Random Thursday: Grub Your Earphones and Clear Your Thoughts

No, I didn’t misspell “grab.” 


“You Should Applaud . . . “

I was going to start by sharing some of the barrage of Daniel Craig photos I’ve been receiving lately from someone who really, really wants me to see his first two James Bond films so I’ll be prepared to see Skyfall later this year.

But instead, here’s a hilarious movie theme medley by one of my favorite a cappella groups.

Because it’s Random Thursday, that’s why:

As they say on their site, they take the music seriously, but not themselves.

like that in a group of good-looking male singers . . .


Grabbing some Grub*

We were commuting home the other day and discussing the cleaning of rooms and other chores, when Janie said, in a thoughtful way, “Maybe I should just run away from home, instead.”

“Okay,” I said. “That means your room will stay clean and I don’t have to pack your lunch every day.”

“But where will I go?” she asked, putting a dramatic hand to her forehead. “Will I have to live on the street? What will I eat on the street?”

A little voice from behind me said, “You could eat grubs.”

“Hey!” I said. “That’s a great idea, Sunny. Your father is worried about all the moles tearing through our lawn. If Janie eats all the grubs, they’ll move away!”

“But (sniff), I don’t want to starve the moles (sob) ! “

I looked at Janie in the rearview mirror. “That’s what you got from that?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I was expecting more of a reaction to the grub thing. Do you know what a grub is?”

Long pause. “Not really, no.”

I told her.

EEEEEEEEEWWWWWwwwwwwwwwwww! Ugh, ugh, ugh, yuck, yucky!!!! Moooooo-ooooooom!! I can’t believe you want me to eat  those squishy—Ugh!”

“Honey, no one is going to force you to eat gru—”

“Nooooo!! Don’t even say it!”

“Okay, okay, calm down.  And lower the volume, please, ow.”

Small voice from the back. “Grub.”





“Guh! Stop it, Sunny! And quit poking me!”

“Janie, calm down, please,” I said. “Sunny, quit torturing your sister . . . And keep your grubby hands to yourself.”



Real Grub, Julia Style**

In honor of Julia Child’s birthday this month, the family saw Julie and Julia, which is based on a book I read a while ago.

The best parts of the book and the movie for me—and for Janie, who is addicted to Food Network, much to the bored exasperation of her little sister, who is addicted to Phineas and Ferb*** —are all about Julia:

I love melodysheep’s work . . .


Okay, maybe one photo of Daniel Craig

This one—the first of several—arrived in an e-mail called, “Six reasons to see Casino Royale“:

No insult to Mr. Craig, but I’m not seeing six abs.

And believe me, I counted very, very carefully.

Several times.  With a magnifying glass.

But it still worked—I’m planning to see Casino Royale tonight.

Though Quantum of Solace might take a few more photos . . .


And now, your moment of Savasana

Clear your mind of Daniel Craig all thoughts . . .

(courtesy of my husband, the yōgger, who has encountered the impatient woman before, but won’t admit anyone snores in his class)


*See?  Told you.

**I know calling Julia Child’s lifework ‘grub’ is like calling Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel ‘kitschy ceiling art,’ but I’m trying to work a theme here, so . . .

***There was no mix-up at the hospital, folks.  They’re both mine.


Poetry Wednesday: Don’t Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Honey (A Guest Post by Cha Cha)

My friend Cha Cha not only wrote me a fabulous guest post, but she did it with
poetry—because lyrics are poetry set to audible music. 

Thanks, Cha!
My friend Sarah has been nagging me (kindly) to write a guest blog for a while now, but I’ve been stumped on a topic. With a few language degrees under my belt I am capable of talking about anything with a fair amount of ability, but that doesn’t mean I would say anything of interest, to a reader or to myself.

Then I drove home today.

I recently moved to Iowa from a state that wasn’t Iowa. Needless to say, my home state did not celebrate country music in the same way that Iowa does. Normally I avoid listening to country music with energy I usually reserve for things like suddenly having to run cross country to avoid flesh-eating zombies (although the flaw in this plan is that zombies are slow moving, and at most I would have to keep up a steady ramble). However, there are days when I feel compelled to listen to country.

As a music form it does have a lot going for it. It certainly, in its repetitive stanza formula, creates a listening experience that sucks one in. On some level I feel compelled to listen to country out of a feeling of when-in-Rome. This is, according to air time, the music of Iowans. To live among them I should acquaint myself with their music. Basic cultural integration.

Then I hear lyrics that yank me forcefully out, things like (and I’m paraphrasing) “I can’t wait to see you grow with child” or “Won’t you look lovely with a kid on each hip.”

Aside from the feminist issues that these lyrics raise (I’ve never heard a woman say she can’t wait to see a man with a child on each hip), there is a part of me that screams about the destruction done to the music of MY people, the British and the Irish. So much work has been done proving that country music in America rose out of the Appalachian interpretations of British and Irish music, particularly ballads, that came over with the immigrants.

When I listen to classic British and Irish ballads, sung by, perhaps, a luminary voice like Kate Rusby and then realize it has “evolved” into a form of music that includes the real lyric “I’d like to check you for ticks,” more than a little bit of me dies.

Now we have a form of music that celebrates women as child bearers and nothing more, or in the last lyric’s case, a possible victim of Lyme disease. But before I ride off into the sunset on my high horse of righteous indignation, I look back at the original ballads and realize that they too, were songs sung, many by men, talking about the pale skin of the beautiful woman waiting for them back home. Perhaps my indignation should not be at the butchering modern country music has done to my beloved ballads of the past, but rather about a lack of evolution over the many decades. Women can now wear pants, but the change hasn’t quite made it to the music.

Yes, we have strong songs by strong women, but many are songs of rage about men who did them wrong, which to me, is not much more than a gender reversal of the songs about men who lost their women, their dog, and their trucks.

Instead of simply complaining, I would like to propose an alternative song, a love song from a man’s point of view (yes, yes, I’m a woman) about how he is looking for more than gingham and child-rearing hips. In a test of my ability to do simple math, I kept it to the ABCB format of most traditional British ballads with a 9898 count:

Don’t Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Honey
(Cha Cha ©2012*)

Don’t let me call you “sweetheart,” honey,
Diminutives ill-suit your fire.
Instead, I’ll call you what you wish, ma’am:
“Miss,” “dame,” “madam,” it’s your desire.

I shan’t talk treacle of your beauty
Through lens of procreation sole,
Ovarian traits aren’t all there are
There’s brains, inventions, arts, and goals.

Pale-skinned rapture can go to Hades.
Thy beauty’s in thy frontal lobe,
Thy preference for equal rights
Ignites my soul, ignites my soul.
Take thy shoes of sensibility
March past the rednecks as you stroll,
They can keep their surface beauties.
I like my women real and whole.

My woman Pulitzer stands up for
Nobel prizes shall line her walls.
Her logic is cooler than polar ice.
Were Einstein here, he’d take her calls.

Efficiently her bus’nesses run,
Her armies march a well-planned path.
Her chess skills leave me without breath,
(She truly liked The Grapes of Wrath.)

Pale-skinned rapture can go to Hades.
Thy beauty’s in thy frontal lobe,
Thy preference for equal rights
Ignites my soul, ignites my soul.
Take thy shoes of sensibility
March past the rednecks as you stroll,
They can keep their surface beauties.
I like my women real and whole.

She needn’t do all I have mentioned.
It’s not at all what I require.
But, ladies, hear this simple ballad,
And know what works to light my fire.

Stuff the blond hair and your sundresses.
We don’t all wish for this tableau.
I want a partner with hopes of strength,
A plan, a dream, a row to hoe.

When morning comes, don proud thy armor:
Your trusty bra of eighteen hours.
Go forth and conquer what you battle,
With your smarts and with your powers.

Pale-skinned rapture can go to Hades.
Thy beauty’s in thy frontal lobe,
Thy preference for equal rights
Ignites my soul, ignites my soul.
Take thy shoes of sensibility
March past the rednecks as you stroll,
They can keep their surface beauties.
I like my women real and whole.

I actually stole the structure straight from “Scarborough Fair” which was NOT going through my head as I wrote this. Going back, it’s rather trippy to match the rhythm with the tune.

Hope this qualifies as a guest post for Sarah. If not, well, perhaps it will be a while before she nags me (kindly) again.

Thanks for reading.

Bragging on my Husband

Last night, the family went to see this man play the Sandlot Baseball All-Star Showcase at a real stadium:

We kind of had to—he’s ours.

Obviously:  Who else but a Wesson would play catcher in an old fencing mask?

Have to say, though, he looks good in uniform:

Pretty darn good:

It was a good game, even though the (blue) Turtles were trounced by the (orange) Crushers and Janie ate a blue-iced cupcake that showered everything within a two-foot radius with  teal speckles  and a very sleepy Sunny stuck herself to my shirt by her chocolate frosting goatee.

The entry fee for the game was canned goods for a local food bank and I heard that they collected over eight hundred pounds-worth from the family and friends who came out to watch them play and eat hotdogs and oddly-colored desserts and smush bugs and dance to the music and cheer on the players* and fall asleep on their Mommies until it was time to go home.

We had a great time.

You done good, honey—we’re proud of you!


* “You can do it, Daddy!  Just hit the ball !”

A Few Confused Words about Word Count

There is, I’ve discovered, no math quite like word count math.

Everyone has their own ideas about how to figure out the number of words in a novel, most of which appear to be half guesstimation, half page-calculation, a quarter magical-thinking, and three-fourths chaos theory—and, yeah, I know that adds up to more than it should.

That’s sort of my point.

Some of the places I’ve checked (agent-sites among them) say that one is never supposed to use MSWord’s counting tool, because it doesn’t account for the length of the word— ‘a’ is the same as ‘acidophilus,’ which doesn’t help anyone figure out how many pages a the published book is likely to be.    Still others (agent-sites among them) say, go ahead and use Word, because the number is only supposed to give an agent a general idea of whether your novel is too long or too short for the genre.

Some guides advise to calculate by character count (with or without spaces) divided by X or Y; or by double-spaced page count (factoring in the half-pages and white spaces); or by rounding some unclear figure one way or another.   And some appear to go by the light of the gibbous moon, under which they consult the spirit of Einstein, who reassures them that it’s all relative (even the spaces).

Word says I have a 102,500-word Pigeon (give or take 35 words) on my hands—that seems like a pretty big bird, even if none of those words is ‘acidophilus.’*  According to the 250-word per page theory, though, it’s about 106,250.**  If I count the characters-plus-spaces and divide by six, it’s 94,317.

The moon is gibbous now, I think, but I’ve been too busy to gambol about, sorry—but if I calculate the characters without spaces and stipulate that each weighs as much as a single saffron thread, Pigeon weighs in at about six pounds, twelve and a half ounces.

I’m just saying.

As someone who was naively hoping that the math part of this writing business might be taken care of by agents, personal accountants, and possibly Swiss banking establishments—a woman can dream—I’ll admit I’m a bit . . . confused.

Of course, I’ll be checking submission guidelines very carefully when the time comes and I really shouldn’t be worrying about any of this, yet—if at all, supposing Einstein and the Pro-Word contingent are to be believed.  At this point, I haven’t truly started cutting any deadwood darlings, being more interested in untangling the timeline, making sure I nail down that one FBI agent who has a different name every time he’s mentioned, and jumping up and down on the structural integrity of the thing.

And it really isn’t necessary to know where the word-count stands before I pick up the axe, because what I’m supposed to do is take away all the things that aren’t part of the story and whatever length I have afterward is the right length for the book.***

It’s a theory, anyway.

There might be another theory that I’m trying to recalculate the word count in my favor so my beloved Chapter Four won’t fall victim to literary downsizing . . . but that’s just the gibbous moon talking.

What’s your favorite^ One True Way of calculating word count?  Does it involve goats and pixie dust?


*I did use ’a’  2473 times, though, in case you were wondering—I was, so I won’t judge you or anything.  However you feel about MSWord’s literal interpretation of word count, it also easily counts and highlights all the times I’ve used ‘just’, ‘which’, “—“ or any of my other charming, semantic tics—which is just darned useful at times.

**For those of you who just hissed through your teeth, I didn’t bother looking for white space—and y’all know by know how much I love long stretches of dialogue—so this is an inflated figure.   Again, sort of the point.

***At least until an agent or editor hands me a list of revisions.  I’m not that naive (just really, really hopeful)

^Not logical, just favorite.

Six Sentence Sunday: Full Metal Librarian XXXVII (Dream Interpretation)

Six Sentence Sunday is open to all writers. Just pick a six sentence passage from anything you’ve written—published, unpublished, whatever—and post it on your blog on Sunday.

Registration for the upcoming Sunday list opens the previous Tuesday evening at 5pm CST. More information is here.

Check out all the talent!


I remembered to sign up this week!

This passage is a chapter or so ahead from the last six.  I’d tell you that I’m skipping over so much because I don’t want to give the whole plot away, but to be honest, I seem to have used a lot of short sentences in this story, and it’s tough to find a passage that isn’t twelve words long.  

I should probably look into that.  But in the meantime, here are six slightly longer sentences that, as it turns out, sort of outlines the plot anyway.  Oh well .  . .

The voices woke me from a dream of my mother, reading to me. 

The book in her hands had been the Wind in the Willows, but the story she told was more complicated—Rat and Mole and Toad were on the Moon, where very Bad Things were happening.  The Stoats were trying to pull a fast one, and there was no time, and the Badger wouldn’t listen without forms filed in triplicate.  I was too young, in the dream, to understand, because it wasn’t my birthday yet, but I tried very hard, so hard I woke myself up.

Five seconds later, the only thing I clearly recalled was the sight of tears running down my mother’s face, a frightening, confusing image.

Mommy never cried—Mommy was a hero. 


 Previous Installments:

First ♦ Second ♦ Third ♦ Fourth ♦ Fifth ♦ Sixth
Seventh ♦ Eighth ♦ Ninth ♦ Tenth ♦ Eleventh ♦ Twelfth  ♦ Thirteenth
Fourteenth ♦ Fifteenth ♦ Sixteenth ♦ Seventeenth
Eighteenth ♦ Nineteenth ♦ Twentieth ♦ Twenty-first ♦ Twenty-second
Twenty-third ♦ Twenty-fourth ♦ Twenty-fifth ♦ Twenty-sixth
Twenty-seventh ♦ Twenty-eighth ♦ Twenty-nine ♦ Thirty
Thirty-one ♦ Thirty-second ♦ Thirty-third ♦ Thirty-fourth  ♦ Thirty-fifth