Friday, July 28, 2017

Spread 'Em!

Thought for the day: People are like stain-glassed windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is  out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed. Only if there is a light from within. [Elisabeth Kubler-Ross]

[image courtesy of Morguefile]
So how's your inner light these days? Feeling good about yourself and the world? Yeah, I know it can be a challenge some days, but the light is right there inside you, if only you dare to let it shine.

We all possess certain talents and gifts that are unique to only us. You already have everything that you need to start living an extraordinary life. It's up to you to turn on the switch and let your light shine. [Randa Manning-Johnson]

Continuing with that train of thought on my journey of summer re-runs, the following gently-massaged post originally ran in June, 2011, as Open Up Then Wings, Baby! I hope you enjoy it. (I'm even going to re-run those six-year old weird stories of the week, because... why not? They may be old, but they're still still funny... kinda like some people I know...)

A good attitude is contagious, but don't wait to catch it from somebody else. Be a carrier.


Thought for the day:  Just because you're sitting  in a garage doesn't mean you're an automobile.

[image courtesy of Morguefile]
It's too hot for a heavy meal today, so how about a little food for thought? The following is loosely based on a  James Agreey story, The Parable of the Eagle.

While traipsing through the woods one day, a farmer happened upon a solitary eaglet sitting on the ground. He scooped up the young bird, cradled it oh-so-gently in his arms, and carried it home with him. There, he secured it safely in the barnyard with his chickens, and before long, the eagle learned how to walk and squawk like a chicken and how to peck chicken feed from the ground.

A naturalist stopped by one day and demanded to know why the king of birds was confined to a barnyard, scratching in the dirt like a common chicken. The farmer claimed the bird was now a chicken. He'd been raised like a chicken and never taught to fly, so he was, in fact,  no longer an eagle. But (naturally) the naturalist insisted the bird still had the heart of an eagle, and could surely be taught to fly. And should be. Finally, the farmer agreed to let the naturalist try.

The naturalist picked up the eagle, and told him, "You're meant to be the king of the sky. Stretch forth your wings and fly!"

But the eagle couldn't do it. He was frightened. He looked down at all his chicken friends pecking corn from the ground and jumped back down to join them.

The next day, the naturalist tried again. This time, he took the eagle up to the roof. Again, he told him, "You're an eagle, the king of the skies. Stretch forth your wings and fly!"

But once again, the frightened bird jumped back down to the safety of the chicken yard.

The third day, the naturalist carried the bird to a nearby mountain. He held the eagle high above him, and said, "You are an eagle, the king of the skies. Spread forth your wings, and fly!"

The bird hesitated at first. He looked back toward the farm, back to the only life he knew. Then he trembled, stretched his mighty wings, and with a triumphant cry, soared into the sky.

It's possible the eagle sometimes misses the chickens; he may even visit the barnyard once in a while for old time's sake. But as far as anyone knows, he's still living life as an eagle, the king of the skies... just as all eagles should do.

How about you? Are you still hanging around in the barnyard because you're too frightened to stretch your wings? Never let someone else's definition of you and your capabilities prevent you from trying, because, you too, are an eagle, and you owe it to yourself to fly. Schoolchildren aren't the only ones with untapped potential.

[image courtesy of Morguefile]

OK, here we go, the WEIRD STORIES OF THE WEEK:

***  While enjoying an airboat ride on the Suwannee River in Florida, a young lady unexpectedly crossed paths with a sturgeon. And lost. The sturgeon, between five and six feet long, and weighing approximately seventy pounds, jumped out of the water and into the boat, and unfortunately, broke the damsel's leg in the process. Although some tried to characterize the encounter as as "attack", it wasn't. Nothing personal, lady. Sturgeons jump. That's what they do. Three days earlier, the state issued a warning about the potential danger posed to boaters by jumping sturgeon, but now I'm thinking ...  maybe the sturgeon general should've issued one, too.

*** Another Florida story, and this one's about a St. Lucie couple who are serious about their shooting. Most people have a TV in their bedroom, but this couple upped the ante considerably. They have a wood and metal target inside their bedroom closet. Handy when there's nothing good on TV, I suppose. Anyway, neighbors called the police on this frequently fighting couple recently, and when police arrived, the wife said she fired an AR-15 rifle at the target in her future ex-husband's bedroom, missed, killed a washing machine, and accidentally flooded the place. Yes, a considerable amount of alcohol allegedly led to the death of the innocent washing machine.

*** The final story is from Lithuania, where an online survey held by a local radio station indicated Lithuanian men felt the need for a day set aside to honor them. So, the station obliged. They declared a National Men's Day, and to commemorate the auspicious occasion, hosted an unusual swimming competition. Inflatable sex dolls were used as rafts. More than two hundred men registered, but only twenty were selected to participate. And that .... is all I'm gonna say about THAT!

                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cultured Pearls of Wisdom

Thought for the day:   Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. 

When it comes to editing my newest book, I sometimes feel like I'm following the one step forward, two steps back methodology. Cut three paragraphs here... good, good... and now add four more new ones here... rats!

Oh well. (One forward, two back, cha-cha-cha... might as well make a dance of it.)

Continuing with my whirlwind of mildly edited summer re-runs, we have for your reading pleasure today a gently-used oldie but goody that first appeared in August of 2011 as A Little Culture to Enlighten Your Day. I hope you enjoy it.


Thought for the day:  A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.   William Arthur Ward

Chinese writing is more than writing. It's like artwork, which may explain why so many people sport lovely-looking tattoos of Chinese characters on their bodies. The ones on the left are supposed to mean tranquility, harmony, serenity, and peace. 

Nice, huh? I think we can all agree they're sentiments we can heartily embrace. Nonetheless...

Not that I'm inclined to get a tattoo, mind you, but if I were, it wouldn't include a single one of those lovely Chinese characters. Not that I don't appreciate the sentiments they're supposed to represent, but that's just it . . .  supposed to represent.  Just my luck, I'd get some smart-ass tattooist who'd adorn my body with a very lovely-looking Chinese obscenity just for the helluvit. I mean, how would I know? Yep, to spare myself any potential embarrassment, I think it'd be best to stick with a very safe itty bitty butterfly tattoo. Or maybe a cosmic tattoo of the earth... from reeeeeally reeeeeally far away. (Unimaginative people might call it a blue dot...)

Anyhow, today we're going for something slightly more cultured than tattoos. (WHAT? Hey, I can do culture...) We're going to talk about pearls. No, just kidding. We're actually going to talk about the great Confucius. He lived in China from 551 until 479 BC and was a great thinker, political figure, and educator. And man, was he ever wise. His words continue to resonate today, and not just in fortune cookies, either. Consider the following:
  • Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two holes.
  • Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
  • Forget injuries; never forget kindnesses.
  • He who will not economize will have to agonize.
  • It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
  • Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.
Brilliant, right? But suppose there were some other things he meant to say. Y'know, things he would've said if he were sitting around, sipping wine, and chilling with his pals? In the best interest of furthering your education, it's only fitting that I share with you what some of them might have been. If he'd only thought of 'em . . . 

  • He who sling mud at neighbor will lose ground.
  • He who live in glass house better dress in basement.
  • War no determines who is right. Determines who is left.
  • Man who sit on tack get point.
  • He who laugh last not get joke.
  • The early worm catch fish.
  • When you angry at neighbor, walk a mile in his shoes. Then you be a mile away from him, and you have new shoes.
  • Crowded elevator smell different to midget.
  • Passionate kiss like spider's web. Soon lead to undoing of fly.
  • Man who run in front of car get tired.
  • Man who run in back of car get exhausted.
  • Man with hand in pocket feel cocky.
  • Man who scratches butt should not bite fingernails.
  • Man who eat many prunes get good run for money.
  • Pregnancy happen when woman take seriously something poked in fun.
  • House without toilet uncanny.
  • Man who cut self while shaving lose face.
  • Man who fart in church sit in own pew.

See? I bet you feel smarter already.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Getting Rid of the Clutter

Hi-ya. Welcome to this month's edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting... er, virtual meeting, that is. This, the first Wednesday of the month, is the time when writers all over the world post about the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the ins and outs... of writing. We celebrate... we complain... we commiserate. Whatever we need, this is the place to find it. Humble thanks and a jolly tip of the hat go to Alex Cavanaugh, our fearless ninja leader and the originator of this fine group. If you'd like to join (It's FREE!) or would like to read some of the other posts, please go HERE

First off... YES!!! I finally finished writing the first draft of Blast Rites. (Thank yew, thank yew, thank yew very much...) Now comes the fun stuff. I'm currently deep in the throes of rewriting and editing, so before answering the question of the month, I'm gonna share a gently-used and slightly updated post from May, 2011, originally titled Some Pets Have Gotta Go! Yep... it's about the joys of editing. Kind of appropriate, don't ya think?


Thought for the day:  If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one, what do you call it?

It's hard to say goodbye.

Do you have a bunch of stuff around your house that you can't let go? I'm not talking about necessities; I'm talking about those unique treasures from your past that still manage to pluck your heartstrings like a two-bit harp.

Like my cheap-o fifth grade orchestra pin. It still occupies a place of honor in my jewelry box, along with a "lucky stone" I found when I was in second grade, and a neat-o metal typeset of my name that came from a field trip to the Baltimore Sun (newspaper) building, which I, in fact, missed, because I had the measles. None of those items will mean anything to our children when I'm gone, but somehow, I can't bring myself to part with them.

                                    And records. Have I ever got records! My favorites are the 45s.

It's probably time to tell those records sayonara, but like Celine Dion sang, "It's hard to say goodbye." Not that any of these records are anywhere near as recent as Ms. Dion's birth. No, these treasures are Elvis records, Little Richard, (when he was still a young rough and tumble rock 'n' roller) the Coasters, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, and Rosemary Clooney singing about "This Ol' House."  They're the Drifters, Dion & the Belmonts, (before he went solo) and Eddie Fisher singing "Dungaree Doll." The McGuire Sisters, Artie Shaw and his orchestra playing "Star Dust"  (one of my favorite songs of all time) and Jerry Lee Lewis on the old Memphis, TN Sun label. Treasures, I tell you, treasures!

                                    Not that I've played any of them in the past forty-five years.

The fact that I don't have a good-working turntable is beside the point. If I wanted one badly enough, I'd buy one. But why should I? I don't NEED one.

No, all I have to do is look at these old records and admire their brightly-colored labels and sleeves to remember my first record player with its wobbly turntable, which could only play one record at a time. To play a 45, you had to put a plastic piece into the larger record hole to make it fit. Had to tape a penny to the arm to make it heavy enough to play the records right, too. Then, my brother got the portable RCA player. All it played was 45s, and you could put on a whole stack at one time. (Like Sarah Vaughan crooned, The record player's automatic ... ba-by.) One look at these records, and I'm bopping in the club basement with my girl friends, or dancing cheek-to-cheek at the teen center. So I don't have to actually HEAR them ... to hear them in my heart.

What got me to thinking about those old records is the editing I'm doing on my novel right now.  Know what? It's every bit as hard to cut words as it is to get rid of records. What's funny is that some of the parts getting the axe are the ones that I sweated the most blood over while laboring to give them birth. Witty stuff. Clever stuff. Stuff that makes me smile and laugh out loud.

But it's gotta go! Because it injects ME into the book and serves to draw the reader away from the story. No matter how much I love those words, it doesn't serve the book if the reader stops to admire my writing. Damn it.

So, the words are going. I delivered 'em, and now I'm killing 'em. And the book will be better for it. And some day, those records will go, too, I promise. But not yet.

How about you? What treasures are you holding onto from your past? No matter how illogical it is to hang onto them, they sure do bring us comfort, don't they?


And now, it's time for the (ta-DA!)...
Question of the month:  What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Hmmmm, let me think about that a sec...

Okay, I've got it!

I've learned that writers are the most creative, supportive, insecure people in the world. That means they've got my back, and I've got theirs, so none of us is ever...


Our craziness, imaginations, and love of the written word unite us, and that is abso-freaking-lutely awesome.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.