Random Thursday: Hey, Look!

Sorry—a little distracted this week, but that just makes for a more eclectic mix of random, right?


Artistic Genius

Bragging on my kids’ artwork has become so much easier now that their art teacher signed her students up at Artsonia‘s online gallery.

Naturally, tote bags and mugs and tee-shirts and all sorts of whatnot emblazoned with one’s kids’ deathless art are available through Artsonia, which seems a bit opportunistic, until you realize you’re set for grandparent gifts until they both graduate.

Plus, there’s actually free space on the fridge now, which is always a plus.

Here’s one Janie did—she’s heavily into cross-sections now, showing what people bugs are doing in the privacy of their own rooms cotton balls:

For her summer project, she did a huge city scape at Christmas, with at last twenty rooms of people living their lives—she even added in one that showed people holding their ears because the upstairs neighbor was jumping on the bed.  Awesome stuff.

I’m pretty sure she’s going to draw comic books someday—maybe she’ll let me write them for her . . .

And here’s one Sunny did after her class examined the art of Charley Harper:

Sunny’s backgrounds are always full of abstract color—you can say this about the paintings of most five-year olds, I’m sure, but this is my five-year old and her placement of each block clearly shows a precocious grasp of composition and the blending of shades.

Or something—my talents don’t lie in the visual arts, but I know who what I like.


 Best Dog Video Ever

Yeah, that’s a subjective statement, and this may actually be the only dog video I’ve seen since the advent of YouTube, but once you see it—or one of this dog’s other videos—I guarantee it’s going in your personal top five:



Watson: “Three seconds in, and that dog has already done more chores than your kids do in a week”

Janie:  “Hey!  That’s not—oh, wait, is that Jesse?  Yeah, she’s right.”


Look Challenge

The talented Wendy Russo, whom I met through Six Sentence Sundays, tagged me this week in a Look!  Challenge.

The idea is to locate the word ‘look’ in whatever manuscript you have lying around (I may be paraphrasing here) and post the few previous and following paragraphs and then invite other authors to do the same.

Since  I’m feeling a little protective of Pigeon and Wendy is most familiar with Full Metal Librarian (aka, the Drawer Novel That Won’t Die) anyway, I thought I’d post from the latter.

In this scene, Clyota, the narrator, has just been released on bail through the extra-legal machinations of a member of the cyborg Press Corps, who has attached himself to her in order, he claims, to investigate the truth behind her space-pilot mother’s posthumous conviction for mass murder.   Cristina is her best friend and a paralegal, which is proving convenient:

“Do you know what the ALA is going to do to you for hacking our systems?”   Damn—I had to get to a terminal and report to Sys Admin as soon as possible.

“What,” he said, “will the revocation of your bail do to you?”

Okay, so maybe an anonymous tip through my hard-wired Library Secure connection . . . which apparently wasn’t secure now, except physically—my terminal was locked up in my house under a Crime Scene Field.

Damn it!

I stomped my feet once or twice, more out of anger than to clean my boots of leftover slush, and got into the passenger side.  The Pressman got into the back seat.

“What the hell just happened?” said Christina.  “I didn’t think you’d get out tonight, not without counsel at your arraignment.  I got Samantha Rhys-Hargaty to take your case.”  From her tone, I’d won the legal eagle lottery.  “She was heading out here when the trial hit the docket, so she wants to set up a meeting instead to discuss strategy and some quote, “amazing evidence,” unquote.  What’s that about?”

I leaned back into the heated seat and let my shivers settle.  “Someone hacked my Door and falsified the reports to make it look like I ordered the kill shot.  He,” I hitched a thumb behind me, “showed the judge a recording of what really happened.  Oh, and they can’t find the . . .” I yawned hard enough to crack my jaw, “da . . . the ambulance that took the Lieutenant.  I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.  I’m tired.  And hungry.”

“I’ll take you home.  My home—you can’t go back to yours yet, it’s still sealed.  Plus you’re missing a front door.”  Christina glanced in the rearview mirror.  “Where can I drop you?” she asked the Pressman, her tone conveying that doing so from a great height would pose no problem.

“Wherever,” he said, “she goeth.”

“The hell you will—”

“Oh, let him stay,” I said.  “If nothing else, I owe him for getting me out of there tonight on bail.  Actually, I owe him the credit, too.”

One credit? Which judge did you pull?”

“Uh . . .” My mind was full of fuzz.

“Edward Rapton-Fitzgerald,” said a voice from behind me.

Christina’s mouth dropped open.  ” Holy—do you know what they call him?”

A litany started up from the backseat.  “Judge Death, the Executioner, the Ice Man, the Organ Grinder, the Harvester—”

“That’s nothing compared to what defense lawyers call him,” said Christina. “One freaking credit from the guy who once set bail at a kidney and half a liver.  I’m actually impressed.  Still,” she added, “I don’t want him,” she glared in the rearview mirror, “around my kids.”

I knew that Thomas and Sadie had been sent to their grandma’s for Chick Nite, but I was too tired to argue.  “I understand.  Take us to the Plaza Hotel.”

“No.”  She gripped the wheel and took a deep breath. “No, fine, whatever.  He can use the spare room.”  We exchanged small smiles; the spare room is in the basement, and is a graveyard for sprung, lumpy furniture, dead exercise equipment, and tasteless gifts from relatives.

If you’re confused-and-or-interested—the story begins, in six sentence increments, here.

And now it’s time to tag some writer/bloggers in return—and if you think that this is my sneaky way of seeing more of their work, you would be right:

Jalisa Blackman (Countdown or Nation, please!)

Averil Dean

Angela Quarles

Maddie Cochere

You don’t have to play along, guys—you can just send me your stuff directly!


Watch This:

There was a review of this movie in our local paper this morning.  I’d never heard of it, but I immediately checked out the trailer.

You guys . . .

Wow.  Just . . . Wow.


Random Thursday: A Hairy Week

Sunny, who sports a gorgeous head of riotous, dark blonde curls that had my MIL looking at me askance for a short time before she remembered her own uncle’s unruly locks, begged me to straighten her hair yesterday with my wand-thing.***

She asked so nicely, my four-year old grifter-child, that I caved just this once.

I used the lowest setting and sprayed some stuff on her that supposedly keeps hair from being fried by the heat, and slowly, reluctantly, removed all the bounce and boingy-ness.

She loved it, which I suppose is what’s important. But she just didn’t look like my kid.

Usually, no matter how much she brushes or how much detangler she sprays (the bottle has been placed on the highest shelf), her curls reassert themselves the moment she leaves the house. This time, because of the stuff I used on it, her hair was no more than slightly wavy when she came home.

“Will you make my hair smooth tomorrow, Mommy?” she asked at dinner.

“No. Not for a long time,” I said.


“Because it’s not good for your hair—and I miss my Curly-Q.”

“You can call me Straight-Q,” she said, without missing a beat or a bite.

We all cracked up . . . but the kid was serious.

Oh, boy.


Required Weekly Geek Bit:

Peter Jackson is doing a vblog of the filming of The Hobbit!

It’s fascinating to see the prep work involved by costumers and carpenters and writers and stunt coordinators and location scouts.

And it’s so much fun to watch the initial uncostumed blocking of the opening scene at Bag End and see all these six-foot “dwarves”** parade into Bilbo’s kitchen (about 5:26—duck!) as Martin Freeman scurries behind with an unexpected armload of weaponry, baffled as only he can baffle.***

There are three of these so far!  I can’t wait for the next one.^


Have you seen Despair.com’s collection of demotivational posters?

They’ll lift your spirits, or at least satisfy your cynicism.


Remember the windfall promised to me by that fortune cookie this past Sunday?

Tuesday morning, I discovered my bank card was missing.

I knew the last time I’d used it was at the gas station near the branch library Monday morning, so when the very nice man at the bank asked me if that was my last purchase, I said, “Oh, thank heavens, yes!”

There was a pause, and he said . . . “Did you buy two tanks of gas there? About twenty minutes apart?”

Oh, $#!%.

Luckily that’s all the person bought—at least, that showed up at that point—and because s/he had to use it as a credit card, I’m not responsible for the purchase.

You know, I thought Janie’s take on “windfall” was funny. But having a bank card fall out of your pocket? C’mon, now.

Then again, my horoscope has been telling me all this week not to go on any spending sprees, so at least one oracular system has my back . . .


Leftover Night at the Wessons:

Me:  What do you want for dinner tonight?

Jane: That pasta from last night, but without all the cheese.

Me:  Yeah.  I’ll get right on that.

My husband:  What does Janie want?

Me:  She wants me to squeeze the filling out of the tortellini.


Speaking of hair, here’s a new favorite commercial:

Now there’s a role-model.


* I have mentioned that my hair is all cowlicks, right? My goal is to get them all going in approximately the same direction before I leave the house. After that, meh . . .

** Who include Richard Armitage as Thorin, which makes this movie an official requirement, even if my love of the source material, Martin Freeman, and Benedict Cumberbatch hadn’t already made it so.

*** Actually, that pale blue jacket and tie ensemble he’s sporting a little further on is also baffling.

^ Yes, I am waiting for Benedict Cumberbatch to show up in one (or more) of these vids—however did you guess? I figure it’s a good bet, since he’s the voice of Smaug and is also playing “the necromancer,” whom I suspect may end up being Sauron . . . But even if he doesn’t, necromancy isn’t exactly cuddles and fluff, so he must be having a blast being two kinds of evil in one picture—and when Mr. Cumberbatch is having a blast, he shares. Thus endeth the weekly meeting of the Society of Defiantly Post-Pubescent Admirers of Benedict Cumberbatch (SDPPABC)

101th Post . . . Huh.

I rarely scroll down past the daily blog stats—which I check like a starving lab rat pushing the feeder bar—but I did yesterday and discovered that my brilliant and oh-so-original Tuesday post was my 100th on this blog.

Which was gratifying, as it gave me something to blog about today.*

But I don’t think that’s a shabby number for, what, just under five months—though part of me wants to figure out the total word count so I can obsess over how many pages of my WIP I could have completed in that time.

Probably for the best I don’t know how.

So I’ll just thank the real live human beings who’ve visited** and commented (hint, elbow, nudge) and especially the astonishing number who’ve apparently stuck around—unless there are actually  only a few of you checking in throughout the day just to mess with me.  I’ll forgive you if you promise not to stop.

And now, we celebrate this small milepebble with the traditional dance of my people!


*And now I’ll be humming “Circle of Life” all day.  Join in, won’t you?

But I digress . . .

I can finally breathe without hurting myself,* I finished not just one but two chapters —one for each project**—fired them off to their respective destinations . . .

. . . and knocked off early to spend the past half hour searching for something I barely remembered from my misspent youth:

Comedy gold, I tell you.


*Though the cough remains. It sounds like I’d auditioning for the role of Coffin Harriet in a genderbending version of Soul Music.   One brownie point if you get the reference, two if you can supply the author.

**If anyone’s wondering, I kept the Redhead.   She’ll give my critiquers something to sink their teeth into.  They like that.  A lot.

Plot Complications: Necessary Evils?

I love Lord of the Rings, the books and the movies.   And I’m addicted to the videos on the  How  It Should Have Ended website. 

Naturally, this vid is one of my favorites:

I love this.  It’s unexpected, irreverent, and it might have worked

But this fix bypasses a lot of worthwhile stuff.*  Friendship, love, valor, life lessons, family, heroics . . . Ents.  

And we wouldn’t care about sparing these characters all their pain and suffering if they hadn’t had a chance to become beloved characters . . . which happened because of how they dealt with pain and suffering.

Of course, Tolkien knew how to manipulate his characters.  I don’t recall any part of the Lord of the Rings** where I thought, “Oh, this character is acting like an idiot solely because Tolkien needed to get to point B.”  That, in fact, might have been the case, but I can’t see the strings.***

Complications are good, strings are bad.

I’m more than willing to make my own characters suffer . . . but I’m still working on motivation.   You can give a character any kind of complication, but if he doesn’t have sufficient reason to move in the direction you want, and you make him do it anyway . . . the scene just doesn’t come out right.^  

For example, I need my male MC to leave his hotel suite for an hour or so—never mind why—and since he also needs to have a certain conversation with his sociopathic ex-girlfriend, it seemed to make sense to combine the two.  But at this point, there’s no way he’d agree to come within fifty feet of her, if I didn’t have an all-too-visible plot string around his ankle.

So, I think I need to add some pressure a little earlier.  Some misdirection, a little interference . . . a little pain, a little suffering.  So when she calls and tells him to meet her at a Starbucks across town in forty minutes, he has to know what she knows, even if he’d rather have a root canal.    Look, Ma, no strings!

So, yeah.  I think “kill your darlings” refers to more than brilliant, misplaced sentences. . . but it has to be done right.

Off I go to practice!


*Except for Tom Bombadil, who was written into the wrong story.  To their credit, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens (the scriptwriters) appear to have known this—but I always got the impression that Tom did, too.

** The Hobbit, however, clearly demonstrates (to my mind) several standard romance genre complications™, including my least favorites, lack of basic, honest communication and a smidgen of Too Stupid to Live.  But Tolkien still makes it work.  And I love Bilbo anyway.

***Not even around Tom Bombadil, who, to add a rant, simply doesn’t make metaphorical,  folkloric, or storytelling sense to me.   Anyone have an explanation?

^No matter what Livingston Taylor says.  And says well.