, foreign hollaback invades my dream. The dog takes a sloppy tongue bath, sighs. The covers get pulled off me again.

Me: Stop taking the covers!
Child no. one (popping upright): Why are you yelling at me?
Child no. two: giggle.

The alarm goes off.
Child no. one: This has been the worst night of my life.

Wie sagen sie No shit Sherlock?

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Famous Last Words

Over on Billy Mernit's blog a commenter mentioned a good epitaph for Ah-nuld would be: I'll Be Back!

I love me a good epitaph. Here's a sampling of real ones.

Dean Martin
"Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime"

Edgar Allen Poe
Quoth the Raven,

Will Rogers
"I never met a man I didn't like."
(ed. note--too bad Mae West missed out on that one)

Mel Blanc
"That's All Folks!"

Jack Lemmon
"Jack Lemmon in..."

Billy Wilder
"I'm a writer, but then, NOBODY'S PERFECT"
(the last line from Some Like it Hot)

Rodney Dangerfield
"There Goes The Neighborhood."

Jackie Gleason
"And Away We Go"

Last words: Edmund Gwenn, actor, d. September 6, 1959
"Yes, it's tough [dying], but not as tough as doing comedy."

These dying words are so memorable, so characteristic, so lively. Even in death, these performers needed to entertain us and in doing so, remain alive.

I don't think I've written my epitaph yet, although it would be very cool to have a phrase that defines you and your impact on the world. A last logline, if you will. I'll probably put mine in limmerick.

What about you? Do you have your epitaph ready to go? If so, let us have it (so to speak...) or if you know of a great celebrity one (actual or potential), put it in comments and I'll add it to the list. Let's hear those famous last words!

The Stranger Beside Me Not

After four cycles of cat out/cat in we heard the neighbor behind us calling for "Chester". What an original name for a striking marmalade cat *snort*.

So, he's back home and I don't have to worry about wheezing, hives, vet bills or my dog murdering him. I had cats while growing up and I miss them. It was a kick having one again for a few hours last night, ear mite infestation and all.

Why do I have the feeling he'll be back to visit? I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Stranger Beside Me...a continuing saga

Tonight child number one found this little creature trapped in our fenced backyard. I put him out in front. When my daughter opened the door again, he ran inside. I brought him up to my office where he proceeded to appropriate my nap blanket, put his paw on my thigh, and start purring.

I'm in lot's of serious trouble.

Thank a vet!

Thanks Dad. I love you!

And a big thanks to the rest of my dad's crew on the B-24 Liberator, Rubber Check. I'm glad you all came back.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Feature Presentation: First Draft vs Final Draft

I thought it might be fun for readers and aspiring authors to get a small taste of the revision process. This is also a test to see if this'll make for interesting, fun content on my website, so please tell me what you think of the idea.

I've taken a piece of the first scene from the first draft of Layover, and the first scene of the final draft and posted them here for you to see how a publishable book gets created. My analysis appears between the two drafts.

First Draft Chapter One, Layover

"If you're gonna wiggle your way over North America, you better not sit on my lap again." Across the aisle of the crew bus, Jack Grayson leveled teasing, blue-raspberry-colored eyes on Kira Allen.

She wrinkled her nose at him, grabbing for her cockpit case when the bus snagged a speed bump and it tumbled off the cracked leatherette seat. "You wish."

Jack reached over and took the case, bracing it safely between spit-polished black shoes. "No, you wish. I can see lust all over your face."

"That's nausea."

Jack laughed.

"I'll tell you what I wish," Kira said. "For peace and quiet. But that's not possible around you." It had never been possible, ever since he'd lived with her family as a teen and grown up to become her best friend. Jack was…Jack. Teasing, flirting, busting chops. He never let up. If Kira didn't love him more than her own brother, he'd have driven her stark raving long ago.

"You knew what you were getting into," he said.

"It's been so pleasant, this past year, with you flying for PanAir and me for Seaboard Express. I don't know what possessed me to change jobs."

"You got bored."

"I cherish boredom."

"You missed me."


"Admit it. You can't fly without me."

Only partly true. Kira could fly without Jack, she just didn't like to. When he'd left Seaboard, all the pizzazz went out of her life. Though the easy schedule there had allowed her to get home by dinnertime every evening, as she'd preferred, it seemed her love of flying was so entangled with her love of Jack, she couldn't be happy without them both. "I needed to be at PanAir to cover for you," she said. By now, other crew were beginning to pay attention. Kira smiled. "They begged me to watch your hind end out of fear for the passengers."

"I take my meds." Jack grinned and brushed lint off the four gold stripes on his black uniform jacket. Peering at her from underneath the lowered brim of his cap, he looked every inch the wolf Kira knew him to be. He never discussed his sex life – one of the few topics he avoided – but she'd heard stories. Too many.

"I don't see them working."

"Look closer."

She did and felt a burst of pride. Classically handsome, strong and with the energy equivalent of a stick of dynamite, he was the kid Guidance Counselors said wouldn't amount to anything. For a while, those words seemed prophetic. But then the Navy found Jack and Jack found flying. The rigorous discipline had worked magic on this man-sized bundle of plutonium. At last he had the outlet he needed, and in Typical Jack Fashion, he'd enticed Kira along for the ride. So here they sat, a Captain and First Officer for PanAir. Unreal.

Now, after six months of professional separation, they were back in the cockpit together, with Kira on the eve of her first transcontinental run.

She'd been due for the change, she reminded herself, having lapsed into a comfort zone that'd grown uncomfortable. Same commuter runs between Logan and JFK, same schedule week in and week out, same passengers and crew. Then Jack had lured her to PanAir with talk of Anchorage, Seattle, Hollywood – with him. And that was an offer too sweet to turn down.

Having him at the helm for her first red-eye calmed her considerably. She'd been cross-country before, but as a passenger, with Jack. Tonight she was flying that bird. Too cool.

"You're landing tomorrow."

Kira bolted out of her reverie. "Huh?" She felt her jaw dangling and slammed it.

"You heard me."

She blinked. "I thought you were landing."

"Changed my mind."

"I never landed after pulling an all-nighter."

"Drink coffee."

"You're a control freak about landing. You'll be watching too closely."

"Okay. I'll ask a passenger to do it."

He might, too. Her leg started shaking. Jack stared at it a moment and glanced back at her.

"You'd think you were a virgin," he said, eyes crinkling.

"I'm in a tizzy. Do you mind?" Normally, she enjoyed landing. Hell, it was the best part. But she was nervous about his reaction, or that she'd be too tired. He knew it, too.

Jack's powerful shoulders lifted the fine cloth of his jacket. "I don't mind a tizzy. Tizzies are good. But the wiggling is distracting."

"Leave me alone."

He winked and turned away, but not for long. She counted to ten and he swiveled towards her again.

"You'll screw up the pre-flight."

There it was. The old, familiar routine. Kira let out a breath. All was right with the world when Jack mocked her. If he'd said don't worry, you'll be fine, she would've figured he had doubts.

"I never screw up the pre-flight. You don't pay attention to the checklist."

"How could I, with you sucking the pen like that?"

"I don't suck the pen."

"You suck the pen."

"I blow it to warm the ink."

Jack groaned and shifted his weight. Long and athletic, his legs stretched across the aisle and brushed against hers. Strange. Her leg fell asleep again. Kira rubbed at the tingling and tossed a look around the crew bus. She recognized a couple of flight attendants from Jack's infamous parties and gave them a wave, but they were eyeing Jack hungrily and barely acknowledged her.


Did you get a sense of what the conflicts and motivations will be? Are the characters multidimensional? Thought not. And notice the setting is all wrong. As a result of the poor setting there's an abundance of telling instead of showing.

Clearly I needed to put these two somewhere else, doing something that would highlight their personalities and conflicts. One of the critical choices an author must make is where to set the scene. The wrong setting can cause a story to sputter and stall or go in circles, as it did above. The right one makes the story snap, crackle and pop.

Believe it or not from the first draft, Jack is a control freak and he has abandonment issues. I decided to plop him in front of the movie "The Runaway Bride" to showcase his issues, and to have him arguing with Kira over her lifestyle choices to show his control freak tendencies. Now Kira can react to him and the reader can see how she needs to prove herself and get out from under the men in her life. Take a look...

Final Draft, Layover, Chapter One

Moral dilemma number one—Is it ever okay to want to boink your best friend?

“See? She’s just like you.” Jack Grayson pointed to the image of the Runaway Bride on the TV screen. “The Queen of Disposable Men.”

“Will you stop calling me that?” Kira Allen shot back.

“You throw men away.” He snapped his fingers. “Like that.”

“I do not.” At least not most of the time. Or some of the time. Except for maybe once. Okay, twice—that she recalled.

And with good reason. Kira had recently raised her standards. While she’d built her career as an airline copilot, she hadn’t minded dating men who were out for a good time. Now, she wanted more. At twenty-eight, she was ready to begin the search for a mate.

“Most of them deserve to be tossed. But still,” Jack continued.

Seated next to him on an orange sofa in her condo, Kira stared straight ahead, and wondered why they always ended up bickering, just like they had as kids. She could blame Jack, but truth be told, she enjoyed the one-upmanship that had colored their relationship forever. “And you’re better?”

According to Pan Air legend, Jack had a revolving door policy when it came to women in general, flight attendants in particular. He never talked about his love life, but Kira’d never seen him hang with anyone for long, except her, and as his best friend, she didn’t count.

Jack shrugged. “We’re not talking about me.”

“Same old, same old,” she muttered. He took the liberty of dissecting her love life at every opportunity. But let her mention his and he clammed up. “Are you afraid for Arlo?” she asked. “Is that it?”

Arlo Jacobs, Quality Assurance Officer and Regular Joe, held current boyfriend status in Kira’s life. She had high hopes for this relationship. Arlo seemed settled, serious and quiet. He’d shown no signs of wanting to control Kira’s world. A far cry from Jack, who was currently making such a pest of himself she wanted to toss him out a window—at thirty-thousand feet.

Except he had his uses.

She hadn’t met any decent men during her tenure as copilot for Seaboard Express—a tiny, commuter airline that made daily ‘milk runs’ up and down the east coast. Except for the rare single businessman and even rarer single pilot, the pickings had been slim enough for her to start to worry. It wasn’t as if she was a party gal with weekly opportunities to date. She preferred the solitude of the beach at night to the thrum of a singles bar or comedy club. Despite her quieter nature, however, she had managed to snag several dates over the years by reluctantly attending Jack’s infamous Pan Air bashes. For a multitude of reasons—namely Jack threatening to peel their dicks like a banana if they misbehaved—those romances never quite worked out.
She sighed.

At least things were looking up. Now she flew for Pan Air International thanks to him. Using his clout as a respected captain, he’d pulled strings, put in a good word. She’d completed the interminable company training course that Arlo helped develop and teach, passed with flying colors and here she was. “You’re the one that enabled me and Arlo. You have only yourself to blame.”

“Don’t remind me.” Jack leaned back on the sofa, scraping his face and running strong fingers through wavy dark hair. “I hate him.”

“No surprises there.” He hated all her boyfriends and didn’t seem to notice the role he played in their departure. What would he care if she disposed of them properly when the time came?

“He’s a dipshit,” Jack said.

Kira rolled her eyes. “He’s nice enough.”

“For what?”

“My purpose.”

“And that would be?”

She couldn’t say for certain. Far too early to tell. Arlo didn’t make her pulse jump like flying did. Or stimulate her mind the way Jack did. But bodies weren’t built to endure that kind of relentless excitement forever. Neither were emotions. Kira had an exciting job so what she needed at home was peace and quiet. At least she thought that’s what she needed. “Marriage,” she taunted.

As expected, Jack displayed the strangulated symptoms of a man having a coronary.

“You can’t marry that jerk. He’s a wingless nerd who makes life miserable for pilots—you included.”

“He’s making sure you’re fit to fly,” she countered mildly. “Keeping the passengers safe.”

“You bought that corporate crap?” Jack spewed. “Pan Air has enough quality control built into the system without wasting profits on dickless wonders with wing envy.”
He had a point but no way would she admit it. To do so would make Arlo seem redundant. Since she was investigating the possibility of a future with him, she didn’t want to go there.

“He sits in the cockpit, clicking his frickin’ mechanical pencil and pushing paper up his corporate ass.”

Kira placed a hand over her mouth to keep from smiling. If she didn’t react, he’d eventually shut up.

Not this time.

He must’ve sensed he wasn’t getting anywhere because he changed tactics. She had to hand it to him. He was quick on his feet.


Now we're getting somewhere! Every line of dialogue gives a snippet of insight into the character. And the tables are turned--she's teasing and taunting him to get a reaction that goes much deeper than the superficial flirting of the first draft and also serves to make you feel as if you're in Jack's head too. The result is an enrichment of those crucial first pages.

I've saved all my first drafts because I enjoy going back to see how the story grew. Some day I'd like to do a workshop on revision--a process I've gotten to know very well over the years. What do you think? Was it good for you ? ;)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ann's Thirteen Favorite Sights

1) commercial jets landing or taking off (I know, I'm such a geek about flying--but really, what else have humans done that they're completely and utterly not equipped for?)

2) the Earth getting closer as you come in for a landing.

3) that picture of the Earth taken from outer space all those years ago.

(I'm seeing a pattern here ;)--well, at least it's not all raindrops on roses)

4) Secretariat winning the Belmont Stakes: pic one and pic two (fascinating fact: during his autopsy they discovered his heart was 2-3x larger than normal for horses. Can you say "born to run?")

5) Vespas

6) Sun on wet asphalt after the rain

7) Renovated Art Deco movie theatres

8) Carousels!

9) Passport stamps

10) Old, old cemetaries

11) The York Minster

12) Wooden escalators at Macys NYC (good) and in some London tube stations (better, but I can't find a pic *sob*)

13) My daughter being goofy.

pretzel girl

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A reason not to wear skirts in crowded elevators

SYDNEY (Nov. 2) - Size really does count, just ask Australian underwear maker AussieBum which has just launched the "Wonderjock" for men who want to look bigger.

Since the launch seven days ago, AussieBum says it has sold 50,000 pairs of "Wonderjock," mostly on its Web site and a handful of stores around the world.

"The design of the underwear, separates and lifts. The fabric cup protrudes everything out in front instead of down toward the ground," said "Wonderjock" designer Sean Ashby.

"There is no padding, rings or strings," said Ashby, a co-founder of the Internet-based AussieBum firm.

Ashby said the idea for the "Wonderjock" was the result of online feedback from customers who expressed an interest in looking bigger, just like women using the "Wonderbra."

"When you go to a department store to buy underwear you usually get a grandmother serving, which is not the ideal way to get feedback," said Ashby. "Our customers give us feedback. We didn't realize that big is better."

Maybe you didn't, but the romance community already did:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Just When You Thought it Was Safe...

Dear Readers,

I hope you've enjoyed my blog. I try to keep it a happy place. Rather than talk about what ails the world, I'd rather, most of the time, make you laugh.

All that's about to end. So sorry to have to tell you this way, publicly, without advance warning.

There be bitching ahead.

Fierce bitching.

Bitching the likes of which you've never seen!


WTF?? You might ask. And rightly so. No, I'm not dieting. No, I'm not menopausal (yet). And no, I'm not giving up smoking (that's mostly gone already--mostly).

No, dear readers. It's something far worse. Something I'm sure you all have experienced at least once in your life. Something that, if absent from the world, would make it a far, far better place.

Dear friends. Dear, dear friends. My hands are trembling as I type this.


Be afraid.

I certainly am.

Monday, November 06, 2006

They Called Him Skipper

All I could think about as I read the article below was how millions of stories could spring from this. Some freaky, bad-ass shit could pop up on your doorstep at any time. Remember the Land Shark from Saturday Night Live? Imagine antlered Land Orcas.

Don't feed the strays...

TOKYO (Nov. 5) - Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of hind legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land.

Fishermen captured the four-finned dolphin alive off the coast of Wakayama prefecture (state) in western Japan on Oct. 28, and alerted the nearby Taiji Whaling Museum, according to museum director Katsuki Hayashi.

Fossil remains show dolphins and whales were four-footed land animals about 50 million years ago and share the same common ancestor as hippos and deer. Scientists believe they later transitioned to an aquatic lifestyle and their hind limbs disappeared.

Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth.

Though odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captured in the past, researchers say this was the first time one had been found with well-developed, symmetrical fins, Hayashi said.

"I believe the fins may be remains from the time when dolphins' ancient ancestors lived on land ... this is an unprecedented discovery," Seiji Osumi, an adviser at Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, said at a news conference televised Sunday.

The second set of fins - much smaller than the dolphin's front fins - are about the size of human hands and protrude from near the tail on the dolphin's underside. The dolphin measures 8.92 feet and is about five years old, according to the museum.

Hayashi said he could not tell from watching the dolphin swim in a musuem tank whether it used its back fins to maneuver.

A freak mutation may have caused the ancient trait to reassert itself, Osumi said. The dolphin will be kept at the Taiji museum to undergo X-ray and DNA tests, according to Hayashi.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Livingroom With A View

Here's one reason why this time of year is my favorite. These red Sunset Maples line my street. I also have one in the backyard. Every morning my house is awash in a pink glow for one glorious week a year! Eat your heart out *gg*

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Beautiful and Talented...

I wanted to show off my uber talented sister's wares. She shops the world for luscious, exotic fabrics and sells them at her online store Fabric Dame.

As you can see from the quilt that won her a coveted spot in the Paducah Quilt Show, her fabrics are as far from ordinary as her designs.


Irrestible detail

If you're a quilter, a stitcher, or just a lover of fine and unusual fabrics, head on over to Fabric Dame. Tell her The Bat Dame sent you!

ps--I'm currently trying to design a quilt on her blog, so it's also an opportunity for you to point and laugh.

Ann's Thirteen Favorite Sounds

1) Rolling thunder

2) Jet engines revving

3) Church bells

4) A muezzin, at dawn, in Jerusalem

5) A distant steam locomotive

6) The echoing hush of a cathedral

7) A well-tuned piano

8) Bowling balls rolling down an alley and hitting wooden pins

9) Sails unfurling and catching the wind

10) Sleigh bells

11) Foghorns

12) African drumbeats

13) The double brrring of a British telephone

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!