Thursday, January 12, 2017

Writing Cliche's and Ping -Pong

It takes a lot for a book to get and keep my interest. Yesterday, I started reading a woman's fiction novel good enough that I thought I might want to keep reading beyond the sample pages. (You know actually buy it.) And then I got to the description of the main character's husband. I could handle him being a very attractive doctor who golfs. I could forgive that, even though I don't think that the protagonist admitting her life is a cliche makes it any less so. Still, I was into it, until she tells us that he was also the captain of the football team in high school. It wasn't enough that he was a doctor, he had to be an athlete too. And he couldn't just play football. Noooo, that wouldn't have been good enough. He had to be THE CAPTAIN. Pleeeaase...

Do you know how many times I've read the sentence "he was the captain of the football team?" Neither do I, but it's a lot. It's kind of a trigger for me. It means instant death. As in, the author and her/his book are now dead to me. I mean seriously, if the author needed this character to be a star athlete why couldn't she have been a bit more creative? He could have played hockey, for instance. Or ran cross -country. Or thrown a javelin. Hell, why not make the guy a world -class ping-pong player? It worked for Forrest Gump, didn't it? Oh wait, that's why it wouldn't work. Ping-pong is so not sexy! No offense to Tom Hanks, who looked pretty good playing the game. Still, there's only one game COOL enough, and MANLY enough to say, This man had it all. He was a stud.

So I ask you, is it really necessary to measure a man's masculinity by his ability to play a game that requires a helmet to prevent his brain from being bashed in?

(No, I'm not a football fan. I know it's unamerican, but there it is.)

Oh, and don't even get me started on the other writing cliche that makes me crazy. You all know this one. You've read it dozens of times. (Unless you don't read fiction, in which case your are dead to me. Kidding, just kidding!) I'm talking about first person stories where the main character stands in front of her bathroom mirror giving the reader a detailed description of her appearance, including such details, as 'unruly' curls, or 'flowing locks,'. If you're going to throw us right into a character's mind and thoughts, at least try to make it a place we want to visit. Appearance- obsessed people are boring in real life, and more so in fiction. Please, author friends, have your characters back away from the mirror and do something! Or, better yet, give the character an original thought. That would draw me in.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Happy April Fool's Day!

I'm thinking about starting a movement to change the calendar. January is a lousy time to start a new year. We're all fat and broke and exhausted from enduring the other holidays. We're cold and damp, and a little depressed by short dark days. Some of us want nothing more than to curl up on the sofa with a fuzzy blanket, hot cocoa, and a good book. Who has the energy to pursue life- changing goals? Not me.

I'd like to propose starting the New Year on April 1st. Spring is the perfect time to make resolutions. The days are longer, the sun is out---at least part of the time---and some of us are waking up from a long hibernation. It's also April Fool's day. So when we give up on our goals a week later, we can say it was all a joke anyway!

Anyone with me on this?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Life in the Express Lane: Holiday Hell

Ah, the holidays...that joyful time of year when all retail workers everywhere are asking themselves why. Why am I still doing this job? Wasn't my New Years resolution to be free by November of this year? What happened to my 'rob a bank' scheme? Just think, I could, at this very moment, be wearing an orange jumpsuit, collecting trash on the side of the freeway.

I could definitely be doing something easier, and more pleasant. Like working at the zoo, shoveling the elephant poo. I do like elephants. Beautiful, majestic, beasts. I bet they don't talk much either. None of that, "Are you ready for Christmas?" B.S. which inevitably starts the day after Thanksgiving. No, "It's getting slick out there, bad night to be driving." Then why are you here? Oh, wait, I know the answer to that. Two inches of snow in Portland equals, snow-apocalypse. All out panic, in the stores and on the highways. Better stock up, in case you're snowed in for a month. I mean, it could happen. Really, it could. You've seen The Day After Tomorrow, right?

So, at the first mention of snow, before a single flake has fallen, everyone head to the grocery store, stand in long, long lines, and then, when the clerk is finished with your $487.67 cart full of groceries, ask her/him to find you the one item you came for and must have. And don't forget to inform the clerk that it's cold out. And the roads are icy. And you really hope she doesn't have far to go because she's probably going to end up stranded on the side of the highway, where she'll be kidnapped by the abominable snowman and dragged into the Himalayas to become his love slave. Or, maybe, do to tell the clerk that last one, because she's tired, and sore, and bored out of her mind, and could use a laugh. But please, don't point into your full cart, say "Would you believe I only came in for a loaf of bread?" and laugh as if this is the most hilarious thing she/he has ever heard. It isn't. Trust me, it isn't.

On that note, Happy Holidays Everyone!

 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quotes for the Day

 Bruce Almighty:

"The whole world's gone mad." Jack Baylor.

"Smite me, oh mighty smiter." Bruce Nolan.

"There were so many, I just gave them all what they wanted." Bruce Almighty.

"And since when does anyone have a clue what they want?" God.

"Thanks, God for the Grand Canyon, and good luck with the Apocolypse..."

"And that's the way the cookie crumbles." Bruce Nolan.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure:

"Be Excellent to each other."

Forrest Gump:

"And that's all I have to say about that."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cow manure, Axe, and GRANITE countertops!

We did it. We are all moved and settled into our townhouse /condo, in a lovely planned community. Well, we're moved in anyway. Not so sure about the settled part. Turns out that living next to a construction site isn't the best idea for someone who needs 8+ hours of sleep but never falls sleep before midnight. Those trucks arrive very early! Aside from lack of sleep, though, I love it here! All new appliances, granite countertops, and a glass/ceramic stovetop. Yay! Unfortunately, the stovetop is um, delicate. I have to set each pan down gingerly, no sliding, so that it won't scratch. And remember to wait for it too cool down before I clean it---with special cleaner and a very soft cloth. And the countertops that the whole world raves about? GRANITE. Beautiful! Every new house must have them! Turns out granite chips. Who would have imagined something so solid and sturdy sounding, wouldn't be invincible? There is already a little chip in the counter. I swear I didn't do it. But the new kitchen is wonderful! As long as I don't touch anything.

It's wonderful not having a yard to maintain, and there are loads of parks here to enjoy. Plus a pool and workout room! Except that they aren't built quite yet. But when they are it will be very close! Hence, the construction noise three feet from my head. We do have a nice little, covered patio, though. There's even a view from the patio. I can see the horses at a nearby farm. Unfortunately, I can also smell them. But I wouldn't dream of letting a little thing like the reek of horse manure detract from a pleasant evening sitting on my deck. The cigarette smoke that makes its way over from the neighbor's deck, slithering in through our screen door is a whole different thing. But it's a small thing. Really it is. I mean what's a little second smoke? It's not like it causes cancer or anything.

So really, it's pretty much perfect here. There's even a drive-thru espresso shop about a mile away. I think I'll head there now. Because I'm out of coffee. And I'm tired. And damn do I need caffeine right now.

Happy Hump Day Everyone!

And lastly, a word of advice to the young man buying condoms last night. Stop watching Axe commercials! The poor girl is going to suffocate!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Is it over yet?

The end is in sight, but the closing date still looks like a tiny dot on the horizon. I keep waking up in the wee hours of the morning, worrying that my new townhouse is a mirage. With every repair person holding a clipboard and wearing a solemn expression comes the fear that the buyers will find a way to back out. My new home with its smooth stove top and even smoother granite counter top will vanish and I'll be cleaning crumbs from underneath burners and in between tiles for the rest of my life.

With each new 'problem' I feel the need to point out that everything in this house worked just fine before the house inspectors came along. I feel the urge to start spewing Mom-isms to anyone who will listen. "If it ain't broke don't fix it." And, "leave well enough alone."

My house is forty years old. It has a few blemishes. Wrinkles, varicose veins, cellulite, etc. It also has many good years left--- says the woman who is trading in her worn out, sagging, too big, stretched-out house, for a smaller, tighter, younger, more efficient and much prettier townhouse. Hm, maybe I should have taken it to a cosmetic surgeon. It probably would have cost less. Or maybe not...

Anyhow, I should go back to purging and packing. Right now, in my line of vision, is a record player. Yes, an actual record player. We even have records to go with it. I'm trying to remember if we've listened to a single record in the last seventeen years. No, not that I recall, but then my memory is not what used to be. (Actually, that's a lie. It's exactly as it's always been--- bad.) Still, the record player will survive another round of purging. Some old things are worth keeping, and even putting on display.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fondue Me, Baby

The for sale sign will be going up soon. Sixteen years, two childhoods, four people who don't like to get rid of things. Even now, after six months of weekly visits to Goodwill, the purge continues. Does anyone want a fondue set? Seriously. It's still in the box. I sort of accidentally told my husband I wanted one a few years ago and it ended up under the Christmas tree. Oops.

We've been having a competition to see who can get rid of the big stuff. Jim is winning. The huge oak desk he'd had for thirty years, and moved three times already, was gone hours after advertising it on the neighborhood website. Weight set---same thing. He and the neighbor wheeled it down the street. I did give away a couple of nightstands and a futon, though. We got rid of a total of four desks. Why sit at a desk when you can lounge on the sofa in front of the television with your laptop, your phone, your I-pad, your beer and your chips all within reach? Desks are so seventies. Kind of like fondue sets...  

With the purging almost finished, I've gotten serious about the cleaning. (Speaking of purging has anyone read about the new FDA approved weight loss solution? It's a stomach tube with a valve attached. Half an hour after eating, you simply open the valve and let the contents of your stomach drain out into the toilet. Cool huh? Medically approved bulimia--- with no worries about destroying your teeth with stomach acid! Wow.) Anyway, once the deep cleaning began I started seeing dirt everywhere. My computer screen, for instance, has smudges on it. And my lap desk has chocolate on it. When did that happen? Too long ago, to be tonight's snack, sadly. The other night I spent over an hour cleaning that big thing in the kitchen. You know, the hot thing that you put the take and bake pizza in. How was I supposed to know that ovens need cleaning more than once a decade?

I have more important things to do with my time. Like write stories. And read stories. And go for long walks to think deeply about writing and reading stories. Which is why I need a much smaller house. Possibly even a townhouse, with no yard. This way, my writing, and reading, won't be interrupted by feelings of guilt as I watch my husband do yard work. Now he too will be free to sit in front of the television with his laptop and his phone and his beer and his chips.

Hm. I wonder if they give discounts on his and hers stomach valves. We'd better get a place with two bathrooms, just in case...