Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's election season which means...yep. Celebrities on a white screen.

Actors seeking political relevance are always cringeworthy, God love 'em. But they really try. And this one takes a stab at beating all us naysaying common folk to the punch. 
Since people make fun of their political ads (don't mind us fault-finders, we're no one special), they decided to make fun of themselves first. And then they went right on ahead and made their political ad. It's enough to get you excited they might have gotten a dose of reality right before realizing they didn't get a dose of reality.
The problem with these kinds of videos is that they tell us nothing new. We already know Hollywood is liberal. It would be like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar going around telling everyone, "I'm tall."
Yeah, we got that.
"I'm really tall."
Yep. Understood.
As for their opinion, I have no problem with it. It's called a democratic republic. They have a right to their opinion and I have a right to disagree. My disappointment is the fact here, yet again, is nothing new under the sun. Another presidential election year, another group of celebrities on a white screen enjoying the sound of their political endorsement. And I thought the Marvel series was never-ending.

Friday, September 16, 2016

3 Lessons in Library Selfies

What do you do the first time you see your first novel at your local library? You stand in the "T" fiction aisle snapping creepy selfies with it, that's what you do.

Doesn't everyone?

Of course they do.

When that moment arrives, you'll be shocked, elated, freaked out, and a dork for taking selfies in the library. But that won't be your biggest problem. Here are the three things I learned from my library selfie photo shoot:

1. Books on the top shelf are hard to see and hard to shoot. If your last name lands you in the clouds or the dungeon, consider changing your name. Something with a "K" might work.

The straight on shock face. 

2. You dreamed of your book going public. And it has. Now your name is out there riding free, living willy-nilly, and at risk of being a dog's chew toy, dropped in the tub, and left on the back of the commode.
The trick to not thinking about it? Not thinking about it.

The side eyeball vein look. 

3. Conquering the world one shelf at a time takes patience and ridiculous, illogical hope. So, shrug. Be ridiculous. It's not like your hope has anything better to do.

The creepy coming-at-you-from-the-side angle.

Good luck out there! If you send me a copy of your book, I promise not to let my dog eat it because I don't have a dog.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Millions of peaches. Peaches for free.

I met a man last week who said “the best job I ever had” was on a GM repair line where he spent the day doing crossword puzzles and sudoku. Then he went home and patted himself on the back for another day well done.
It reminded me of the best job I've ever had when I was a kid. It lasted all summer and, near the last part of August, I got paid in peaches. As many as I could eat.
Back then, the arrival of Colorado peaches meant the summer season of food harvesting was nearly done. We spent our summers swimming and bike riding like everyone else, but after the work was finished.
We had corn to shuck. And green beans to snap. Apples to peel. And tomatoes to slice. Blueberries to pick. And weeds to rip out by the hair.
And when we were done with that? The food had to be preserved for winter because food doesn’t preserve itself.
That corn was cut off the cob and frozen. The green beans were canned. The tomatoes went into homemade salsa which would burn your eyes for days, even when you were sure you kept your hands away from your face.
But when it was all done, we ate like kings. And slept like the dead.
I know work is now considered a bad word. Getting something for nothing is considered the ultimate achievement. But, without the labor, I don't think that Colorado peach we waited all summer for would have ever been as sweet.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fear and the sucker punch


My Dad never taught me to face my fears. He taught me to beat them to the punch. Get in front of them. Don't let them take an inch because then they'll take 10,000 miles. 
And he wasn't kidding. 
When I turned 13, he drove me four hours across the state to the biggest church youth event happening that weekend and dropped me off in a massive field with hundreds of total strangers playing volleyball. 
His parting words: "Go make friends."
Years later, I hydroplaned and wrecked my first car. When Dad got home, he told me to get in his car.
"If it's alright with you, Dad, I'd rather not ride in a vehicle anymore today."
His response: "Nope. We're not going to start that. Get in. We're going out for hamburgers."
And so on and so forth.
So, what do you do when the last time you were at the gym your vehicle was vandalized and your identity stolen?
For one, you never leave anything of value in your vehicle again.
For two, you go buy a new workout outfit and go back to the freaking gym. 

Post-gym. Any questions?

Beating fear to the punch is a sweaty business.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Day Two in the Attack of the Gremlins

My garage carpet flooded today from a mysterious leak that persists in its mystery. And so the water continues being cut off and my landlord continues cutting into walls.

 Best of luck to all of us. 

 Bad days often come in pairs. Or threes. Also quads. Or any number of their choosing. The best you can do is laugh, if possible. Cry, if necessary. Chant "oh no, oh no, oh please no," which is my personal favorite. Then keep moving forward.

 These aren't my favorite kind of days, but they have their purpose. It's a great reminder that our strength easy dissipates, but God's does not. If we truly believe that, then we can confidently face tomorrow because, let's be real here, we have no idea what the Gremlins have planned for Day Three.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dear criminal class of miscreants...

... who broke into my Jeep and stole my purse this morning,
You targeted me for victimization, but, alas, you have failed. I’m just not in the mood. I’m feeling waspy today. Never target me when I’m feeling waspy.
Taking my purse is inconvenient. But now you’ve given me a reason to buy a new one. Without guilt.
You didn’t think this through. You took my favorite Burt’s Bees lip gloss, but the joke is on you. I was ready to switch to a new shade.
You just can’t win for losing.

As for breaking my window, you chose the wrong curly-headed chick. My hair always looks windblown anyway. Another epic fail!
You broke into my vehicle while I was at the gym. While you were being recorded on security tapes racking up charges at Lowes, Walmart, Target, and Walgreens, I was building muscle. Now you’re a wanted criminal and I have the core strength to kick your arse.
Who made the better decision today, hmm?

And then, the worst mistake of all, you took my purse but left behind a signed copy of my first book, Not Another Superhero. Have you any idea how valuable that will eventually be? You’re only playing the short game here.
Plus, I’ve been praying for you since the moment I saw your handy work. Do you know what that means? Coals. Heaps of them on your pitiful head. If you get singed by falling brimstone, you only have yourself to blame.
Lastly, I’d like to leave you with a bit of advice.
First, your smash and grab technique needs work. Eventually, you’re going to develop tennis elbow.
Second, never mess with a writer. We’ll spend years hunting you down simply for the fodder.
Your Coming Tribulation

Friday, August 19, 2016

It's funny the things you miss

There was never a clean scrap of paper in the house. Not the front of paper. Not the back of paper. Not the inside of envelopes. Often, not even the toilet paper.

To my brother, the world was a canvas. And if he couldn't find a canvas, well...your journal will do.

That was life growing up with an artist. They must create. He was a doodling furnace that consumed every writeable surface in the house. Have you ever seen an alien battle depicted on an empty paper towel holder?

I have.

A few of them.

Space travel is a bloody business.

I've always admired his talent. More than admired. Coveted. I do well to print my name legibly. He could recreate the minute details of a Boeing 747 within six minutes or less of it flying overhead. Being in the same house with talent like that makes everything you do look like...well...child's play.

Because it is.

Mostly, however, what drove me crazy was never having a piece of paper to myself. As a writer pre-personal computer age, this was like dropping a swimmer in the desert and telling them to practice their laps.

"Mom! He drew all over my notebook again!"

My parents should have bought paper by the bale and ink by the bucket.

Even my homework got in on the action. My assignments were often spruced up with bold but odd doodles in the corner, on the cover, on the back, inside the notepad. You name it. Those doodles were sneaky creatures. They could wiggle into nearly any open space.

Frequently, my teachers would inform me doodling was not allowed in math. Or science. On my English papers or along the spine of my social studies homework. When they'd ask me to explain it, I'd just shrug.

"I left my notebook unguarded last night and Brendon found it."

As a kid, you have certain fantasies of what life will be like as an adult. You dream of all the dessert you'll eat. The late nights where you skip sleep. The freedom to do anything. And the endless supply of paper and pencils always available.

Okay, that last one might have only been me.

My brother and I haven't shared bathrooms, dinner tables, backseats, or notepads for nearly 20 years now. Recently, however, I was combing through my supply of clean notebooks and found a remnant left over. There, as if conjured straight out of a childhood memory, was a notebook with scribbles all over it.

I'm guessing he left it at my place at some point during the last two decades. I honestly hope I haven't kept notebooks around from high school. If so, it's time to sit myself down and have a chat about hoarding.

The funny or odd or ironic thing about that notepad is that I'm never going to let it go. I'll trash all the empty ones first. And, even then, good luck getting this sucker out of my hands. I have an intense grip.

After all those years of wanting to dump his head in a vat of black ink and watch bubbles float to the top, I missed those doodles. Really missed them.

Even though I was often frustrated beyond a healthy blood pressure level, I still had to admire the talent. And the journey. On every page there was a character waiting. Or a scene. Or an impression that left me realizing some creative minds think in more dimensions than the rest of us.

Now, as an adult, I want the doodles back. But my brother has far better things to do.

Next month, he and his wife will welcome their first son. He's already an active critter, my sister-in-law tells me. I'm not a bit surprised. If I had to guess, he's running out of wall space in there to draw on.

Or maybe he'll be more like me. The boring, reading one.

But I rather hope not. I hope, like his father, he is a fount of endless ideas. I hope he dreams of alien battles and draws them everywhere. I hope his curiosity gets him into trouble. And adventure. I hope he recreates creatures from his head into the corner of every piece of Botany homework his older sisters turn-in. And I hope they have to explain it to their teachers. Over and over again.

I hope he's alive with imagination. And I hope, when I leave my notepad lying around, he draws all over it.