Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sometimes I cheat at scrabble

I really can't help myself. It's true. A terrible affliction. I hate to lose. I am a terrible, horrible, no good, sore loserpants. But it is only at Scrabble that I cheat. I never cheat at any other game. In fact, I won't even cheat to lose on purpose for my kids as I believe learning to gracefully lose is an important learning lesson. One that I apparently never learned well myself.

For some reason, the idea of losing at Scrabble is unacceptable to me. The little devil pops up at my ear and whispers "He is beating you and the last word he placed on the board was 'fun?' You call yourself a writer? A voracious reader? A brilliant legal mind? He barely reads! The last thing he read for fun was a fishing magazine at Barnes and Nobles which he was too cheap to even purchase. He refuses to see foreign movies because he doesn't like reading subtitles. You are going to let HIM beat you at scrabble?" I argue back, "Listen, I can't help it that all I have are a series of 'I's and 'E's. What the heck am I supposed to do with that? Even Dickens couldn't come with a word worth more than 4 points with the crap I keep getting!" But even the little angel on the otherside of me shakes his head and says, "Listen, you need to step up your game before I smack you silly. Now I need to take a little break, but when I get back, I better not hear you've lost again..."

At this point, it's not like I have a choice anymore, I must cheat, and cheat I will. Strategically holding the bag so the light hits the letters just right, I spy a Z and slyly pick it up along with a few 'O's and 'S's and a very fortunate blank. Utilizing a carelessly opened triple word score box, I crow elatedly over a well placed "Zooms" adding an 'S' to the end of his "fun." As I gloat openly and outrageously at my triple word score, HE coughs carefully and asks me, "Did you cheat?" I look him in the eye ready to angrily deny it and then deflate like a flattened whoopie cushion. I cannot lie to him. He knows me too well. Not because I can't lie, although I do not consider what I do lying, more of a strategic manipulation of certain facts and truths to my benefit, but never outright lies. It is part of the aresenal of a good lawyer. You admit only certain facts, omit others and speak vaguely on all other points. Is this lying? Perhaps that is a topic for another post. For now, I sullenly nod and cross off all my illgotten points. I am losing again. Oh and funs is apparently not a word, which he so graciously pointed out to me. I was not having funs.

Forced to return my purloined tiles, I instead exchange my original crappy tiles for even shittier ones. Now along with all my 'I's, I have only 'U's and 'O's. Apparently for this round of Scrabble, I am to be the Queen of Loose Vowels. As I lose the game 98 to 50 points, I throw a little temper tantrum and kick the board over as I blame everything on the crappy tiles I received. He looks over at the sulky angry brat I've become and asks me if I want a rematch. And I sulk a little longer but then finally agree but ask to go first. He graciously concedes. Viciously shaking the little grey bag, I reach in (without cheating) for my first seven tiles. 'I's. Why did it have to be 'I's? I may have to cheat again. But this time, I hope he doesn't catch me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Still not completely back...

And do you know why? Cause right in the grand midst of holiday hectic frenziness, the entire family got sick. Like dominoes, one after the other. First the 8 year old, then the 6 year old followed closely by the 3 year old who just turned 4 and then the big baby got sick and that just about killed me. Why is it that when men get sick they revert to the infant stage? My husband pretty much curled up into a fetal position and remained in bed for four days. I AM NOT KIDDING. I get sick and it doesn't matter how sick I get, I could never lie in bed for four days. There is just too much to do and too many things to take care of. Plus my parents were in town and honestly, I don't have the type of parents that come in and help out. Oh no. I have the type of parents that come in and need to be catered to. And because I hate shopping so much, I still had Christmas shopping to do up until Christmas eve, as well as cooking and cleaning and laundry and wrapping and entertaining. All with at least a minimum of 2 or 3 rotating sick people in the house.

So I ask you, why is it that men are such wimps when they get sick? This is an age old question for women. To the ABC News article titled "Are Men Wimps About Getting Colds?" I would answer with a resounding DUH! According to a study by Benenden Healthcare, "Male workers are more likely to call in sick with "the flu," while women tend to go to work and carry about their business when they feel an illness coming on." Is this really news for anyone out there? In fact, there is even a phenomenon called "Man Flu." It even has it's own Wikipedia page . So what is Man Flu? Apparently it is a phenomenon by which men and women suffer the same illness but by which men piss and moan and take 3 times longer to recover than the average woman. I'm sure all my women readers are nodding their heads in sage understanding. Apparently a man will take 3 days to recover where a woman would take a day or a day and a half at most. So why is this? Do women get sick less? Actually, no, in fact, women are more likely to get sick more often because they have more contact with children. Are they stronger? Hard to answer because we would have to consider physical, emotional, pschyological, etc., and how do you analyze all that? Perhaps it is a matter of pain tolerance. After all, the old joke is that if human existence depended on men being pregnant and delivering our babies, then mankind would go extinct faster than you could say "Ice Age."

When I was pregnant for the second and third time, I had very bad pre-term labor. In order to keep from going into early labor, the doctor put me on a terbutaline pump that injected terbutaline into my system every four hours. The problem was I had to insert the needle which would provide the medicine into my system, into my leg and then change sites every few days. Well it was pretty hard to stab a large needle into my own leg. It was NOT like a thin insulin needle, this was bigger, it had the plastic tubing around the needle, and you had to stab it hard past the outer muscle in order to insert it properly. I asked my husband to do it. The first time he nearly passed out and left the needle partly in, partly out, with me screaming at him and him screaming at me that he couldn't do it. I finally slammed the needle in with my palm. But changing it was so bad that I would wait too long to change it and get an infection in my leg before being forced to change the injection site. I finally got my husband to get consistently good at it, but his hands would curl up into claws and he would wince and moan as if he were the one getting the needle. On top of all of this, I also had gestational diabetes and had to inject myself with insulin three times a day. This I did by myself with no hesitation. But if the roles were reversed, I doubt my husband would have been able to go through all that I went through.

In a recent article in Men's Health magazine on Why Men Are Babies the author discusses two types of men, the whimpering crybabies and the stoic silent types that never say a word until they are dead. There are good reasons for both. Men still feel that they are the stronger sex and that they shouldn't get sick and if they do get sick, well then, it must be a horrible illness that is thoroughly incapacitating and everyone around them should coddle and nurse them until they are better. But when weird things happen to their bodies, they are less likely than a woman to go to a doctor and check it out. They will more likely ignore it. This is why men don't catch testicular cancer or prostate cancer soon enough. Because even their doctors will admit that men are babies. (Now I say this because I do think more men need to be more concious about taking better care of themselves.)

OK - I just want to amend my post to also say that my hubby is only sick once a year and is only incapacitated with the flu. So he is that crazy mix of stoic suffering through all other ills and then turning into a baby when incapacitated by the flu. So I shouldn't really complain, it is just hard because usually he is not sick alone - I have a full house of sick people. He is a wonderful hubby and I am just so happy he is better.

So with that rant over, I shall leave you with one last funny ad which cracked me up in my sick bed. Thos Brits have a sick sense of humor.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Here's wishing you all a wonderful, holiday season!

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 4

Whoopee Cushion

A friend of mine brought her son and daughter over to play with the girls. Her son is 5 and her daughter is 8 and they both play really well with my three. The boy brought over his whoopee cushion and proceeded to show the girls how to sit and make loud and embarrassing sounds of extreme flatulence. Giggling madly, the girls began to argue who would get to sit on it next.

Shrieks of “it’s my turn,” “No my turn,” “let go,” “No, you let go” started to get louder and louder until finally I had had enough.

“That’s enough!” I shouted up to them. “No one plays with it anymore. Please put it away.”

There was a few minutes of absolute silence followed by whispers and giggles and then a loud farting sound exploded in the air as the kids began shrieking in laughter again.

“Didn’t I tell you to put that whoopee cushion away?” I shouted. To which my oldest girl responded, “Apparently we didn't actually need it.”

Evil Temptations

A neighbor brought by homemade brownies she had made for us the other day. After the polite thank yous, I sent the plate of brownies up with the girls while I stood chatting with my neighbor. After several minutes of chit chat, I headed up to snag a brownie for myself only to find that the girls had demolished all the brownies, leaving none for me.

“I can’t believe you didn’t save me even one brownie!” I cried out, quite miffed.

The older two had the grace to look a little guilty but the youngest, who is not yet 4, replied, “But Mom, you said chocolate is an evil tentashion for you, so we was helping you by getting rid of it!”

The other two brightened up and eagerly agreed, the middle child even going so far as to say, "Yeah Mom, we don't want you to get fat!"

I bet they were high fiving each other when I left.


While driving in the car with the girls, my middle child lets out a massive burp. My youngest who sits right next to her cracks up and says “do it again!” My middle child burps again, not as loud. “Again!” says the youngest. Another burp, another "again."

“That’s enough,” I chime in. But they don’t listen to me as burps and "agains" keep coming and my middle child is starting to wheeze from the effort.

“Stop it!” I say just as the last burp turns into a vurp – vomit burp with a little spillage, and the middle child starts crying. The youngest stops laughing and says "ill, don’t do that again.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


My Summer Friend Danette tagged me for a Random things meme. Since I've already blogged about a lot of random things and my blog has the term "random" in it, it seems only natural to continue the randomness.

1. I love tabasco. When I went to New Orleans, one of the best parts of the trip was being able to buy a gallon size of tabasco sauce. I put it on everything except sweets, but not for lack of trying. The world is a better place because of tabasco. In fact, I have even composed an Ode to Tabasco.
Ode to Tabasco
Oh glorious red marvel of hot treasure
How I adore thee all the time!
Boring foods now have become a pleasure,
although you burns me behind.
2. I am not good at poetry. See number 1.

3. I hate surprises. My husband knows better than to ever throw me a surprise party cause that would piss me off so bad. I've been known to turn to the end of a book I was reading, just to make sure who ever I was liking or hating, lived or died by the end. Of course I would never do this anywhere near Josephine Damian who has promised to smack me upside my head if she ever caught me doing it. Now I've found which is like my new best friend now! I can know exactly what happens before I go see a movie! Ha, my husband hates this! If I ever even inadvertently give away some small inconsequential plot detail of some movie he wants to see, he refuses to see it claiming I have ruined the experience for him. Talk about overly dramatic. I mean just because I told him Bruce Willis was dead in Sixth Sense. Sheesh. ;o)

4. I don't believe in the line "it's the thought that counts." Cause it doesn't. It's not just the thought that counts but how you execute it. Seriously. I would rather receive no present than have a crappy insincere one. For example, I was once friends with a woman who, when she had her first baby, I sent her a lovely baby present. When I had my second child, this woman sent me a present also. I wish she hadn't. It was a baby blanket that no longer had any labels on it so I had a sneaking suspicion it had been used once before. Plus, it smelled of cat piss. I swear to you all. Cat Piss. I would much rather have never received anything from her, or just a card congratulating me would have been much preferable to a nasty stinky baby blanket that some miserable cat pissed on.

5. My embarassing karaoke story. Back when I was a wild young thang, we all went out drinking at some bar that was having a karaoke night. I got drunk enough to be persuaded to sing Like a Virgin on the bar's stage. I was so toasted I couldn't remember the lyrics and couldn't read the words on the screen so I just kept singing "touched for the very first time" and "like a virgin" over and over again and throwing in alot of "Whoas!" All I can remember is that there were alot of military guys out that night who were trying to convince me that I was the next Madonna and trying to persuade me to sing it again but luckily for me, my girlfriends were wise enough to drag me home. The moral of the story is never go out without a good group of girlfriends to save you from yourself.

So I dare anyone else to share an embarrassing story with me! Come on, let's hear it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday shopping fun

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE IN THE MALLS?!!!!! Let me start by saying I am not a shopper. The gene for shopping somehow did not get passed down to me. I abhor shopping. Loathe it. I would rather watch grass grow. I would rather smell my husband's feet. Anything but shopping. So if I am at the mall, I am there out of absolute necessity. My sox have too many holes in it, my kids clothes look two sizes too small, my shoes talk when the walk, etc. (Exception is for books and music. I don't consider that shopping since they are more like necessities of my life.) So I really don't understand the frenzy that attack people whenever SALE signs are posted. And shopping during the holidays is the worst time of the year.

I was at the Gap, looking for a pair of pants for my oldest daughter since it is now too cold for her to wear pants with her ankles exposed. (This is not my fault since it seems that my daughter sprouted over night!) There I was at the sales rack. (Cause who wants to pay full price for anything? I mean I may hate shopping, but I'm not stupid.) As I placed my hands on a particularly cute pair of jeans that had just been marked down, a woman snatched it out of my handS and loudly proclaimed, "I saw that first!" And then scurried away like a rat. I was literally too surprised to say a word - literally stood there with my mouth open and my hands still in a clutching position outstretched before me. (The only other time I ever had anything snatched out of my hands was at Filene's basement in Boston, and not to be mean to anyone from Boston because I love Boston, but sometimes the term Masshole can be quite accurate.) I suddenly realized that the store had filled up and that crazed women were systematically snatching items off of racks and tables with the frenzy of sharks at a fresh kill. Apparently I had arrived right before a big one day clearance sale day was scheduled. Me and the one other man who was not a store clerk stared at each other with open mouthed horror.

A table we stood near had shirts and pants marked up to 50% off. Nimbly and with his long arms, I watched the man lean over a bunch of women (who were clawing through the once nicely folded piles) and snatch up a bunch of shirts and pants. I started to back away in horror but the thought of my poor kid's naked ankles strengthened my resolve and I muscled in and grabbed up a few pair of pants. As I was pulling my arm back, one of the price tags caught a woman in the mouth, bringing her head around as if I had fish-hooked her and was reeling her in. Spitting the tag out of her mouth, she shrieked "Watch it bitch!" I began to apologize profusely but realized she had already forgotten about me as she continued to frantically paw through the diminishing piles of clothing, even as the pile in her arms was growing to ginormous proportions!!

Hurrying away, I looked at the pants and shirts I had managed to grab up. None were in the right size for my oldest, but the prices made me blink. $4.99 shirts and $9.99 pants, Holy Corduroys! No wonder the women were like piranhas attacking a capabera. Determined, I trudged back to the table, determined to get a pair of pants that would fit my 8 year old. Alas, I was too late, in the space of ten minutes, the table had been decimated. The remaining pile of clothes compiled of size 14s and 2s in shades of green that looked like they came from a herbivores dungpile - none of them usable by any of my girls. As I stood forlornly by the table, a sales clerk came by to fold up the unwanted ones.

"Look at those women," the clerk snorted, correctly judging me as a shopping rookie. "They walk out with armloads of stuff that I'll just have to restock when they come back to return them after the holidays."

"And all I needed was a pair of pants," I sighed.

The clerk gave me a sympathetic look and said, "Honey, you are just not aggressive enough."

No kidding! Those women scare the crap out of me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday Pick Me Up

A beautiful picture and a beautiful poem to uplift us on a dreary day. I may not be able to write good poetry, but I know it when I see it.

Copyright by Frances A. Wiley

Lord, the air smells good...
by Rumi

Lord, the air smells good today,
straight from the mysteries
within the inner courts of God.
A grace like new clothes thrown
across the garden, free medicine for everybody.
The trees in their prayer, the birds in praise,
the first blue violets kneeling.
Whatever came from Being is caught up in being, drunkenly
forgetting the way back.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Girls and Holiday Spirit

The girls were helping me decorate the Christmas Tree when oldest says "Let's all sing Christmas songs!" They immediately begin singing Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. When they are done, the oldest asks "What should we sing next?"

Middle child shrieks, "Oh I know! My favorite song!" And proceeds to sing this:
O dreydl, dreydl, dreydl, I made it out of clay
And when it’s dry and ready, o dreydl I shall play, Hey!
I start cracking up and oldest says: "That is most definitely NOT a Christmas song! It is a Hannukah song and you can't sing it for Christmas!"

"Well I don't care cause I like it!" middle child responds.

"You're not being in the Christmas spirit!" oldest says.

"I'm being in the holiday spirit and since that includes Christmas and Hannukah I can sing what I want!" middle child replies very smartly.

Intervening in what looks like a Christmas/Hannukah fight between the girls, I interject and say, "That's right sweetie, it is very nice of you to sing all holiday songs!"

"See! I told you!" middle child replies and sticks out her tongue and blows a raspberry at her.

"Now that's not being in the holiday spirit. Remember, Santa's always watching," I chided her.

"Don't worry he didn't see me cause I was crossing my fingers!" she replied with a big smile.

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

So this was so bizarre I had to post it. An orchestra made entirely of vegetable instruments. How very phallic! Although I must say that my favorite was the person playing the head of cabbage. That cracked me up!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My middle name is

Dear Larramie at Seize a Daisy has tagged me for a middle name meme. Something about listing one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, just make one up...or use the one you would have liked to have had.

So my middle name is like 13 letters long and I just don't have that many interesting facts about myself to make this an interesting post. Well, I was feeling weird so I decided to write up the facts and make up a middle name depending upon what I got so here goes:

O - is for OCD. During the winter my hands turn into little alligator clutches cause I wash my hands so much you can actually see the dried up diamond shape markings of my skin. And I would rather pee my pants than use a port-o-potty.

S - is for sarcastic. Try to understand that I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, I really am smarter and better looking than you.

S - is for serious. No seriously, I am smarter and better looking than you.

H - is for happy. Truly I am, especially after I punched that last moron who told me to turn my frown upside down.

E - is for eating. My new avatar is a pig. Need I say more?

L - is for laughter. Hey, if I can't laugh at you, then who will?

A - is for anal. It comes with having OCD. I don't like when people touch my stuff. They'll put it out of order. I don't like lending people my books because I hate it when they bend my spine. I don't like naked dolls. If I see a naked doll, even if it is at someone else's house, I must dress it. This is non-negotiable. While in the Barbados, I got into a little fight with my friend's 3 year old who insisted that her Barbies needed to swim naked in the pool and began screaming at me when I kept trying to sneak clothes on their naked bodies behind her back.

So OSSHELA is now my middle name. But I didn't like the sound of that so I started playing with the letters and switching them until I realized that my real middle name is actually "ASSHOLE." Ain't that a bitch?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 3


I pulled up to a light with my girls in the car when all of a sudden I hear my oldest yell out:

"Gross, that guy is picking his nose!"

A young man in a small sports car sat picking deep into the recesses of his nose.

As the girls squeel in disgust I hear my middle child shout:

"Oh my gosh! He just ate it!"

As all three girls screamed and laughed in disgust, I rolled down the window so that the nose picker could hear the girls. HE looked at us startled to notice a bunch of kids staring down at him, pointing and laughing. The light turned green and he took off as fast as he could. Unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic so I kept pulling up next to him for a few more lights and the girls would squeal loudly all over again whenever we pulled up next to him. Serves him right. I could never understand people who seem to think that being in a car made them invisible.

Broken English

We have a nanny who is Korean and speaks very little English, but she has been with us for seven years. She used to be fulltime but has gone to parttime to mirror my own parttime status. Although my Korean is not great, I do manage to be able to talk to her somewhat. At least better than my husband who tends to just grunt at her. She communicates with the kids in a mix of broken English and sign language. My girls call her “Halmonee” which is Korean for grandma as a sign of affection and respect.

The other day my middle child comes home and informs me that she was a translator at school for a new child who had just come from Korea and didn’t speak any English.

“But honey, you don’t speak Korean,” I said.

“Yes I do!” she replied indignantly. “Watch!”

Turning to our nanny she says: “HALMONEE, ME (pointing to herself) TALKU KOOOHLEEEAHNNNN ATA SCHOOOOOOL TOOOODAY! BELLLLLY GOOOOOD! (nodding and giving two thumbs up)”

Oh dear Lord, my kid thinks speaking broken English with a Korean accent is speaking Korean. I can only imagine what that poor Korean kid at school was thinking.

Friday, November 23, 2007

God is a DJ

Stupid people handling our most personal data:
From the New York Times - Data Leak in Britain...

The data went astray in October, after two computer disks that contained information on families that receive government financial benefits for children were sent out from a government tax agency unregistered, via a private delivery service (!WTF!). The episode is one of three this year in which the agency improperly handled its vast archive of personal data, according to an account by the chancellor of the Exchequer — including the sending of a second set of disks when the first set did not arrive. (HUH?) In sheer numbers, the breach was smaller than several in the United States over the last few years. Last year, a computer and detachable hard drive with the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of 26.5 million veterans and military personnel was stolen from the home of an analyst, but recovered apparently without any harm. But the disks lost in Britain contained detailed personal information on 40percent of the population: in addition to the bank account numbers, there were names, addresses and national insurance numbers, the British equivalent of Social Security numbers. They also held data on almost every child under 16 (HOLY S#*T!). “This particular breach would dwarf anything we’ve seen in the United States in terms of percentage of the population impacted,” said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in California.

There should be a law prohibiting stupid people from handling people's personal information.

Anyway - here's something completely different.

This is the most awesome short film! I've stolen it from The Struggling Writer because I absolutely love it. It's a bit long so make sure you have a few minutes to spare before you start watching. I hope you all like it as much as I do.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Random thoughts before the holiday gorging begins!

So I was checking to see how many people actually have popped by and I was flabbergasted to find that on Monday I had 867 unique visitors to my blog. I did some digging and I found they had all came from this link. The MSN Tech and Gadgets site. So how cool is that? Maybe not so cool that they are all going to this page but, well, ok - I'll take any kind of publicity I can get!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's to family and friends gathering around a beautiful table filled with delicious food. A table groaning under the weight of a perfectly basted turkey, mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, hot rolls, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce, glazed sweet potatoes and heavenly pumpkin pie. Luckily for me, I am not cooking or hosting Thanksgiving. WOO HOOOOOOO! Hurray for me!!!

I am the queen of reheating. I haven't made my own turkey since my first year of marriage, where the defrosting of the turkey debacle left me in tears on the kitchen floor. Nevermore! From that moment on, stores that sold a full Thanksgiving feast for me to pick up and reheat were my best friend! Between Balducci's and the local Giant, I have not had to cook anything myself for nearly ten years! And that is how I enjoy my holidays. Although, if truth be known, reheating all that food can be quite an ordeal also, but nothing like the actual cooking of the feast. So this year my sister has decided to host Thanksgiving. Since this is her first time cooking a turkey, I will be feeding my family some sandwiches before heading over. Just kidding. i hope. But I'll bring sides and dessert so that if the turkey comes out inedible, we will not go hungry. Just kidding sis.

I hope all my American readers enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Since this is a crazy week, I will begin the story prompt next week and have already selected the picture for it. This time, I am picking the genre for the story and just so you all can think about it, it will be Humor! We shall see how wacky we all can get!

Meme me again!

Before I go, my pal Precie has tagged me for a "Four things you don't know about me" meme. I always find it fascinating to read little snippets of other people's lives. Here's hoping you will find mine just as interesting:

A) Four jobs I've had:
  • lawyer (boring but good paying job)
  • Adjunct faculty at university (work too much for too little pay job)
  • waitress - (hardest and most thankless job)
  • internship at the NY City Morgue - (smelliest and most disturbing job) Cyn has asked me to blog about this and I will have to dig into the recesses of my mind to remember all the stories that have previously been blocked from my mind.

B) Four movies I would or have watched over and over again:
  • Godfather I and II - From I - Leave the gun, take the cannoli. From II - Fredo, I knew it was you! You broke my heart, you broke my heart!
  • Gladiator - Are you not entertained!
  • The Princess Bride - Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father prepare to die.
  • Forrest Gump - Stupid is as stupid does.

    C) Four TV shows I watch
  • Law and Order SVU - I admit to having a thing for Chris Meloni
  • Top Chef - Chefs cooking good food in a crazy competition forum? Love it!
  • Project Runway - Tim Gunn is hysterical!
  • No Reservations - Anthony Bourdain is a cooking God!

D) Four places I've lived
  • Brooklyn - I lived in the one Jewish block nestled between a fairly Italian neighborhood. At Christmas time, you would drive down all these brightly lit and sparkling Christmassy streets before you turned down my dark one. My parents would buy the brightest lights and Christmas toppers that blazed til your eyes hurt in their quest to light our entire street.
  • Queens - I don't remember much about living there. And that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh.
  • Manhattan - Technically I never lived there myself since I moved out before my parents moved into the city. But, since I go and stay with them for many weekends over the course of the year, I like to consider it a place of residence. I can only say that I wish my parents had moved into the city way earlier.
  • Washington, DC - I lived in Georgetown and then on Capitol Hill. Georgetown is a nice place to live, but when I lived on Capitol Hill our neighborhood was a bit scary. We lived a block away from a crackhouse and my brother-in-law, who lived seven blocks away, woke up one morning to find his car riddled with bulletholes.

E) Four places I have been
  • St. Peters, Barbados - recently for a wedding. Lovely place.
  • La Manga Club Spain - Two of my best friends and I celebrated our 40th by going away to a tennis resort. We had the best time in southern Spain.
  • Cannes, France - for work to Mipcom, but it was definitely a great experience.
  • Montreal, Quebec - for work twice a year at least regularly for 8 years. I always enjoyed my stay and hope to take my whole family up one day soon.

F) Four people who e-mail me regularly
  • My husband
  • My sister
  • My best friend (who hasn't emailed me since her Barbados wedding, hint, hint!)
  • Publishers lunch and the spammers who keep sending me emails for penile implants

G) Four of my favorite foods
  • Steak
  • Really good Peking duck
  • Osso bucco
  • Kal bi - korean barbecued short rib
  • Notice the lack of vegetables...

H) Four places I would rather be right now
  • some place tropical and warm with a cool drink in my hand
  • back in NYC - enjoying a slice or a Gray's Papaya hotdog
  • enjoying a fabulously delicious meal at a great restaurant with terrific service with my hubby and kids
  • sleeping in my comfy, cozy warm bed
I) Four things I am looking forward to this year and next year
  • I am looking forward to a positive resolution to my quest to getting published
  • I hope to finish my second WIP next year.
  • I am looking forward to our family trip next year because we have discussed doing a big Club Med vacation somewhere tropical and warm with babysitting service.
  • I am looking forward to the new season of Entourage, f**king June 2008!

    Open meme call to all who wish to play! Answer all or none or just a few. What four wouldn't you mind answering? Share - after all, tis the season.

I hope you all have a nice Thanksgiving - and for those who are not celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a nice Thursday! Stay tuned for our regularly scheduled programming beginning hopefully this Friday, if I have not lapsed into a food coma. I shall leave you with one last parting thought.

Ohhhhhhh, the pleasures of Pumpkin Pie! Who cares about the turkey! Give me pie! I shall be bringing two large pumpkin pies to dinner. One to share and one to eat all by myself in my attempt to become a human pumpkin. Last year I was thwarted in my attempt when I entered into a dueling fork battle with my father for the last piece of pie. Only because my dad stuck his fork (unintentionally, so he claims) in my hand. This time, there will be no mercy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Poo Poo Paper


Wideload copyright by Andrew Pescod

Is your source for hand made poo poo paper stationery. What never heard of poo poo paper? Neither did I! But I recently saw this link on another blog showcased at the Absolute Write Cooler and I have not been able to get the concept out of my mind! OK - I admit it is grossly fascinating and cracks me up everytime I talk about it.

They make their special paper by collecting and processing elephant dung pulp. Apparently ellephant dung is full of fibrous materials due to the elephants diet of grasses, bamboo and fruits they eat. They collect naturally dried poop from elephant conservation parks, prerinse with water to leave only the fibrous materials, place it in a giant pot of boiling water to clean it, they add natural fibers to strengthen the paper then mix it together, they make small separate piles which are then allowed to naturally dry in the sun and that is how they make poo poo paper! Ok, if any of you are grossed out by this concept, consider this, this environmentally friendly paper is a truly creative sustainable cycle. They are using raw materials that no other use to make highly functional societal products, providing economic opportunites for the local community and ulitmately is able to direct back portion of their profits to the welfare and conservation of elephants.

But what is the million dollar question? Well that would be their number one asked question:

Questions#1: Do your products smell?

This is by far the most asked question we receive! Our products do not smell at all...not like poo anyways! Our products smell like normal stationery type products although we have been experiementing with adding some nice aromas to our poo papers. We've had requests from cinnamon, lemon and coffee scented papers......we're working in this!!!!!

Our products don't smell because we allow the fresh elephant poo poo to completely dry up first then we thoroughly rinse and wash the elephant dung and all we're really left with are the fibres from the vegetation that the elephant didn't digest. That stuff doesn't stink!

So if this interests the environmentalist in you, check out the
Pootique where you can buy Poo Poo journals, notebooks and stationary. It's rated "Two bums up!" TM Just don't send it to anyone with kids known to eat paper!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 2

Speak properly

My middle child met a woman in a store who spoke with a very prim and proper British accent. "You speak sort of funny," she says to the woman. "That's because I speak proper English," the lady replied. As we left the store, my middle child loudly whispers, "How come speaking proper English makes you sound so mad?" I think she meant snooty.

At the pool

During our Barbados trip, my oldest and I were sitting in the pool when we watched a young heavily tattooed and pierced woman in a very skimpy black bikini enter the pool. As she passed us, we couldn't help but notice that her bikini bottom was actually a thong. My daughter then asked if we could leave the pool right away. As we gathered our things and walked away, I asked her why she wanted to leave when she was having such a good time. She said, "Her butt was naked in the water. When I swim, the water goes in my mouth. That's just nasty." Enough said.

A Drummer is Born

I was standing in line at our crowded supermarket with my 3 year old. As I leaned against my shopping cart, my 3 year old, who was standing next to me, got behind me and began to slap me on my behind while singing the following lyrics to the tune of Jingle Bells:
"Bum bum drums, bum, bum drums,
Mommy’s bum bum drums!
Oh what fun it is to drum on mommy’s bum bum drums!"
When I asked her to stop embarrassing me as people laughed their bum bums off around us, she responded with a cheeky "My Bad!"

The true meaning of Veteran's Day

Last week my husband was driving my oldest daughter and her best friend home from a soccer game when he asked them if they had school on Veteran’s day. “Yes” replied our daughter, “we don’t get it off.” “Do you know what Veteran's Day celebrates?” asked my husband. To which our daughter's best friend replied, “It’s a holiday for all the vegetable eaters.”

A Husband's real role

My middle child announced at dinner that when she grew up she would have seven pets. "Two cats, two dogs and two birds." She counts on her fingers, "Oh wait, that's only six! Oh yeah, and a husband!" My husband gives her a look and shakes his head, "I see Mom's got you trained already."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm Back!

Ah Barbados!

What a beautiful country! What a pain in the ass to fly to! I was flying to Barbados for my best friend's wedding and my daughter was the flower girl. My day started at 3AM to get to the airport, Dulles International, by 4Am for my 6:30 flight. After standing on a line 5,000 people long, my daughter and I barely made it to our gate on time. It is absolutely crazy how bad getting through security is at DC airports. I don't blame them, I'm glad for all the security. But it is difficult to stand through. Switching in Miami, we sat on the floor of the crowded waiting area for over three hours before finally boarding. I always give my daughter the window seat. She can look out and she doesn't have to sit next to a stranger. A tall broadshouldered well dressed man sat next to me as I was in the monkey seat. After exchanging polite smiles, I completely ignored him even as he kept pushing me off the armrest and his shoulder kept encroaching into my space. Finally, Mr. Nudgey decides to instigate conversation.

"First time in Barbados?"
"So what are you going down for?"
"Really? Me too."
Polite smile. Pause.
He begins again.
"So where are you staying?"
"St. Peter."
"Gee that's far."
"I'm staying in Christchurch. Lot's of fun. There's nothing to do where you are. You're gonna want to come to us to go out."
"So what are you planning to do while you are down there?"
"My daughter and I will do some beach activities."
I point at my daughter curled up in her window seat playing her gameboy.
"She's with you?"
"Uh huh."
"I don't see your husband..."
"Oh I came separately..."
"No! He's home."
Long pause.
"So you okay?
"Any problems with your marriage?"
"No," me annoyed. "He had to stay home with my other daughters."
Finally loses interest.

So how sleazy can you get?!!!

The Wedding was beautiful. the bride was the most beautiful woman on Barbados that day and the groom was so stylish and debonair. I'll have to blog later on aabout the return trip. But in the meantime, something funny to get you in the mood. A funny clip that is a bit old but always so funny:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday Thoughts - Food Glorious Food!

There are people in this world who eat to live and others who live to eat. I fall in the latter of these two categories and I could never understand the skinny bland white food eaters who only ate because otherwise they would die. I once had a boss whose daughter only ate butter sandwiches on white bread for lunch every day. Apparently there are people in this world who only like to eat white food. And I don’t mean Caucasian food, I mean the color white as in white rice, white bread, potatoes, pasta, butter, etc. Except I don’t think there is an 'etc' after that list, it is literally all they eat. I could not live like that. It would be torture and I would die of gastronomic distress. I love colorful spicy bold food flavors that make your mouth sing and your stomach happy.

But being around lots of friends I consider “bland” eaters, I decided that I would shake them up and introduce them to new foods that they never considered and might actually like. One of my best friends for like twenty years has a very narrow range of food she eats. She has never been interested in Indian food. She has stated that not only is it visually unappealing, but the spices in Indian food would be too foreign for her palette. Actually, like many of my other “bland” eater friends, Indian food is always their number one rejection of places to consider eating out at. Now I love Indian food and I feel that it gets a bad rap for being too spicy and all curry and so on. But there is much to love about it.

Finally convincing my friend that it was in her best interests to try something new, and also threatening to hide something that would leave a funky smell in her car, we took her out to a really good Indian restaurant. Rule number one for trying out a new ethnic cuisine - get alot of recommendations and go to the best restaurant you can. While I love greasy hole in the wall places, as they usually have the best and most authentic food, it is never a good idea to start a novice in a place like this.

We started out with garlic naan, which is grilled Indian bread with rich garlic and butter that is heavenly. It came with a variety of dips and chutneys, one particular favorite of mine was a spicy mango and chili chutney that imparted heat and sweet tanginess. We moved on to Aloo Gobi Gobhi, which is my favorite vegetarian Indian dish made of potatoes, cauliflower and green peas that is so simple and yet is packed with flavor. Then came chicken wings cooked in ginger and cumin and tamarind with enough spice to leave your mouth tingling. Is your mouth watering yet? The waiter then brought a hot clay pot of our lamb biryani, which is meat and rice mixed together and my other favorite dish – chicken vindaloo, a hot and spicy chicken and vegetable dish smothered in rich spicy sauce that is also slighty tangy. Last but not least, a king prawn masala rich with onion, tomato and coriander, all served with a bed of fragrant basmati rice. Notice, there were no true "curries" in our dinner.

We ended our meal with a trio of sorbets in mango, raspberry and lemon which was a perfect icy end to our spice filled meal. I asked my friend if she now liked Indian food and she said yes very enthusiastically. She had no idea what Indian food was really about. It was such a pleasure to introduce her to a whole new eating experience. Now if only I could convince my children to eat Indian food, it could be a great family night out instead of our current standard taco night out.

My Food Hero - Anthony Bourdain

While I am no expert, I am a fairly adventurous eater, although nowhere near the level of Anthony Bourdain, who is my hero. Anthony Bourdain, who was the executive chef of Les Halles in New York, author of Kitchen Confidential (awesome book!) as well as numerous others, and current host of Travel Channels No Reservations, is at this time my favorite celebrity. He used to host a series called A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network but he left them due to creative differences. Apparently the story is that they wanted Tony to stop traveling to Asian countries and stick with countries white America would be more comfortable seeing. Thumbing his nose at them, he took his show and his production team to Travel Channel and there a hit show was born.

No Reservations is an amazing show where you get to watch Tony partake of things both incredible and heinous. He is quoted as saying, "If it walks on four legs, is slower and stupider than I am, and tastes reasonably good; pass the salt." Boy does he take that literally! In my favorite episode, Tony goes to Namibia and has the worst meal of his life. He joins a tribe of bushmen who track and kill a warthog and brings it back to the tribe to be cooked. While enjoying his pre-dinner treat of tree beetles he is caught off guard by what comes next. They buried the head in dirt to cook and pulled out the rectum which is supposedly a treat. Since Tony was the special guest, he got the excrement filled treat. Tony knew he couldn't be rude and ate it to his great dismay. Every viewer shuddered and cringed along with him.

I'm glad Tony let Food Network for a network who isn't afraid to let him be himself. While I still watch Food Network on occasion, I have never been a fan of Rachel Ray or the semi-homemade cook Sandra something or other. Tony really hates them. He is quoted as saying Rachel Ray does to food what Hitler did to Poland. He is harsh because he is a foodie - a gourmand, a true lover of food - and a great chef. Rachel and Sandra on Food Network are not chefs and have never claimed to be such. They are typical at home cooks that most people can relate to, and that seems to be the niche Food Network is pandering to. Not a bad strategy on their part, and while they continue to have Nigella Lawson and The Barefoot Contessa on their schedule, I will continue to watch them.

But as long as Anthony Bourdain is on the air, taking us all over the world for amazing and bizarre cusine, and providing us with his sarcastic, intelligent diatribes, all is good in the food world.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Random Funny Things My Kids Say ...

Cartoon role models:

The other day I caught my middle child jumping up and down while holding and then rubbing her nose furiously. When I asked her what she was doing, she replied “I’m trying to sneeze and fart at the same time.” Ok, I had to ask her why she wanted to do this to which she replied, “Cause in the cartoons if you sneeze you fall back and if you fart it pushes you forward so I want to know what happens if I do it at the same time.” My oldest daughter then replied, “I think all you do is stink up the house real bad cause you will probably poop your pants.”

The best birth control:

My youngest child asked me the other day, “Mommy, when I was in your tummy how did I go to the potty?” My older two girls perked up their ears to listen to this fascinating question. “Well it all came out when Mommy went to the potty.” My middle child immediately cried out “Yuck! You have peepee and poopoo in your stomach!” To which my oldest responded, “I am never having a baby!”

The real monster:

My kids were all acting scared and wanting to sleep with me in my bed when I asked them what was going on. They said they were scared of monsters. I replied, “There are no such things as monsters. The only thing you should be afraid of is if Daddy comes up and finds you out of bed.” My middle child responded, “Huh, and you said there was no such thing as monsters!”

Budding environmentalist:

My youngest was picking her nose and pulled out a big booger and I told her to use a tissue next time and she responded, “Mommy, you always said not to waste tissues and paper cause we're killing all the trees!”

Explosive secret:

My middle child came home and told me she had to tell me a secret. I asked her what was up. She said, “At school today I had to fart but I didn’t want to fart at my station cause I knew it would smell bad so I went to another station and farted and then ran away. But I didn’t know it would be SO stinky. I thought it would just be a little stinky. But it was really bad! It smelled like lots and lots of boiled eggs! Lots of them! I didn’t know my fart could smell like that! And then Grant said Phillip did a stinky fart and Phillip said Nuh, uh and that Grant must have done it and then everyone started going ‘ill, ill, someone farted!’ and teacher got so mad at both of them she gave them both letters (the school gives out letters for bad behavior). And she had to open the window to let some air in. But I didn’t tell anyone that it was me who did the stinky fart and Grant and Phillip got in trouble. I was too scared to admit that it was me that done it. Was that bad? Will God be angry with me? Mommy? Mommy why are you crying?”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Slice of Life for Writers

There is a new literary magazine called "Slice" out now which is the brainchild of two book editors, Maria Gagliano and Celia Johnson. They know how hard it is for new authors to break into the world of publishing so their mission is to "pave a space for these writers who may not have a platform but show the kind of talent that could be the substance of great works in the future. We are equally dedicated to celebrating established writers, whose work moves beyond the boundaries of writing to not only redefine literature, but to inspire new voices to grow." They came up with the idea for this magazine while they were both editors working together at Random House.

On their website, they proclaim that "Slice is a new literary magazine created to provide a forum for dynamic conversations between emerging and established authors." Their first issue was made available this past September. When putting together their first issue, they decided that established writers would help draw attention to the newer talents. So the inaugural issue spotlights Junot Díaz who's first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books), has been garnering praise from all of the major critics. Check out their very cool website.

The magazine is currently accepting material for their March, 2008 issue. The theme for article submissions is "Heroes." Slice magazine welcomes short fiction, nonfiction, and novellas for serialization. They are looking for anyone with a fresh voice and a compelling story to share but are not currently looking at experimental or "heavy-handed" genre fiction. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as they are notified immediately if the work is selected for publication elsewhere. All submissions should be previously unpublished. All submissions must be submitted electronically, in the body of an email. Be sure to include detailed contact information. Please allow two to three months for them to reply to your submission. They are currently unable to pay for published material, but hope to reward writers by creating a wide audience of readers. Please send submissions to

Because they are a brand new magazine, it looks like they are cautiously testing the waters. Their publishing schedule is only twice a year in March and September. So submissions will probably be very high. But to anyone out there with short stories, please check them out. As they grow, hopefully they can expand their publishing schedule and eventually pay their writers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Scary Mary

Last time I posted the Shining's recut trailer. A horror movie made to look like a sweet family comedy. This time I have the beloved Mary Poppins movie recut and called "Scary Mary."

The beauty of these recut movie trailers are how misleading they are. If you watch the Shining recut and expect a happy family drama, you are going to be incredibly surprised with the real movie. Similarly, if you expect a horror film with the Scary Mary trailer, finding yourself in a Disney musical would be quite a culture shock. So how does this relate to writing?

Have you ever read a book jacket and been excited about the story only to find the book didn't live up to the promises? Or the book cover has nothing to do with the story inside? I have had this happen several times, to the point where I wonder if the people designing the book packaging actually read the book they are working on.

And I thought this could also happen in the whole query process. Think about it, writing a good query letter is incredibly hard. Trying to make it as interesting as possible so we can snag an agent's attention is our entire objective. Sometimes you want to make it sexier, more unique, maybe more so than your actual book really is. But we have to be sure that the query letter lives up to the manuscript in order to avoid being misleading. Would we even know if we are being a little misleading in an attempt to get agent's attention in the first place? And is it ok to make it a little sexier than your actual book? Perhaps the tell tale sign is in the correlation of rejections to partials or fulls read. Maybe there is a sign in there.

I think my query letter lives up to my manuscript. I feel very comfortable about it. But then again, maybe I'm pulling a Scary Mary.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I left the copier jammed...

So, last night I was at the faculty office and needed to make a bunch of copies for class. The office has these new copiers that are, how do you say, um, ABSOLUTE CRAP! Every time I tried to make a copy, it would jam somewhere in some impenetrable nether region of copier hell and I would spend 10 minutes opening and shutting various different compartments over and over again before getting it to work only to find it jams 2 copies later! F**k me! Frustrated, I gave up and informed my work colleagues that I had jammed the copier. When I went back to my desk, this wonderful and memorable video was in my email, courtesy of my colleague. Thanks Jason!

Man, oh man, I loved these commercials when they first aired! I am so glad we can see them whenever we want on YouTube. I have to say my all time favorite Terry Tate quotes that I used to go around saying all the time:

1. Break was over 15 minutes ago, Bitch!

2. You can't cut the cheese whereever you please! That's just nasty!

3. You can't make a pass and pinch Pablo's ass!

Ah, the good old days! Well, although I did jam the copier, at least I told everyone I did it. But we all know those office slackers that drive you crazy. Like the faculty member who left a dirty cup of rancid nastiness on the faculty desk for me to find. Errrrr. Or the person who farted in the stairwell above me even though they could hear me coming up so that I walked into the evil stank of his ass. Where's Terry when you need him.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am Writer hear me Roar...

Lisa Kenney has a great meme today about what are her five writing strengths. Unfortunately she then tagged me for it and I found myself at a loss. I really don't know if I could come up with five things that I would consider a strength in my writing. Why? Because I don't think I've been proven on any of it yet.

If you were to ask me what were my five strengths as a lawyer I could answer quickly and surely. I am an excellent legal draftsman (if you need a contract, I'm your man, er - you know what I mean), I am an excellent negotiater, I am extremely no nonsense, I can be intimidating (important in certain situations), and I can be quite compassionate (important in others). And I know these are my strengths from all my years of working and peformance reviews and promotions, etc. But creative writing? I honestly don't know that I can answer this. How can I with no publication credits to my name yet?

Maybe this is where my analytical, black and white mind fails me. Where I feel it would be somehow wrong to list strengths when they have not been proven to me as such. This is not some form of humble pie, cause humble isn't really in my vocabulary. Just how my weird brain thinks on things.

So what can I say that has been proven to my satisfaction? This is what I came up with.

1. I have very thick skin. Not only is thick skin essential for surviving as a writer, but it is proven to repel wrinkles and stretch marks.

2. I am a meticulous researcher. If I have a character chewing gum, rest assured that I would have researched the exact type of gum, from flavor to appearance and who made them at what period of time, and the exact composition of the gum including what particular sapodilla tree in Central America the latex sap came from. No one scratches their ass or picks their nose in my WIP without me researching it first. I take my ass scratching very seriously.

3. I learn more about my craft from reading others all the time. Lisa said this too and I completely agree. How can you write if you don't read? I say this to my students who are afraid of writing. For them, since they are writing academic papers, I always remind them to read the paper or news magazines and journals every day so that their writing will improve. Right now, I think alot of them only read the National Enquirer or nothing at all, if their papers are any indication of their reading.

4. I enjoy editing. I really do. I love tightening and tightening and tightening - sort of like a plastic surgeon on Joan Rivers face...

5. I enjoy writing. This is clearly a proven strength for a writer, right? I mean I'm not saying I do it well, I'm just saying I enjoy it. Love it actually. Writing feels good even during the times when it can be incredibly hard and frustrating. When all you have is one sentence out of hours of writing. It still feels great. And that's all I have to say about that.

To tag or not to tag, that is the question. Last time I did a blanket tag, not many played and I was deemed a spoilsport by some. But I like being a spoilsport so I think I shall blanket you all again! And as always, play if you want to or if you are like Charles at Razored Zen, you can always wear your "repel all tags" cloak. I hear it is pretty effective.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Walk on By

The last picture writing exercise was so successful my goal is now to do one every week. I was really amazed at the comments that came up last time which ranged from dark, to sweet, and from the profound to the hysterically funny.

So technically, I'm a bit early to be doing another image, but this isn't a writing exercise as much as one to provoke some thought. As you can see, it is a hard picture to look away from.

Walk on By
Copyright by Creativity+

When I came across this picture, it stopped me dead. I was moved by immense pity and by something akin to shame and remorse. Have I been one of those to walk on by? Did I turn a deaf ear to his pleas for spare change? Did I wrinkle my nose in disgust? Did I pretend not to see him? He is in every city and every country of the world. We all know of one just like him or her.

I wondered what his name might be, who he once was, what was his story? I wondered if once he had people who had cared for him. Where were they, what happened? Did he once have a house and family and dreams that all died, leaving him alone in the world?

His story whispers in my ear steadily whenever I stare at his picture. And I find myself talking to him. I wish I could buy you a decent meal. I wish I could give you a helping hand. But there are so many of you out there. What is the best way to help you all? I wish I knew.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Books, books, books!

OK two games of back to back tag! Larramie has tagged me with my second official blogtag - but this is a serious one. A book meme of all things. I couldn't actually respond right away because I wanted to think about it, seriously. Cause we writers are a serious lot. Seriously.

So first question. Total number of books?

What do you mean by this? Total owned, total read, total loved, total hated, total picked up started and thrown down in disgust? This is such an open ended question. It is nearly impossible to answer. So assuming that the party of the first part meant for the party of the second part to discuss the total number of books owned over the course of the second party's natural life, whereas the parties would like to come to a mutual agreement as to the proper response to said question, notwithstanding subsequent interpretations of said question, the answer shall be imparted as follows:

I don't know.

For further clarification, I shall respond thusly. The Library of Congress states that its collection fills over 530 miles of shelf space for its 130 million items of books, manuscripts, journals, etc. I have a little less.

Last Book read?

Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Beautiful, simply beautiful. I was like Niagara Falls.

Last Book Bought?

My most recent book purchased was an e-book (which was also my first e-book ever). It is Weirdly, a Collection of Strange Stories published by Wild Child Publishing. Cool creepy stories that you want to read when you are all alone on a dark, cold stormy night. The lovely and extremely talented Bernita Harris has one of the best stories I've read in it and I plan to do a review and Q&A with her when I finish the entire book!

Five meaningful Books?

For me, meaningful books are the ones that left me a little different after reading it.

If I must limit it to five then these would be the five I would list as most memorable to me at this particular moment in my life:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I can’t really even explain how much I loved this book. It made me fall in love with the power of the written word. It also made me want to be a lawyer - yeah, I know, but I still love this book.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, swept me away in an epic tale of betrayal, revenge and redemption. Also gave me my love for adventure tales.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I cried and cried. And then cried some more. I’m such a sucker for a good tearjerker – but only if it doesn’t make me feel manipulated. This book made me doubt whether or not I had written a book anywhere near as good and then made me determined to find out.

Persuasion by Jane Austen. One of my favorite books of all time. This taught me to fall in love with romance. It has the most romantic love letter I have ever read. And I am not one for love letters. Honestly, I am about as romantic as a head of cabbage, but I loved this book.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. I know I cheated and added a whole series as my last entry, but really these seven books must be considered altogether. I could dedicate an entire post to how this series has affected me, but I will limit it to this. Not only did I love the series and the world that Rowling created, I admired the strength of her storytelling that enthralled the world and united all her fans in an experience that will probably never be replicated in my lifetime.

Five People to Tag for a Book Meme

Here's the thing. I'm a lazy tag player. When I actually was It, I wouldn't chase anyone. I'd just go sit under a tree and read or take a nap until everyone got tired of waiting for me and got someone else to be It. But in this case, I really would love to see what everyone's book choices are. So, this is what I'd like to do. If you read this, and you haven't already been tagged with this meme, then consider yourself tagged! Consider this an all encompassing blanket tag, but only play if you want to, and leave a comment here to let me know if you will post on this Book meme so I can come and see the books that mean the most to you. I know I'm not playing by the rules. But rules were meant to be broken, right?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I miss New York

Downtown Manhattan
Copyright byNicolas Masse available via a Creative Commons License

Evening: New York

Blue dust of evening over my city,
Over the ocean of roofs and the tall towers
Where the window-lights, myriads and myriads,
Bloom from the walls like climbing flowers.
by Sarah Teasdale

As dusk falls, the buildings of New York light up the sky like Christmas lights. Evening is when New York looks its best, like a movie star dressing for a red carpet event. The lights of New York blanket the city scape in an evening gown of diamonds and pearls. Walking down the streets of Manhattan, you brush up against strangers bustling by in clever conversation with friends or cell phones. Passing an underground subway station entrance, you hear the screech and whirr of a train as a burst of air whooshes up the stairs assaulting you with the underground stench of tunnels and stale air. The odor quickly passes and is replaced by the competing scents of hot dogs and sauerkraut of a corner hot dog vendor against that of the gyro stand right next to it. Crossing the street New York style, nearly clipped by a fast moving bus. The brash horn of an impatient taxi driver echoes in your ears as it weaves through the well choreographed traffic. Walking again, headed uptown, the lights of oncoming traffic shimmer like an ocean wave. You look up at the sky, there are no stars. But one hardly misses them.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

An Interview with Patricia Wood, author of "Lottery"

Winning the Lottery

Let’s face it, who amongst us can honestly say they’ve never dreamed about winning the lottery, especially when it creeps up to ridiculous proportions like $200 million. I mean what a ridiculous sum of money for anyone to win. (Please let it be me! Please, Please!) So when I heard the concept of Patricia Wood’s debut novel “Lottery,” I was completely hooked, and so was the entire publishing world.

They called it a high concept hook - “Forrest Gump wins Powerball,” and it created an immediate stir in publishing. Ann Oldenburg’s article in USA Today, stated that Lottery went to auction and landed a six-figure deal for its first time author. It is a dream that all writers aspire too.

So often we hear the hype, buy into it and then end up being disappointed. That is definitely not the case here. I read Lottery in one day in two sittings. And it would have been one sitting but for the simple fact that I had to cook dinner, feed the kids, bathe them, check their homework and tuck them in bed, all while glancing impatiently at my book and growling and muttering under my breath. When I finally closed my book, I sighed with happiness tinged with the sad thought that having finished, I could never have that new book pleasure filled with the discovery of finding new characters that warm your heart. Unless I suffer from amnesia, then please remind me that I will want to read Lottery again.

The main character is Perry L. Crandall, and he is not retarded. He knows this because he scored a 76 on his IQ test and Reader’s Digest says that you have to have 75 or lower to be retarded. So he is not retarded. And from this introduction on, you are absolutely hooked by Perry, his loving but sharp tongued grandmother, his nervous but caring boss and a disgusting burping, farting best friend, Keith, who was my second most favorite character of the book. Not just because I think burping and farting are hysterically funny, although they are, but because Ms. Wood develops Keith, a Vietnam Vet, into a living breathing person you come to care deeply for. Now all the bad guys in the book, Perry’s brothers, in-laws and even his mother, are either lawyers or married to lawyers. (I would feel indignant on behalf of all us lawyers, except I actually know too many like this to take offense for my profession.)

When Grandma dies early in the book and Perry wins $12 million playing the lottery, you’d have to be a real gullible, naïve fool not to know what happens next. The beauty of Ms. Wood’s book is that Perry, who knows he is slow, is neither as gullible nor as naïve as people like to think. And while the bad guys are little more than cliché’s, they work extremely well when placed in the context of the book. Their portrayal is as Perry sees them, no more, no less. As characters, they are not shaded or nuanced like Grandma, Keith or Cherry, a woman Perry would like to have as a girlfriend. That is because the actions of the brothers and Perry’s mother have only ever been unkind, and even when circumstances change and they try to act nicely to Perry, he sees right through to the desperation beneath their surfaces. Their words might have changed, but they are still the same. Perry is one of the most likeable underdog characters you will ever read. You will root for him, cry with him and laugh your head off at things he says. You will definitely not be bored, I promise.

Interview with Patricia Wood, author of Lottery

I came to know about Ms. Wood and Lottery from having seen her as a regular commenter on Miss Snark’s popular writing blog. There she would be seen commenting as Orion, the name of her 48 foot sailboat that she lives on with her husband and her two cats. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Ms. Wood has served in the Army, worked as a medical technologist, taught marine science to high-risk students and is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii.

After writing three novels which only collected rejections, she wrote Lottery over a three month period last year. In her own words she says, “I was consumed.” As luck would have it, she sent an e-query to top agent Dorian Karchmar, a literary agent with William Morris in New York. Ironically, Ms. Karchmar states that “most of the time I’m so busy, I don’t read email queries.” But Ms. Wood’s email arrived on a slow summer day and the rest of the story is pure magic.

After reading Lottery, I had to email Ms. Wood and let her know how much I loved her book and was happy to receive a very quick, warm and gracious response. When I decided that Lottery would be my first ever Book Review on my blog, I asked her if she would be willing to provide a short interview for my readers. Even though she is six hours behind me, I got a quick response that said “What a delight!” and we were off! I hope you all enjoy the interview.

E - Aloha Pat! Are you on your sailboat right now?

PW - Yes. I have just finished packing for my trip to the mainland for readings and signings.

E - I think it is so cool that you live on a sailboat. How long has it been since your residence was on land?

PW - Four years

E - It is amazing that you have access to technology even on a sailboat, but is there anything you miss about living on land?

PW - Not usually - I get a small twinge when I remember my beautiful gourmet kitchen and if I want a bath I go to a hotel.

E - So you have all the comforts of home, even pets on your boat. I understand your two cats are your muses, but they aren't housecats, they are sailboat cats, right?

PW - They didn't use to be but they are now! They got acclimated quite well.

E - Do they ever leave the boat?

PW - Not intentionally, only accidentally.

E – When they accidentally get off the boat, do they suffer from sea legs?

PW - No, but they get wet!

E - So we all know the weather is beautiful on Oahu but when you do get bad weather, how does it affect your routine as a writer living on a sailboat?

PW - I close the hatches and am snug as a bug in a rug. It's quite cozy.

E - You wrote Lottery in three months. But it was eight hours a day for seven days a week. How hard was it to commit to this schedule? How long was your editing process?

PW - It was often 12 to 18 hours a day and it was a first draft - and quite a shitty one at that! I did a couple passes through to fix grammar and spelling and by the fourth pass the skeleton of the story was closer to what Dorian (my agent) saw.

E - Did you have a critique group or readers review Lottery for you and what do you feel is the value of a writer's group?

PW - I've never been one to join groups. I know people swear by them but it has to be the right group. I think readers are better than writers. I have a large pool of beta readers. My friend author Paul Theroux read an early draft and many cruisers from my harbor (marina) read various versions.

E - But you were part of a large online writing community. You were a regular over at Miss Snark's popular blog where I first saw you as Orion. It was real neat to see you thank Miss Snark in your acknowledgements. When you got published, did Miss Snark ever get in touch with you?

PW - Miss Snark ROCKS. She sent several very nice emails congratulating me and did call me when I went to New York. The number came up unknown. It was magic! I owe her so much for all the guidance in her blog and the support the blog has shown me. They were all there from the beginning.

E - She called you? So do you have any idea about her real identity?

PW - No clue at all, but I suspect she has moved on. I read in People magazine recently that George Clooney hired a new maid with amazing literary taste. It could happen...

E - He would be a lucky man, then! As fans of her blog, we all know what we got from her; great no-nonsense advice and a community of writers just like us. Now that you are a published author, when you look back at Miss Snark's blog, what do you think you gained from it the most?

PW - The fact that this business is subjective. The fact that if more writers just sat down and finished their novels they would be more successful. You need to write, write and write some more. That hiring a book doctor or an outside editor is not necessary and that perseverance is the best quality to have.

E - One of the things that I've been so impressed with is how altruistic you have been to your fellow writers. You have a blog where you've given so much insight to the publishing process and you also are a vibrant presence on the Absolute Write forums where you provide a lot of great information and advice to newbies. I love that you have become like a Mentor figure now that you are a famous author, but what makes you do it?

PW - HA! I'm a know-it-all? Actually I am a teacher. Have always been a teacher and love to teach. I will be going to the University of Hawaii next Friday to talk to creative writing students. It is pay-back for the help I have received from generous authors like Paul Theroux and Jackie Mitchard.

E - So are you working on a new book and is there any information you would care
to share about it?

PW - I am ALWAYS working on another book. I have three finished manuscripts and am outlining other projects. My agent and I are giving a great deal of thought as to what will follow Lottery. Of course there is the paperback of Lottery that will come out next summer (08).

E - Lastly, there is so much advice that is out there, sometimes contradictory, but I would love to know what would be the one piece of advice that you think is really important or overlooked that you would give to aspiring writers about fulfilling their dream?

PW - WRITE. Finish your novel and start another. READ. Write. Read. And WRITE some more. Oh yeah... and make sure you write.

E - Thanks so much Pat for chatting with me about Lottery. You are awesome!

PW - Aloha and Mahalo! Writers are welcome to email me with questions at

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday Introspective - Technology is making us Stupid!

Noted Swiss philosopher, Jean Piaget, once stated that “intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do.” But in our technological world, everything comes with an answer or within easy Google reach of information. The ability to reason and solve problems has been supplanted by ready access to the easy answer. We no longer have to worry about not knowing what to do. Calculators take care of math equations, computers input data terms and spit out formula equations and answers, the research process has been replaced by an internet search engine. Even something as simple as the memorization of home phone numbers has been relegated to the memory of computer chips in phones so that most people can no longer remember up to five of their most frequently dialed telephone numbers. I contend that technology is making us stupid.

The Loss of Memory

Before the printed word, people relied on their memory for everything. In fact, those citizens with prodigiously good memories were revered and placed in positions of honor. Oral histories were passed down each generation. Storytellers had important roles in communities. Greek playwright Aeschylus stated that “Memory is the mother of all wisdom.” One might argue that memory in and of itself is no measure of intelligence. True, rote memorization with no understanding is unhelpful. But isn’t memory a component of intelligence? An innate intelligence must have the ability to remember details of importance in its rational search for the answers. Without a doubt, memory is a key component of our intelligence. It is involved in all aspects of thinking, perception, learning, language and problem solving. But we have now entered an age where memory seems to have become irrelevant. Why memorize when everything you need to know is a mouse click away?

A recent article on CNET discussed a UK article that showed a quarter of its residents could not remember their home phone numbers and a third could not remember birthdays of their immediate family members. It states:

“The less you use your memory, the study says, the worse it gets. The study indicates, shockingly, that people in their 50s and 60s have generally better memory than people in their 30s. Why? The older group was tasked with committing more to memory when they were younger, "training" their brains appropriately. Our gadgets make it simple to offload our memory to electronic devices.” (CNET, 2007)

Not forcing ourselves to use our memory is triggering more and more short term memory loss. Because we no longer train our brains to retain information, it becomes easier to forget.

Technology and Children

I worry about the impact of all this technology on our children. There have been more than enough studies on the impact of television to prove that the more you turn off the TV, the better it is for your children. But television alone is not the problem. Computers with its chat rooms and Facebook and MySpace cultures are fostering an addiction to the internet that has supplanted reading, writing, and even outdoor activities. And don’t even get me started on videogames! None of these things are bad if they are kept in moderation. The trouble begins with a new generation that seemingly cannot survive without its technology.

Technology addiction starts young. Companies target their audiences very well. Take for instance the Webkinz rage. It is marketed as “the stuffed animal that comes alive online in Webkinz world” (, 2007). WEbkinz are stuffed animals that come with a code a child can use on its official internet site to enter their animal into a world of one dimensional fun. My children all have 3 to 4 of these creatures each. Some kids we know have anywhere from 10 to 15 of these stuffed animals. It isn’t the toy that is the problem, it is the internet component that sucks your child in to worrying about and caring for the life of their cyber pet. This alarms me. I think eight and six are too young to be constantly on the computer. When I limit their computer time to thirty minutes and to once or twice a week, they complain that I am killing their cyber pets. As if I care. The sooner they grow out of this obsession, the better. But to them, it has begun their obsession with the internet.

Technology has cultivated a world of short attention spans

It has been well proven that children who read a lot do better in school. Reading comprehension is a core component of most intelligence testing. But less and less children are reading given the distractions of television, DVDs, computer, ipods, video games, etc. All of these technological gadgets seem to promote short attention spans and fosters an inertness in the mental faculties of our children. Everything moves quickly. They don’t need to think, just react. Reading, on the other hand, has always been about time and a demonstrated ability to focus for a long period of time. It helped sharpen your mind by the forcing you to provide long term attention to a focused reading activity.

The phenomenon of Harry Potter has proven how far reading has fallen. Media coverage highlighted over and over the incredible effect Harry Potter had on jumpstarting an interest in reading again for children. Equally hyped was the growing concern in the publishing industry with the end of the revered HP series. What, they worried, would children now read voluntarily? For it seems that most children do not read anything outside of their school reading lists, although they have no difficulties reading and posting treatise length comments on their web pages.

I am not stating that technology is bad. Of course not. It is a wonderful advent onto humanity. However, I worry that allowing technology to take over our worlds in virtually every aspect of our lives, is not such a good thing. Extremes of anything are never a good idea. I can only hope that parents will look to their children’s technology proclivities and think about curtailing them more. Push a book in their hand and take away their Gameboys and Ipods. Give them a soccer ball and turn off the TV. Teach them to play an instrument or paint a picture. Foster the arts. We, as parents, have a responsibility to offset the evils of the world, and while technology is not itself evil, too much of it may be stunting our minds.

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