Monday, November 30, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Return

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes over the holidays. I return those wholeheartedly.

I got back Sunday from Arkansas and spent the rest of the day trying to get caught up on everything I’d fallen behind on. I didn’t even come close. I did look at my Google Reader and had 288 posts. I actually scanned through all of them but there was no way I’d be able to comment on all so I didn’t comment on any. I should be able to pick up with new posts again starting today or tomorrow.

I had a pretty good trip, although they changed the gate on me in Memphis and didn’t announce it, and I missed my flight to Fort Smith, Arkansas. After I got home I realized they’d sent me emails about the change. That didn’t help since I had no way to check email while I was sitting in the terminal at the original gate. After running madly through the terminal I managed to make a flight to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and my brother Paul David and his wife Rita came all the way up there to get me. Thanks to them.

My mom seemed to generally be feeling OK, although she is certainly quite fragile these days. I did lots of visiting and ate a lot. Mom’s husband, Ray, has 7 kids and most of them brought varying amounts of food over for the holidays. We didn’t go hungry and I got my Lemon Pie. I also wore out my visiting bone for a while. And I only got chewed out one time by my mom, so things are looking up! The weather was great and I got to see my high school football team, the Charleston Tigers, win a game on their way to the playoffs for the Arkansas state championship.

One thing that really came home to me over the holidays is how much importance folks from small towns put on family relationships. Every time a new person’s name came up, my mom and Ray and my other family members would start in listing that person’s parents and their brothers and sisters. It had never occurred to me what a kind of “tribal” behavior that is, but I may post more on it later. It’s also interesting how it jumped out at “me,” having lived for a long time in a much more urban environment. The tribe is still alive and well in our world.

Coming up in future posts: 1) an interview with writer Shauna Roberts. 2) a bit about the process of trying to put together an anthology of one’s short stories. 3) more oddities and weirdness.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving in Arkansas

Well, crew, I'll be leaving tomorrow for Arkansas to spend Thanksgiving with my mom. She has not been in the best of health so I really need to see her. I'm feeling guilty about not making it up this past summer. I won't be returning until Sunday, and it's quite likely I won't be back to blogging until Monday or Tuesday. Mom doesn't have any kind of internet connection and the library where I sometimes access email and such while I'm there won't be open over the holidays. I imagine I can manage.

One funny thing. I talked to my brother tonight about picking me up at the airport, and he asked me if my favorite pie was chocolate. Apparently, someone in the family is thinking of baking me a pie. Score! The funny part is that about ten years ago my mom decided that chocolate had always been my favorite pie, and even though I tell her each year that it is actually lemon, I have not shaken her chocolate conviction. I always get a big kick out of that. And if I have to eat a fresh chocolate pie, well, I suppose I'll just have to suffer!

The things we do for family!

See you all when I return, and happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

From the Bizarre Side

OK, I just have to post about this. The same basic thing has happened to me three times in the past week, but today's experience was the most salient and bizarre.

I was making my blogging rounds today when I read something on Patti Abbott's blog about the old TV show "Leave it to Beaver." In my response to her I mentioned "My Three Sons," another show of roughly that time period. Not ten minutes later, Elliott Hammer, another Psych faculty member at Xavier, mentions "My Three Sons" to me. Elliott is quite a bit younger than I and is not obsessed with My Three Sons," but he heard Lisa Schulte's (another faculty member) daughter, Callista, refer to me as Uncle Charlie, and jumped from there to "My Three Sons.

I find that so unlikely an occurrence that it is still amazing me. And something very similar has happened to me twice before between the middle of last week and today. I don't think of myself as superstitious, but it seems like something is trying to get my attention!

OK, OK, go on with your lives now.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Quiz Report

OK, the quiz consisted of looking at 6 pairs of choices and picking one out of each pair. It doesn’t really matter if it is a forced choice, as in you didn’t care much for either of the two. I was a bit surprised that some folks seem to have no familiarity with certain pairs. I thought these were pretty universally known, although the music groups might be the least so. (That turned out to be the case.)

First, the “correct” answers. ;)
The Rolling Stones
Motley Crue
Star Trek
Black Sabbath

Now why are these the correct answers (and please realize this is tongue in cheek)?

First, there is what I call the “Scuzz” factor. The best things here are just a bit disreputable. They’ve got a nasty side, a dark side, a little bit more of an edge. They’re a bit more dangerous. Certainly this may be in our perceptions rather than in reality, but I’ve got to imagine that partying with Motley Crue or the Rolling Stones would be a bit more deviant than partying with The Beatles or Bon Jovi. And although Led Zepplin were definitely freaks, Sabbath has a soundtrack that might have come straight out of hell.

Second there is the human, non-human factor. I’m not a big fan of humans in general. Although both vamps and werewolves are typically shown as coming from humans, werewolves are definitely wilder and more beast-like after the change. Vamps are a little too prissy and pretty, especially today’s vamps. I mean, come on, get your blood drained or get your liver ripped out? Which is more frightening? Alien, of course, is far less human-like than Predator. That’s why I disliked the last Alien movie, which tried to make the thing more human. Aliens ain’t human. That’s why they’re cool. Predators are like Navy Seals gone all genetically modified or something. I liked the Predator movies but I’d rather face a Predator any day than an Alien. For goodness sake, they’re gonna lay eggs in you even.

The Star Trek VS Star Wars is an age identifier. I don’t know everyone’s age, but it looks like under 40 we’re talking Star Wars while over 40 we’ve got Trek. Since age brings wisdom, you can see why Trek is the correct answer. ;)

Ultimately, this was, of course, a psychological test. The data will be published in Abnormal Psychology of the Blogosphere, a journal that I just made up and am editor of. All your names will be used. Some of you—odder folks—and you know who you are—may be contacted for follow-ups. Good psychotic subjects are hard to come by.

Thanks to everyone for participating!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Quiz

OK, here’s a quick quiz for this blog’s visitors. I’m curious and have some thoughts about what the choices will be. I’m making predictions but I won’t tell you what those are just yet. If you care to take part, just indicate which one among the pairs below that you prefer.

The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones

Motley Crue vs Bon Jovi

Vampires vs Werewolves

Star Trek vs Star Wars

Led Zepplin vs Black Sabbath

Predator vs Alien

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pleasant Sunday

This was the first weekend in over a month when I didn't have to leave the house for anything. Lana and I did go hiking on Saturday, only to find the place we intended to visit had been clear cut and fenced off for construction. I get the feeling they are going to build a lot of cookie cutter houses there, although I just can't see the profit in it in this economy.

After that disappointment, however, the rest of the weekend turned out pretty darn well. First, we found another place to hike and the weather was perfect for it.
Then, we went through the drive through at Popeyes to pick up supper and when the young lady was handing the car in front of us their food she dropped a bag. She gave them a replacement and they drove off without anyone picking up the dropped food. I got out to move it because we would have had to run over it to get to the window and found that the box hadn't opened. Score.

Sunday we had breakfast out on our deck in extremely pleasant weather. I made scrambled eggs and bacon and Lana set up the table and chairs. We had leftover Popeyes' biscuits. The birds were hopping around the feeders and it was just a gorgeous morning to be out. Lana and I agreed that we were very lucky folks.

Sunday afternoon I watched the New Orleans Saints win their 9th straight game, this one over the St. Louis Rams. Then I had a nap. When I woke up I printed out and signed contracts for three nonfiction articles that will soon be published in a book, which I will reveal more about later. All in all, a weekend to enjoy. Sometimes it's very good to be alive.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Observe and Report

Here's a few observations on this world of human weirdness. These are some things I don't really understand, but then humans are truly an alien species to me.

1. There's a dating website called beautiful people dot com in which your application is judged generally by your level of hotness. You have to send a picture, which is voted on by those who are already members. Apparently only about 1 out of every 6 people is accepted. Here's some of their opening blurb:

Do looks matter to you, when it comes to selecting a partner?
Do you want to guarantee your dates will always be beautiful?
No more filtering through unattractive people on mainstream sites
Meet beautiful people locally and from around the world - now

I know beautiful people need love too, but do they really have that much trouble meeting folks? Or is it more of time saver for those beautiful folks who like to date a lot of different people? This way they won't have to deal with the homely, I guess. BTW, if you're "too ugly to sign up," (their words) you can click on a link that will let you browse through those of greater pulchritude.

2. Pornoments. Someone has come out with a line of Christmas ornaments that show snow people, reindeer, elves, and even Santa in various sexual positions. Even assuming these are meant humorously, is this something that needs to have been invented? Are there that many folks out there who just can't wait to see Rudolph's nose glowing red for reasons other than guiding Santa's sleigh? If so, I'm not one of them.

Just observing and reporting here. Soon I'll be returning to the Mother ship and submitting my full report to the high council. I wonder if I'll be believed, or will I end up on an ice planet in some galaxy where they house the criminally insane? I think the odds are 80 20 against.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Strange Landscape

Isn't the above a fascinating picture? To me it looks like human skin with some very interesting tattoos, but in reality it is a Martian sandscape with swirling marks left by the passage of dust devils. For more incredible Martian scapes, follow this LINK. Lana sent me this last night. If you squint just right at some of these I think you'll see Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom. Or perhaps, as one wag had it, maybe you'll see "worm sign."

In other news, Hurricane Ida barely sneezed on our area. We had some gusty winds and lost power for a couple of hours last night, but we scarcely had any rain and no work stoppages. It has come ashore as a tropical storm over toward Alabama so I hope our friends there are doing OK. It's certainly no Katrina, at least.

I completed a review for a textbook and sent that in, and today will return to put the finishing touches on a Sword & Planet story that has been sitting and waiting for over two weeks.

And, over at Writtenwyrd's Site, I won her Halloween contest. It was a tightly fought battle with only 1 vote separating first and multiple second places. Even if you didn't read or vote previously, you can still read some fine stuff. Every entry was worthy of consideration. Check it out. My piece was called "Lost in Greenery," and appropriately numbered 13.

Finally, I've altered my blog links around a bit to try and make them easier to find. If you're not linked there and have been visiting here then let me know. Or if you think you should be listed under a different heading, let me know as well.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Moon Calls up Strange Things

I don’t really have insomnia but I wake up frequently at night. In fact, I awaken completely after every dream period, and sometimes I’ll get up and wander the house, usually to have a look out the windows at the dark world. Last night was one of those nights.

Around 3:30 A.M. I had some fragment of a dream about a talking head in a box. I got up and wandered for a moment, and ended standing by the glass doors leading onto our deck. The moon was pouring its radiance gently into the yard. The black trees were backlit with an almost radioactive glow. I could see the ground where the moonlight pooled, and the ethereal shadows of the bird feeders reaching toward me.

Then I saw, clear and flawless, four footprints on the deck, crossing it toward the glass door where I stood. They weren’t quite human shaped. Nor quite animal. And they were almost fluorescent, as if whatever had made them had dipped its feet in a moonlight paint and was leaving drippings behind on the weathered boards as it walked.

For a moment, I even turned to look behind me in the room to see if the footsteps had come through the glass. They had not. But they hadn’t returned across the deck either. It felt as if whatever had made them was still there, standing across the thin glass partition from me. I couldn’t see it, but in the mirrored glass between us, with the moonlight beaming down, I saw its reflection. Or my reflection. Or maybe both.

What created the effect? Perhaps the moonlight was spilling through gaps in the deck’s tin roof. Perhaps it was refraction of moonlight from the wind chimes. Perhaps I had not yet completely escaped the dream state. Or perhaps! Perhaps in the moonlight there is yet magic. What do you think?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Updates and Other Things

Thanks to everyone for visiting and sending us good wishes. Josh got probation, which is what we were hoping for. It cost me over $1000 bucks, though. The fine was $150, but by the time you tacked on this fee and that fee and some other fee it was completely out of hand. The legal system's money grubbing knows no bounds.

Speaking of legal system money grubbing, I also got a red-light camera ticket. I was nearly hit by another car, sped up to avoid that crash, hit the stoplights under yellow, but they turned red while I was in the intersection. And now they say I owe the police $110 dollars. I wonder how these people sleep at night. I'm disgusted.

We're still in preregistration here and I gave one test yesterday and will give another on Friday. I have a deadline on a textbook review, two letters of recommendation to do, and have had three IRB proposals slapped on my desk in the last three days, including one request for a retroactive review, which is not possible. I'm still not going to get around to doing much blogging.

In the meantime, though, I finished reading The Ruins by Scott Smith. I give it a 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed it pretty well, although there was way too much telling and not enough showing in the book. I gave a full review at Goodreads. I also watched the opening episode of the new V and was not impressed. I thought the orginal was quite a bit better.

Also, if you haven't voted in Writtenwyrd's Halloween Cthulhu contest then please consider doing so. There are 21 flash fiction entries for people to select their favorite from. The posting and voting take place HERE.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Placeholder Post

I feel like I've offered very little of value here on the blog since my Days of Beer series, but school has been kicking my butt and I've had several writing deadlines that I've been trying to meet. This week is preregistration at school, which will be very demanding, and Josh's court date has been moved to tomorrow. Please send us some good wishes that that goes well. But for these reasons I'm not going to be keeping up with blogging very much this week.

I'm reading a good book, though, called The Ruins by Scott Smith. Stephen King called it "The Best horror novel of the new century." I don't know if I could agree with that but it's pretty good so far. I'm about half way through it. They made a movie from this but I didn't see it. I'll have more to say about the book when I finish.

Also, Writtenwyrd's Halloween Cthulhu contest posts are up here. There are some good flash fictions up there by a variety of anonymous writers, and you can read them and vote on your favorite. The winner will get a plush cthulhu.

Now, busy, busy, busy.