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Archive for August, 2011

My first novel: a retrospective – Part 1

August 30, 2011 9 comments

First, if you’re not interested in reading about past or current writing projects of mine, then it’s okay to simply skip this one. I won’t be offended 🙂

Well, you’re still here, so if you’re reading this blog in reverse order, i.e., most recent post first, then this one may not really make sense. For context, go back and read this post, then come back here.

Now, as for why I’m writing this particular post (and the several that will eventually follow), I’m not sure. I suppose it could be in response to my earlier blog entry noted above, the one where I talked about my first attempt at writing many years ago. It got me to thinking about lots of things, like who I was way back then, what I was trying to do, and what exactly it was that I accomplished and didn’t accomplish. The more I thought about it, the more details I remembered about what I’d done and why. So of course, I figured I may as well share them here.

I expect very few will find my earlier journey in life/writing all that interesting. I think the two who will enjoy this most will be my two sons, who, while they were quite young, were there with me during that time of my life. In the years since then, though they knew I had an interest in writing and that I’d worked at it for awhile when they were little, I never shared much about the experience with them. So, I hope at least they find this interesting reading. If anyone else does, then even better.

So, there I was. It was 1988 and I wanted to write a book. The only problem? I had no real understanding of how to go about it. All I really knew at the time was that I needed a computer for word processing. After a bit of research, I went out and bought an inexpensive (ok, cheap) machine with all of 640K memory, a 20 megabyte (that’s right, mega and not giga) hard drive, a monochrome (gold) monitor (graphics? who needs graphics), and an Okidata dot matrix (remember those?) printer. Not the most impressive equipment, but as far as I was concerned it was light years beyond having to cut my writing chops on an old-fashioned typewriter. I’m not sure I could have dealt with smacking those large, heavy keys for word after word after word, then having to make all those manual revisions one page at a time. Ouch. My hat is definitely off to all those writers who succeeded before computers and word processors.

Now the owner of new computer and a copy of PFS Write (a nifty word processor 23 years ago, it has since all but disappeared), I took off on my journey. As I recall, it was late at night the first time I sat down in front of the computer. I also remember that, as I sat there waiting for words to magically form in my head, somewhere off in the distance I could hear a dog barking. Inspired, I went on to write the first scene of my first novel, which I later entitled, “The Light”. Interestingly enough, that first scene remained in the final draft of the book, but it ended up later on in the story.

After that, most days I sat down and continued typing away on my book. Sometimes it would be in the morning before work; more often it would be late at night after everyone went to sleep. And sometimes, needing a little extra time with the story, I’d write it out in longhand in a notebook while hanging out with the kids on the weekend while their mother worked. Of course that was a double-edged sword: I got some additional writing done, but then I had to spend yet more time typing it all into the computer. I still have those notebooks, by the way, and occasionally, just for fun, I go back and read through what I scribbled in those pages. It’s fun, because as I read the words and sentences that I wrote so many years ago, I’m magically transported back in time. I can see myself sitting at our old dining room table, busily writing away while the boys played and ran around the house. Good times.

Several months later, I surprised even myself and completed the very first draft of the book that had, somehow, come out of my imagination. Good, bad, or indifferent, I was thrilled when I wrote these last two words:

THE END

I was elated and filled with an amazing sense of accomplishment. I’d set out to do something and I did it. Many people say they want to write a book someday, and I’d just done it. Ah, sweet victory. Of course, what I didn’t realize at the time is that I’d really only just begun the journey of completing a novel.

–dp

Categories: Writing

Halloween in August

August 30, 2011 1 comment

So last year, it was Christmas in July (see my post from my old blog). This year, it’s Halloween in August. Yep, that’s right: time for the Halloween stuff to come out. I don’t mind, though, because I always enjoy the holiday season. So what if it shows up a little early 🙂

–dp

Halloween in August

Categories: General

He was arrested for what?

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Getting arrested for child porn, weapons and drugs was only the start for this guy. From the local newspaper:

When serving the warrant Oct. 6, officers found and seized multiple photograph clippings of small children, pornography magazines, sexual gratification items, processed marijuana, several bottles of personal lubricant, a loaded .45-caliber handgun, metal knuckles, an assault rifle and other items.

Am I a terrible person for literally laughing out loud when I read the list of items (in bold font) seized from this guy’s house? Perhaps. But I did.

–dp

Categories: News

Apes Redux

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

WARNING: If you don’t like hearing about a movie you think you might see, then don’t read any further.

Being a big fan of the original Planet of the Apes

The one that started it all.


though not necessarily the sequels, it was a sure bet I was going to see the new ape movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I had high hopes. After all, I still remember my folks packing us kids into the family car and taking us to see the new sci-fi movie about talking apes at the local drive-in theater. Yeah, you heard that right. A drive-in movie, complete with the klunky, metallic speaker (broken volume knob included) hanging on the window, a snack bar within walking distance, and even a playground for kids. I’m not sure, but I think drive-in movies are almost extinct these days, which is too bad. Anyway, I digress. Back to the monkeys.

It was a nifty idea to try and kick start the old monkey movies into new life, to add to the lore surrounding the ape mythos. But it just didn’t work for Debbie and me. Basically, I felt two things while watching the movie: anger and boredom. I was angry at the way the central ape character, Caesar, was treated throughout most of the movie. I realize by saying such a thing that I’m actually complimenting the movie in the realism of the apes that were created. And I suppose that’s true; they were very well done. So kudos to the filmmakers for that. But, I didn’t go to the movie to feel bad, nor get treated to a movie-length piece of PETA propaganda. If I want to feel bad about animals, I can easily do that on my own time.

Okay, so once I got over being mad at every human being alive, I simply started not to really care all that much. There was a sense of ennui that settled over me as I watched and munched popcorn, mainly due to the lengthy setup for the premise, which, to both of us, took way too long. We went expecting a quick start and then lots of apes revolting against all the bad humans. Instead, we had plenty of geeky science techno-speak and lab shots leading to the creation of the stuff that makes apes smart, then just a relatively small amount of monkeys going crazy. To be honest, by the time the movie ended, I really assumed it must have been a two and a half hour picture. Instead, it was really only one hour and forty-five minutes. I guess that tells you something.

I think the most fun I had during the movie was after I noticed the first reference to the original, classic film. Once I saw/heard it, I was ready to catch others if they came along. In all, I caught only three, but they were good ones. Here are they are (in order, for whatever that’s worth):

“It’s a madhouse. A madhouse.”

A Charlton Heston movie playing on a TV.

“Get your hands off me you damn, dirty ape.”

For anyone else who sees/saw the movie, were there any other references to the original?

BTW – I really had no intention of talking so much about the movie. I started out planning to mention only the three references to the original film, but then I just got caught up in the moment and kept typing. My bad.

So Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in my opinion, is a movie worth a rental if you’ve seen all the other ones on your list, or if you’re a big James Franco fan. As for me, I don’t plan on seeing it again.

It sure had some great looking apes, though.

–dp

Categories: Movies

MNF Redux

August 23, 2011 1 comment

Yesterday was Monday, which of course meant football.

MNF isn't MNF without Blue Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Monday was special, though, because Debbie and I were joined by our first visitors of the year: Jeremy, Kelly, and of course, our granddaughter, Charlotte. She was her usual sweet self and spent the evening eating and playing with everything she could get her hands on.

Charlotte.

I'm pretty sure this is bread ... I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the ridiculously bad service (the first time ever), we all managed to have fun just hanging out.

Jer & Kel (sorry about the eyes, Jer 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, Charlotte loved her grammy time as well 🙂

Jer, Charlotte and Grammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–dp

Categories: Family

He thinks he’s a lap dog

August 20, 2011 3 comments

Norman, our ten year old mini-Schnauzer, is a wonderful, if neurotic, family pet. You can read a bit more about how Norman came to be with our family by checking out the first post from my old blog: pagan-and-proud (Norman) Now, two years later, Norman is well integrated into our household and has developed a number of daily routines. For posterity, I’ve recorded one of those things he likes to do several times during the day while I’m working.

Apparently, in Norman’s world, he thinks he’s a lap dog, and he likes to make sure I remember that throughout the day. Unfortunately, what Norman doesn’t realize is that: 1) I have to stop working every time he comes in for his lap time; and 2) he’s really not small enough to fit comfortably on a lap, at least not for very long. On the plus side, he sure is a sweet mutt and probably one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of having in the family.

–dp

Norman thinks he's a lap dog

Lap time with Norman

Categories: Family

Seriously?

August 18, 2011 1 comment

So, these days if you want some pot, you can pretty much go to any street corner, walk into your local collective, and buy some of what’s called “medical marijuana”. Yeah, that’s right: medical marijuana. Purely medicinal purposes, huh? While I believe there are a (very) few legitimate uses of marijuana for so-called medicinal purposes, I can assure you that in and around this fair city, we have way more potheads than truly deserving patients. These days, pretty much any complaint will get you a “recommendation” (that’s what they call it, a recommendation … not a prescription) for marijuana; in fact, it’s become so popular and lucrative that a number of doctors fly in each week to hand out “recommendations” to the many who are willing to stop by their office, complain, and, oh yeah, pay up.

It’s basically just a big joke, and we all know it, right? Right. So why am I even writing about it? Well, on my way home today, I had to drive through downtown. When I stopped at a red light, I looked  to my left and noticed a nicely painted sign on the window of a local business. After a double take, and recovering from laughing, I whipped out my iPhone and snapped a quick pic of what has to be one of the most clever names for one of these dispensaries that I’ve ever seen. Sort of makes it sound like a place you might take grandma for her arthritis pills.

Just another pot store

A pot store that really cares about its addicts ... uh, users ... umm, customers ... hmm, patients?

Hmm … so that’s what they are, huh? Compassionate relief centers. Uh, yeah …

–dp

Categories: Absurdities

The return of MNF

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s mid-August, and yesterday was Monday. That can only mean one thing: the first Monday night football game of the 2011 season arrived. Yes, it’s true, I (and my wife) love football. It doesn’t matter whether it’s pre-season or not, if it’s Monday, and we’re not out of town, you will always find us at our MNF hangout: Cattlemen’s Restaurant.

We’ve been doing this long enough now that I’ve pretty much forgotten how many years we’ve made it our Monday night place to be. But we’ve got a great routine going these days: we have our table right up front that our favorite server has ready to go (drinks included) before we arrive. All we have to do is show up, get comfortable, and watch the game.

For those that know me, the start of football also means something else that’s very special to me. It’s the beginning of that time of year where there’s hope that the sizzling temperatures of summer will eventually be replaced by the cool weather of fall, eventually giving way to the chill of winter. Yes, it may still be over one hundred degrees during the day around here, but when football season starts, I’m reassured that the nip in the air I so love is just around the corner.

Are you ready for some football? We are!

–dp (and dj)

Scenes from a Monday night (8-15-2011)

Blue Moon and iced tea are the drinks for the evening

Big screen TV ready to go

The best part of the evening

Just the two of us enjoying the game

Categories: Life

Sometimes it’s the little things

August 13, 2011 1 comment

Recently, I read an author’s blog post about the first thing he did when he decided to get serious about writing. I found it interesting that what he chose to do had nothing at all to do with the craft of writing. Instead, he took an action that was symbolic, something that served to remind him each and every day of the “why” behind what he was doing when he sat behind his desk, dutifully typing away word after word. I think anyone attempting to create a work of fiction of any substantial length, at various points along the way, needs encouragement and, as simple as it seems, a small reminder of exactly what it is they are all about.

So I took that writer’s advice and took the plunge; I purchased what every wannabe writer should have sitting on his desk. A few days and a few dollars later, I have a writing space that says it all.

 

My Writing Space

Yeah, I know it’s corny. But you know what? It’s kinda cool when I can look down from my late night typing and see that small reminder of why I’m sitting at my computer instead of doing, well, just about anything else. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Other times? Well, I’ll save that for a future post.

–dp

Categories: Writing

Somewhere, someone thinks these are good ideas

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Every week I’m inundated with various offers for credit cards and, occasionally, loans of one type or another. In large part, they are semi-reasonable in nature. You know the kind: zero percent interest for X months, then some decent percent rate after that (variable, of course, which should cause most normal folks to think of Shakespeare and the proverbial rub) Occasionally, though, I get offers of credit that are not only bad, they are obscene. They are so awful, I feel sorry for anyone so naive about financial matters as to be unable to distinguish these horrible abuses of credit from those that are sensible if used properly.

Rather than describe in words these ridiculous attempts at stealing  taking my money, I think visual aids are called for.

First, for those desiring a cash advance, simply try the obvious and  hope they won’t notice the (loan shark) interest rate:

IMG 0883

See that? Only 23.99% interest. Awesome. Not that bad, right? Well, depending on  your balance, if you pay the minimum payment it could take anywhere from a year to three decades to pay off your credit card. Sweet.

Second, make me feel special:

SCAN0085

Check it out. A platinum card from First PREMIER Bank. It must be really good. And I only have to pay $25 dollars to apply (which I can pay off over time, of course). But first, let me put my brain in neutral so I don’t remember how hard I’ve worked to get my credit score into the mid-eight hundreds. I guess these days all that will get you is a whopping $700 credit line for only $175 per year (leaving you start out with all of $525 available credit). Amazing. I can’t wait to have this card in my wallet.

Finally, attempt to make me feel like a member of America’s elite:

The "Elite" Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently, use of words such as “exclusive”, “prestigious”, “limited”, and “luxury” on a Visa card that is black is supposed to make me feel as if I should be embarrassed to even question the legitimacy of charging the (ridiculous) sum of $495 dollars (per year!) for the sole purpose of slipping one of these bad boys into my wallet. It must be worth it, though. because like it says, “The world awaits.”

Uh, yeah …

–dp

Categories: Absurdities