Still Kicking!

Monday, May 28, 2007

I've been so busy lately I can hardly stand it. I went three days - THREE DAYS!! without being on the internet at all. I didn't even have a few minutes to check around AW before I collapsed into bed.

Let's see... work has been... well, work. I won't say more, lest I be accused of whining. On top of 40+ hours a week of working, Little League is in full swing. (Full swing... get it? Oh never mind.) We have at least two games a week, and in between games there is practice, plus I am in charge of the concession stand, so I have to check it and make sure it's stocked every time there's a game, whether it's Son's team or not.

And of course we've got lots of end-of-the-year school stuff going on.

Oh, and did I mention that my relatives decided that we were having a Memorial Day cookout here? At my house? "No, I'm not having a cookout here," was apparently grasped as "Sure! A cookout! That'd be awesome! Everyone come to my house!" At least it's over and done with and I kicked everyone out. Don't look at me like that, I fed them first! Sheesh.

We're also having babysitter issues. How many migraines can one person stand in a week??

And then what do I do? I get sudden inspiration for my children's book series. (Yeah, a series... I'm incapable of coming up with small projects.) I've made some headway, and even got a few pages that I had a vision for sketched out. Ha. Sketched. I think my nine year old would have probably done a better job, but that's neither here nor there.

No progress on editing my novel. I'll get to it someday.

I also started reading a new book. It's the first in a series. I won't mention it by name, because I'm only to about page 10 and it sucks so far. I'm TRYING to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it's not looking good. I think this will be a good book to read in the pool so that if I get to page 50 and it's no better, I can drown it. Unfortunately, I bought the second book, too. I'm irked because it sounded really good. Pfffft.

My cat has decided to take over the spot on my computer armoire where my old printer sat (that my new printer won't fit in). She was lurking there, unseen, when I sat down. Suddenly, there was a wet nose against my knee. I thought she was going to fall over laughing when I screamed.

Speaking of screams, we have a crazy neighbor! Hooray! Our next door neighbor's daughter's ex-husband (got that?) periodically comes to stay with her, for reasons that are beyond my grasp. He's been in jail lots of times for illegal possession of firearms and all sorts of fun stuff. Oh, and he happens to be bipolar AND paraniod/delusional. Oh, and did I mention that he doesn't bother taking his meds?? So yesterday, we're outside in the pool and he dashes out their back door, screaming and cursing and carrying on. Fun stuff. Needless to say, we exited the pool and went inside until he jumped in his vehicle and sped off down the road. Idiot.

Hope you're all having a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Fairies Wear Boots

Sunday, May 27, 2007

So, I saw on the Entertainment Weekly web-site (why I was there, God only knows) that Stephen King had done a list of his favorite rock and roll songs. It was a good list. I mean, it capped out with the Sex Pistols, and that's a good way to end any list.

So I says to myself, I says, "Self, why don't you do one of those lists for both your loyal readers? Won't that be fun?"


I have no idea how to do it.

It occurred to me that my musical tastes, varied though they be, tend to wander through different phases which affect what I listen to, or what I consider popular. Thus, I have no idea how I'd write a decent "definitive list."

So instead, I'll arbitrarily name off some songs that, if I were stranded on a desert island for today only, I wouldn't mind spending the day listening to. Bear in mind that this list is probably influenced by the fact that Black Sabbath's We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n' Roll hasn't left my now playing list in three days.

Here we go. My top twelve.

12. John Lee Hooker, "Boom Boom"
Honestly, how can you ever NOT want to listen to that song? It's one of the best blues songs ever done. And John Lee Hooker is a good person to look to for inspiration as a writer, too. This is the man who said, "I don't need no three days to record no album." Go and do thou likewise, the next time you feel the almighty writer angst tickling your throat. Go watch him do it with Van Morrison.

11. Black Sabbath, "Black Sabbath"
This isn't their most popular song, nor their most catchy, but the guitars do some truly amazing things, and this early in his career, Ozzy's voice is full of texture and emotion in a way it lacked, later in life. And the way the guitar suddenly attacks toward the end is just stunning. Here's a video, but since it's weird 1970's stuff, just think of it as enhanced audio.

10: Metallica, "Master of Puppets"
Although really, it could be the whole entire album. You can have an argument with any Metallica fan about what their best CD was (and each argument will end with "they blow goats now") but for me, it's always been "...Puppets." The songs are solid, the writing is powerful, the guitars line up beautifully, you get Cthulu references, and "Orion" was a great instrumental. The song "Master of Puppets" was just brilliant though. They still rock live, long as they steer clear of the new stuff. Which blows goats.

9: Lonestar, "Walking in Memphis"
I know, I know. What the hell's country doing on this list? And I don't know. I don't like country, but I like this song, and I like their particular version of this song which is better than, say, Cher. It's a good song, and it's one of those songs that I listen to over and over again and think "there's a story here." There probably is. I just don't know it yet. I like songs that nudge me into thinking that, though. Here's an Elvis Montage with Lonestar singing. Give it a shot. A final weird detail: whenever I listen to this song, I and my visual mind always see...a rainy, blue-tinted window. I don't know why.

8: Credence Clearwater Revival, "Down on the Corner."
This song sounds like a John Lee Hooker party, and I love it. This is another one where you could very nearly put in any song that John Fogerty wrote. The man's one of the greatest rock 'n' rollers we have. The band broke up. The rest of the guys are now Credence Clearwater Resuscitation, or some dumb shit. John Fogerty is still going, all by himself. Guess which one still rocks? You got it. Here's a video lesson in why, even as rockers, we need to get away from the seventies really fast. A final note: John kind of looks like Harrison Ford, doesn't he? He Steve Martin. It weirds me out, watching him sing.

7. Cradle of Filth, "Nymphetamine"
I realize I just took a fairly blues-rock list and steered it headlong into heavy metal, but that's sort of how I am. This is a pretty typical list for me so far. This song is one of CoF's best and I never get sick of it. The female vocals counterplay wonderfully with the lead singer's alarming voice. I've been a CoF fan for a long time. This isn't going to change that. Their new CD isn't as good, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. Here's the short version of the song, and it's video. Please watch it, even if it's not your sort of thing. I think you'll enjoy it. The lyrics are a good thing to find too. Dark, but it's poetry.

6. Rufus Wainwright, "Hallelujah"
This is another one of the songs which I listen to and have large parts of my brain saying "This is a story," over and over again. I haven't written anything about it yet, and I may never do so, but it always leaves me thinking like a writer. There's an umpteen million versions of this song by all sorts of people, but I like Rufus's other songs ("In the Graveyard," for example) and so I chose him. Plus, he was the first person I heard do it. I first heard it during Shrek, and it caught my attention and distracted me from the movie. Here's him doing it live, and rather well.

5. Alice Cooper, "Bed of Nails"
Again, this could be the entire "Trash" Album, which is one of my absolute favorites. I'm a big Alice Cooper fan in general. I can listen to this album, or "The Last Temptation" or "Brutal Planet" over and over again and be happy. "Trash," though is a particular favorite. Here's a really cheesy video for it. What do you expect? It's the eighties, which were like the seventies, but with fewer mutton chops.

4. Ozzy Osbourne, "Road to Nowhere"
Another one where it could be the whole album. "No More Tears" is my favorite Ozzy album ever. Aside from fairly perplexing middle-songs like "Zombie Stomp," which are still catchy, it's a great CD. But the particular favorite for me is this last song on the album. I think it's Ozzy's best, ("Blizzard of Ozz" didn't catch for me, I like it but this CD's better) and I'm happy for anything that has Zakk Wylde tearing up a guitar. Here's the old music video for it.

3. Thea Gilmore, "Mainstream"
This one was tough, in that it could've been a half dozen different Thea Gilmore songs. She's the best British songwriter and rocker that we have right now, and she makes me very happy. Her last CD, Harpo's Ghost, is great...but I come back to this song, which was one of the first I heard. Failing to find anything about this song online, I give you Thea's MySpace page, where you can hear some of her stuff from Harpo, all of it good.

2. My Chemical Romance, "Welcome to the Black Parade"
When they released "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge," I was very impressed. I called them -- and I stand by this -- the current Alice Cooper. They don't sound anything like Alice, but they embody some of the same things that Alice Cooper did and still does. I was proven dead right when they released their concept album, "Welcome to the Black Parade," which has crawled up my list as one of the most solid rock albums I've heard in ages. It's wonderful. I could have listed a lot of songs here instead of the title track (I could have done "Teenagers, Famous Last Words, Blood or Mama...") but I thought this song was a good starting place. Even if you have the good common sense not to listen to Emo music, you should pick this CD up. They've gone past that now, they're just a solid rock band. With this CD, I hear the same story of tone and story that with other songs has made me want to write a story about it. Here, I'm just content to listen. I have no Black Parade stories (well, I do, but I have no desire to write them.) Here's the video for you.

1. Nightwish, "Ghost Love Score"
This is another song that tickles me as a story. It has since I first heard it. It's epic and powerful and beautiful and, and, and...Actually, the whole CD ("Once") is really stunning, and I'm looking forward to their next album, the first single from which we get on May 30th. For this song, I've written four different stories, all called "Ghost Love Score," and with each one, when I go to sell the story, I've changed the name to something else. (e.g., I sold "Ghost Love Score" to Coyote Wild and changed the name to "Only Time"). This is because I feel like I still haven't gotten right. I still haven't written THE story that belongs to this song. Here's a video for you.


So. There's my list. It could be changed tomorrow. I can look at it now and think of what I've left off (Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, Coheed & Cambria, Bowling for Soup...) but it'll do for now.

With the songs that are tickling me as stories, I should mention that it's not the lyrics in any of those cases (except "Hallelujah") which keep moving me to stories, it's just the emotion, the tone, the color of the song which I go for it. If I were just translating lyrics into a short story, that'd be easy. The songs resonate something within the creative parts of my brain, and I'm trying to get them out and written. That's all.


This week, through midnight on May 31st, I'm in a race against Lori Basiewicz (Birol to you, chum) to see who can get the most written on our respective novels. This is a terrifying race, in that she's got an iron willpower where I have the willpower of a small floppy fish. Loser buys the winner an interesting variety of tea.

So, this is my last blog until June, while I go write until my fingers fall off. And the reason I'm SAYING that this is my last blog post until then is so that I don't do what I'm doing now...which is waste writing time (this race has been in progress for two days now) by sitting here writing an ****ing list of songs.

So, now I vanish and stop writing just like

American Idol

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I always watch the season finale results show with something like trepidation, in that it's going to be enjoyable, except for the bits that are really horrible. So! Here's my breakdown of this year's season finale.

I should mention first, I just wasn't hugely tense about it. My wife and I were talking about it last week, and we realized we didn't much care who actually won. Either way, there will be a Blake Lewis CD and a Jordin Sparks CD, and I'll buy them both.

Blake Lewis & Doug E. Fresh (sp?) I had no idea who Doug Fresh was until this moment. This is because I'm a skinny white boy with about as much funk as leftover food (get it? funk?). However, I've enjoyed Blake's beatboxing -- again, something I never expected to like -- and I thought the performance between them was a lot of fun. Not my type of thing, yet I was very happy during it.

Jordin Sparks & Ruben Studddddddddard. I'd never actually heard him sing before. He did a pretty good job. They worked really well together, and it made me happy.

Kelly Clarkson, "Never Again" I really like her. She's got a helluva voice, a lot of attitude, and she seems intelligent enough. That's a big point in my book. She sounds great live, and it made me happy. On a similar note was Gwen Stefani, whose music can make me throw a radio out the window. And yet...I really enjoy it when she just talks. She's so damn normal and cool. It's just her music I can't stand.

Bette Middler: Honestly, I didn't know she was a singer. No idea. I thought she was an actor. I don't know if her mic was off, or what, but her singing...oof. I'll stick with the movies.

Sanjaya and....Joe Perry... Honestly, this is the type of thing that makes you watch this show. You just know Joe Perry went home and got a call from Steven Tyler going "Ha ha, that was so cute! You were a cute couple!" and Joe's like "Shut up, Steven, damn it!" and Steven Tyler's all "You two should exchange shampoos!" and Joe's all "I'm allowed to think about Liv Tyler all I want!" and then Steven hangs up, and there goes Aerosmith.

And that's our segue into the strangest thing ever, which is:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, etc. songs, done very well by some very good singers.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds....


Who the hell, on American Idol, said "What we need this year is a tribute to the general drugged-out trippiness that the Beatles had! Let's make sure we get songs that spell LSD, and also songs that say "My friends gonna help me get high." This is TV gold!"

Weirdest. Thing. Ever.

Well, except for maaaybe the Big Bird fat yellow-clothed woman who came on stage and promptly went diving for Ryan Seacrest's tonsils. That might have been the most alarming thing ever. I still say that that bug-eyed kid and the rounder kid are a John Irving novel taking place in real life. Since I don't have any friends who have read John Irving, my Owen Meany jokes all fall on deaf ears, with working mouths that then call me loser.

And THAT...was Idol tonight. I won't tell you who the winner is. But I will say, I'm glad whoever won, won, and I'll buy their CD, and I'll buy Blake Lewis's CD too.

Good night!

The Opposite of Dead

Monday, May 14, 2007

(which is, of course, 'alive.' Do try to keep up here.)

I'm sorry I haven't been around. It's been busybusybusy on this end of the world. Work is busy, for one thing.

My wife tested positive for Gestational Diabetes; normal diabetes would be less of a problem, but since the result of this would be twelve pound baby, we're having to be extra careful with what she eats. Mostly what this entails for me is getting up excessively early to make a real breakfast for her before she goes to work. Combined with late nights spent writing (or, alternatively, staring at the computer slack-jawed) and I'm pooped.

In other news, I've downloaded Stumble for Firefox, which is the most addictive thing on the whole planet and you absolutely shouldn't go out and download it. You'll have no life ever again.

Instead, you should go play Grow.

That's about the extent of my life, oddly enough. I'm waiting for them to open the building's pool, so I can get back to swimming. I'm a good swimmer, but you have limited opportunities for it in Northern Minnesota, if you can believe it. It's how I maintain this stunning figure:

Spent a happy afternoon yesterday hanging up pictures on the walls. My wife does puzzles and then glues them together, we frame them, then they make lovely artwork. So my TV is now framed -- as it were -- by two cool dragon/wizard pictures. And we have this winding dragon sculpture that appears to be coming right out of the wall. I would have totally included a picture, but I cannot seem to find my digital camera.

Also, right at this second, humidity appears to be at around 150%, and I've sweated half my body weight. So I'm going to take the laptop and crawl into the fridge and do some writing there.

Someone come pry me out in an hour or two.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Day to all the Mothers out there!

I've been having a fabulous Mother's Day. Hubby is really bad at holding on to presents. He practically bounces out of his skin waiting for Christmas because he wants us to open our gifts early. I almost always get my birthday presents a week or two early, and Mother's Day is no exception.

Last week, he gave me a gorgeous diamond pendant necklace, which I have wanted for years. I don't wear much jewelry, usually just my wedding rings and my watch. Every so often I'll wear a necklace and/or a pair of earrings, and if I'm feeling really wild, perhaps a bracelet. I have simple, traditional taste in just about everything. I'm not into frou-frou fancy stuff. It's just not me. So I told hubby years ago that I wanted a simple diamond pendant necklace, and simple diamond stud earrings, and then my jewelry collection would be complete forever and ever. LOL Now I have the necklace, so once I get the earrings I'll never need another piece of jewelry*!

*Barring breakage, lost items and theft. I also reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

Awesome present, right? Right. But wait! There's more! Yesterday, we ran to OfficeMax (okay, we didn't run, we drove) and I got a laser printer. Can we say "WOOOO HOOOO!!!"?? I needed to print out my novel for some editing, as I've done a bunch of major edits on the screen, but I can't proof very well that way. My inkjet does okay, but it craps out on me mid-project. My other inkjet does well, but it was about out of ink and the cartridges are expensive. I needed to replace my main printer anyway, so I decided to go with a laser, particularly after some good discussions about printers on the AW forums. I did a bit of research online (How did I survive before the internet?!) and had a list of non-negotiable features. On top of the list was a large page-per-minute capability, and double-sided printing. I'm going through a massive amount of paper, and it's a major PITA and logistics exercise to print double-sided on a regular printer, so I definitely wanted the double sided printing. Oh, and I wanted a reasonable price.

So I ended up with
this little guy. I spent last evening getting it hooked up and then squealing with glee as it printed out my entire novel in under 6 minutes. (You should know by now that it's the little things that excite me!)

The only downside is that I have a computer armoire, and it doesn't fit on the printer shelf. So hubby got a little stand and it now lives right beside the cabinet. It seems very happy there.

I'm going to be spending the afternoon of my Mother's Day sorting paperwork. I have a nasty habit of checking the mail and just chucking everything onto a pile and then sorting it later. I pay all my bills online, so it's not like there's anything I need to look at... Hopefully I can get through my mountain of outdated envelopes and massive stack of unopened magazines and then spend some quality time on the back porch swing editing. I really want to get it done so I can print the whole book out again. LOL

Special note to Pete: Yes, a pregnant woman does get a present for Mother's Day. ;o)


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I don't have to work tomorrow! Yay! (It's the little things that thrill me, ya know!)

I'm going along on Son's field trip, which should be really cool. We're going to a Science Center, where we'll be building a huge bridge out of K'Nex (er, I mean the kids will be building it...) and then we'll be seeing an IMAX movie on a massive screen. I'm excited! I cleared the memory card and put fresh batteries in the camera. I've really, really missed doing stuff with the kids at the school since I went back to work. Previously, I was helping out with odds and ends two to three times a week. Yeah, I miss the little stinkers. *grin*


I'm currently jamming to AC/DC. Hell's Bells is one of the Best Songs Ever Made. EVER. And You Shook Me All Night Long. And Highway To Hell. Love me some good old fashioned rock & roll, yes I do! Before my AC/DC started, I was grooving with Joan Jett. She also had some of the Best Songs Ever Made, I Love Rock & Roll, of course, and I love Do Ya Wanna Touch. Great songs.

My one and only stint at Karaoke was with I Love Rock & Roll. I must have done well because everyone in the room was applauding and dancing and telling me how great it was. Of course, they were all completely wasted by the time I got on stage, but let's not dwell on the little details, okay?

Oooooh, Kiss with Heaven's On Fire. Some bits of technology I have to be dragged into kicking and screaming, but I looooooooooooooooove my MP3 player. I love love love my playlists, which range from classical (Vivaldi's Four Seasons is a favorite) to Spanish guitar (Benise... yummm) to my beloved country, to classic rock, to hair bands, to more country. Sorry, no pop. Or rap. Ick.

And now we've got Kick Start My Heart - Motley Crue...

*extends pinky and first finger and head bangs*

Aaaaaaahh, memories... Now I just need to find someone to buy me booze and I'm back in my teens. LOL

Of course I could buy my own. But they don't card me anymore, and that's just depressing. :oP


And the answer is no, none of this has anything to do with writing. But it's fabulous for my mental health.

So there.

Yes, I Am Still Alive.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

And periodically online.

This week has been insane. In addition to working lots every day, Monday there was a ballgame in the evening. Tuesday we had an appointment in a town an hour from home. Wednesday was another ballgame. Thursday was a meeting at the school. Friday was "catch my breath" night. Today, I spent hours digging and weeding and planting pansies along my deck, after going to get said pansies, mowing most of the yard, going to my next door neighbor's jewelry party (out of guilt because I don't wear much jewelry, but she's a wonderful neighbor so I went), snarfing down something vaguely resembling lunch, skimming the pool (the fire company brought us a load of water so we could get the pump going), and it is now 4:15 PM (EST, for the nosy among you) and I am just now sitting down.

I know, I know. RT's going to be PMing me, smugly asking how much editing I've gotten done in there. NONE. So there. Pbbbbbbt!

I've been down in the dumps lately. A combination of spring fever and being trapped in my job, I think. Add to that some babysitter issues, behavior issues with the Kid, and throw in all the other day to day shit that goes on, then top it all off with Little League and PTO volunteer obligations, and that makes for a grumpy and overwhelmed Carrie. (Yeah I know. Cry me a freaking river, right?)

On the upside, Hubby and Son were out and about today and stopped at the mall (which is about 45 minutes away). Hubby got me an awesome Ravens sweatshirt, a "Parking for Ravens fans only" sign to hang in front of my parking space, and a Ravens yard flag. *grin* I'm all set for football season! WOOO HOOO!! It's been such a long hard week that I promptly burst into tears and confused the poor guy. Oh, well. If he's not used to my idiosyncrasies after 17 years, it's his own fault. LOL

The weather is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful here today! It's sunny and warm and completely gorgeous. I'm debating curling up with a good book, doing some editing on my book, or just sitting out back on the porch swing and watching the birds and relaxing.

Or maybe I'll compromise. Maybe I'll sit out back with a notebook and sketch out my idea for the children's book I'm working on, then read a good book, all whilst relaxing. (Yes, RT, I neglected to mention editing. *grumble grumble* FYI, RT is far worse than Pete when interrogating me about what writing I'm getting done. I can distract Pete, usually by mentioning BOOBS, and change the subject.) That sounds like a good compromise to me. Or maybe I'll go to Borders and buy another stack of children's books to read study for research. Nah. It's too far away. A trip to is more likely.