Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ramble in the Bronx

For every blog post prior to this one, I sat down at the keyboard already knowing what I would write about. But this time I have nothing. Not even an inkling. Therefore, I'll do what I did in practically every email I sent home during my four years of college. Ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready to ramble.

Once I get going, I shouldn't lose my train of thought, though I may shift tracks so quickly others will say I've lost it. So let's leave this topic behind and shift to the topic of behinds. Brits call ours an arse, with that R thrust up in there, butt we Yanks are more apt to make a crack about having junk in the trunk, further yanking Brits' chains since they call their trunk a boot. And not a boot like Italy, which has always looked to me like it's tripping on Sicily and falling hip-first into southeast France, which is Nice. And not nice as in "oh, that's nice," but pronounced "niece," which by the way can also be a nickname for Denise, though I don't call Denise that because it's not nice. Instead I call her Denise, or Beautiful, or Mommy (if The Professor's nearby), but never Honey, since she may be sweet but she didn't get that way by being regurgitated by bees.

By the by, bees are stingy. And that's stingy, not sting-y, though of course they're sting-y, too. I mean, whenever I try to keep tidbits of pollen away from them, bees seize dese with ease, despite the fees. (Jeez, that was a bad bit, but bite me. I don't backtrack mid-ramble. That's a recipe for disaster, like if you completely leave the rum out of a Hurricane. Or if you leave the rum out in a hurricane, which isn't wise; the rum's gone and an angry Sparrow will chew your ears off.) Speaking of chewing ears, I'd rather speak of Ewing cheers, which aren't quite Bronx cheers since the Knickerbockers play their home games in Manhattan.1

Well, that'll do it. I do hope my muse has amused. Or bemused. Honestly, I'm equally happy with either outcome.2

1 Leave the rum out of a Manhattan, or it'll be too rummy when gin's supposed to be in the cards. And never leave the rum out in Manhattan, or an artful Dodger may steal it away to L.A.... and then you're back to the earlier ear-chewing scenario.
2 Oh, and the first person to make a crack about me being a ramblin' man will end up at the wrong end of a gun. After all, I'm just trying to make a living and doing the best I can.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Into International Waters

Rejoice, ye filthy bilge rats! For today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

In past years, I’ve explained how to talk like a Jewish pirate and taught you how to speak like other traditional pirates (e.g. Pittsburgh, software, of Penzance). But I now realize I’ve been neglecting a large part of the day: the part where it's International.

Sure, I’ve previously included Somali and Caribbean pirates, but that barely gets us started. So here’s a guide on how to talk like some truly international pirates (with stereotypes fully in force):

Type of PirateSample Phrase(s)
French- Le arrrrrr.
- Hand over yer—oh, you want our ship? Okay, it’s yours.
CanadianArrrrrr, eh?
SwedishFeerst you get a sceeervy sceeervy dog, then add de bork bork bork.
ItalianI’m-a gonna make-a you walk-a da plank-a.
MexicanBarges? We don’t need no stinkin’ barges!
SwissI’m gonna cut you. Then snip you. Then file you, tweeze you, saw you, and corkscrew you. (And then I’ll clock you.)
GermanNein, nein, nein! Not pirate! Ich bin ein longshoreman.
BritishPardon me, but would you mind terribly handing over your ship and jumping into the ocean? Jolly good!
Space- These are not the booty you are looking for.
- You can’t take the sky from me. Try, and none in the ‘verse will ever see your gorram face again. We shiny?
TransylvanianI vant to sink your boat.
AustralianG’day, matey. Shove off, or we’ll throw you little shrimps on the barbie.
ChineseI pirate. I fry prane.1
New YorkYo, ho! I’m walkin’ the plank over here!
MordorSmee(gle)! Kill those lost boys!
RussianWe’ll show these capitalist pigdogs. We’ll make ‘em bleed Red!
Danish- To sea, or not to sea—that is the question:
Whether ‘tis horribler in the mind to suffer
And sling arrows for outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of lubbers,
And by opposing end them?
- Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Just take stuff.

And that ends our lesson for today. May this knowledge serve you well, no matter where in the world your piracy leads you.

1 Like I said: fully in force. But before you get mad at me, remember... me love you long time.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Farewell, Fran

On Tuesday, my father-in-law passed away following an 8-year battle with colon cancer. When I first met Fran, two days before Christmas in 2007, he opened his home to me and welcomed me into his family without hesitation. Unfortunately, I never knew him before the cancer and chemotherapy took their toll, but I can tell you he was a wonderful father, a great friend, and one of the most generous people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

At my wedding, when Fran first greeted me after the ceremony, he embraced me fully. He choked up as he congratulated me, with tears in his eyes but pure joy evident on his face. He was just so happy for me and Denise. Much of my wedding day is a blur, but that moment is one I’ll always remember clearly, and never forget.

Fran was only my father-in-law for one year, one week, and one day. It’s hard to believe he won’t be here to see my son grow up, but I’m glad he got to meet his grandson before he left us, and I feel honored to have known him as long as I did. And of course, my son will still get to know his grandfather through the many stories my wife and her family share of him. I look forward to hearing them myself.

Goodbye, Fran. We miss you dearly.

Francis Anthony Ricotta
December 14, 1930 – September 13, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to Writing

I've been known to call myself a writer, so I figured it was time I got back to writing. And by that, of course, I mean as a topic for this blog.

Since December 2009, I have added less than seven pages to my novel. An impressive total, I know, yet I can't help but be disappointed. I mean, not once in those pages do I mention ninjas.

So, why have I made so little progress in all this time? The smart money would be on procrastination. If I'm not feeling motivated, it's easy for me to be distracted by DVDs, TV, live sports in HD, fantasy sports, fantasy novels, books on my nightstand, people that I can't stand, canned goods, good times, Thai food, poor rhymes, board games, card games, mind games, word games, homophones, homonyms, hominids, katydids, my wife and son, my dog and cats, that squirrel beyond the window slats, minor slights, internet sites, waving from such great heights, songs I love, songs by Liszt, lists I love, and things that are shiny. To give you some idea, I wrote the first part of this post (through this sentence) yesterday two days ago sometime last week, and I've only gotten around to finishing it now. I take my procrastination seriously.

But despite Occam's Razor,1 I don't think my procrastination is fully to blame. Another culprit is blogging, which eats into my novel-writing time. Then again, some might claim that by remaining at The Wheel, not only am I entertaining upwards of seven people, but I'm also honing my craft, and my novel will be better for it. But that's a faulty argument. Not only is my novel not written in the first person, but it also doesn't contain a single footnote.2

Nevertheless, both my blog and my pro...(wait for it!)...crastination play a part in why, in the past twenty months, the first draft of my novel has only gone from 85% complete to 85.3% complete.3 But I feel there may be a reason bigger than all of those I've already mentioned: I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that when I finish the draft, the editing process will prove too harrowing and do me in. I'm scared no one other than those obligated by family ties or bound wrists will truly enjoy the story. I'm frightened it won't hold people's attention, that it'll be dull instead of engaging. Also, I'm mortified I'll eventually run out of synonyms for "afraid."

I know these fears are probably unwarranted, but they're still there, nagging at me from the back of my mind. Poking me. Prodding me. Not telling me that I'm going to fail, but that I'll disappoint. That my story won't live up to the expectations of my friends. Of my family. Of myself. And it scares me.

Or maybe I just waste all my time coming up with lame excuses. Enough of this. It's time to write.

Er... tomorrow.

1 Which basically states: The simplest solution to a problem is to cough up that blade you swallowed as if it's a hairball, slit the guard's throat, and then hightail it to Mexico.
2 And just like that, I've lost all seven of my potential readers.
3 Nor can I discount the possibility that I've been cursed by gypsies.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Biggest Carrot in the Kitchen

One year ago today, I married this woman:

It was pretty much like any other wedding. During the ceremony, for instance, I showed what sort of husband I'd be by crushing something fragile with my foot.

The wedding song mentioned 36 different varieties of cheese, and was accompanied by a puppet show and French horn kazoo solo.

Our closest friends and relatives pelted us with bird seed before we kissed on a covered bridge and looked longingly into each other's eyes in front of a giant rocket and an obviously fake backdrop.

After we entered to The Muppet's "Mahna Mahna," Table 5 won the sugar packet tower competition and we were given the largest carrot in the kitchen.

And then, we danced.

Best. Day. Ever.

* All photos courtesy of Kaz Photography of Buffalo, NY.