Sunday, May 30, 2010

Somethin' for the Fella's

When I started Blogging last August, it was mainly to get my writing ya-ya's out, and to see if I could strike a chord with anyone. I had no idea that there was such a wonderful community out there, and that some fine folks out there began conjuring up awards to let people know that they're appreciated. I'm not one of those nihilistic people who think that everyone's out for themselves with their inflated senses of entitlement (I used to be, but that was when I didn't like myself much, and was abusing myself with bad habits). Still, how this community supports each other is a breath of fresh air for those of us who are looking for the kindred spirits.

Thank you so much to Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry for the From Me to You award. (Sorry it took me so long to get to this) There weren't any stipulations, like 'list your favorite (whatever's),' And I've recently directed people to any Blogs you may not have been introduced to, so feel free to help yourself to this one.

The next one was quite a surprise, a Blogging award that's geared towards men! I'm sure you've noticed that the ladies far outweigh the gents in this arena, and the ladies seem more distraught about this as us! I won't speculate as to why this is, but I heard one theory that women are more likely to be at home during the day.
BULLOCKS! Firstly, “Hello! Can you here me back there in the 1940's?!” Secondly, If anyone's a stay-at-home parent, there's little chance that they can squeeze-out the time to Blog, and Thirdly, a LOT of people are Blogging from work (lucky folks, they are!).
And with that off my chest, Thank you to Alex C for the Witty Banter & a Beer Award. Here are some of the fellas I enjoy my Bloffee with. (If I'm tossing back a few, I'm either with friends, or writing, and not reading. Who knows what kind of stupid shit I'd Comment if I were half in the bag:) )

Firstly, I've got to mention my friend Matt. He's been posting his art, and it's fun to watch him develop, as he's been going to school for animation.

Adam at Throwing Quarters, is another one of the first I stumbled across, and he also has a great Podcast.

Brahm is a special kind of guy – a fellow Canadian, from Edmonton. That's where we (from the Great Lakes area) go to make our climate seem more pleasant!

So hats-off to the blokes who show up and deliver for us, helping me to not feel like I'm one of the few guys doing this!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pay It Forward

Since I started traveling in new Blogging circles, inspired by the A-Z Challenge, it seems that I'm finding no shortage of contests, meme's and themes. The newest one (or, the one I heard of most recently) is the Pay-It-Forward at B Miller Fiction.

As for the contest, you can win either a $25 gift card for the book seller of your choice (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Borders), or some pretty solid promotion for your own book. Swing on by and check out the points-allocation rules (if you've seen this kind of contest before, you've probably realized that I'm earning points by writing this). But truth be told, it's a great writers Blog, so if you don't have enough of those on your Reader (who does?), it's certainly worth the time to check out.
You may have heard of the Pay It Forward theme before, I think I have, but I can't remember where. In case you need a refresher (as I did), it's basically payments into the Karma Account with random acts of senseless kindness. Write a story or poem about a time you went out of your way to do something for someone, and simply ask them to pass on the courteous mojo.

As many of you with retail experience know, customers can be dicks. One time, at the drug store, someone was giving the cashier a hard time about an exchange. She just wanted to trade products without going through the returns process. The poor cashier got the brunt of her bile when she informed her of the policy. When the aforementioned dick stormed out, I said “I guess someone's been handing out Day-Passes at the Asshole Asylum.” Personally, I can find it hard to bounce back after someone vents their spleen on me, so I was glad for the chance to transform that hostility into something the cashiers could laugh about.

Also, I'd like to introduce some of you to some Blogs that I've found very entertaining and encouraging. Crazy Texas Mommy was one of the first Blogs I encountered when I was trying to decide if I wanted to give this a go, and it's still one of my favorites.

This is a newer find,Ramblings of a Domestic Goddess and she delivers the sass, Jersey style. Not to mention a healthy dose of wisdom.

Rachel co-authors a diet/fitness Blog, but this is her personal platform, and is always a fun read.

And certainly not least, Vodka Logic is sometimes a poetry Blog, but always entertaining, and is always a great supporter of the Blogs she follows.

I meant to get this up on Saturday, but the Forces of Shit Happens had other plans. The good news is that both my girls are building up their immunity to a fresh strain, the bad news is that they're pretty miserable about it! So Saturday, we took turns nursing the baby with bottles and cuddles, but I had to go back to work on Sunday, so Andrea took the night shift with Calli, and was a super good sport about it. Last night, it was my turn. She slept until 12:30, then was up about every hour until 6. By three AM, I was telling her that if she got me up again, she had to promise to never date anyone I hate.

One last bit of business. I've tried to return the favor to anyone who's followed my Blog, but I'm not sure I've got them all. In particular, there are a couple commenter's with home sites in Asian lettering. I looked for a Translate button, but couldn't find it. If you could clear that up, I'd really appreciate it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spring time means so much to all of us, and one of the things it means to me is that it's time to shave my beard. My wife is very pleased.

I started growing it as Calli was being born. I'd taken a week off and was able to get through the scruffy stage without looking like a hobo at work. Turned out, I liked it, and a lot of friends did too. At Christmas, two cousins – both young males – kept petting it. When I said “Wow, that was...tender,” it stopped. Nothing like adolescent homophobia to get them to keep their hands to themselves.

But before the shave, I had to address my main reason for growing the beard: I needed to do my Super Pretentious Writers Photo! Once I shaved my chin and saw myself with mutton chops, I was struck with just how awesome they truly were. I knew I had to work at least one shift like that.

Who'd have thought that my half-shaved face would bring so many people such joy! I was a hit, and asides from a few who weren't too fussed with them, most thought that they were the coolest thing they'd seen all day! Then I remembered that I still needed to have my picture taken for the Safety Committee. Now, my chops will be displayed in the break room for as long as I'm on the SC. Huzzah! The high-light was when I checked my Facebook news page. A friend on vacation (some of you know her as Belbin9) was responding to a message from someone else from work, saying “Will got chops? I don't understand.” I'm sorry she wasn't there to see it.

Oddly, only one person asked me about it; most people pretended not to notice that I was sporting big-assed mutton chops. I'd get little smirks from customers, but they mostly acted as though I wasn't the first person they'd seen in a generation groomed like a 19th century gentleman. I am certain, though, that many of them will go home and say “You'll never guess what I saw today...” On Saturday, Andrea had her best friend, mother, and two aunts over. Not a single comment, not even a double-take. I was crest-fallen. On Sunday I was running an errand, and again, no one blinked.

I think that for my next shave, I'll leave on some big-assed Elvis side burns. I already have the big-assed Elvis gut.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Essentials

This turned out to be harder than I thought. I got to 12 before I knew it, and had to do some editing. So here it is, my stranded-on-an-island-with-only-15-albums list

“The Crow” Soundtrack. For years, one of my favorite soundtracks, until it was replaced by...

“Lost Highway” Soundtrack. NIN, Bowie, Ramstein, Lou Reed covering 'This Magic Moment,' and some great instrumentals. I still haven't seen the movie, but the album takes you on enough of a journey in and of itself.

Aerosmith, “Honkin' on Bobo.” Here, they cover some blues standards that influenced them in their formative years. Up-beat energy, and great musicianship.

The Beastie Boys “Check Your Head.” With this album, they explored a Hip Hop/Punk/Jazz hybrid that really worked for them, featuring several instrumentals. I found the bass playing really inspirational.

Korn “Greatest Hits.” How can I choose one? When I first heard the guitars re-enter after the bridge on 'Freak On A Leash,' it was like being hit with the broad-side of a van.

The Tea Party “Transmission.” If you aren't so lucky as to know The Tea Party, they're a Canadian trio who's single “Temptation” got them the most attention. They stayed on the radar for another three albums, but got a less fickle following in Europe and Australia. Their first two albums (“Splendour Solace” and “Edges of Twilight” sound like Led Zepplin with Jim Morrison singing; easy to market, but easier to write-off as “wanna-be's.” Truth is the music is beautiful and intricate. “Transmission,” their third, added synth/industrial tones to the mix, and boy howdy, it worked!

The Tea Party “Interzone Mantras.” Their fifth album, and their best. Their Acoustic/Electric/Blues/Eastern hybrid had matured and gelled into something wonderful.

Alanah Myles “A-La-Nah.” She's mostly remembered for her late-Eighties first album hit “Black Velvet,” but her third album saw her doing a lot more of the song writing. It had a more European flavor, and I hear something new every time I give it a listen.

Sinead O'Conner “The Lion and the Cobra.” She's mostly remembered for her late-Eighties tearing of the Pope's picture on SNL. But her first album has aged well.

Prince “Ultimate Collection.” How do I pick just one? This collection has all my favorites (Including “7,” “Thieves in the Temple,” and “Alphabet Street.”), and a disc of re-mixes.

Nine Inch Nails “The Fragile.” Another double CD, with my favorite NIN song, “We're All In This Together Now.” And plenty of other great songs.

Undercover “Devotion.” This Christian band was more punk in the Eighties, but by the early '90's, they were recording what sounded like prog-rockers attempting mainstream. With “Balance of Power,” they seemed to be exploring a pretty serious crisis of faith, very honestly. With “Devotion,” they had made their peace with their Maker, and it resulted in a timeless album.

Rage Against The Machine “Battle of Los Angeles.” Again, how do I pick one? I had to go with the most favorite songs.

Fear Factory “Archetype.” About ten years into their career, FF are exploring the relationship between Humanity and their machines. Possibly the heaviest music I listen to, they still strike a good balance between screaming and singing.

Johnny Cash. “The Legend of...” One of the few JC collections with old hits and new, including his song with U2, one with The Highwaymen, and the Soundgarden & NIN covers he did. I dare you to watch the video for “Hurt.” without tearing-up.

With that, I'll also bring a guitar, so I can try to mimic all of the wonderful music I had to leave behind. “Try” is the operative word.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Did I Strike a Chord?

On Thursday May 6th, I mentioned the Ancient Mysteries on my “5Things...” post, and I was tickled-pink at the responses! We have less then 10,000 years of recorded history, which leaves so-o-o many questions! Add to that the fact that reading & writing was reserved for the privileged classes (as recently as 200 years ago), so there were precious-few making records of events, and those were commissioned by those in power, who had their own agenda to promote.

As far as what interests me, name it. For years, I've been a student of the Bargain Book Bin curriculum. What I've learned is that there is so much that we can't know, that if I can make my peace with that, I can enjoy it for what it's worth. I've learned that most of what's written is still promoting the pet-theories of the authors. “You see?! If you look at it from here and squint just right, it TOTALLY proves my point!”

For example, it's known that the Templar Knights excavated under the site of Solomon's Temple from 1119, for about 25 years. They found something that they took back to Europe, and got so much hush-money that within a generation, they were the most powerful force in Christendom. We still aren't sure what they found, but guesses abound: Records of Jesus' genealogy? The Ark of the Covenant? Material treasure? Chrystal skulls? The Colonel's 11 herbs & spices? It's fun to speculate, but proof is lacking. So which Mysteries have grabbed your attention?

The previous section was written last Tuesday (the 11th). Can you guess where I've been? Bet you can! BABY-PROOFING! Drawers, cupboard doors, and especially stairs. Week off, my ass! To be fair, one day was spent at a friend's helping install a floor, and part of another day was spent putting out patio furniture, and installing new baby seats in the cars. I planned my weeks off one-at-a-time so they wouldn't be too far apart (Feb, May, July, Sept.), but now I'm thinking that a week just passes too quickly, and maybe I need two weeks together.

In all honesty, I should be grateful; my neighbor is laid-off, and now I feel like a turd for whining about my steady employment. It's all about perspective, eh?

But it's late, I'm tired, and I'm rambling, so I'm gonna say goodnight, and wish you all well!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Little Missy is Mobile!

As those who follow our goings-on on Facebook have heard, we have reached another milestone: Calli is crawling.

For about two months, she's had the back-leg motions going, but her arms had yet to co-ordinate. It kinda looked like she was trying to swim on the carpet. It also resulted in more than a few face-plants, and it still takes her a moment to realize that pain hurts. Her face makes an expression of confused concern for a moment before she starts fussing.

For the last few weeks, she would rise to her hands and knees, and rock back and forth; a motion my mom called the “Rock and Roll.” I'm guessing she needed some practice at feeling motion in that position, but I'm no expert, so I could just be talking out my ignorance on this one.

Earlier last week, Andrea told me that she had crawled, but it was two “steps.” I thought it would take longer for her to get moving, but on Friday (May 7), she saw something that motivated her to move in earnest, one of the dogs toys. Yup, after all the money spent by us and many family members, she thinks that Kuma's squeeky toy is worth learning a new skill to attain. Thankfully, she'll also crawl to get to her own toys, or the dog's furry toes.

Awhile ago, we learned that crawling isn't an essential developmental skill. Over the long haul, there isn't anything she gains from crawling that she needs to grow into a fully-functioning adult. Many kids will skip crawling, including one cousin of Andrea's; she just rolled everywhere! That would be kinda funny to watch, but for a first child (which she was), it may have been a a cause of concern.

Most of the comments on Facebook were to the tune of “Congratulations! Put your valuables of higher shelves!” Our glass-top coffee table is now in the basement; she'll have plenty of opportunity to get stitches, there's no need to give her greater odds of needing Emergency Room visits!

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some cupboards to child-proof. The dish-soap bottle looks too much like her “Boppies” for my liking...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Slightly-Belated Mother's Day

When I meet younger people (19-24-ish), I usually like to ask about their higher education. It's an easy way to find something to talk about, and usually I can hold my end of the conversation regarding what they're studying. Whenever someone's going to school for Teaching, I'm pretty impressed. For years, I've referred to teaching as “the second-noblest profession.” This will peak their curiosity, and they'll ask what the noblest is. That would be the full-time version, Parenting.
So-o-o...Happy Slightly-Belated Mothers Day!

I was set to have a Mothers Day post up, but I was busy trying to relieve Andrea as much as I could so she could chill-out. I failed miserably, since I had to work, and needed to leave at 7:30. “Happy Mother's Day! Here she is; she's changed, but she's hungry. See ya!” Fortunately, I have the week off, so I get to give her some time to herself.

If you've read this Blog for any amount of time, you know that I'll take any opportunity to sing the praises of my wonderful wife! It's quite amazing how much like the Energizer Bunny she is; when Calli's gone to bed, and I think we're winding-down for the day, Andrea's found a few more things to do, and will keep going with food-prep, tidying, and other chores.

And on top of that, she studies what she needs to know to be an effective parent. She knows when to introduce fruits, and when it's time to try with the pureed meats, and when eggs or nuts may be safely tested.... It all makes me a little dizzy to think about, but she'll rattle it off like she's known the whole time. She's constantly reading books and magazines, and sharing notes with more experienced mothers, and it makes her a mother to be reckoned with!

Of course, I need to pay homage to two other mothers in my life. Naturally, I'd be horribly remiss if I didn't mention my own mom. She had to raise us in an awful transitional period. Divorces were becoming more commonplace, and she was swept into it. Raised in an environment where men were employed, and women stayed home to tend to the domestic duties, she was forced to play both parts in a world where one income wouldn't support a home. As members of the work-force, women now needed to be considered equal in society, and it bred my generation, where men are more likely to play both parts – professional and domestic – because that's what we saw as children. In her day, a lot of men hadn't caught-up to the changes, and expected the women to hold the fort, whether they were holding down a full-time job or not. This transition isn't over, and I want to salute my mom, and the millions of other women who have lived through this period, to weather the social changes that will eventually lead to co-parenting as the norm.

My sister also has had a difficult road to travel. About seven years ago, the father of her two girls met an untimely end, so not only did she have to deal with that death, but had to walk her children through that grief. Our mother parents have been absolutely critical in the process, and have helped bear that burden. Gerty (my sister's nick name) has done an exemplary job in raising the girls without a father, and deserves a medal for the job she's done.

Cheers and props to all of the women who work tirelessly at the noblest profession. It's great that we have this day to honor you all, but there should really be 6-8 days a year for this!
Love and gratitude to each of you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

5 Things about 5 Things

Last night, my wife came up from the basement (where we keep the computer) where she was maintaining her Farmville plots & pets, and said “did you know that you have fourteen comments?” I had no idea, and was appropriately flabbergasted. That is certainly a record! I also learned that I'd been tagged in the “5 things about 5 things.” chain. Thanks to Shannon & Gregg, I'll get to that in just a minute. But I also learned something disturbing. I was expecting that one of the comments was from me, but it never showed. Another comment on another Blog never arrived, so I deduced that when I'm using my laptop (with weak wireless), my comments aren't getting to where I'me sending them, so a lot of you haven't seen that I've been by. Frightfully sorry; I have been reading & commenting, but it hasn't always registered, I'll try to just comment from the land-line connection from now on. And now, on to the chain:

Where was I five years ago:
Five weeks into my relationship with Andrea.
Just moving out of a rented room, into a solo place (the rented room was awful for someone who'd had a place, but I moved in a hurry, & needed to land somewhere.)
Working 4-10:30 AM, stocking. Great job, miserable hours.
Recovering from my first winter in 12 years (I'd been on the West Coast).
Deepening my studies of the Ancient Mysteries.

Where would I like to be five years from now:
Published, and making a livable income from writing.
Negotiating a movie deal from one of my novels.
Recording music for fun & profit.
Sending Calli to Kindergarten.
Enjoying good health with a healthy family.

What was on my list to do today:
Go to work.
Take out the garbage.
Read Blogs, and hopefully have my comments get to where I send them!
Write a response to the “5 Things...” chain
Read-up on my Benefits.

What five snacks do I enjoy:
Reese Bites.
Butter Tarts.
Peanut Butter Cookies.

What would I do if I were a billionaire:
Build a home studio.
Have a house in the country.
Build homes for my folks, sister & nieces, and mum-in-law.
Fund animal shelters.
Tap-dance my fine self out of my retail job!

And now to tag 5 Bloggers for this “5 Things...” meme.
Melody Green
Vodka Logic


Cheers, and I'll see ya soon!

Monday, May 3, 2010


So, what can I say that doesn't sound like a lot of cliché? The first and most obvious affect is in the amount of posting compared to the rest of the year: March, 4 posts. February, 6, and January, 5 posts. April? 27 posts. I was fortunate to have posted something on April 1st, or else I wouldn't have noticed Arlee Bird's invite to the Challenge.

So primarily, it really lit a fire under my arse to write. Funnily, two or three days before the Challenge was issued, I had been reading on Blog-promotion (mostly on ) and said to my wife that I really need to work at providing content before I work at drawing eyes to my Blog. Careful what you ask for, eh?

I found that when put into a position where I need to write something, I can deliver, and that was a huge confidence-boost. It wasn't always gold, and it wasn't always on time, but every letter got covered. It also gave me the chance to write about things that I couldn't fit into another context. This was meant to be a “Daddy Blog,” and while that's my primary role in life right now, it isn't all I bring to the table. I was happy to have an excuse to write about other things.

At the same time, with 26 posts, I needed to fish for ideas. Often. Many times, I went to the dictionary, and bounced ideas off of my wife. She's quite clever, you know. For a human.
Most importantly, I had the chance to meet and get acquainted with a LOT of new Bloggers out there, and follow and be followed by a wide variety of writers. Lots of you now feel like friends, and I'm glad I had the chance to get to know ya'll. I'm looking forward to seeing what you're like outside of the A-Z Challenge. Not that there wasn't some trepidation; not only was I now accountable to twice as many people to deliver interesting content on a regular basis (really, my following DOUBLED – and then some – within a month), but many of you are of a decidedly Christian persuasion, and I'm a little worried about being offensive. Trying to balance that with not censoring myself, or being insincere has been a bit of a juggle (cheers, Arlee!). I'm happy and humbled that I can be myself, and those of you that are Christians aren't just 'Churchy,' but show love and acceptance regardless of my beliefs. I can't thank you enough.

If this becomes an annual thing, count me in! I'd be glad to do another challenge, but I think I'll need to sit-out the “15 Favorite Albums” one. I just need a little breathing room before I jump into another Challenge, but I'll have my ear to the ground to know what other challenges are proposed. I'm still flirting with the NaNoWriMo idea though. I chickened-out last year, and regret it, but the truth is, I wasn't up to it.

Thank you to all of you for the community support, and mostly for holding up your end of the deal with all of the great content you've contributed to the Challenge. It's the end of the beginning, and I'm honored to be swept into this upward-spiral!

To the Coming Revolution of the Children of the Day.