Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Putting the Rhyme Back in NaNoRhyMo

We're in the final hours of NaNo season, but that won't stop me from celebrating National Novel Rhyming Month. However, we'll be doing things a little differently this year.

Sure, participation doubled (all the way to two!!) during NaNoRhyMo 2010, and we learned The Hunger Games fits quite nicely when set to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but I felt it was time for a change.

After all, in each of the past two years, I was only rhyming about novels. But this time I shall rhyme the novels themselves, and trust me when I say these are literary gold. You won't find better NaNoRhyMo work anywhere in the 'verse. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

It's quite absurd, but I have heard that it is far less than one third
Of the U.S (I am assured) who clamor for the written word.
So am I really such a nerd (as many people have inferred)
For reading, till my vision's blurred, tales like To Kill a Mockingbird?
For yes, indeed, I have decreed my innate need to always read;
On Superfudge and Lamb I'll Feed (or Choke upon The Wanting Seed).

Would it make me a crook if I took Just One Look
At my wife's brand new Nook to read The Graveyard Book?
What if something I give her (perhaps Mystic River)
Sets her heart aquiver or delivers a Shiver?
(Would she take me back in if I left The Shack in
One piece whilst attackin' and killin' the Kraken?)
I bet she'll forgive me and we will be fine,
Since these questions are stupid (and this a near-rhyme).

If The Lord of the Rings meets The Lord of the Flies,
There'll be a Battle Royale where Everybody Dies.

The Road, I find, is not my taste; Da Vinci Code is but a waste.
If reviews glowed, a story laced with vengeance owed and, too, well-paced,
A tale like that I would devour, every minute, every hour,
Since I'm smitten with well-written prose whenever I am sittin'
And relaxing in my home. (I also avoid Ethan Frome.
Though it's true my resolve weakens with The Last of the Mohicans).
But just the same it's such a shame that so few people know the name
Of that great dame who is "to blame" for giving us The Westing Game.
So we'll unfurl a Brave New World (one with, of course, a moose and squirrel)
And in the gloom then find a pearl (perhaps The Other Boleyn Girl).

That's all I've got; that's all there is, so I won't be including 'Tis.
And I'll skip Tuesdays With Morrie. Both are memoirs. (Very sorry).

Yeah, so I might have oversold the quality of the rhymes just a tad, but in my defense only one of us believed me.

Related posts:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So Much To Be Thankful For

Thank your lucky stars. Without them, you'd only have unlucky and indifferent stars, and every wish you wished upon them would go unfulfilled.1

Thank the lord. His generosity keeps a roof over your head and food in your belly, and all he asks for in exchange is hours and hours of backbreaking labor. Some people might say it's a futile system, but they're just bad spellers.

Thank goodness. After all, goodness is far better than badness.2 And good Ness did such a fine job battling Al Capone and his little friend in the 30s. Both deserve our recognition.

Thank God. Without him, watching Providence College basketball between 1995-97 wouldn't have been nearly as interesting.

Thank heavens. Without the prospect of all those heavens, just think how many more amoral people there would be. And before you try to tell me there's only one heaven, I know people who have been to the seventh one, and at least one mountain lion who has visited multiple heavens on his way to Murgatroyd.

Yup, I have much to be thankful for. But this year, I'm mostly thankful for this little guy:

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, even if you eat tofurkey instead of turkey, turducken instead of tofurkey, or the jell-o mold instead of turducken.3 And for all of you who live outside the U.S. and don't celebrate the holiday, I'll make sure to eat an extra helping for you. May your weekend be filled with fun, laughter, and enough food to feed the entire population of Turkey.

Thank you, come again.

1 Not to mention, you'd be more at risk of getting struck by a ricochet from a shooting star.
2 Unless we're talking Michael Jackson circa 1987.
3 Jiggly.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Rule of Seven

Even before Winter Storm Alfred tore through Connecticut like it was Winter Storm Batman and knocked our lights out for a week, I wasn't blogging too often. I apologize for my scarcity, but in my defense I've been quite busy of late. And by "busy," I mean I've spent most of my time being lazy  being very lazy  occupying various cities  camping out for Twilight: Breaking Dawn  seeking the GOP presidential nomination being a dad.

Seriously, it's like The Professor has an innate ability to sleep right up until my workday ends, and then need to be held and/or entertained the rest of the night. It's a good thing he's so darned cute.1

Anyway, last month Heather Henry over at Little Red Henry bestowed upon me the 7x7 Link Award. In the interest of laziness concisity, however, I shall henceforth call it the 49 Link Award.2

As I do every time I receive an award, I promptly redesigned it in Photoshop:

Now, as a recipient of the √2,401 Link Award, I'm supposed to point you to some of my previous blog posts, one in each of seven specific categories. I've never been one for following rules,3 but this one seems benign enough I'll play along.

Of course, I never said I'd stick with the original categories...

Most beautiful Most productive use of bacon: Horrible Puns For The Win

Most popular Greatest contribution to popular culture: That Wasn't All, Paul (The Other 45 Ways to Leave Your Lover)

Most controversial Best Justin Bieber anagram: A Ram Sang a Ragman's Anagrams

Most helpful Most creative use of paper clips: Before The Wheel

Most surprisingly successful Best use of photos to illustrate a story: The Biggest Carrot in the Kitchen

Most underrated Best appearance by Melvin the Wannabe Warlock: Say What?

Most pride-worthy Most topical mention of gefilte fish: Yo Ho Ho, and a Bottle of Manischewitz

I suspect I'm also supposed to pass this award onto seven other bloggers or something like that, but that's not my style. I'm a rebel, not a sheep. I march to the bleat of a different drummer and take the toad less graveled. Or, something like that.

Besides, I don't have time to create more links. I'm far too selfish indecisive devilishly handsome lazy.

1 Technically, he's only cute, not darned. But some of his clothes are both.
2 "Concisity" may not be a real word, but it's more concise than "conciseness," so it should be.
3 I make my own rules. And then I disregard those, too. The only ones I always follow are slide rules, since otherwise kids could fall and get really hurt.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Open Letter to Jerry Sandusky

Dear Mr. Sandusky (and I use the title Mr. not out of respect, but because I'd feel unclean addressing you by your first name),

I wasn't planning to chime in on the whole Penn State scandal, since John Scalzi had already succinctly summed up my views on the matter. But then you professed your innocence in an interview with Bob Costas Monday night and uttered, among other things, this little nugget:

"I could say I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids I have showered (with) after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."

Now, I know it's innocent-until-proven-guilty here in America, but I call bullshit.

You showered. Naked. With prepubescent boys. That itself is extremely disturbing, if not grounds for charges of child endangerment. Yet you also hugged them. Naked. And touched their legs. I'm sorry, but no. You can try to explain away your actions as harmless horseplay all you want, but no sane person will ever believe your intentions were anything but sexual.

Let me tell you a story. In high school, I ran track and cross country, and our coach made it mandatory to shower after practice. He'd shower, too. On days when he ran with us, I suppose it made some sense, since his argument was that wearing our sweaty clothes home was unhygienic. But he'd often join us in the shower even if all he'd done was sit around waiting for us to finish our run.

A few guys — those more inclined to run around the locker room whipping towels at each other — showed no outward discomfort with this, but the rest of us did our best to wash up quickly and get out of the showers before he entered. We didn't really talk about it much, but I know most of us came to pretty much the same conclusion: Coach got his rocks off by showering with 14-to-18 year-old boys.

No one ever reported his behavior. Perhaps it was because, if he had such urges, he didn't seem the type to act on them. Unlike you, he never made any advances or touched us in any way. All we had was speculation. Nevertheless, it surprised no one when he was arrested on child endangerment charges for watching porn with 13-year-olds at the nearby Catholic school where he taught phys ed. We were lucky they caught him when they did; unchecked, his behavior may have escalated until he began doing what you now stand accused of doing.

Of course, this one instance doesn't prove all grown men who shower with young kids are pedophiles, but I guess what I'm trying to say is this: GROWN MEN SHOULD NOT SHOWER WITH YOUNG KIDS.

And if, for some asinine reason, you do shower with children, you should certainly NEVER TOUCH THEM IN ANY WAY.

If you're attracted to young boys, so be it. You can't necessarily change who you are. But you always have control over your own actions. You lost control, and you took advantage of children. Who knows how many people you've irreparably scarred along the way.

You may claim innocence, but I don't buy it. You are a weak, weak man.

And you deserve everything you're going to get.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Alliterative Assistance

Today's the day we send my oldest blogging friend to the top of the A-List.

Jessica Bell, a.k.a. the Alliterative Allomorph, was the first fellow writer I connected with after I created this (sometimes) fiery monstrosity I call a blog. And today, with your help, we're going to get her debut novel, String Bridge, onto Amazon's bestseller list.

Why should you help? Well, not only can Jessica write a gripping, heart-wrenching tale, but she's also a stellar musician and she recorded an original soundtrack to accompany her novel. If you buy String Bridge today, you'll also receive the soundtrack, Melody Hill: On the Other Side, for free!

You like free music, don't you? I thought so.

All you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to: jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com

She'll then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback: Amazon USA  |  Amazon UK
To purchase the eBook: Amazon USA  |  Amazon UK
To listen to samples of the soundtrack: iTunes

Curious what String Bridge is about? Check out the book trailer and jacket description:

Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian musician, Melody, was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter and settled in Athens, Greece. Keen to play in her new shoes, though, Melody trades her guitar for a 'proper' career and her music for motherhood. That is, until she can bear it no longer and plots a return to the stage—and the person she used to be. However, the obstacles she faces along the way are nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits...

Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

“Jessica Bell’s String Bridge strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.”
~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel ... String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.”
~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening

“Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.”
~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Connect with Jessica
String Bridge:

It took 10 days, but my house has both power and internet access again, so this blog will soon return to its usual footnote-filled insanity. But in the meantime, buy Jessica's book. Get the free soundtrack. And enjoy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Home Is Where the Heat Is

Six days without electricity. Six days without heat. Frankly, I expected an even longer recovery period, but Friday afternoon we got our power back. (I guess there are advantages to having an elementary school at the end of your street.) Of course, our internet is still out, but that's okay. More time for reading. And more time in the library sponging off their wi-fi.

Here in New England, people are generally somewhat cold to strangers, but the outage seemed to warm everyone up. Instead of exchanging waves or a nod of the head, we approached each other and swapped war stories. We commiserated with complete strangers at restaurants and gas stations. Neighbors helped clear debris and trim dangerously hanging branches. Friends and acquaintances offered up hot meals, hot showers, and places to stay.

It wasn't all rosy, however. O, the idiocy! Some morons moved charcoal grills or generators into their homes. Other clods drove through unlit traffic lights with nary a glance in either direction. And then there were those whose idiocy impacted my friends and family:

  • My wife Denise works for the town. On Monday she received a voicemail saying her office was closed, and that she might receive a call from her supervisor about coming in to help out in other areas. She never got the call. On Tuesday, when the rest of her co-workers were doing shifts at the local shelter or the emergency operations center, she again heard nothing. And then, on Wednesday, she was told that because she didn't work Monday or Tuesday, she either had to use two vacation days or work both days this weekend.

    Apparently, her supervisor's supervisor took on the responsibility of calling everyone, but when she didn't reach someone on the first try — because a landline was down, or because spotty cell service meant it might take two or three attempts to get through — she just moved onto the next name on the list. No emails were sent. Therefore, even though the automatic messages implied Denise didn't have to work because the office was closed, and even though she waited to be called in, and even though she was willing to work, she was never given the option, and is now forced to work two extra days because of someone else's mistake. I'm not a lawyer (thankfully), but that doesn't sound very legal to me.

  • My friend Scott — who, with his wife, hosted us for four nights once their power came back — works for a local oil company. On Monday, his manager told him to work from home because their office was without power, and they had no cellular service in the area. With the myriad calls they received from desperate customers because of the outage, he ended up working a full day plus 2-3 hours of overtime. On Tuesday, Human Resources informed him that because he didn't come into the office, he wouldn't be paid for his Monday hours. Last I heard, no one in three levels of management above him had yet stepped up to support him. I'm not a philosopher (thankfully), but that doesn't sound very moral to me.

So, that's the aftermath in a nutshell: warm and idiot-filled. I hope those who are still without power get it back soon, those who've been abused by idiots get their vindication, and I hope you, dear reader, never have to go through what we've had to this past week. Or if you just did, that you never have to again.

I should note these pictures are not of my home and yard. This is the carnage from four houses over. House, relatively untouched. Cars, not so much. The tan SUV had its windshield and roof crushed, and I'll zoom in on the left side of this photo, so you can see how their other vehicle fared after they moved it away from the SUV...

Yep, it’s been that kind of week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Powerless To Do Anything

In my 2+ years of blogging, I had never written fewer than five posts in a full month. Sure, I'd written exactly five posts twelve times, but long ago I'd instituted a five-post minimum, and I'd never dipped below it. Until now.

I'd planned to churn out two posts in the last few days of October (one featuring an adorable costumed Professor), but Mother Nature decided she had yet another trick up her sleeve.1 Despite already hurling countless earthquakes, snowstorms, sandstorms, hurricanes, and a whirlwind Kim Kardashian marriage at us this year, apparently it wasn't enough.

That, or she had it in for the trees. On Saturday night, 40mph winds and lead masquerading as snow snapped trees as if they were twigs, and those tree-twigs in turn snapped power lines as if they were... um... other things that snap easily. Peas? Dragons? Anyway, this left most of us in Connecticut without electricity. And by extension, heat. (Also, internet.) The heatlessness is the toughest to deal with, especially with a three-and-a-half-month-old.2

At least six homes on our block — including ours — had their power lines downed by trees, and one had both cars felled by branches the size of small Buicks. Thankfully, however, no nearby homes seem to have been damaged.

Three days later, approximately 100% of our town remains without power. We don't expect ours to be reconnected for at least another week. I'm writing this post from work (possibly violating my company's social media policy in the process),3 at an office in another town where 100% of the people are without power. The building was closed yesterday, and today their generator is powering enough of the cube farm for only about 300 of its 3000 employees. I was one of the "lucky" ones who happened to work in the one working wing.

In short, you shan't expect to see me much 'round these parts in the coming days. But give me a week or so, when once again I see the light, and I'll be back blogging like it's October 29.

Until then, stay safe, stay warm, and stay cool.4

1 Not that Mother Nature has sleeves, per se. At least, I hope not. That would mean the blanket of snow she draped over us this weekend was actually a giant white Snuggie. *shudder*
2 As of this morning, our house was down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But you'll be happy to know we've yet to surpass four layers of clothing on our son, so he can still flail his limbs as will. (Will thinks it's cute.)
3 Dear crack team of corporate attack lawyers, when considering whether to rescind my internet access, please take into account I wrote this during my lunch break.
4 Figuratively speaking, of course, for that last one.