Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Promises

There seems to be a negative connotation associated with New Years resolutions. Perhaps it's because every January, regular gym-goers are forced to share a packed gym with resolutioners, and alcohol and tobacco sales hit their yearly low until everything goes back to normal in February. I won't deny it (I'ma straight ridah), I make half-hearted resolutions each year, which are kept for the most part.

The difference between mine and most others is that they're easy to stick to. Sure, I'd love to quit smoking, lose weight, get to work on time every day, but I'm also a realist. My resolutions are silly, and don't necessarily make my life or anyone else's better. But goals are always good, right? No matter how big or small.

Without further ado, in 2011, I promise to:
  • Always eat dinner at the dinner table. I have a $2,000 dining set holding all my junk mail, empty coffee mugs and car keys. I should put it to better use.
  • Recycle. Just a no brainer. I've already stopped putting non-recyclable items in the big blue bin, now it's time to stop putting recyclable items in the big black bin.
  • Stop buying new clothes when I run out of clean ones. It's shameful how bad I was about this in the past. The Salvation Army gets a quarterly donation of clothes from me, which is great, but I need to keep some money in my wallet and stop being so lazy about laundry.
  • Not watch TV when there's nothing interesting on. I'm guilty of watching QVC when there's nothing else on sometimes just so I can sit and look at the glowing screen. Yet the stack of books I've been meaning to read keep collecting dust.
  • Finish that gallon of milk I bought, or at least open it, before it expires. I waste milk too much.
  • Leave my ex alone. For six years he's been my loyal sidekick, whether we're screwing or not. For five years he's been trying to marry me, and for five years I've kept him at arm's length. I recently did something kinda bad, and in the past, he'd forgive me, and the cycle repeats. If I leave him alone, maybe he'll move on and be happy with a girl that deserves him.
  • Stop sending my assistant out for coffee every morning. I've got legs, and lord knows I need the exercise. I'll get it my damn self.
  • Return all calls and emails, whether personal or professional, in a timely manner. By far my friends' and colleagues' biggest pet peeve about me. And probably the hardest one to stick to.
  • Be a little more patient with stupid people. I take it back, this one will be the hardest. You have to understand what kind of people I deal with on a daily basis in order to fully grasp the difficulty of keeping this promise. I used to be such a sweet girl. Now people are kind of afraid to even approach me because they don't want to see my bitchface. Gotta be nicer.
Wow, that list is kind of long. And not all so easy. Crap, what did I just get myself into?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Would you want to read this book?

That's right gang, while I'm still not giving up on Made in Vermont, I've gotta itch and I need to scratch it by cleaning up what I consider my best work yet. Here's the query.

Dear Agent of my fantasies,

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in humorous fantasy, and because you like the same kind of pie I do.

Over the course of his many lifetimes, Matthew Newman could rightfully lay claim to being many things. He’s crossed an ocean in search of the New World, fought alongside the Allied Forces against the army of a maniacal dictator, and wrestled with the Bermuda Triangle. But of all Matthew’s many fine qualities, possessing a good sense of direction was never one of them. Sometimes, however, wandering aimlessly can work in ones favor. After taking a wrong turn in the great monolith of the In Between, Matthew happens upon the Untouchable One, brightest and most beautiful soul in all the Universe. For Matthew, it’s true love. Unfortunately, as the only daughter of the Great Almighty, she’s the one possession the creator of all things keeps for himself. There is one way, however, to win her and her father over, and that is to locate the Eveningstar Gem and master its ultimate powers. Naturally there’s an evil entity out there named Kran competing with Matthew for possession of the gem. With it Kran would plunge the planet into darkness, and, even worse, compete with Matthew for the Untouchable One’s heart. Staying one-step ahead of Kran will require Matthew to navigate his way through several lifetimes’ worth of adventures and questionable career choices—not an easy task for one with a lack of direction. It will take his many other fine qualities to find a way to derail Kran’s diabolical quest for power, save the earth from an apocalyptic event, and find true love.

Matthew Newman is a 100,000 word work of humorous fantasy. I am the author of several things, and this is my first really good novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
Charles Horse

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Disagree With Gabby the Republican

Lately, the political "discourse" from the right is so overwrought, stupid, paranoid, and downright desperate, that I get the impression they're trying to tell me something, but it's being hidden under the church bell of other terms. For clarification, perhaps we need to turn to Blazing Saddles:

Gabby the Republican: "The Sheriff is a <>"
Rest of the Right Wing Media Town: "He's a Socialist?"
Gabby the Republican: "NO, he's a <>."
Rest of the Right Wing Media Town: "He's an Illegal Alien?"
Gabby the Republican: "NO, he's a <>."
Rest of the Right Wing Media Town: "He's Indoctrinating our children?"
Gabby the Republican: "NO, he's a <>."
Rest of the Right Wing Media Town: "He's Kim Jong Il?"
Gabby the Republican: "NO, DAGNAMIT, HE'S A <>"
Rest of the Right Wing Media Town: "He's a Nazi?"
Gabby the Republican: "Well, that's closer!"

There's really only one logical reason the right responds with such fevered hatred over everything Obama does, including a lot of things other presidents routinely have done. Considering that his policy is not surprisingly new, is often surprisingly centrist, and that most of the attacks on it are about as proportional as calling for the death penalty for a shoplifter, there has to be something else afoot.

How about I say what's on all your minds: The President is a black man. That's right, the American voters went bat shit crazy and elected an African American. 

Feel better?

Hey, at least he's not Irish...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cow 1, Sebastian 0


"Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!"  - Troy McClure

Fact: Cows are not bright.

Fact: Cows smell bad.

Fact: Cows like holes in the ground. 


Wait, what? What kind of nonsense is that?

Before 1997, someone mentioned this to me in passing and I just laughed at them. I know I may not be the brightest bulb in the basket, but no one is going to fool me with that ridiculous line.

Am I some sort of moron?

In 1997, I had the pleasure of going out on an archaeological dig. I lived for a few months in a small town near the Romanian border in Ukraine. The people were nice enough, the experience was fun, the food downright sucked, but the experience was still fun. I may not have enjoyed it all too well at the time, but looking back on it, it made for some good memories. I won't even get into the run-ins with the Russian mafia.

That summer, our crew had two sites we were working on: the backyard of a house that local architects thought contained an older structure, and a small plaza within an abandoned church that was at one time a bazaar and also a cemetery. Now, because I may have rubbed some people the wrong way, or because I had a disdain for working with bones, I never got the chance to work in the church. Instead, I spent the whole summer working in the backyard, usually alone with people who only spoke Ukrainian and no English. But we got along, we were able to communicate, and I got to be in charge.

Around the same time, a local boy was hanging around the area tending to his one horse and his one cow. What he did with those two animals I have no clue, but he'd herd them around town and they would mind their own merry business and leave us alone.

One day, the boy was not doing his job, and the cow decided she was curious about what I was doing in the backyard of the house.
For those who don't know what archaeology is, it is the study of past human civilizations. In order to get at the past and find the remains these people have left behind, we sometimes have to dig down into the ground and bring things up to the surface. This means we have to dig a hole in the ground, a fact my new best friend was all too happy to learn.

The cow leaves her group and heads towards me, and her eyes widened upon seeing my square (geek talk for hole in the ground). And lo and behold, that one little tidbit someone told me years ago was actually true. This cow decided it was her mission in life to get into my hole (insert joke here).

I saw this and I couldn't believe my eyes! I wasn't sure what I should do about this, but the one thing I knew was that I couldn't let a cow get down into my square! If she got in, we couldn't work. If she got in, how do we get her out? If she got in, I would never hear the end of it! "How'd you let a freakin' cow in your square?!?!?!" I had to man up and throw up resistance!

I grabbed the closest thing to me, a shovel. Now I know in other countries they are not as gentle with their animals the way Americans are, but I could not bring myself to doing any harm to a dumb animal who just wanted to get down and dirty. I took the shovel, I held it with both hands, and I held my ground. The cow began taking steps into the square, knocking down my perfectly straight walls (very important for us dirt playin' fools). This could not be happening!

I get in the cow's way. She goes left, I move left and block her. She turns and tries to go right, but Betsy is none too quick, so I block her again. But Betsy is none all too bright either, so she tries left and right a few more times, only to be turned back by the shovel-armed sentry.

Finally, she can't take it anymore. She knows she can't get by me. She knows her dreams have been dashed. Betsy wisens up, and starts walking away. I keep my position, in case she decides to try one last quick sneak attack. 

As she walks away, her backside is directly facing me, her head the opposite direction. But only a few feet away from me, she stops, turns her head, and with the look of disdain I have never seen from any animal or person before or since, she looks straight into my eyes and deep down into my soul. 

There is nothing in the world at that moment aside from the cow and me.

All that matters is that look. 

The only important thing is what she is thinking.

And at our most perfect moment, at the opportune time, with her eyes constantly gazing upon mine, with me still holding the shovel in both hands and a stupid smirk on my face, she lets me know what she really thinks of me. 

She drops the biggest pile of shit I have ever seen.

She drops it only about 5 feet away from me.

And her eyes never leave mine for a second.

Point made, the cow turns and walks away, leaving me with her gift. 

Still with a dumb smirk on my face, and a pile of shit on the ground. The cow sent her message loud and clear. She did not mix words.

Since I still had the shovel, I put it to good use, moved the shit and covered it up. 

But it took me a few minutes to come out of the shock of being shat at by a cow. By a cow who only wanted to climb down into a hole in the ground.

From that moment on, I realized I could not take cows lightly anymore. But I also came to another conclusion that is still with me today. 

I fucking hate cows.

Now please pass the ketchup.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Straight out of Star Wars

As a fiction writer, I'm acutely aware of the palette of plotlines used time and again to create the novels and stories we have come to know and love over the course of time. Some will say there's nothing original to write about anymore. As an author, all one can do is try to tell an old story in a new way. Put your own spin on it if you will. One of my favorite bits exemplifying this comes (not surprisingly) from a TV show where Stewie, in Family Guy says ... Nice little narrative? Beginning, middle, and end? Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends? At the end your main character is richer from the experience? Yeah? Yeah?

We all know that art imitates life, and that quite often real life can be much more entertaining than anything even the best of story tellers can make up. Take for instance the news surrounding Tom Ridge, former Secretary of the already ambiguous Department of Homeland Security, and the revelations he reveals in his upcoming book "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege ... and How We Can Be Safe Again," due to be released on September 1. In it he claims he was pressured by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft to raise the terror alert shortly before the 2004 presidential election. Subsequently, then President Bush's approval rating demonstrated a significant increase. In fact, it seems pretty obvious that a major contributing factor to Dubyah's reelection was the nation's unease in the area of national security. Now let's think, where have we heard this story before? Oh yeah, Star Wars. Remember Senator Palpatine (who,in case no one has noticed looks a hell of a lot like Joe Lieberman), whose rise to Ruler of the Galactic Empire was orchestrated by the perceived threat from the evil Trade Alliance?

I admit, it's hard to come up with a good original story, but good god, you'd think these old white guys who've been in the game for so long could come up with something a little more original.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who let the dogs in?

Pop quiz. What do you call a gay man who pretends to be a straight man in public? Closeted. What do you call a politician who pretends to be something he or she is not in public? A blue dog Democrat.

That's right, I'm taking on my own, something you apparently, if Sarah Palin's approval numbers among the faithful are to be believed, will never see from a Republican. The fact is, the Blue Dogs must figure out who they are, or we need to do it for them.

I understand there is a variety of beliefs in the Democratic party. In another differentiation from Republicans, we do not seek to "purify" our party on ideological grounds. There truly is a big tent. But sometimes, disputes within the party have to be settled within the party, and must not end up serving the needs of the opponent.

Case in point, health care reform. I do not expect Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Claire McCaskill et al to just roll over and become liberal. But they can't use the party's name and funds to win elections, and then revert to joining the Republican party in opposition to their own party. I get that they are not deeply blue (despite the name), perhaps, as a friend puts it, they're a bit purple. But shouldn't they be endeavoring to find a compromise between the purple and the blue, not between the purple and the red? That's what's happening. They wish to drag their entire party over into compromising between the center and the far right, and even that may not be enough. And they are using parliamentary procedure to do so, lacking the majority, even in concert with Republicans. They are in effect stalling the will of the majority to the default victory of their supposed opponent.

Here's the deal dogs. We don't expect you to agree with the left completely. But you must show some party affiliation, if not loyalty, by negotiating in good faith between your position and the prevailing views of the party. If you cannot be satisfied with the result, fine, we won't expect you to vote for it. But what you better do, what you are compelled by all decency to do, is simply the right thing: Vote down any filibuster, which the size of the Republican Minority does not entitle them to. Then vote against the measure in an up and down vote.

There, you've covered all your bases. You've negotiated in good faith, giving up neither principle nor party integrity. You have not allowed your opponent to use you to deny the measure a vote. You have gone on the record as being against the measure, thus displaying your courage and beliefs. And most of all, you have allowed the majority to prevail, which is as it should be.

If you can't do this much, then quite frankly, will the last one of you shut the door on your way out? If you're going to do the work of the red, you have no business draped in blue.

This isn't "goodbye," it's "see you soon."

She was always a dependable one. There to comfort me when a man wasn't around, yet never hesitated to treat a boyfriend like he, too, was a long-time friend. She never complained about being a third wheel, nor did she feel left out when my man and I decided to go it alone. They always loved her company as well, and if I didn't know any better I might've suspected they were sneaking off and hanging out without me. Not that I would even mind that.

She was just as crazy and adventurous as I was; even moreso if I'm being honest. She always had something new and exciting to share with me. Whatever mood I was in, she knew the best way to entertain me.

But with all her good, there was also the bad. You see, she was a promiscuous one. She tried it all, and with many different partners. Sometimes multiple partners a night, or even at a time. I guess you never really think it could happen to you, but it can, and it did for her. She contracted a virus.

Most would deem their life to be over after a bombshell such as this, but she's a fighter. Whatever treatment it takes, I'll do it. For her. Even if it takes professional help. After all, I was her friend; I should have looked out for her the way she's done for me all these years. How could she know to protect herself? That's not her role. Her job is to be fun and exciting. Looking out for her was my responsibility.

I've failed her, so now I must face the consequences. I will save her, and she will go on. But I'm afraid that she'll never be the same again. I will promise her this, though. She will build up that bank of memories again over time. One day we'll look back on this and laugh as she tells me new stories, and shows me new things I've never seen before.

You mean the world to me, Porn Laptop. I will fix you, and promise to never let you go unprotected again.