Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mars Needs Architects!

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has found bright veins of a mineral, apparently gypsum, deposited by water. Analysis of the vein will help improve understanding of the history of wet environments on Mars.

"This tells a slam-dunk story that water flowed through underground fractures in the rock," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for Opportunity. "This stuff is a fairly pure chemical deposit that formed in place right where we see it. That can't be said for other gypsum seen on Mars or for other water-related minerals Opportunity has found. It's not uncommon on Earth, but on Mars, it's the kind of thing that makes geologists jump out of their chairs."  
http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/dec/HQ_11-403_Mars_Rover_Gypsum.html
Gypsum. It's all around us, we see it every day, but not in its natural state. Yet it is so common that you probably don't even recognize it anymore. It is one of the main ingredients of one of the prime building blocks in the construction industry today, gypsum wallboard or drywall. It is in your walls and your ceilings of your home. With this one product finishing the walls in a house which used to take a week or more now only takes a couple of days.

And it's so easy to use nearly anyone can do it. I know that for a fact. I finished off the basement of our previous house. Okay, the results weren't exactly professional quality and it took me a lot longer than originally planned but it worked and it looked nice. As an architect I need to know how to use gypsum board correctly, I don't need to know how to "use" it.

Finding this mineral on Mars is the best indication we have that water was once prevalent on the planet, and if there was water there was a good chance there was life.

In other news from NASA they are looking for new astronaut candidates. While the Space Shuttle program is over astronauts are still needed to man the International Space Station and work towards our manned mission to Mars. Maybe I should apply. They might need an architect.

One thing is for certain, with finding gypsum on Mars when we do put that first human settlement on Mars if we ever need more room we'll at least be able to finish off the basement.

http://expatter.blogspot.com/2009/03/getting-my-kirk-on.html

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Whack-a-Mole Business Model



Today was one of those days, I mean it was one of THOSE days. Before I left work last night I made a list of everything I wanted to accomplish this morning when I arrived at work.

Ha. I should have known better.

When I arrived my email was filling rapidly, my phone was red lighted (I had messages already), and shop drawings were stacked in my inbox.

Everyone knows how to play Whack-A-Mole. When the game begins, you take your mallet in hand, and try to hit the moles as they pop up.
If the player does not strike a mole within a certain time or with enough force, it will eventually sink back into its hole with no score. Although gameplay starts out slow enough for most people to hit all of the moles that rise, it gradually increases in speed, with each mole spending less time above the hole and with more moles outside of their holes at the same time. After a designated time limit, the game ends, regardless of the skill of the player.  wikipedia
Some days are nothing more than an extended game of Whack-A-Mole. Try as you might to solve one problem, another pops up, and another. You bring the mallet down. At some point you might develop a rhythm, and if you are lucky you start knocking them as quickly as they appear until you've hit them all.

You feel pretty good now. That is until that first mole pops once again. Then two more, then maybe three.

There is a simple truth behind the game. You can hit as much as you can but after a select amount of time the game is over "regardless of the skill of the player".  You can never beat the game, you can only try to get as many moles as you can in the allotted time. There are always more moles.

And with that knowledge the rhythm returns, the moles get whacked, one by one, until time runs out.

So keep trying for that high score, do your best, and enjoy the game.

Just be careful and watch your back.





Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Never Wear Red or William Shatner Is My Life Coach

Hello, today I'm channeling my Inner Spock, looking at the world, raising one eyebrow, and saying, in a low monotone "Fascinating." Why? I have no idea. But isn't that how most days are?



I know these types of articles are sometimes a dime a dozen, and this one is definitely self-serving, but then isn't this entire blog? It is good from time to time to sit back and marvel, to boldly go even if it is only to the next meeting. 

  ***

7 Life Lessons You Can Learn From 'Star Trek'

David Borgenicht President, Quirk Books

Originally posted: 11/29/11 at Huffingtonpost.com
 

Let me start out by coming clean: I am a closet Trekkie.

I went to my first "Star Trek" convention when I was nine. I have owned dozens of "Star Trek" toys, models, props and books over the years (and yes, I used to make my Kirk and Uhura action figures kiss). I even have a communicator app on my iPhone (and I'm eagerly waiting for the tricorder app now that Siri has arrived). I don't own a uniform, but I wish I did (Hint hint: Channukah's coming, family. I'll take the classic Captain's shirt in M, please, so that it rips easier when I get into fights).

My love of "Star Trek" began at an early age and has lasted to this day. But why? It isn't just because of the campy sets and costumes that are still iconic. It isn't because of the terrific performance by Leonard Nimoy (Spock) or Captain Kirk's Shatnerific overacting. It isn't even because of the superb sci-fi storytelling and writing or the fact that the toys and accoutrements were (and are) so cool that the culture seems to be obsessed with making them real. Although all of that is true.

No, my love of "Trek" has lasted this long because of what I have learned from my friends on the Enterprise over the years.

From the joys of exploration to the simple pleasures of curling up in your own quarters (often with a hot yeoman and a cold drink), from the value of friendship to the value of calling someone's bluff, I've learned dozens of life skills, lessons and even values from the iconic show that ran only three years in prime time when it originally debuted (before I was born).

I think that's what ultimately motivated me to create and publish (via my company, Quirk Books) "THE STAR TREK BOOK OF OPPOSITES," as an attempt to familiarize children today (including my own) with the world of "Trek."

There are no great life lessons in "THE STAR TREK BOOK OF OPPOSITES" (although learning the difference between BIG and LITTLE, HOT and COLD would certainly serve anyone well). But beyond the basics of opposites, the book is a great way to introduce kids to the world and characters of "Star Trek," in the hopes that someday they will come back to it and begin to appreciate its power and cultural resonance.
I would say there are seven life lessons I learned from "Star Trek" that I take with me to this day. These are lessons I hope to pass along to my own children someday--but for now, I will share them with the interweb.
  1. The best way to travel is to boldly go where no one has gone before. This is true for vacations, for self-exploration, for life itself. If you want your days filled with adventure, laughter, love, learning and the occasional mind-meld, follow this route
  2. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few--or the one. Sometimes you must make great sacrifices for the greater good. And, like the Genesis device, it will all come back around.
  3. Expressing your emotions is a healthy thing. Sure, McCoy seemed angry all the time when exclaiming, "Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor not a mechanic/bricklayer/soothsayer," but he knew that by expressing his anger and frustration it wouldn't get the best of him and he could then perform at his peak capacity.
  4. When estimating how long a job will take, overestimate--and when you do better your captain will always be impressed. Replace the word "captain" with "teacher" or "mom/dad" and you'll see what I mean. Sure, Mr. Scott might have been telling the truth--maybe it would take six hours to get the warp engines back online in the heat of the battle. Or maybe he was padding things so he looked good. Either way, when the engines did come back on line, everyone was happy.
  5. Wearing red makes you a target. This is true of cars, dresses and, most especially, shirts. Red gets you noticed--which is good if you want to be noticed, bad if you don't want to end up vaporized.
  6. When you don't know what to say, pause. It will give you the time to figure it out. Or at the very least, you'll sound like you're being thoughtful. "But....Spock.....why?"
  7. The most powerful force in the universe is friendship. It's more powerful than phasers, photon torpedos, even more powerful than the force itself. With friends, you can accomplish any task, escape any perilous situation, defeat any enemy--and you get to laugh together when it's all over.
I am convinced that these lessons will serve us all, adults and children, well as we seek out new life, new civilizations, new experiences. In short, thanks to "Star Trek," we may all live long and prosper.

***

After thought: 
He left out the all important rule Number 8. Never trust a Republican, I mean Romulan. 
Oops, Freudian slip, I guess. 


Anyway it's like Bones always told Kirk,"You've got to use it, move it, once the point of living if you don't want to dance." 
Double oops, that's Kylie Minogue (guilty pleasure currently streaming on AOL)


And with that I'm all out of oopses. Scotty, beam me up. Now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Zombies Have Taken Over Washington DC


I usually watch "Sunday Morning" on CBS each weekend. I love the art and culture concentration on the news. The feature stories always makes me think, they often makes me laugh, and sometimes even shed a tear or two. But for some bizarre and unknown reason I missed it this weekend.

Never fear, A friend at work comes in this morning and tells me about this piece he saw this weekend. It was all about zombies and he immediately thought of me.

Now I will take that as flattery and not that he thinks I'm a zombie. Unfortunately I was unable to find a video of the piece but here is the transcript.
 
***
(CBS News) 

A few weeks ago, a close friend came to me and wanted advice about putting iron bars in front of his windows. I asked him why he needed bars on his windows in Beverly Hills in the first place. "So the zombies try to come into my house, I can keep them out," he said. "You just need the right kind of iron."

My friend is a bit scattered, so he never quite finished the conversation.

But here's the amazing part: When I tell other friends about this, they say things like, "What kind of iron bars did he get?" Or, "What did he do to make the zombies mad at him?"

No one except my sensible wife said, "What's he talking about? Zombies? The walking dead? There is no such thing. That's voodoo, it's not real." But my wife is in the minority (at least in my crowd).

The Internet is jammed with stories and survival guides about how to deal with zombie attacks. My son reads them avidly.

Where did this belief in zombies suddenly come from, exploding and growing upon the nation?

I think I know.

The first branch of the United States government, the most important deliberative body on the planet, the United States Congress - THEY are the inspiration for the zombie craze.


Now obviously, no one but a madman would REALLY think that iron bars could keep a Member of Congress out of a taxpayer's home. That's not what this story is about.

It's about the congressional walking dead.

They get elected. They might LOOK as if they're alive, might LOOK as if they respond to stimuli like living people, but they're actually in another realm, where crises present themselves and the zombies just stagger past them, accomplishing little or nothing. The debt crisis doesn't get resolved on time? So what? Time doesn't mean a lot to a zombie.

Again, I don't really want to talk about bars and senators in the same breath, but maybe they need a little something - a little pick-me-up, just something that would give them a ZAP so they actually get something done about the deficit or mortgages or jobs.

But I'm not sure you CAN wake them up, because they're not sleeping. They're, well, not quite in the land of the living. And they keep coming at us ... and getting closer and closer and ... I'm scared!

***



I laugh every time I have read that piece. And I even find myself in agreement with Ben Stein, which is scary in itself as he has grown more conservative and right wing as time goes on. 

But I must disagree slightly. I do think he missed a very obvious reason why they can't be zombies. For if every member of the Senate and the House were zombies that would mean they would have a strong attraction to and desire for brains.  Alive or dead I don't think there can be more than a handful of good brains on Capital Hill right now. And I don't see to many of our political "leaders" looking for anyone with a brain.


Unfortunately I think this lack of desire for brains has a trickle down effect to the States. But maybe that's changing. Are you listening, Scott? Over 300,000 signatures, over half the needed number, on recall petitions in just 12 days. Maybe there is hope for us yet.




 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

5 Things + 5 Things More


photo found on rexanne.com
 
5 Things I Am Thankful For

1) My family
I mean this should really go without saying but it is the season and it never hurts to let those you love and care about know it.

2) My family's health and mine too
All things considered we aren't doing too bad. Some things could be better, but you have to be happy about what you have and what you can't change.

3) A steady income
These days this is something not to be taken for granted.

4) My friends
Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and at times your patience and endurance.

5) The opportunity to do what I love
a] Over the last few years my writing has begun to kick in. My financial progress in this aspect is slower than I'd want, (it always is, isn't it) but there is progress. And it seems to make people smile. That's pretty cool.


5 More Things I am Really Really Happy About Right Now

1) A new album by Kate Bush
Out this week "50 Words For Snow" is beautiful. She has been a favorite of mine forever and this new work is very very welcome.

2) THE MUPPETS ARE BACK!
I haven't seen teh movie yet, but it is only a matter of time.

3) I just got a smartphone.
Okay, it's only an iPhone 3GS, (they are giving them away at ATT now) but it lets me read my email, play games, watch out if any zombies are in the vicinity, and I think it makes phone calls too

4) The future
We will get Wisconsin back to the people. Scott Walker will be recalled.

5) Best Xmas present ever!
Even with our 2nd string quarterback, Da Bears will beat the Packers on Xmas Day. (Sorry about the perfect season but it will help you in the long run. Losing to Miami was the best thing for the 85 Bears.)


Now It's Your Turn. Tell Us Your 5 Things!

And don't forget:
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's a Not-so-Black Not-so-Friday Sale!

Greetings, Earthlings.

Step right up. Don't be afraid. Plenty of room at the front.

In the spirit of the holidaze I have decided to enter into the consumer buying frenzy with an amazing offer for my hilarious ebook "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door." It's filled with laughs, some scary moments, and fun for the whole family! And now you can have all that and more all for the unbelievable price of $0.99!

Can you believe your good fortune?!! I can't either.

But wait, Bill, you say. Why are you doing this?

I hear you, even from up here in the mother ship.We're doing it because we care. In a media filled world of rehashed ideas (did you know they are making a Broadway musical based on the 90s Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore movie Ghost? yes, a musical) we wanted to make sure you got your hands on some quality reading material.

Many of you will be giving or getting iPads or Kindles or Nooks or other ereaders for Xmas this year. You'll want to fill up that memory with all sorts of great readiing material that you'll never ever get to. Why not make one of those ebooks "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door." You won't be sorry and I won't be either.

Now can I have your attention? Let's be serious for a minute and face the cold hard facts. Not enough of you good people are reading "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door." I'm still working my day job!  

(Actually I'm quite thankful I am working my wonderful day job especially if anyone from the firm is reading this. That earlier sentence is what we in the business call a "sales pitch" It doesn't really mean anything, honest. Excuse me, I have to get back to it. They're waiting.)

Now for only $0.99, the price of an iPhone app that tells you when the tangerines are ripe in Argentina you can be entertained in the here and now. That's quite a bargain if you ask me.

So head right on over now. I've got a copy waiting for you.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/69405

(PS Right now the price at amazon.com is still $1.99 but they'll lower it as soon as a few people buy it at smashwords.com. It's that price matching thing they do. Or you can head over right now and give my vacation fund with a little extra boost.)

Happy Holidaze, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another win at the NECON Flash Fiction contest

Dear Bill,

It's deja vu all over again; of course, I sincerely hope you're not getting tired of reading letters like this one —

It is my pleasure to inform you that your story, "The Second Deadly Sin,"  has been awarded an Honorable Mention in the Necon E-Books October Flash Fiction Contest.  Your piece will be published on our web site at www.neconebooks.com/flash.htm by the end of the night, and will also be included in our end of the year Flash Fiction Anthology.

Having won a couple of months ago with a Halloween themed story I was intent on sitting this one out, trying to complete another project. But then the Friday before Halloween was Trick or Treats at my office for children of employees. There were buckets of candy stationed at various points around the building, one way too close to my desk. This year the turnout was low and those kids that did come barely made a dent in the amount of candy. I was able to sample a few, actually more than a few it turned out, of the bite-sized confections throughout the afternoon. It was during my sugar crash around 3:30 that this story presented itself to me. Polishing it up helped me stay awake.

The Flash Fiction Contest at NECON Ebooks is a great challenge. Every month they post a different topic and you have 100 words in which you tell your story. It is great practice and a lot of fun. I encourage all those interested in writing to give it a shot. 


My story "The Second Deadly Sin" is my 4th win with the contest. I think I'm getting a reputation there. Check it out. I hope you enjoy it. Now if you excuse me, I must find some chocolate...............

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Buckystein, or It's a Small World After All

A few years ago I read an article, possibly in The Isthmus, about a local man who had made his own horror movie about a crazed and murderous half man half mascot. He called it "Buckystein". I knew instantly I had to have it. I sent my money and got a copy of the dvd.

When the dvd came I played it right away. After 5 minutes my wife left the room and I was forced to endure the unspeakable horror before me. Actually it wasn't that bad. Short entirely in Madison with a cast of friends and relatives it gave new meaning to low budget horror films. It gave that new meaning to me anyway.

I had always loved the movies and wanted to be a part of them in anyway I could. When "The Last Kiss" starring Zach Braff did some filming in town Laurie and I rushed out to be extras. And we made the cut. My legs are featured in the opening credits. We are actually in the film together at one point but you can only see us on the dvd and then in very slow motion. You blink and we're gone.

But here was a man that had nerve, no the gall, to make his own movie. He had never done it before, but that didn't stop him. He had a vision of a monster Bucky Badger terrorizing the streets of Madison and he brought that vision to life.

Okay, the movie isn't up to hollywood standards, who no realistic budget how could it be, but it is so deliciously bad it stands alone in it's class of demented badger films.


Then a coworker was having some remodeling work done on his house. He stopped by desk and said, "I gave your story ("Emergency at St Anthony" from the anthology Zombie Nation: St Pete) to my carpenter, Geoff Lafayette. Did you know he directed and wrote his own horror movie, Buckystein?"

Oh my firggin god! You have to be kidding me. I have that dvd. That is too cool! Would he autograph my copy?

Weeks passed and no dvd. Then one day on my desk is my dvd, autographed.


That night I received an email from Geoff with some good news.
Thank You so much for letting me autograph the copy of Buckystein you gave Neil.  I am so sorry it took so long.  I am currently trying to edit a movie I have only shot about a third of.
He's making another movie!

I wrote back immediately offering any help I could give (other than financial that is). Geoff, if you're reading this the offer stands. I am a professional, well, not in anything to do with making movies. But I did take a screenwriting class at the UW and am still on good terms with my instructor. (Yeah I bribed her, but that's another story.) Oh, I do have a copy of Brice Campbell's autobiography in which he talks about learning the business by making the Evil Dead movies with Sam Ramii (Sam went on to direct Spiderman movies).

If you're still reading this blog post, you're my kind of fool. I encourage you to try and find a copy of Buckystein. You will love it. What better use do you have for your money? If you can't find it, let me know. I know the director.

Good News - "Clean Up On Seventh Avenue" Closer To Print

If you remember last week The Twisted Library Press decided to pull all their anthologies that were already in process. This got the editors of said anthologies scrambling and Wayne Goodchild, editor of "Attack of the 50FT Book" has found a new publisher for this anthology. Pill Hill Press has agreed to take this anthology on. My story "Clean Up On Seventh Avenue" about the clean up crew following a giant monster attack will be a part of it once again.

New contracts are being sent out. And as this book was nearly ready for print when it was cut it could actually be out in print as soon as a couple of months.

This is a good opportunity to get in good with another publisher which can never hurt. I'm also very happy that this story will see the light of day. It's a lot of fun and I think you'll all enjoy it.

I've also sent "The Wrong Side of the Rainbow," my first Ramses and Bernie story,  off to another publisher, this time in Australia. Send some good karma down under if you've any to spare. It would be fun to be internationally published.

Fingers crossed.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Doctor Who Walks 500 Miles

I just discovered this and it's wonderful! It's the second best version of "500 Miles" by the Proclaimers I've ever seen. It was recorded as a celebration of David Tennant's run as The Doctor.

What's the first? you ask.  It's when I accompanied Samsonite & Delight-Ya (aka Botielus & Cybele) on my ukulele during their Halloween performance in Cross Plains, WI.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Bibo" Around the World - Bibo Pai E Bobi Filho

"Bibo" is an interesting word. As our last name it can be tiring at times spelling out 4 letters that people invariably get wrong. Raely do they pronounce it correctly. (long I, long O)

At other times the wide use of the word around the world is amazing. I'll attempt to sample some examples here on a definitely irregular basis. You'll be surprised at the variety.

Today we take you to the world of Hanna Barbera animation and a cartoon featuring Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy. In this clip dubbed in Portuguese are called "Bibo Pai E Bobi Filho". Enjoy. And don't forget to feed your plants.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Economy Hits My Writing Career

update 111026: The editor of the anthology Attack of the 50Ft Book in which I was to have the story "Clean Up On Seventh Avenue" contacted me today along with the other authors in this book officially giving us the rights back to our stories. But the said if we were agreeable he would like to see if he could sell the anthology en masse to another publisher. I like the idea of a book of giant monster stories, I was excited to be a part of it. I agreed to the plan. 

I also suggested that he write to Gareth Edwards, the director of the movie Monsters and current director of the next Godzilla movie, and that he write to Guillermoro del Toro who is directing his own giant monster movie, Pacific Rim. Ask them for a blurb, comment, anything. Who knows what might happen.

I'll keep you posted. 

original post 111025:
  Another victim of the economy. The Twisted Library Press, a small but at one time growing publishing house, was scheduled to publish 3 of my short stories in 3 different anthologies. Yesterday they announced that all anthologies are on hold for at least six months except for nearing completion. Today they announced that all anthologies are now closed and that all stories are being returned to their authors, they can and should try to be sold elsewhere.

Shit.

I can't be mad at them. The Twisted Library Press is a good group of people. They were doing their best to try and help as many unpublished and underpublished authors (I like to think of myself in the latter group) as they could. They just lost too much money doing it. Suspending the publication of the anthologies was not something they wanted to do, they tried not to do it, postponing many (my three were supposed to come this summer) but in the end were left with no choice. You could almost feel the tears in the emails and forum posts.

Am I disappointed? Hell, yes. But I'm not mad. It is, what it is.

They have a great forum at their website, too. Check it out, there's lots of interesting people writing, reading, and talking all things, horror, sci fi, fantasy, and just anything and everything. The people are encouraging of each other and feel sincere, not too mention equally weird (which is a very good thing too.)

The Twisted Library Press are still publishing novels, those sell much better than the anthologies did. I wish I had a horror novel ready, I'd go with them in an instant. I encourage to check them out.

Now I need to find new homes for some very good stories.

Back to the fun stuff soon.


*****

The economy is tanking while our elected officials watch, saying "Yes, there's a problem, we know that but it's all their fault. Our hands are tied." Meanwhile Rome is burning.
I like to think I'd do better, all of us would do better, if the 99% actually did rule this country.



*****
(If you have a minute could you just click on one of my advertisers today. I'm actually making more money on this than on my book sales. Soon I can buy lunch! Merci.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Road

I've stumbled back onto the road of good intentions. But this time I was defeated by my newest toy. Anybody who knows me I am distracted very easily.

On the first of October my place of employment in cooperation with AT&T offered all employees a 22% discount. We have AT&T already but it had been a long time since we had checked on our plan to see if we were still getting a good deal, or paying to much for items we don't use.

Last Sunday Laurie and I went to the nearby AT&T store, mainly because we had seen the ad for the HTC smartphone at $29.95. Yes, the new discount allowed us to speak the secret word and consider buying a smartphone. But when looking over the vast display we were greeted with a surprise. Apple had announced the new iPhone 4s just days before, so to get rid of the older models they were offering the 3gs for free. Look no further, they had me at "free iPhone." We got two.

So I have a new toy and it does so much more than just make calls! But it needed some cool apps. (I remember when computer programs were once called programs. Now they are apps. I guess a smaller device needs a smaller word.) One of the first I downloaded was iAmADalek, a Doctor Who voice synthesizer.

Laurie then traveled to St Louis for a week of training leaving me to my own devices, and one was a new iPhone!

Add to that the Milwaukee Brewers for the first since 1982 were in the post season. That's a bandwagon I can jump on.

I spent most evenings on the couch checking out my phone and downloading some free apps with the baseball game on in the background.

This is the first time I have touched my laptop. It missed me. It is also getting back at me by downloading all sorts of updates, and running very slow. It must have been a busy week on the update front last week.

Tonight the Brewers are on opposite Da Bears. Who do I watch? Or do I jump back and forth driving Laurie crazy? Hmmmm.

Soon I'll be back to my old ways and I'll have some intense Halloween goodies and links for you. Stay tuned.

Oooh! I just got a message on my phone!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

H Day 9: LIO

I've posted this before on Facebook but Lio is one of the funniest, most original comics out right now. And it's perfect for the season. You have to love this.
http://www.gocomics.com/lio/

Saturday, October 8, 2011

H Days 7&8: Dressing for Success and Nobel Monsters

So my initial secret plan of posting something appropriate for the Halloween season every day in October is a shambles. Today is the 8th and I've missed 2 days already. But then isn't "the road to hell paved with good intentions"? And what's scarier or more appropriate to Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, than Hell? Perfect, I'm back on track.

On Thursday I had a meeting with a client so I went to work dressed for the occasion, that's code for I wore a tie. I try to avoid doing so at all possible times. I feel the man that invented this arcane fashion statement to be a sadistic genius. It's uncomfortable, restricting, and can easier get caught in all sorts of mechanical devices. Then maybe it was possible that woman created to get even for high heels.

Needless to say surprised my coworkers came up with all sorts of humorous variations on the standard, "Got a job interview today?" Ha, that never gets old, does it? But then on that day the perfect retort came to me. Granted I can't use it again but on that day, at that time it was brilliant.

"No," I said. "I heard the Nobel Prize for literature was being announced today and I wanted to be ready for the reporters, just in case."

I can easily say it brought the house down.

Sadly I did not win. Again.

Who did win in 2011? When I heard it was Thomas Transformer I was outraged? A transformer won the Nobel prize for Literature? You've got to be kidding me.
When do they find the time? Aren't they too busy fighting Decepticons? Do they even need the money? Had the judges been threatened or coerced into awarding this prize? Or did they give it to them to thank them for all the times the Transformers have saved the Earth, and since there is no category for film or animation, they chose literature?

And who was Thomas Transformer? I've never even heard of him. What is he, some weird hybrid mix of train and robot?
That's just silly.

I saw this award as threat to all writers everywhere. Was Superman next year, with Batman or Wonder Woman the following year?

Then I felt a tug on my arm. What? It's not Thomas Transformer? It's Tomas Transtromer, an 80-year-old Swedish poet that some have called Sweden's greatest living author.
Oh. Nevermind.



BONUS COVERAGE (for missing a day)

Looking for the perfect Halloween gift. Why not try a Monster In The Mail? Artist Len Peralta will design and draw a custom created monster, zombie, villain, or ghoul based on a photo of a loved one, friend, or enemy.
It's the perfect gift for this holiday season! Laurie, are you reading this?

http://www.monsterbymail.com/


Now go away, kid. You're bothering me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

H Day 6: Music for your holiday! Here Come The Mummies

If you are at all like me your life has a sound track. Music is going all the time, at all hours, filling the air, making your smile, making you groove. (yes, he used the G word.) So for Halloween you need special music to get in the mood. Filling that void I give you a fantastic R&B band out of Nashvile. Ladies and gentlemen, Here Come The Mummies.

Just listen to Carnal Carnival and you tell me they are fantastic.
Quick go to their website: http://www.herecomethemummies.com/
Click below and listen to Carnal Carnival:

Carnal CarnivalQuick Qui



AND THEY ARE COMING TO MADISON!!!!!! October 21 at the Majestic. Get tickets now

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

H Day 5: Death

Steve jobs is dead. He was 56. He was one of the few people about which you could say he changed the world.

Still with all that power, influence, and money even he couldn't escape the one conclusion we all must face some day: Death.

I am 56. My wife just turned 56 a few weeks ago. 56 seems young to me now.  30 years ago it sounded terribly old, ancient. But then 30 years ago I never would have imagined that I would write an ebook or have a blog, that's the stuff of science fiction, the stuff of Tom Swift.

Bill Maher said recently: "I remember seeing Alan King in Atlantic City in the '80s (when I was a young comedian) and he said, "I'm 56, and people say I'm middle aged -- who do you know who lives to be 112?"
I'm 55. It was funnier then."

There are a lot of us "boomers" now in our 50s and older. And we're active, we're aware of what is going on, and we aren't going to sit still and let things happen we don't like. That should be really scary to those a lot younger, or more wealthy, or more Republican.

HuffingtopnPost has started a new branch of their website, "Huff/Post50". While I'm interested I am a bit depressed. I didn't know there were things more fearful than Death itself.

 Wendy Dennis in her article "Dying Large" gives me new worries to ponder.
"I must have crossed some kind of age threshold, because when I go to funerals lately, I start thinking about my own. It's not the dying part that scares me. It's the numbers I'll draw for the service. I'm in the sanctuary and the place is packed and some relative is at the podium going on about how wonderful the dead person was and how much they gave to the UJA, and I start taking a head count and doing the math and the minute the funeral is over, I call up my daughter and tell her that when my time comes, she has to hire extras...."
I wonder if they'd have to pay scale?

Wendy goes on to talk about the extremes some Boomers go to, even in their planning to meet Death.
"At one funeral, a casket was wrapped in brown paper and string and stamped "Return to Sender," and at the visitation of a Texas entrepreneur, steaks sizzled on the barbecue, while a margarita machine dispensed drinks at the burial plot. Some companies bury ashes with cement to create undersea "memorial reefs", while others arrange for people to rocket their ashes into outer space, like Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, LSD guru Timothy Leary and gonzo Rolling Stone reporter Hunter S. Thompson. One man planned to have a Viking funeral where his ashes would be placed in a wooden boat, which would then be set on fire and floated on a river."

Laurie has a list of songs she's collecting for her funeral. I guess I should ask where she keeps it someday, not that I'll ever need it, but just so she knows I know, you know.

I always wanted one of those New Orleans style funerals, slow and mournful, the trombone as sad and thoughtful as the people following my casket, but after it's done and I'm down the scene changes. It's about life, those still living, why be sad, he had a good life, he was loved, now we're all here together, let's have a party, he'd want that.

I fully realize that it might be difficult to plan such an event in Madison, WI, especially if it happens during those colder snowy icy months. [brrrrrr!] And I also realize I'll never really know if it happens or not. So just be quiet and let me pretend it's going to be exactly that way. I think I'll put aside a little money for my funeral so my kids can hire some extras, some good ones who can dance and swing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween Day 4: You'll Die Laughing

Showcasing creatures from the imagination of Jack Davis, of EC Comics and MAD magazine fame, these pasteboards sparked controversy upon initial release. Worried that the card images would traumatize their children, a group of mothers in Racine, Wis., reportedly protested against Topps and its advertisers.

"The art on the cards was really in the tradition of MAD magazine," explained Bill Bengen, who owns the top set on the PSA Set Registry, "and I remember my mother's reaction to MAD magazine, she wouldn't let me buy it. She said, 'You can buy Superman, but you can't buy MAD.' Today this set wouldn't even get a reaction. They would probably call it mild."

With this series, however, Topps discovered that negative publicity could be good for business. Fueled by their parents' disapproval, kids hoarded these cards and packs sold out across the country.

"The idea of the forbidden, the taboo, that definitely enhanced the sales," said Bengen.

Now this is a bubblegum I could get into. In fact, I did. No, not the originals. I was only 4 years old at the time, but some of them were reissued in 1969. Those I did have, had to have. I can even remember how bad the bubblegum tasted. Maybe that's why I dislike gum so much today.

For the rest of the story try these links:

Topps 1959 You'll Die Laughing story
Scans of all the cards
Scans from the 1973 set (these used movie stills instead of artwork)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Readiness: Day 3

I know. This is October 3 but only my second Halloween post. I got caught up in the Wisconsin-Nebraska Big Ten opening football game hype on Saturday (and it lived up to it too, if you were for Wisconsin). So to make up for it today I have two items for you.

First, let me say that to me there is one thing scarier than vampires, werewolves, or even zombies. Something I dread more than losing a limb, maybe even my soul. Something that the mere mention of it makes me break out in a cold sweat and sends shivers down my back.

And what is this terribly awful blight on the face of humanity?

Shoe shopping with my wife. <shudder>

When we're out and about and Laurie gives me an out am I about to say "No"? No way. So while she proceeded to the dark depths of Famous Footwear I merrily waltzed on to The Frugal Muse, a delightful used bookstore on Madison's West side. There I bought the following 2 books that seem very fitting for this time of year.

The first is"Mysterious Madison: Unsolved Crimes, Strange Creatures and Bizarre Happenstance" by Noah Voss. I can't wait to read about bizarre happenstances, especially if it's about the town I live in. Maybe I can talk Lauri into tracking a few down ourselves.


The second book looks equally as good but way funnier. It is "Sad Monsters: Growling on the Outside, Crying on the Inside" by Frank Lesser, one of the writers for The Colbert Report. Boasting chapters entitled "The Joy of Unicorns" and "The Werewolf Whisperer" and "Kids Slay the Darnedest Things" I can't wait to sink my teeth into this one.

(Note the price on this one. I don't quite understand but it is listed as being published on Oct 2011 yet many booksellers have it listed at half price or less. It has a list price of $13.00 yet I got it for $4.98 and it's brand new.)

Stephen Colbert blurbs "Thanks to this hilarious book, I'm no longer scared of monsters. However, I am still terrified of books."




Incidentally Laurie never did buy any shoes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's Time to get ready for Halloween!

It's October. Fall is here. And soon the best holiday of them all will arrive. That's right, the spookiest, the scariest, the chocolatiest holiday of them all, HALLOWEEN!

Everyone's getting ready for the Big Day. There's so much to do.

Mr Soaky by Jason Edmiston

Do you have your costume yet? Neither do I. But I'm looking. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Nook Book!

Finally! After too long of a time the unbearable waiting period for Nook owners is finally over. "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door" is now available at Barnes & Noble.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dr-zombie-lives-next-door-bill-bibo-jr/1104808740

Why not get a copy and enjoy it just in time for Halloween? It's a fun family read.

And it's never been banned by anyone, anywhere. Damn.
Maybe if someone would ban it more people would read it?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Banned Books Week!


So the Packer-Bear game didn't quite work out like I had hoped it would. In all the hub-bub and contention of the weekend one very important fact was lost to me. Saturday was the beginning of Banned Books Week.
During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2011 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 24 through October 1. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982.
 What bothers me the most is that many people are so eager to ban something they don't like or understand. Often they have never read the entire book they wish to remove, only pieces and parts. They are so eager to find the dirt, the smut, the vulgar. These would be censors must spend a lot time reading objectionable material. Hmmm.

Here are a few of my favorite examples taken for the website http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

"Betrayed" by PC Cast and Kristin Cast - challenged because "It simply causes kids to think about even more of things sexual." Ha, like that's possible. I haven't read this trite sounding vampire tale but all the objections to it might make me yet.

"Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" - this one makes the list every year. It must be really awful.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon - winner of numerous literary prizes I can recommend this book, and not because of its "foul language." It is excellent.

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins - a book I have wanted to read, and will soon be a major motion picture, was challenged by Goffstown, NH parent because "it gave her 11-year-old nightmares." If that can get a book banned half the books I read would be gone.

"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, my personal literary idol - This book makes the list nearly every year for what some have called "soft core pornography". I wonder if the critics skipped the part about the bombing of Dresden. Maybe they skipped the book altogether and just watched the movie Valerie Perrine run around inside a glass geodesic dome topless.

So do yourself a favor and the world. Proclaim freedom. Read a banned book this week.
Or find a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five on DVD just to see Valerie Perrine. I wonder if it's on blu-ray.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Rivalry:A Repost and an Update


This picture is from an article in the Wisconsin State Journal that ran last Jan 23 before the NFC Championship game in which the Bears hosted the Packers. The article "A house divided: Rivalry hits home when the Packers play the Bears" is still available online and tells of the difficulty I and fans in other mixed families must live through on a daily basis during the football season.

Just kidding usually they are pretty good about it until gameday, which is today.

At the time the photo Melinda was pregnant with Nolan, just days before he was born. He's now over 7 months old, and the poor kid doesn't stand a chance. They are already dressing him up in silly outfits for weird and disgusting photo ops.


But I can wait. When he gets a little bit older, then he will be mine. I will teach him about Chicago and the glory that are the Bears. I will tell him about Sayers, Butkis, Singletary, Sweetness, Urlacher, and, of course, the Coach, Ditka.

And when he understands those basics I will then play my secret strategy, showing him how much fun it is to cheer for a team against Mom and Grandma and even Uncle Shaun.

Subconsciously I believe Melinda wants to show Nolan both sides of the issue. I found this picture that says it all. I call it "Dressing him in the true colors".


Good luck, Green Bay. You'll need it.

GO, BEARS!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ahoy, Mateys. Today Be The DAY!

Today be a day like no other. Today be a day when the inner scallywag in us all can have his/her say. Butu today of all days you have to say it right. For today be TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!


Sept 19 of every year is TLAPD, one of me favorite holidays, one I wish I could dress up and make someone walk the bloomin' plank. But no. Today is a work day for this wage slave. Me pirating days filled with saucy wenches and tankards of rum and gold doubloons and sailing the Seven Seas will have to wait, maybe next year. Arrr

So in the mean times let me leave you with a few special links.

First, the one, the only OFFICIAL Talk Like A Pirate Day.
http://www.talklikeapirate.com/

Then we have a nice little activity sheet to print out and share. And it's from Disney and Capt Jack Sparrow.
http://www.disneymovierewards.go.com/content/images/POTC4_TLAP_FIN.pdf?cmp=dmov_dmr_emc_PIRA110919_wdshe

Next we have BBC America's Anglo Fan Tournament Women of 2011. So it's stretching the pirate theme but
it's the quarterfinals and we have 3 ladies from Doctor Who still in the race. I won't tell you who to vote for but here are my choices. You make your own.

JK Rowling vs Kathryn Tate - JKR doesn't need this, she has Harry and millions of dollars and, by the way, what has she done lately. Pottermore? Really? Tate is a seasoned comedian, wonderful!

Emma Watson vs Alex Kingston - Another Potterite versus another talented Doctor Who actress. If you vote for anyone here on TALPD vote for this saucy actress. Alex's performance is as close to the true spirit of the pirate as you'll get. (And her birthday is the same as mine.) 


Helena Bonham Carter vs Karen Gillan
Mrs Tim Burton versus another Doctor Who actress and this one even was a pirate in this year's episode "The Curse of the Black Spot". Pirates are cool.

Emma Thompson vs. Maggie Smith - Finally, no Potters or Whos. I only need to say two words "Emma Thompson"! And Emma was in "Pirate Radio". (How's that for a loose connection?)



Go here to vote:
http://blogs.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2011/09/15/vote-in-the-anglo-fan-favorites-tournament-women-of-2011-quarterfinals/

Finally one little non-pirate link. BUT it's zombies! Hooray!
THE GIST
  • Archaeologists in Ireland have unearthed two 8th-century skeletons buried with stones stuck into their mouths.
  • They believe this could have been a way to ensure the dead did not rise up like zombies.
  • Bodies identified as revenants or the "walking dead" tended to be people who had lived as outsiders.
 http://news.discovery.com/history/zombie-skeletons-ireland-grave-110916.html


So that's it. Go forth, me hearties, and spread a little pirate cheer. And don't forget
TO TALK LIKE A PIRATE 
when you do!


Michael Bolton says, "This is the story of Capt Jack Sparrow...."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Day 5 Geek Out - Politics Is Geeky Too

Geekdom is not confined to outer space vampires, comic books, and dystopian YA novels. Politics can be very geeky too. And yesterday Laurie and I reveled in good discussion and excellent surrounded by thousands of like minded souls at Fighting Bob Fest here in Madison, WI. A day long event of progressive politics sponsored by
  FightingBob.com logo
FightingBob.com is a nonprofit, nonpartisan online opinion magazine that provides an educational forum for writers, viewpoints and topics not welcome on the pages and airwaves of most mainstream media outlets in Wisconsin. We aim to honor and revive the spirit and mission of our namesake, Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the populist governor, U.S. Senator, and presidential candidate from Wisconsin who founded the Progressive Party and spent his career battling the corrupting, impoverishing and anti-democratic influence of big moneyed interests over government and public policy.
It was an amazing day. In a time when selfishly radical politics threaten our democracy, in a time when workers rights and the middle class is being kicked into poverty, in a time where some politicians just don't even care about their own constituents, we need more symposiums like this fighting to bring back the voice of the people.

Radio host Thom Hartmann, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep (and future senator) Tammy Baldwin, the amazing Dr Cornel West, the hilarious Jim Hightower, the locally grown and operated John Nichols, the list goes on and on. They led teh crowd in cheers, jeers, and contemplation. It was heart warming, optimistic, energizing, and just plain fun.
"Freedom and justice are defended through education, and the exchange of ideas promotes solidarity among progressives. To this end, Fighting Bob Fest strives to provide citizens with a forum for democratic participation where frustrations with current policies can be constructively molded into calls to action."     from the Fighting Bob Fest website
Wisconsin is not alone in the fight. Sure we have one of the worst governors ever to sit in office, but his time will come. (In fact just this week the FBI raided the home of his top aid, taking away files and the hard drive of her computer.) He was elected because the people were asleep, they were complacent, they were taking the easy way out. But not any more. We are awake and we will give this state back to the people. And we will take the fight all across the country.

John F Kennedy once said "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." It needs your help now if it is going to survive in any way shape or form we can be proud of. We can't let the radical right take control and destroy everything we hold dear. It's easy to tear it down. \But once it's gone, it's a long hard battle to get it back.

Yes, we are our brother's keeper. And when our brother suceeds, we all do.

I urge you to check out fightingbob.com. Sign up for the newsletter. Listen to the speeches. Think. React. Join us in Madison next year for Fighting Bob Fest 2012.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Day 4 Geek Out - Star Wars Remix

Two words and everyone knows you're a geek. "Star Wars" And now it's on Blu-Ray.
Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]

I'm torn about mainly because George Lucas keeps trying to milk his franchise for every penny he can. And every time he does, he changes it. Usually not for the better.

But thru it all the fans still love it. And many, following George's lead, feel the need to make their own interpretations as well. That's why Star Wars Remix is so awesome. Here fans recreate their favorite characters or scenes in their own way often using very unique media. Here you'll find a R2D2 made entire of pushpins, or a glitter C#PO, or a Princess Leia made entire of spices. Amazing.

The website has only been up a week but the future looks great. Check it out.
http://starwarsremix.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Day 3 Geek Out - I get by with a little help from my wife

The day began as many do, with a walk to work tho this time it was a bit brisk. A small irregular flock of geese flew overhead going in the wrong direction, south. Autumn is here, winter is just around the next corner.

Later while at work I received a text. "Giant library sale tonight until 8... Could be geeky." It was from my wife. She offered to take if, later, she could get $4 worth of plants. How could I say no?

The main Madison Public Library downtown is going to go thru a major renovation. To make a little room before they move to temp quarters they are selling off a ton of books, vhs tapes, and books on tape. And at prices that make a geeky little book hoarder like myself jump in childish joy.

Laurie was very patient as I walked along the tables looking thru what was on display. This one looked good, this one looked interesting, that one is a maybe so I'll hide it over here.

When it was done I had 8 hardcover books (three were for Nolan our grandson, the rest were sci fi or related) and 7 unabridged books on cassette (all sci fi or horror except for one about the building of the Chrysler Building in NYC), and all for the remarkable price of $7.50.

Now if I only had the time to read/listen to them all. Maybe while Laurie is planting her new flowers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Day 2 Geek Out - Astronaut Brewster Shaw

Speak Out with Your Geek Out week continues in fine style.

Today I attended a lecture/presentation by former Shuttle astronaut Brewster Shaw. An alum of Wisconsin he flew as pilot of STS-9 and commander of STS-65B and STS-28.

Held at Engineering Hall on the UW campus it was packed. I was one of about a dozen of a hundred of attendees older than 25. It was an interesting speech but it was more a commercial for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (he presented a check for $10,000 to engineering student Anthony Sprangers, the first Wisconsin recipient) and then a pitch to work for Boeing (he was VP there after leaving NASA). Later he did speak about what it felt like to launch into space and be an astronaut. He did so to encourage the students to enter the space program. He did so to make them want to go into space. Well, it worked for me, but that's a very easy sell.

My only complaint was that he had no visuals. Come on, man,  you went into space, you were bragging about the photo ops, and yet you don't even bring one? Sigh. Still I am very glad I attended as I got out of work early and it doubled my astronaut count to 2.

That will be hard act to follow tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Speak With Your Geek Out

Okay, I'm a Geek and proud of it. I love Godzilla, Doctor Who, science fiction, outer space, Peewee's Playhouse, epic fantasy, Star Trek, Star Wars, zombies, mummies and monsters... The list is obviously too long to list in its entirety here. Let's just say if it's weird, wild, or wonderful, I love it.

Sunday was the start of Speak With Your Geek Out Week. Initially proposed and organized by author and game designer Monica Valentinelli as a means to show the world the positive side of geekdom and there is nothing, absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

from the official blog http://www.speakoutwithyourgeekout.com/
Over 2,000 people have committed to sharing their enthusiasm and their love of their hobbies and vocations for an entire week of geek. Parents and children, friends and strangers, fans and creators are participating by blogging, mentoring, listening, speaking and sharing.

An entire community has built up around the idea that we can be positive role models. Positive. Before the week even began, people have reinforced the message that being happy is a choice and we are empowered to be who we are when we're together. Or simply: there is strength in numbers and even when we feel like the odd man out? We are not alone.
Some of you know that this summer my son, Shaun, and I attended the North American DiscWorld Convention celebrating the life and work of author Terry Pratchett.  A better collection of geeks you would not find anywhere on this or any other planet. Costumes and characters were everywhere and every now and then I have to admit I was jealous. These people dressed as orcs, bearded dwarves, and malfunctioning wizards, are so vibrant so alive so full of joy and happiness. It was like being part of the weirdest family in the universe and I loved it. And I'll do it again.

(Confession time: I will admit to a fondness for the aesthetics of steampunk. If you don't know what steampunk is, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk I can easily seeing myself dressing for that role. Now if Laurie will only let me do it...)

So stand with me. Hold your sonic screwdriver high. (Yes, I have one.) Put your plush Spock teddy bear close to your breast. (Yes, I have one of those too.) And say with me to the world: We are geeks, we are proud, we will not change, we probably could not change. Don't judge us by your stereotypes. Judge us by our actions. Join us and you will smile in wonder at the universe not just as you did when you were a child but for every day of your life. That's why the universe is there. Just to make us wonder, and smile.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

NASA has an astronaut shortage. Is this my chance?

A new report out this week states that there is a serious astronaut shortage. With the end of the Space Shuttle program this summer and the chances for actually going into space limited there have been a more than average number of astronauts retiring this year. And the number of applicants to fill needed spots has declined as well. But new astronauts are still needed to man the International Space Station and to help plan and implement the future of manned space program.

In 2000 there were 149 in the astronaut corp. Today there are 60. The report by the National Research Council says that won't be enough. It worries that key skills could be lost.

I will state now that I am ready and very willing to step in on a moment's notice to fill the gap left by these retiring astronauts.

For my 50th birthday I attend Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. Once or twice a year they open it to adults only. It was an amazing time. An entire week getting my ultimate geek on, pretending I was on one hand going to the ISS and on the other acting all of 15 again.  But we did train on actual simulators first used in the Space Shuttle program.

As for my age? True, that training experience was a few years ago but if John Glenn can return to space at 77, I am ready and more than twenty years younger.

NASA, where do I sign?

You can see the report here: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=13227

3 out of 4

Just announced! My flash fiction story "A Holiday For Reality" was selected as a winner in NECON Ebooks monthly contest. That makes winning three out of the last four months. The only month I missed since I have started entering was July when the theme was NECON itself. NECON is the Northeastern Writers' Conference held each year in Providence, RI and I have not attended. That put me at a slight disadvantage. 

The monthly flash fiction contest is only 100 words. It's an excellent exercise to keep those creative juices flowing especially when the work a day world is getting a bit hectic. I recommend it to all my writing friends.

You can find this month's winning entries, including my own, here: http://www.neconebooks.com/flash.htm

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Author Interviewed - Hey, It's Me

After a long Labor Day weekend, it was back to work refreshed and rejuvenated. HA!

But one very nice thing did happen. Kathy Epping, a realtor who lives in our neighborhood, interviewed me for her blog, Kathy's Neighborhood Notes. She did a very nice write up. Here's the link:


http://kathysneighborhoodnotes.blogspot.com/2011/09/author-among-us.html

Then it was my turn. 

Thinking she saw my book on Amazon or read one of my short stories, I asked her how she out about me and my book.

I was driving past your house and I noticed that you had a lot of garbage out, as if you had cleaned the garage or basement.  Since I'm a Realtor, I thought you might be getting ready to move (my eyes are always peeled for that sort of thing).  I looked you up on the city assessors site, then googled you and found info about you and your book.  I'm also always looking for interesting ideas and information for my neighborhood blog.  Your book seemed like a good idea for a blog post.  And here we are.

And here we are.

Thank you, Kathy. It was fun. I'll let you know when I have any more big news.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Could Use Your Vote - AGAIN!

UPDATE: 8/30
Thanks to everyone that voted but in the end I didn't win. It was valiant try.  The winners can be found here.
http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/FFMC/Writers.htm

ORIGINAL POST
Thru the combined effort of my talent and both of your votes my first entry in the NYC Midnight Micro Challenge successfully propelled me into the finals. Out of 800 people who entered my son Shaun and I both made that first cut of 100. [polite applause]

They gave us all a new word, "oxygen," and we were allowed three more chances to create a story using only 100 characters. Last night the final 25 were selected. Those selected move to the final voting round, the money round. [ka-ching!]

I made that cut. Unfortunately Shaun did not. He had one of those days yesterday that would best described in a short story of his own writing. [ahhhh]

I made that cut and need your vote once again. This time I really need your vote because I don't think the judges picked my strongest effort. But they did pick one that appealed to them the most. You have to play to the judges. [refined nods in agreement]

So here's the  link. You can vote for as many as you'd like. I hope one might be mine. [hint: it's near the bottom.]

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L9685WK

In the forums for the contest there was some heated discussion that begging for votes wasn't dignified, that the written work should stand on it's own merit. Right. I don't see it as begging. I see it as advertising. It's no different than advertising for your book or ebook. None of you would have known about my ebook for middle grade readers "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door" now available at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/69405 or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0059Y4I0A/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=biboland-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B0059Y4I0A if I hadn't told you about it or given you  the links to view it. And because of that effort all of you rushed right out to purchase it. [Oh wait, that was just my dental hygienist]

So now you can vote for me and it won't cost you a dime. Voting ends Tuesday morning. Here's that link again.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L9685WK

Please pass it on to your friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers you pass on the street, your doctor, your rabbi, your parole officer, your dance instructor.......... [and more.......]

Thanks for your support [why do I feel like I need a wine cooler after saying that? I know. I'm old.]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

News you can sink your teeth into!

With less than two weeks left in the "Win A 'Dr Zombie Lives Next Door' Contest" I'm sure you all have your free copies of the 'Dr Zombie Lives Next Door' ebook and are reading, laughing, and getting a little scared (but in a good way). There are only 2 weeks left to enter. So if you don't have yours yet, why not not get it now? Scroll down to the contest posting for complete details.

And now here's something you can really sink your teeth into, as promised.

http://www.lolshirts.com/about/win-a-years-supply-of-bacon