Monthly Archives: November 2014

If You Are What You Eat, Boy, Some of Us Have Some Real Problems

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her pork ‘n’ beans.
A spider came down and twiddled around expecting to scare her away.images
She pulled out a knife then whirled around twice raising the blade in the air.
Just 35 whacks and 3.2 hacks and everything fell into place.
With mad knife skills and culinary will a recipe started to bloom
The next day’s menu was arachnid stew and a smile of delight on her face.

If it wasn’t before it certainly is now supremely evident why I do not write poetry. I do however garner a great deal of respect for those who do. As near as I can surmise my offering would fall somewhere between Dr. Seuss and a lobotomized brick.

I will say in my own defense I have raised several interesting questions. For instance; what is a tuffet?

As near as I’ve been able to ascertain, a tuffet is a clump of something or a footstool. It seems that a “Dr. Muffet” wrote the original nursery rhyme about his daughter 500 years ago, give or take a decade or two.

I guess that’s as good an explanation why a nursery rhyme was written as any, although I wouldn’t pay more than a buck and a quarter if I were buying it.

Not having a great deal of fear for spiders, what gives me the willies about the whole poem is the curds and whey. In this day and age yogurt is the first thing that comes to mind. Even cheese is made with the milk curds after the clear liquid (or whey) is separated from the solids.

Jump back five centuries and the first picture of Little Miss Muffitt’s meal that flashes across my mind’s eye are lumps of white floating in an off-white broth. An occasional gurgle followed by a bubble or two indicate the bowl is alive with bacteria happily munching away. Light streaks of pink amidst other barely discernible pastel colors form a scum slick on top of the purulent mixture.

It reminds me of the contents in a carton of milk two or more weeks out of date. You pull the container from the refrigerator, bend back the tabs, pop out the spout and pour. At first just a small trickle followed by a large glop of udder butter.

Mm, mm. Enough of this drop at a time stuff, heat up the cow!

Isn’t it amazing the information you can glean from something as simple as a child’s nursery rhyme?

That brings another rhyme to mind. Jack and the candlestick! Boy, what fun you can have with incendiary devices.

But that’s another story…

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November 26, 2014 · 3:31 PM

My Kingdom, my Kingdom for a Decent Pile of Dirt

Coincidentally my blog post this week mirrors last weeks. I guess you could say “the more things stay the same, the more things stay the same.”

Pause for uncontrollable shudder……

The statement I just penned (by my way of thinking) makes sense. It shouldn’t and that scares me.

I’ll force myself to man up and plow through.

Have you ever tried to maintain continuity throughout a long novel with many characters in different situations? Your ultimate goal is to bring them together in a glorious climax rivaling the works of Tolstoy, Hemingway, and Whitman.

After reading through your first draft, you realize that the poor dead tree you hold in your hand wouldn’t give Jughead, Archie and Veronica a decent run for their money.

A lot of this is due to continuity. You can’t murder your heroine in the middle of the book, then forgetting she’s dead, have her reappear as a cage dancer in the final chapter.

Think of the disasters this one unfortunate event might set into motion. The protagonists (we’ll call him Bob) heartbroken from the death of his main squeeze (we’ll call her giblet) who is still very much alive.

Bob falling into the depths of despair begins to drink heavily. He takes notice of Penelope, the kingdom’s fairest maiden. In actuality Penelope is covered in bumps and bruises due to being poked and prodded with ten foot poles by the townsfolk. to

Looking through beer goggles Bob takes Penelope for his wife. Unbeknownst to either party, Bob’s father is Penelope’s mother’s brother, which makes Bob and Penelope first cousins.

This becomes evident when their first offspring is a three headed baby. They are forced to move to the land of three headed babies, where Bob continues to drinks heavily and Penelope designs armor with triple neck openings.

Giblet not understanding Bob’s shenanigans falls for Bob’s head scribe and pedicurist, Leon. They inherit the kingdom, birth nine single headed babies and start the first medieval baseball team.

See how easy it is to turn what began as a romantic comedy into a work of stupid, all because of continuity or the lack thereof.

It’s similar to climbing Mt. Everest….Okay it’s a stretch but hear me out. Sir Edmund Hillary probably took months if not years planning his attempt to climb the highest peak in the world. He would have to hand pick his fellow climbers and Sherpa’s.

Be certain there were adequate supplies to meet nutritional needs for the entire team. Portable shelter, ropes, oxygen and a multitude of items I could not begin to speculate.

They would begin at base camp and methodically worked their way up the mountain.

Then came that fateful day, the assault on the summit. It was for this very day that all their plans and months of work had come down to.

They bravely made their way upward after a breakfast of dirt soup. They donned the latest in woolen Bermuda shorts, tank tops instead of oxygen tanks, flip-flops and the cutest little beanies with propellers removed to avoid an unplanned takeoff.

Making the summit they planted their flags in a teary-eyed celebration and were promptly arrested for trespassing on old man Crowley’s property. A second charge for destroying a large mound of topsoil was later dropped.

The defense argued that dirt was dirt and since no precedent had ever been set, now is not the time to begin such foolishness. The prosecution was awarded punitive damages in the amount of eight dollars and forty six cents to cover the cost of several trampled lilac plants.

So you see whether you’re climbing a pile of dirt or writing a book on the subject of climbing a pile of dirt.

It’s continuity… Continuity… Continuity.

And just to set the record straight, it wasn’t Sir Edmund Hillary but Ed Bugmeyer and his three rat terriers. It seems Pauley over to the general store bet an already inebriated Ed a six pack that he couldn’t shave his dog’s slick as a baby’s bottom and climb that pile of dirt.

So now you know…

 

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Brain Bashing Sedation – It’s All the Rage

When it comes to writing, there are numerous variables that must be adhered to. MRIMargins, line spacing, font, font size, indent, storyline, protagonists, antagonist, POV (point of view), length of sentences, length of paragraphs, grammar, punctuation, use of adverbs, transitions, pronouns, word repetition, passive verbs, participles, and clichés; just to name a few.  If we take each of these points in the order in which I have placed them and apply a little judicious thought, I find that I have become proficient in none, sorely lacking in most, and downright spectacular when it comes to recognizing my literary ignorance.

Now, that’s not exactly what an author wants to hear or discover. So what does one who finds himself in this predicament do?  Firstly, you don’t fret about it and never consider giving up. It’s just another part of the writing experience (albeit the least exciting) that you must conquer on your way to literary stardom.

Comparatively speaking, the author’s nemesis and a MRI (by my way of thinking) have a great deal in common.  The former being described earlier in this post, I believe the latter deserves equal billing.

Have you ever had an MRI?  If not, allow me to explain some of the pleasant details involved with the procedure.

My very first experience with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) went something like this:

Check in at desk, sit, and wait. I had heard of patient problems associated with the procedure, but not being extremely claustrophobic I barely gave it a second thought.

I was finally called back. Oh joy, oh bliss…oh no… Ain’t no way I’m gonna fit in there!

I was instructed to remove my belt, which I did, and then climb up onto the sliding table that would pack me into that teeny, tiny hole.  I was given earplugs, a panic button, and told to remain still for forty-five minutes.

Forty-five minutes, I thought. You might want to crank that machine up a few dozen notches and get me out of there a tad faster than that. Too concerned with other matters at the time, I received my earplugs. I pushed them into my ear canals without question.  The next thing I heard was, “Here we go.”

As I slid into the cylinder, the next hint I gleaned that the situation was beginning to lean further in the wrong direction was my shoulders dragging against the sides of the tube.  I finally came to rest somewhere in the belly of the beast. I pray on a regular basis, but you can bet I had thrown it into overdrive.

Then, a strange thing happened. There were beeps, buzzes, pauses and then, no less than fifteen men commenced to beating on that tube with steel pipes, jackhammers, sledgehammers, and the like.  Alas, the earplugs now made sense.

If forty-five minutes could be stretched into six hours, this was the perfect time, in fact that’s exactly what happened, at least in my mind.

Finally, the beating stopped and the tray with my beleaguered body slid from the hole of despair into an enormous room. I do believe this room was the largest room I had ever seen and it actually contained breathable air.

I was once again a free man. The technician reunited my pants with my belt and sent me happily on my way.

As you can see the MRI experience is very similar to the first time author attempting to polish their manuscript…mainly, the terrifying anxiety and confusion.

“What must I do to overcome this mind-numbing conundrum called a manuscript?” you ask.

Fear not, you have come to the right place. No brag, just fact. You simply need to learn how to copy/edit line by line or hire an editor. If you decide to pursue becoming a copy editor it really is a piece of cake.  One minor requirement is being a literary savant, after that  everything will fall into place.

And I’m even going to throw in a bone free of charge, that bone being how to survive an MRI.  30mgs. of Valium.

You won’t be able to walk. You’ll barely be able to talk. In fact, they could dunk you into a toilet, flush for forty-five minutes and you wouldn’t know the difference.

So there you have it… Use as necessary.

Oh, and best ask your doc before you commence to cramming sedatives down your neck.

Post script: This year I’m gonna ask Santa for a clean manuscript and a gross of Valium. You never know when an MRI may sneak up on you. If not they’ll always come in handy consoling my bitterness from the mounting list of rejections.

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So Many Bacteria-Laced Milk Products and So Little Time

Warning:  Though proper writing limits the overuse of adverbs, with this post that rule has been officially flushed. Please enjoy.

 

Are you a lover of cheese? If so, what is your favorite, perhaps Bleu Cheese? limburger cheeseIf this is the case does your allegiance lie with the all American Maytag (a middle of the road cheese strength wise, but tangy and full of flavor); the Danish Bleu, considered mild; or the pungent Roquefort named for the town in France from which it hails? A dusting of Feta turns a salad into a meal fit for me. A creamy Brie spread across a cracker is something to savor.  Gruyère piled high over a perfectly toasted crostini, floating in a bowl of onions soup, and melted until bubbly and brown is something to cherish.

That’s the thing about cheese, or at least one of the things, for there are many. When you name your favorite cheese, you’ll soon find there’s no such thing,  instead you began to compile a list. So let the compilation continue.

Four simple words, “extra sharp cheddar cheese,”…could you possibly say it any better than that? Well, please allow me to answer that question. Can you say Parmesan? I don’t mean the stuff you grew up with shaking from the green can.  I am speaking of the crème de la crème, none other than Parmesan Reggiano! There, are you satisfied because I pretty much said it all… Well, then again maybe not.

Can you even began to utter the word cheese without adding that all-important prefix?  “Macaroni and.”

When I speak of macaroni and cheese I’m not talking about the stuff in the $.25 box with elbow macaroni and a packet containing a suspect orange powder.  I’m speaking of a cream based white sauce infused with fontina, asiago, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. The sauce is mixed with the perfectly cooked pasta, slightly underdone to allow for the extra time in the oven to bring the dish together; topped with a thin layer of homemade bread crumbs and then baked until bubbly with a light crunchy top layer.

How about a burger with Swiss Cheese and mushrooms or freshly grated Pecorino Romano on those meatballs swimming in marinara? A pizza covered with gooey mozzarella that refuses to disconnect even when a slice is removed from the mother pie. Instead, this cheesy lifeline stretches valiantly in a vain attempt to remain with its siblings. Or that smoky taste of provolone on your favorite sub or the delightful flavor of a melted piece of Havarti toasting in the Panini press?

I suppose I must extend an honorable mention to those individually wrapped slices of processed food we all know as “American cheese.” Even though it cannot be legally sold in the US as cheese but rather “processed cheese” it is still very popular.

I could go on and on and after that go on and on and on, but alas there are too many cheeses to name within the average person’s life span; however, I would be remiss if I did not venture into the dark side of the cheese world.  Yes, I’m talking about the cheese that some love to love, but most love to hate. A cheese that when fully ripe oozes from within its protective rind as a viscous blob of pus ready to consume any and all it happens to touch.  I suppose I could pen a novel entitled, “Knights of the Round Cheese Wheel,” where good King Cheddar and his cohorts, Sir Provolone, Sir Swiss-A-Lot, Sir Roman-O-Had, Sir Pecivere and a host of brave cheese warriors defeat the rhinasious pus dragon.

Alas, I must be true to myself and especially my loyal readers, the heinous glob I speak of is none other than, “Limburger cheese.”

If you’ve never had the good fortune of inhaling this odiferous concoction, it’s not hard to get an idea of the odor the real cheese exudes.  Each day the young blocks of Lindbergh are wiped down with a solution containing the same bacteria that causes our body odor.

If the beginning of this post stimulated your appetite, the ending sure washed it down the gutter.

With that I bid you a fond ado until next week……

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