Monthly Archives: August, 2011

Who Does The FDA Work For, Again?

One Dye at a Time | BlogHer.

Yet something else to add to the list of things that fucking piss me off. The agency that exists to protect the consumers of the US apparently thinks they are meant to protect big corporations pocketbooks. Lord forbid some company spends a few more pennies.

And with that kind of behaviour, how many kids who the schools have pushed to be on Ritalin wouldn’t need it if they didn’t have fucking petroleum in their system?  Mmmm oil, the breakfast of champions.

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And The Best Place to Sleep Is…

 

 

 

The Big Three

No, not the big three oh. Did that all ready, back in December. No big deal. Although for some weird reason it just seemed odd I reached that age. Not that I live a dangerous lifestyle or anything but it was just…odd. But anyway, its the big three. My son is now three years old(and a few days at this point). Seems like it was the the other day that he came home from the hospital and yet its like he’s always been here with us. Hard to remember a time when he wasn’t part of the family.

Weird thing is I never thought I wanted kids. No desire to continue the line, no need for little me’s. I married a woman who all ready had three children and that was fine. Got to miss all the diaper duty, sleepless nights and vomited on clothes that comes with an infant. Works for me. But then an accident happened(as they will) and oh hey, here’s a baby. No I never wanted a child but when they handed him to me in the delivery room, I sure as hell wasn’t going to give him back. That’s when it really becomes real for a father and I was lost as soon as I looked down at that tiny dude and those little eyes. This was my son.

And now its three years later. Man the changes. Its not always as noticeable when you are with them day to day but every so often I look back at old pictures and…fuck. He’s bigger and he’s walking and jumping and we can even converse with him. Although when he’s excited the words get all jumbled and he has to be calmed down. (I get the same way but it usually involves booze.) He’s the cock of the walk and the king of the jungle and sometimes he falls and hurts a knee or arm or his head and comes running up for hugs and kisses and snuggles to make it feel better. He’s independent minded and stubborn and brave when Daddy is standing beside him cause then he can do anything.

He’s my baby boy and my little big man and always will be. It is quite true that children change you. But instead of adding anything, its more that a child will reveal what was always there.

Love you baby boy.

The Gun

Inspired by a challenge over at Chuck Wendig’s blog. (Can’t win the prize being in Canada so I’m not worried about being late or over the word limit.)

Wendell was a gun guy. His dad, now he was a knife guy. Not that he couldn’t use guns, hell he was a Marine. Marine’s know how to shoot shit. But his dad could use a knife, and he could take care of them. He could take a five dollar chunk of metal from the Dollar Store and turn it into a razor sharp blade. Might not last long but that’s what you get for buying shit from the Dollar Store. A Ka-bar was never far from his father’s hand, usually hanging on his belt and the man would have been happy if all the battles in his life were fought with knives.

Wendell? He had a certain level of competence with a blade and a great appreciation for fine blades. But he was a gun guy. Preferably a long gun but pistols work too. Shotguns are great for intimidation; something about the sound of the pump being worked back and forth and how much damage will spread out from that fat barrel. Back in his city days, he had carried a sawed off shotgun hanging on a sling under a long coat. All he had to do was grab the grip and lift. Nobody was going to pull a piece out of a shoulder holster or from the waist of their pants faster than that. Not a lot of skill required, though. Hell, everybody is an expert with a shotgun.

No, Wendell was all about the rifles. Usually bolt action or even single shot, but he wasn’t opposed to a semi-automatic if the situation depended on it. It was the dedication, the skill and even the science that went into shooting over long distances that appealed to him. What distance was the scope sighted in for? Was the wind blowing and which direction and how fast and how much would that alter the trajectory of his round? He had heard there were small computers attached to scopes along with laser range finders that could figure all this out. Whether or not that meant any sumbitch off the street could pick one up and start shooting one inch circles at a thousand yards he didn’t know. Didn’t care. It took something out of the art of shooting, as far he was concerned. Want to shoot, learn to do it and practice. Don’t go looking for the iPhone app to calculate windage.

He pulled off the road and bumped slowly along the old dirt track. Didn’t want to put a big dust cloud up in the air, make people wonder who was up in the hills. He finally pulled to a stop and slid out of the truck, reaching up to grab the SKS in the gun rack. Wendell couldn’t quite figure it out when there were much better options but some of the younguns lately had been using it for deer hunting and just running around shooting. Probably because it was a semi automatic and gave them a quicker second (and third and fourth) shot when the first one missed. He slung the carbine over his shoulder and headed into the woods. Some idiots from the city thought they could start a meth lab up some hollar without clearing it with the old man. They do say a suckers born everyday. Wendell wasn’t sure if the old man would have given them permission or not but it didn’t really matter since they hadn’t sought it in the first place. And now Wendell was here to make sure there was an accident.

He stepped carefully among the trees, keeping an eye out for snakes. Finally, he slipped the rifle off his shoulder and hunkered down against a trunk, perched on the side of the hill above the small hollar. Wasn’t much than a draw between two trees with a rock strewn path leading into it. Pappaw had had a still back around here somewhere but they’d never drove a vehicle in. Course, it wasn’t like you could do any more damage to that piece of shit car sitting between piles of trash. Fucking white trash, he muttered to himself as he wrapped the sling around his arm and rested his elbows on his knees. Tricky shooting downhill like this, very easy to shoot above the target. He took a breath, let out half then held it, the sights tracking over the windows and door to the trailer. Supposed to be two guys but only one was getting shot today. Middle of deer season, stray shot, nobody would be too interested in some low life meth cooker. And if the buddy left alive didn’t get the message and come see the old man, well then things might get interesting. Wendell briefly wondered if some of the city crews were thinking the old man was getting too old to hold on to everything.

The rifle was held to his shoulder, head up as he kept his focus wide, wanting to see any movement. Never did know what these guys would do. He knew others were always amazed at how long he could patiently sit doing nothing. Wendell didn’t know why he was made different but it was one of the things that made a good hunter. Finally the door open, one of the guys stepping out on the step, stretching and yawning with his arms over his head. Wendell’s lip curled up, he could practically smell the stench from here. The rifle steadied, sights held on the man’s belt buckle. Unbelievably, the man was unzipping his pants, too lazy to even step away from his door to take a piss. His mind clicking through the numbers, Wendell dropped the rifle lower, around the man’s knees. Finger squeezing, the trigger pulled back and the 7.62 cartridge expelled from the barrel at 735 meters a second.

Wendell kept the rifle trained on the target as the rifle rocked back into his shoulder then forward. The sound of the shot echoed around the hollar, mixed with the squawking of birds as they lifted into the air. The target fell to the ground, clutching his throat as his blood poured out the large hole torn through it. His partner ran to the door, almost falling over when he saw his buddy dying on the ground. Wendell sat still, watching. He had no concerns that the twitchy methhead would see him. A few minutes and the man would racing out of the hollar. Even money as to whether he would actually try telling the police. Wendell would leave then, taking the long way home and dropping the rifle down a deep flooded mine shaft. His lip curled in a cruel smile. Wonder if the city boys would still think the old man was losing it?

 

The Muse

Wow, ok this was started quite a while ago and slowly added to. But then, if I do my job, you won’t be able to tell that will you?

Where do ideas come from? It is a question authors get asked and not all want to answer. Perhaps some are afraid to examine it too deeply in fear that the  muse will move on to someone else. It could be they are tired of hearing it. Or maybe the truth sounds too bland and simple. Lean close and I’ll fill you in:  ideas come from everywhere. They come from standing in line at the bank, walking through the grocery store, family get-togethers, newspaper articles. Some authors tell these stories straight up(usually considered literary authors) and some put a criminal twist on them. But as Neil Gaiman (in cat form) said, “We all want to know what happens next.” What happens when a man’s estranged father shows up at his son’s birthday party? What would happen if that same estranged father was a government assassin? The muse whispers to us all differently and no two writers will respond the same way to the same idea in the same way. Its the reason a website can put up a writing prompt and see a different story for every response.

Is there a Muse? Some beautiful lady in a short toga and strappy sandals who whispers in our ears? Is it just training and work?  A gift from God? I guess that depends on your beliefs and whether you believe the same as the next person doesn’t really matter. However you describe it, there does seem to be something inside a writer’s brain that will just spark and there’s an idea. If you are ever around a writer and they pause mid sentence and start to scramble for pen and paper, then you have seen a visit from the muse. Ideas can be wild and fleeting things and if not corralled on paper, they may run off never to be seen again. Not that you should stop working on your current work in progress and run off with this new shiny young firm fleshed idea. Just put down enough to know later what it is.

Where do ideas come from? Once again, everywhere. They come from life, work, family, strangers at the bus stop. An idea comes from picking up tampons for your daughter and suddenly imagining some bad ass spy type performing the same task. Or you get cut off in traffic and picture the response of this character that has been hanging around in your head. Or you think, Lone Wolf and Cub would be awesome set in the Prohibition days. (Not that it’s a clone of Lone Wolf and Cub in a different time period.)

So ideas come from everywhere and and to everyone. Tell someone at a party you are a writer or make movies and they say, “Oh man I have a great book (or movie) idea.” “Sometimes their next statement is to say they will write this book once they have time. Visit Chuck Wendig for what that makes writers think.) It’s quite possible they do have a great idea. So why aren’t they making it, writing it?

Because ideas are not enough. Ideas are the easy part. The hard part is taking this idea and making something out of it. A bad ass spy buying tampons is just a skit on SNL. Why is he there? What surrounds the scene? Because, to me at least, ideas are sometimes just that, a scene. This sudden flash of this character doing this. Like watching a movie. Sometimes you have a character. Maybe you have a place. Or maybe you are going through cancer treatment and it makes you think of a fort under attack by a large army. Brilliant idea but if readers don’t care about the people in that fort, then the idea remains just that. Edison could have been talking about writing when he said, “Invention is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration.” The muse can visit but you still have to do the work.

That idea has to be turned into a book or short story. (Or screenplay if you are wanting to make a movie.) The characters need, well, character. They need to develop and some of them should change. You need to figure out what you are trying to say. Or not say. Maybe it’s just a straight up adventure, with no metaphor for current life. Where does it take place? Is it a made up world? What is this lands customs and clothing and languages? Everything has to be worked out, even it is details that don’t make it into the final work. And its all hard work and takes dedication and discipline. (Something I have problems with myself.) The big question is, why do you write? Is it a hobby, something you do for yourself? Something to share online, with family and friends? Or do you want to be published?

So ideas aren’t really the important thing. When it comes down to it, it is what an author makes of them that matters.

What Goes Around…

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death. The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. “I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,” the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes,” the farmer replied proudly. “I’ll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll grow to a man you can be proud of.” And that he did.

In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St.Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin. Years afterward, the nobleman’s son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. Someone once said: What goes around comes around. Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching

The Farm

One of the cool things about living here is that we are a short walk away from the Cole Harbour Heritage Farm. Not a big operation but its in the city and so a lot more than most can expect. They bring in animals in the spring from some local farms and have them there all summer until some point in the fall. Right now they have chickens, ducks, a couple calves, couple pigs, some sheep and some goats. There are also displays with the old farm equipment used before everybody jumped up on a John Deere. And the old farm house and a small blacksmith shop. Throw in the garden and the Teahouse which cooks and sells food using produce from the garden and its not a bad way to spend some time. And there are various events that go on, like sometime this month a horse and wagon will be there to give rides. If you like this kinda thing and want to see something on a bigger scale, go check out Ross Farm.

Anyway, before I start sounding like a commercial or something, the reason I bring it up is that the last couple weeks we’ve walked down with the baby toddler. (Jesus, Morgan is almost three, guess he ain’t a baby any more.) And the boy just loves the place. Throws a fit when he’s told it’s time to leave. And he’s not interested in the display of antique hay cutting equipment, as fascinating as that is. No sir, he’s all about the animals. First thing when we get there, the chickens. Goes running right up to them, picking little pieces of grass to push through their pen to them. Last summer, he got pecked a little but that doesn’t matter none. He’s a little cautious about it but not to bad. (Little bugger just made me move my arm so that he could wiggle in under it against my side.) Then we look at the ducks a bit but he doesn’t seem to be as interested in them. Oh, but look there’s goats and sheep and off a running  he goes. Grabbing up pieces of grass and plants and holding it through the fence. Sometimes he gets so excited he jumps up and down yelling “I did it, I did it.” Then its off to the pigs. Yesterday they were inside away from the heat and napping so Morgan doesn’t spend much time there. He walks out of the barn and looks around a bit. Ask him what he wants to see next and “Cows,” he says. We tell him, you know where they are at and so he goes trotting off toward the garden and cows(they are in a little paddock off one side of the garden, under the apple tree). Takes the long way through the garden to look at all the plants(vegetables to be incoming) and then its up against the fence. And, AND HE TOUCHES ONE! Which said fact makes him so proud of himself.  Not to mention Poppa and Momma. It’s nice to know that he isn’t scared of animals. He may have to work at it a little bit but he does get there(they are a lot bigger than him). We actually make this circuit twice before they start to put the animals into the barn and we peel him away. He’s not happy about being put back in his wagon and leaving the place but he quiets down before too long. Look back and he’s sitting there like a king, arm perched along the side of the wagon, looking around, surveying his kingdom. Proceed, royal procession.