Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quarterly Reading Update - 3rd Quarter, 2009

In the third quarter of 2009, I read 35 novels, with a total of 10,941 pages. That's an average of 120 pages a day, down a bit from the last quarter, but not too bad. That's actually more titles than I'd anticipated, I'd kind of thought that I had read quite a bit less this quarter, and I read a lot more adult novels, only 9 YA and MG books.

Since my last Quarterly update, I've written around 42,000 words in my adult zombie novel, I'm sitting at roughly 18,000 words on a kid's book and I've started some pretty in-depth revisions on The Whispering Ferns, which is still in stasis somewhere in New York, as far as I know.

 The List:

KOCKROACH by Tyler Knox
ROSES ARE RED by James Patterson
SAND DOLLARS by Charles Knief
WICKED BREAK by Jeff Shelby
THE STONES ARE HATCHING by Geraldine McCaughrean
STOWAWAY by Karen Hesse
SERPENT by Clive Cussler
FUZZY NAVEL by J.A. Konrath
WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks
EMERALD FLASH by Charles Knief
EVIL GENIUS by Catherine Jinks
THE BRASS VERDICT by Michael Connelly
THE PISTOL POETS by Victor Gischler
GRIFTER'S GAME by Lawrence Block
THE LAST MATCH by David Dodge
BUST by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr
THE COLORADO KID by Stephen King
WALKING MONEY by James O. Born
SILVERSWORD by Charles Knief
PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry
ORIGIN by J.A. Konrath
BLOODY WATERS by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera
LIFE SENTENCE by David Ellis
TAKEDOWN by Brad Thor
FOUR BLIND MICE by James Patterson
SECRET PREY by John Sandford

Looking at this list without looking back at my reviews, I'd say that Patient Zero and Bust are standouts for me, and I really love the work of Charles Knief, who seems to have vanished off of the internet, as best as I can figure. I discovered Hard Case Crime novels, and soon plan to steal all of their money and run off with their dame, but for now, I'll just get the books in the mail every other month. A lot less Cussler this quarter. For some reason, James Patterson seems to have taken over as king of the thrift store for now. On the kid lit front, I cannot possibly recommend The Cabinet Of Wonders highly enough. Great book, stunning world.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time is short.

Now Playing -
You Might Think  by The Cars

Life - 
Man, October is shaping up to be a tremendously busy month. My wife and I switch rotations in the first of the month, which will allow our days off to fall on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which will be great. I haven't had a Christmas off in seven years, to the point that last year I found myself being quite a Scrooge. I hope that this will make things easier, but there's still a high likelihood that working in retail during the holidays will still get to me. Odds are good that you'll hear a lot more about that in months to come.

Our anniversary is on the sixth of October and once again, we'll likely have to celebrate it on a different day, we both work that night.  From there, it's gogogogogogogo until November. I'm trying desperately to finish my zombie book by Halloween so that I can stay in the spirit, and we're leaving for a week to visit a few potential sites in Oregon to move next year. After we get back, I work a rotation, then we have a couple of days to prep for the Brain Eaters party, then November is upon us.

We've slept a ridiculously wonky schedule this group of days off too, and I'm not sure why. Last night, we took a "Nap" around 7:30, woke up to the alarm, fell back asleep, at some point accidentally locked Ludo out of the bedroom, and eventually woke up at 10:00pm. We figured there wasn't any point in getting up, so I pottied the dogs, took a shower and went back to bed. Then we got up at 5am. It's been like this all week.

Writing - 
I had planned on working on my revisions to The Whispering Ferns today, but after realizing how much time I had before Halloween, I decided that I should dive back into the zombie wasteland of Graves, in an attempt to finish it before November. Besides, working on a lighthearted ghost story around Christmas sounds pretty good.

The Last Sentence -

The infected from the store have begun eating each other, and I have a front row seat.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Board up the windows!

Now Playing -
Closer by Kings Of Leon

Life - 

Didn't do much of anything Saturday, really. Read my Hard Case Crime book, worked on some Halloween stuff, Started cooking some lasagna before realizing that I'd forgotten an important ingredient, watched a movie. That's about it.

Movie Reviews - 

2003, 87 mins.

Cheesy Spy Comedy  --  Atkinson is a brilliant physical comedian in a bad flick  --  Natalie Imbruglia = Gorgeous  --  Intentionally Ludicrous!  --  Double-O-Brother!


Part of our ongoing project to thin our DVD collection. Verdict - Sell.

1990, 92 mins.

Suspenseful and Scary  --  Slow Zombies = Scary Zombies  --  Dated, but still very watchable  --  Faithful Remake of the 1968 Original  --  They're still coming to get you, Barbara!


Writing - 

Pretty happy with the progress here, up to 39,400 words, which means I wrote around 3,000 yesterday. I still feel like I should have done more, but still pleased.

The Last Sentence - 

When there is no more room in Helena, the dead will walk the U.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A pretty decent day

Now Playing -
Veronica by Tricky

Life - 
Quite an interesting day yesterday. We woke up early, just before seven, with a lot of things planned. Ate a little breakfast, wrote a bit, prepped a crock pot for dinner, then we headed out on the town. We ate at Mama Inez, a local "American Mexican Food" restaurant. We eat there every other week on Fridays, when they have their fajitas special. Their food is good, though not super Mexican. They have a dish called the Cheese Crisp however, that is unlike anything we have ever found in other towns. Thick flour tortilla chips, three cheeses, some sort of creamy enchilada sauce... Very good.  When we lived in Missoula, we attempted to replicate it with very little success.

After that, we dropped our leftovers off at my work so that we wouldn't have to drive back home (Which I just realized that I forgot to pick up last night...) and went to the local Catholic Bookstore. My wive's family is Catholic and she was raised in the religion, though neither of us are practicing anything. We do both have a lot of interest in religious items, being history fans. We were there yesterday for a bit more of a nefarious reason; my brother and I are going as Catholic Priests for Halloween (Easy costume, super comfortable) and we bought a couple of props for the costume there.

From there, we headed directly to Idaho Falls, fifty miles to the North. Idaho Falls is like a richer, more conservative, snootier version of Pocatello. They have some better stores, like Target and Barnes  & Noble, but as a general rule, we aren't fans of the people there. Most have a holier-than-thou attitude. Anyway, we did a bit of shopping at a few craft stores, checked out the mall and hit a movie before heading home.

The two high points were without a doubt, Target and the theatre. Target has some great Halloween stuff this year, a line called Haunted Heraldry, with crowned skulls and medieval style designs and a line for kids with gloopy monsters in bright colors. We didn't buy anything, but I very seriously considered quite a few items.

I love the theatre in Idaho Falls. It's an Edwards Theater, fourteen screens. It has a grandeur to it, with it's giant lobby and wide seat that the one in Pocatello doesn't pull off. They were also showing the movie 9, which the Carmike in Poky declined to show. Great movie and we had the theater essentially to ourselves at 2:30 in the afternoon.

After that, the evening went a bit off the rails, there was a bit of drama with one of Lindsay's friends, but we still managed to have some excellent Corned Beef. We were both in bed by 11pm, which is why I'm now up at 6am... this could be a long day.

Movie Reviews - 

I've decided to review movies and things on here too, in the same format as my book reviews. And while I REALLY wanted to give "9" a nine, I figure that I should change to a five out of five rating, since I post five blurbs too.


Directed by Shane Acker
Starring the voices of Elijah Woods, Jennifer Connelly, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly
2009, 79 minutes

Gorgeous visuals  --  Evocative Danny Elfman Score  --  Brilliant Design and Non-Stop Action Sequences --  Giant Robot Apocalypse!


Directed by Nancy Meyers
Starring - Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law
2006, 138 mins.

Predictable  --  Light-Hearted  --  Cute, But Over-Long  --  Diaz is Stiff and Over-The-Top at the same time  --  Winslet's side story with the old screenwriter stole the film


Writing - 
Wrote a chapter last night, I'm up to over 36,000 words in Graves.

The Last Sentence - 

"Aren't we?"

From - "Graves" (WIP)

(I never claimed that the Last Sentence would be a thrilling one...)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Yellow Poster Goo Of Doom!

Now Playing -
Save My Soul  by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Life - 

Last night was my first off of this rotation, thank goodness, it seemed to take a VERY long time to get here. How did I celebrate? I watched the last half of a movie called "The Holiday" and learned that the yellow gummy stuff that they sell for poster hanging? After a few years in the package, it becomes a different substance entirely. I tried taking a glob of it to hold something in place while I made a simple frame and within minutes had all of my fingers, part of the table and my pants covered in a liquid that was both sticky and solid at the same time.

Fought with it for around 20 minutes before I started panicking, picturing my wife finding me, cocooned in a horrible yellow web, a wobbly bubble where my mouth and nose used to be.  Napkins didn't work, scraping didn't, water just made it angry! Eventually, after manically slapping it as it rolled down my forearm, I realized that it could be formed into a semi-solid form by rapidly slapping it against itself. Fifteen minutes later, I had yellow under my fingernails and red palms, but finally, I'd defeated the monster.

Never did build my bracket.

I did get the compressor from my dear friend Laura this morning and we ran our first test run in the garage. I love the WebCaster. LOVE IT.

It's easy, fun, looks GREAT and should be relatively simple to clean up.

Check this out, keeping in mind that 3/4 of the webs can't be seen in the picture, it looks swell in real life.

It's gonna take some practice to calibrate the air and the webbing, but it should eventually be easier and look much better than that old-school cotton rubbish.

Click for bigger, by the way.

Writing - 

Nothing yesterday, sadly, but I'm heading upstairs right now to dive in.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Reviews - New Format

Now Playing -
Blue Heaven by The Pogues

Book Reviews - 

OoohErr, that's a crooked photo....

I've decided to do something new with the format of my book reviews. They take me a while to write up usually, and I'm typically pretty "Meh" about them anyway, so from now on, until it's no longer the case, of course, I'm using a new review format. I'll integrate them into my regular updates and instead of a paragraph or so, I'm going to list five adjectives or brief phrases to describe the book, much like you see on the blurbs for bestsellers. Then, if I have any notes, I'll make them, followed by the overall rating. I think this will be a fun way to do the reviews and it may spill over into movies and music too.

I also like this format because it keeps the book pretty vague, but you get an idea of what I thought, while forcing me to start expanding the adjectives I use, hopefully helping my writing too.

Let me know what you think!

By James Patterson
2002, 404 pages

Twisty Plot -- Iffy Ages of Villains  --  Page-Turner  --  Neatly Wrapped Up  --  Too Neat, Maybe


By Brad Thor
2006, 441 pages

Terrorismistic!  --  Human Main Character  --  Entertaining  --  Easy to Hate Villains  --  Maybe Too Easy, Terrorism in New York Seems Like An Easy Target

Notes - This was the first Brad Thor book I've read, and I enjoyed it a lot, though I thought the Hoorah - I Heart NY attitude was a bit overblown. I'll have to find some more of his stuff.


by David Ellis
2003, 390 pages

Lawyers and Politics, yet I liked it!  --  Good End Twist  --  Outlandish  --  Fuzzy On Some Details  --  Deja Vu?

Notes - For some reason, I found myself certain that I'd read this book before somewhere, but until recently, I've never really read legal thrillers of any kind. The scene with the bedroom and the skinned knees especially seems familiar... maybe it's a movie too?


By Carolina Garcia-Aguilera
1996, 274 pages

Miami Based Female P.I.  --  Many References To Cuba  --  Good Story and Plot  --  Appealing Characters, many moreso than the Main Character  --  Did I mention that they talk about Cuba a Lot? I Mean A LOT!


Life - 

Still trying to decide on a costume for the Brain Eaters, but my brother and I may team up and wear the same costume. Watch out, world!

Rode my bike home from work today... It's not much of a commute, especially by my friend's in SF's standards, but for a fat guy riding uphill most of the way, for the first time since last summer, I'm pretty happy with my time. And I plan to do it again tomorrow, that's important part.

Writing - 

Another chapter, that's about it. Linz and I have been talking though, and we think it would be a good idea during revisions, to divide the chapters by characters, rather than in soryline and revise that way. It should be easier to stay in character and make sure I carry over thoughts and quirks of language.

The Last Sentence - 

I see nothing human in his gaze, but it's hauntingly beautiful.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Costco has everything I need, provided I need needless things.

Now Playing -
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by Shane MacGowan and the Popes

Life - 
Strange group of folks in last night, especially the young girl that came in around 3:30a. She was pretty strung out looking, wearing a green, torn up hoodie, seome baggy jeans and flip flops. She had a bruise on her cheek and bright red marks on her neck. Glitter under her left eye that made her look like she'd been crying from a distance. She came in, shuffled around for a bit, asked me where the drinking fountain was, drank, wandered, drank. Then she came up to me and asked me if I had twenty dollars that I could loan her. I said no. "I can pay you back someday, I promise!" Uhh... No. "You see, I need my boyfriend's prescription. Don't you have a credit card?" Again, no.

Now, this isn't the first time this has happened, and typically, the pharmacist, Mr. Wizard and I are pretty understanding and good at working things out, but this girl had my hackles up. She went and got another drink, asked Mr. Wizard the same questions. Came back and asked me again. Then a couple of customers came in, she pounced on a young Mexican kid with a tub of hair gel. I cut her off and told her that while I was sympathetic to her plight, if she asked any customers for money she would have to leave. She again availed herself of the fountain and looked imploringly at the pharmacy.

I rang up the kid's gel. Because, you know, a half gallon of gel at 4am is important, that's why we're here! The girl walked out the door and I followed to make sure she didn't harrass my other cuistomers, but she was nowhere to be seen. Keep in mind, this was maybe 40 seconds after her.

Her bike, a mighty nice bike, I might add, was still in the handicap lane, but no tweaky blonde. She wasn't lurking around the cars either, Strontium was free of molestation. Mighty strange, partner. My wee little cashier kept an eye on things, but she was just gone... poof!

Then. around 40 minutes later, she reappeared. Smiling, friendly, and eating an Ice Cream Cone. I would not lie to you, loyal readers, she had an honest to god ice cream cone, with crispy cone and paper drip catcher and everything. And enough money to buy her prescriptions.

The only solution that I can find is that there seems to be some sort of loan sharks/crack den/Ice creamery in the trailer park behind the store. Guido's Payday Loans, Deluxe Cones and Other.  Most excellent.

Oh yeah, and I went to Costco with my mom after work this morning. Saw a lot of cool shit, but managed to restrain myself to a jar of their sublime Pub Mix and a bag of Peas. Unlike those around me with over a hundred dollars in their carts, filled without thought... kind of like zombies, only instead of "Brainnns" they moan out "Buulllkkk"

Writing - 
Got a couple of chapters done on Graves, can't wait for Wednesday, when I can start doing a bit of revisions and send it to some interested parties to get a first glimpse.

The Last Sentence - 
What I'm saying is that by the time a cure enters the picture, it's completely possible that the entire town of Missoula will be past the point of saving.

From - " Graves " (WIP)

Friday, September 18, 2009

It ain't bragging if it's true.

Now Playing -
Tiger Woods, by Dan Bern

Life - 
The title to the post is from the song I'm listening to, a touching ode to big balls, not an impending sign of some sort of grand announcement. Just to clear things up. In fact, about all I have to report is that I'm exhausted today. This week cannot possibly end soon enough.  That and that yesterday, while letting my dog out to go "potty" before bed around 1pm, the brilliant late afternoon sunlight was so great that it dazzled my eyes, completely obliterating my peripheral vision and it was still lingering forty minutes later.

I looked into reports and shockingly, there was no brighter sun yesterday than in previous days, leaving me to surmise that it was my lack of exposure to sunlight that did it. Rather than remedy this, I've just vowed to stop going out while the sun is up.

On a sadder note, down the hill from us, there's a particularly sharp turn on a downhill slope. I've made many a heart-rending turn on it, spinning a full 360 one time and nearly decimating a fence another. The other day, a young wanderer that was working with the street crew on a temp basis, had the trench collapse and kill him. He was buried for nearly twenty minutes before they could unearth him, by which time he was dead.

I couldn't help but think two things at that point. How that would be the worst way to die, slowly suffocating, buried under eight feet of soil, and how that from this point on, I can't help but think of that corner as Dead Man's Curve. Morbid and horrible, I know.

Writing - 
I actually busted out over a thousand words last night, ending with 31,000 so far. I had planned for the book to be around 70,000 total, but this looks like it's reaching towards being more like 90,000. Writing a book that long kind of freaks me out.

Lindsay read what I had written on Graves yesterday and though it isn't her kind of book, she liked what she read and had some great ideas and suggestions. Once I institute those, anyone else that would like to give me their input, let me know and I'll send you the first dozen chapters or so!

The Last Sentence - 

He opens a bloody mouth and starts moaning, staggering towards us.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No time for chit-chat, baby!

Life - 
Not a lot of time, been working a lot, it seems like we have even less time than usual between getting off work and heading to bed if we're hoping for any semblance of a good night's sleep. (Or good day's sleep...)

I may be on the path to tracking down a compressor so that I can play with my Web making gun... Hooray! Yesterday, I got the second package containing my new brain molds, this time in goulish green!

Here's a couple of pictures of my recent food that I've made, the white corn chili and the mushroom tart 2.0, which was made with artichokes and mozzarella. It was pretty good, but the Mozz was too mild, the tart needs more of a kick!

Anyway, gotta run if I'm going to have time to eat lunch and make a salad for dinner tonight.

Writing - 

Wrote a couple of chapters in the last few nights, started letting my wife read it. Not her kind of book, but it should be interesting to see what she thinks! If nothing else, she'll nit-pick the accuracy of my descriptions of Missoula, MT.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mike's Crawlspace Concoctions

Now Playing -
Where The Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Life - 
Trying new things is one of the best things in life. Take today for example. I skipped my usual internet surfing, hitting my email and R3 briefly, before diving right into writing, finishing two chapters. I made a Beef and Barley soup for dinner, which has, amongst the things I never cook with, celery, lentils and barley. It smells superb, can't wait for dinner.

In the meantime, I'm trying a home-brewed libation from my dear friend. A fruity, sweet, almost tangy beverage, brewed in the depths of a hide-hole beneath his home of wonders. This is a very good thing. I'm not a beer drinker, never really have been. I enjoy a good dark beer now and again, but beyond that, I'll usually choose a glass of water or whiskey instead.

I do however, have to try anything new that comes my way. Candy bars, soaps, lip balm,  food... if it comes in a new flavor or has some gimmicky way to use it, provided it's under a few bucks, I can't resist. Back when I ran the Chevron, this was a challenge for me. Trying to resist the crazy things the vendors would bring in for show would be a real challenge. God knows how much Snake Oil I bought.

But sitting here in my garage, drinking this bewitching elixir, listening to the thunderstorm outside and the dreamy Nick Cave within, thinking of ways to kill an obnoxious blonde teller using zombies?


Writing - 
Punched out around 800 words today so far, and the night is young!

The Last Sentence - 
I slide out of the doorway, brushing off the shoulder where he touched me.
From - "Graves" (WIP)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ruminations on my upcoming stint in Rehab.

Rehab, you ask?

Yeah, pretty much. For the next week, I am entering into a self-imposed internet free zone.

Every day, I visit a huge number of sites, from celeb gossip, art sharing, writer's support groups, Lego builders clubs, Gadgets, how-tos, news, blogs, comics, anything you can shake a hat at really. Sometimes, it takes me so long to circle through my daily stops that I start back over because new stuff has been posted by then. I also get off on mad tangents when researching things. I spent 2 hours yesterday, initially looking into the Webspinner Gun that I bought, but that turned into a barrage of do it yourself Halloween stuff, decor hints, party ideas, playlists... It's silly sometimes.


It takes up too much of my time, time that should be spent writing or drawing, or playing with my dogs. I figure the best way to combat this is to stop, mostly cold turkey, with a few rules and caveats -

- I will still update this blog, respond to comments, etc...

- Email will still be checked and people responded to, but Threadless and the Lego catalog, emails like that go right into the trash, unread.

- I will likely be unable to resist visiting the GodSite, R3. This is something that I've cut back on anyway, but there is no resisting it.

- I'll still use the internet for writing reesearch, Wiki, Thesaurus, etc, but I will not allow myself on any tangents. Get in, get a synonym for Brain Matter, get out.

- I am allowing myself one trip to Facebook each day too. Primarily because it's the only way I ever communicate with my friends and family.

This is gonna be rough, especially tomorrow, when I typically stay up for 24 hours and the last few are spent in a zombie-like haze, surfing obscure urban legends sites and looking at photos of horribly tentacled beasties and bugaboos. I think it will be worth it though. The internet is a powerful tool, but I need to start using it like a tool, not an entertainment mecca.

Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it!

By the way, for those fellow bloggers out there, do any of you know where the spell check function went on the new Posting format screen? Firefox catches a lot of errors, but not all...

Friday, September 11, 2009

More personalities than you can shake a wand at...

Now Playing - 
Slow by Tricky

Life - 
Man, today has been an odd day. Possibly the strangest sleeping schedule ever. Last night, around 7, I decided that a nap was in order, as I'd gotten only a tiny bit of sleep the night before. Linz decided to joing me and we slept for around an hour. When the alrm sounded, I made the clearly sleep-addled suggestion to sleep for a bit more, rather than getting up and eating dinner.

Around 1:30am, we woke back up. I have a tendency to get pretty pissed off at wasted time sleeping, when I could be doing anything but, and the fact that my hour nap had turned into six and a half was not high on my list of things I love. It did however, allow us to go out and do our shopping at Wal-Mart (Hate) and WinCo (Love) at a time when the only real opposition to our shopping enjoyment were stockboys and maintenance grandpas.

After spending far more money than I'd planned, but getting some much needed car cleaning supplies and enough groceries for a few weeks, we hit up the local 24-hour mexican drive-thru. Most towns have 'em, they're usually named a bastardized, rhyming version of Albertos or Rodolbertos. Ours is currently named Rolbertos, and is manned that time of night by a Hispanic man with interesting, though typically sullen features. Tonight/thismorning/last night however, he was kind of friendly, and got most of our order correct, a real oddity. He also popped out of the window after giving us our food, holding three pens in the air.
"You can have a free pen! What color do you want?"
Naturally, I chose the green. He gave me a huge smile and my wicked-sweet free pen.

The best part about it? it has the cities of the two local Rolbertos, Pocatello and Blackfoot, with their phone numbers next to each. It also has the slogan "The best Mexican Food in town"
It does not, however, have the name of the restaurant on the pen anywhere. We like to think this is some sort of delicious ploy to get people to call and order, long before ever seeing the place. Bravo, "The best Mexican Food in town," bravo!

After we ate, we put away our groceries and I was conned into going back to bed. At this point, it was around 6:30am. We woke back up again around 8:15 and despite being kind of groggy/sleepy, I've managed to stay awake since, though my eyes are pretty heavy right now....

After we got up and started a crock pot of Chicken Chowder, we headed out on the town and did a bit of shopping. We freaked out the employee at Home Depot - he actually took a step back when we said we werre looking for a few items for jewelry making, it was hilarious. We hit up the Halloween displays in a few stores, hoping for some inspiration about our upcoming Halloween party, possibly the last Brain Eaters.

A couple of notes regarding Halloween and shopping in Pocatello, ID -
-ShopKo apparently thinks they're a classy Halloween boutique, with costumes averaging $70 and reaching over $150 for some. SOmething tells me they're gonna have a LOT of leftovers, come November.

-The Party Palace continues it's rein of awesome sauce, with the best rentals, a huge selection of decor and the item I'm most excited about this year, the Webspinner Gun, more on this later, likely after I buy it and play with it for a while. The owners of The Party Palace are really cool too, kind of crazy and fun. They plan to build an actual castle to house the store, complete with moat. Right On.

-TJ Max? Bah.

-Sierra's Crafts and Frames had a few cool ideas, but focuses Waaaay too much on cheesy kids autumn decor. Am I the only one that gets an uncontrollable urge to kick those little kid mannequins that look like they're playing hide and seek in the butts?

- The Halloween BOOtique. Fun store, with great help and lots of interesting costumes. I'm always intriqued by how much work the designers of costumes must follow trends. I like this place because they have a lot of decent quality movie makeup stuff. Lindsay found a costume for this year and they are carrying the skeletal lawn flamingos again this year, which is spectacular, I wanted some last year but forgot until after they closed.

-JoAnne Fabric had a few thinsg, but nothing worth being too excited about.

After that, we hit a few other shops, bought a tiny Ball Peen hammer and ate some chowder at home.

We also hit dinenr with my mom and bro for a belated birthday meal, at Ruby Tuesdays. Good food, but as usual, I felt like it was overpriced.

Writing - 

Managed to get a pretty good chunk of editing done on Graves, I hope to spend the next two days getting to the halfway point.

The Last Sentence - 

It would be easier to keep everyone calm without whatever was left of Brian staring them in the face.

From - " Graves " (WIP)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some general tidying up before the weekend begins

Now Playing - Nothing, wife is asleep in the next room.

Life - 

My first day off of work is always an interesting one. It's called a day "Off" but realistically, I worked the entire night previously, including around eight hours on my day "Off" so that first day can be spent one of two ways, sleeping the entire time, or attempting to enjoy it. Now, I have a tendency to not mess about when I nap, either they last 15 minutes or 4 hours, no in between, really. So instead, I just stay up and try to get a few non-brain-taxing things done.

I burned a few CDs, played with my computer a bit, went through part of a box of magazines that I've moved to three different houses now, all happily resting in the trash pile now. I did a few dishes, read my book, watched parts of some really bad horror movies (Hobbs End & HatchetMan) generally stayed in a light haze of zombieism the entirety.

I did manage to track down and order the gelatin and chocolate brain molds that I'm gonna need for the Brain Eaters party this year, after I inadvertantly melted my old molds in the oven last fall. We're going to try and go a bit more "Proper" this year with the party, some more refined snacks, a few clever displaying methods, maybe. Then again, either way, it will probably just end up being a bunch of drunks in funny costumes.

Either way, no masks for me this year, no facial hair or wigs either. I've decided that as great as those kinds of costumes are, they're too much of a hinderance when playing host. Eventually I'll find a balance between elaborate and cool and efficient and comfortable but for now, we'll err on the side of easy.

I spent the morning today hacking away at the back end of my property, where the weeds have taken over. You know you're in for a fight when the stems are too thick for the weed whacker to penetrate. Looks like I'm gonna have my hands full getting things ship-shape before Autumn. Luckily, the trimmer ran out of line before I'd gotten too exhausted, so  took Strontium to get a much needed vaccuum and bath. He looks pretty good, though I need to get his interior wiped down and there's a few bugs on the hood and roof that even the pressure washer wouldn't get off. I'll have to look for something at the store that can get it off without damaging the finish. Damned Montana bugs.

I also stopped and looked at the new Nissan Cube at the dealer behind the car wash. Funky little car. It sits a lot lower than the Element and is certainly more towards the luxury end of things as far as boxy cars go, six CD changer, carpet, plush seats, goofy water drop design celing... I did like the loading door and the fact that the rear bank of seats slides back and forth, and they have a cup holder just beyond where your hand sits to the left of the steering wheel, a great location, but everything else, the Element does much better, in my opinion. It has a sexy forest green color though...

Need to make a menu today, plan out or meals for the next few weeks and pay bills. Blah.

Writing - 
Uhh... nothing, even less than last time, though I did edit to current on Lindsay's novel.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Apple of my eye

Now Playing -
That Certain Female
by Charlie Feathers

Life -

Thanks to a truly cool dude and a good friend, I'm back amongst the land of the functioning computer again. Although my laptop is still most awesomely rocking the Linux, there are a few things it cannot do, namely iTunes and Photoshop. Thanks to my new baby, a used Mac Mini, those fine items are again at my disposal.

It's been years since I've used a Mac, and it's taking some adjustment, but it's comforting to know that I have something to edit photos on and color artwork with. (I assume my assorted sister-in-laws will appreciate getting their wedding photos eventually now, too!) Bravo, little white box. Bravo.

Work blew. Busted my tush all night to get things done, only to have the big boss-lady disappointed in the overall job done over the weekend. Quite frankly, none of that was my fault, but that's yet another curse of the Graves shift, you ALWAYS get the brunt. Luckily, I only have one glorious day left on this rotation, then it can be my compatriot's job to please everyone, all of the time.

Writing -

I wrote nothing last night. NUFFINK! I did bust out a few words a second ago, primarily because I'd started a chapter and left it hanging. The chapters in Graves are short enough that there's scarcely an excuse for that. I'm really looking forward to the next few days, I'm enjoying writing Graves, have a lot of hopefully fun revisions to make to The Whispering Ferns and have hit a bit of inspiration for the spot I'm stuck at on my other kids novel, Hieronymus Masterson's Unremarkable Bit Of Magic

The Last Sentence -

The cowboy isn't dumb, he looks around at the customers he's standing near and his eyes narrow.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lost on the Toy Aisle

Life -

I just spent two nights straight resetting the toys in my store to the new plan that the head office has thoughtfully created. It always boggles my mind that they've gotta have some vague clue that the computer program they use for the dimensions of stuff has to have some errors, yet they leave no margin for it in their designs. It takes hours of re-jiggering things to get everything to fit and look nice, especially in the toy section. Then, naturally, some bratty kid whose parents don't find it important to watch him, comes along and trashes everything. I spent a lot of the early evening cleaning up messes and glaring viciously at ragamuffins.

We also had a group of inbred hillbillies, a term in this case that I mean very literally, like "Hey you guys!" inbred, come in with their drunk and wasted friend, face painted up with marker, wearing nothing but a sweatshirt and they filmed her as they ran around the store. They were telling her she was at the prom and I think that she was both out of it and mentally challenged enough that she believed them. I was tempted to stop it, but maybe later, once the rest of them sober up and watch the footage, one of them will feel some sort of shame and eat the black end of a shotgun or at least think twice before doing it again.

Bleak, I know, but people that are as cruel as these yokels were really get my hackles up.

Made a simple meal out of some noodles, a can of Snow's Clam Chowder and some spices, quick and quite tasty, the recipe is on the back of the can. If you can find Snow's I recommend it wholeheartedly. My fave of the canned chowders. Which is to say it still tastes nothing like real chowder...

Writing -

Wrote another chapter and a half in Graves. At this point I'm pretty much just waiting out the clock until I have some days off...

The Last Sentence -

There's something about the word 'Zombie' that sounds ludicrous.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Book Reviews - Cousin of Recent Reads

Just a few quick reviews. I figured I should get these in more frequently, so that I don't have a dozen at a time to review.

Note - 2 books not pictured, had to return one to the library, the other was in pdf form on the computer.

by J.A. Konrath
2007, 237 pages

This was the first book that I've read on my computer exclusively. I love Konrath's books and just recently noticed that he'd made some of his earlier, unpublished books available on his website for free, so I downloaded a few to check out. Origin is about a team of researchers who are brought into a long running government program to study something found years before, while excavating the Panama Canal. Only it just woke up. Fun book, I highly recommend checking it out! I don;t think it's quite as smooth as his current stuff, but the plot is over the top, B-Movie horror fun. It was interesting reading it electronically. On my computer, it seemed more like a chore, the thing is heavy and heats me up uncomfortably, but on my wife's little netbook, it was light and easy to read, almost as pleasurable as a real book. I doubt it would ever win me over completely, but I've begun to seriously entertain the idea of a Kindle or similar eventually.


by Jonathan Maberry
2009, 421 pages

You can't go wrong with a zombie book, and this is a great one. The main character, Joe Ledger is smart, funny and knows his stuff and Maberry does an excellent job of moving the plot along at a lightning pace. He manages to take the idea of the zombie, add a post-9-11 twist that keeps it fresh and freaky and builds a cast of characters that, while a bit over the top, especially the Bond-esque villains, are a ton of fun to read. He's also written a few horror novels that I'm trying to track down and is working on a young adult book... about zombies. Aww yeah, baby.


by Charles Knief
2001, 400 pages

What a strange change of pace for this, the fourth of the John Caine detective novels. injured and on trial for being involved in a shooting where an innocent woman was killed, this book is far more introspective and quiet than Knief's previous novels. there's still some butt-kicking, and the cast of characters still amuse, but it doesn't have the whiz-bang speed that the other three had.

What happened to Charles Knief? after his Silversword, he kind of vanished. His site is dead, there's no info on him anywhere that I can find, no wiki, no death date.... come back, Charles!


by James O. Born
2004, 262 pages

I was pretty disappointed by this book, it starts promisingly, with a bank robbery and murder on the cusp of rioting in Florida, but there's soon so many double crosses and goofy coincidences that things get a little groany quick. Still, Born writes well and his main character was pretty appealing. I don't get why every book that is written about Florida has to have a cast of immoral, zany, idiotic characters. Is Florida really like that exclusively?


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buffragette City!

Life -

At my job, I have roughly 6 customers that I dread seeing every night.

1 - Santa. This man is an older gentleman that looks exactly like Santa Claus. He wears an oxygen tank and wanders around the store for hours. I actually get a kick out of him, he's good natured and friendly, but he wears out his welcome after four hours of telling me fish stories and dirty jokes. He also has constant problems with his perceived costs of sale items and requests a lot of rain checks, which I hate writing out.

2 - The lady with the strange growth on her face. I love her, i really do. The story she told me about her father's bar during prohibition is one of my favorites, and she talks with me about movies. She's one of those people that I should despise, but due to a combination of her healthy UFO conspiracies and refusal to leave the house during daylight hours I don't, but like Santa, every time she's in, I can guarantee at least 3 hours of work down the drain.

3 - St. Patty. An extremely Irish war vet, St. P. has a tendency to call around a dozen times a night when he's active, asking us the same questions over and over. He also likes to read us his poetry over the phone. Most of what he says is an unintelligible mish-mash of Irish Brogue and Drunken Mumbling, but I get the impression that his poetry is about the war. He often stops and says "Huh, laddie. What do ye' think of that?" assuming, he's asking me a question I start to respond, only to be cut off by more "poetry" so maybe it's actually part of the work. If, at any time during the call, which can stretch for hours, you have to put him on hold, he hangs up, calls back and angerly chastises you, then calls a taxi to take him over to the store, where he can act like it never happened.

4 - Ms. Paul Bunyon. One of those ladies that looks like a man in a dress, Ms. PB is mentally disturbed and frankly, I think she uses that as an excuse for being a jerk to everyone. She's also a price switcher, sometimes going so far as to take entire rows of things and place them in front of a cheaper price. I refuse to let her do this, unlike the manager that works the opposite shift, so Ms. PB and I are enemies.

5 - The really big, grumpy smelly guy. This guys is probably around 380lbs, constantly rates "Oscar" on the grouch scale and smells a bit below the Bog Of Eternal Stench on the "Smell Bad" scale.

6 - The annoying drunk ladies that think it's hilarious to make messes on aisles. These ladies are in their late thirties. I expect teens to play with the whoopee cushions and throw sponges at each other, these broads (A term I reserve for number 6 and any woman that tries to get me killed while solving PI cases only) these broads should know better.

All of these customers but Ms. PB were in last night, she likely saw that the other manager's car wasn't out front and went back to her trailer, muttering. In fact, I think I could actually feel the earth shudder when, for around an hour, St. Patty, Santa and Paranoia Lady were all in the store at the same time. Ugh.

I heard talk about how people with leg injuries should be hung in the Vatican, the link between Viagra and watermelon, German film festivals and bad premonitions about Obama, and spent an hour cleaning up messes left on floors.

Oh yeah, we also had to deal with the indignity of our Ludicrously Sexist and Crude Floor Dude. Not only did he ask how often I got hot babes in with no underpants (In Pocatello at 3am on a Wednesday? Not often.) and speculated on what two animals mated to create a manager at a different store, but his buffer was leaky and left a likely toxic cloud of propane fumes in the store. Luckily, they muffled the smell of Oscar.

Writing -

Uhh, I think I wrote about 200 words while I listened to Santa yammer on about fishing and the price of blackberries.

The Last Sentence -

It's around forty degrees and there's a thick fog blanketing most of the world.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What kind of mushrooms were in that tart?

Life -

So... apparently, someone sneaked an Alice & Wonderland style mushroom in the tart we cooked yesterday, because both Lindsay and I slept horribly and had ODD dreams. Last night it was a real struggle keeping my eyes open... It was very delicious though, and we are already planning variations, hopefully ones sans LSD.

After much struggling, cursing and braving of nasty spiders, my mother and brother finally have a modicum of hot water again. It's only half a water tank, but better than a camp shower and a pot of water on the stove.

Here's the element I finally removed and replaced. Ain't she a beaut?

Writing -

Not much here, I managed to bang out around 500 words at work last night, that's it.

Also, Clover says Whassup.

The Last Sentence -

I slam the door hard just before he reaches it, his ruined face slapping against the safety glass like a raw steak.

From - "Graves" (WIP)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mutated Grunyons!

Life -

Leeks. What an odd veggie. We made what is shaping up to be a spectacular lunch today, a mushroom and leek tart with Gruyere cheese and a handmade crust. I just put it in the oven, and my lordy does it look grand. Leeks however, kind of freak me out. I've never cooked with them before, in fact, until we bought 'em for this recipe, I think I can securely say I've never held one. I'm not an onion man. Back in the day, I wouldn't eat them at all. Now, I use them a lot in my cooking, but that's it. Raw is a no-go, but I usually use regular green onions or other types of onions. Leeks have an interesting flavor... almost "Herbier" than others.

The thing that freaks me out though is that they feel and look like I should be cutting a green onion, just a mutated, giant green space onion. So naturally, while they freak me out, they also geek me out.

Back to work tonight. Bah.

Writing -

I got about 5,000 words written in Graves and I'm starting to get to the good part, so it's becoming a bit easier to write too.

I'm hoping to get a lot of revision work done on The Whispering Ferns this week, in jots and jabs at work and before bed. It's September now, so I expect a rejection letter from the contest any day now. I'd love to have it ready to send out by the time that happens.

The Last Sentence -

The girl in the blood-spattered white smock looks up.
From "Graves" (WIP)