Halloween

I ❤ Halloween. I love Samhain. Mostly, I just love fall–especially when the snow does not come super-early like it did this year. Now, I have a zombie-fied jack-o-lantern hanging out on my front stoop. Icky. And I accidentally scared a toddler with it. Drat. All I wanted to do was give the little kids candy. (And the big kids, too. As long they had actually put together a costume. No, 17-year-old; your high school football uniform does not count. The ninja pjs might, though.)

This year, for Halloween, since we're rather low on funding, costumes were generally a build-your-own affair. My younger son went as a 1930s ganster. Or Frank Sinatra. It depended on when you asked him. My older boy decided he was going as a zombie, so he designed his own make-up and costume. Brilliant. 🙂 He looked great. (I'll add pictures when I'm not so tired.)

Even scarier than the zombie pumpkin that's slowly trying to creep in the front door. …Now where's my chainsaw?

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Decisions, Decisions…

I’m about to start a whole new novel next week. I’m just not sure which one to start. The one about a hitchhiker, the girl who loves him, and the demons? Or the second novel in my two-book (oh, please, only be two books long) fantasy series?

I need to figure this out over the weekend. While I’m starting the new one, I’ll also have to edit the others and continue to find freelance assignments. Craziness.

Need brochures written? Press releases? Craft books? I’m your girl!

Thanks for stopping by! 😉

Procrastination is so Totally my Enemy

As an antagonist, Procrastination is second only to Perfectionism in its crazy ability to beat up my hopes and dreams. Boo.

I have two articles due Right Now, and I’m not close to done with either of them. How did this happen? It’s not as though I didn’t know the deadline was coming up–it’s written on my calendar. And it’s on my gmail alerts thing. And I get email reminders from my self. And the “Currently Working On” folder is huge and right in the middle of my desktop.

I need a better system. Any ideas?

(Off to finish my articles. Eep.)

Read-a-thon Update

So after much distraction (two kids, three cats, one very needy husband), my finished Read-a-thon books are thus:

Demon Fish (very informative and well-written)
A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe (that one almost killed me)
I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River by Henry Winkler (awesome book by the Fonz–who kind of looks like my dad; weird)
Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn (very good light read)
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (2d time, so that’s kind of cheating, but it’s just SO good)
Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (love him!)
and finally…
Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’m hopeful that next year, I’ll be able to prepare ahead of time for the Read-a-thon. That way, I’ll have a stack ready to go. And I’ll have been able to prepare my family ahead of time like I do for NaNoWriMo, so they won’t be expecting me to be on Earth. 😉

Thanks for all of your support while I was reading like a crazy person!

Chicken Go Cluck-Cluck

Cow go Moo…

I made the judgmental error of letting the boys watch “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist”. Now, my older son walks around the house, randomly spewing bizarre lines from the movie. Hence, the title of this post.

The first time I watched “Kung Pow,” I was not impressed. I couldn’t figure out why my beloved, slightly odd husband found it so incredibly funny. I watched it again, and now I understand. It gains something in the re-watching, but I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s that I’m expecting the bizarre (a cow that fights with its udders? What?) or that I’ve somewhat immunized myself against the insanity. No idea. But, wow, was it funny the second and third time I watched it.

It was written and directed by Steve Oedekerk. (He of “Barnyard”. Yes, apparently he thinks cow udders are so hilarious that he also put them on BULLS. That almost made my brain bleed a little. Oedekerk also stars in the movie…by CGing himself over the original star. I didn’t think I would ever say this, but this remix/mash-up/whatever actually makes way more sense than the movie it “edited”. That movie was “Tiger & Crane Fist” also known as “The Save Killers.” I don’t know if it was the version I watched or what, but I couldn’t follow “Tiger” at all. 😦 So sad. I love martial arts movies.

“Kung Pow” drives me crazy every time I watch it–and that one girl who just makes crazy noises the whole time, I just want to smack her–but I love watching this movie when I just want to watch something kind of dumb and totally goofy. And I laugh and laugh and laugh.

And now, I have poisoned my children with it. Darn me, anyway. 😉

Review: Locke & Key, Vol. 1-3

Usually, my husband is the comic geek, checking out entire series from the library. Today, it was me. Or at least, I tried. Unfortunately for me, my local library only had the first three volumes of Locke & Key, an awesome graphic novel series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. I know. These books have been out forever. I have absolutely no excuse for not having grabbed them before. I kept meaning to pick them up, but something always happened, etc. Foolish, foolish me.

I read the first three volumes in less than three hours. They’re not “easy reads” or anything. They’re just very compelling. All of the characters have complex motivations; no one is evil purely because it’s fun or easy. (Except maybe one guy, but he has other problems.) None of the characters are without fault. Everyone has his or her own problems and strengths. When the Locke children (Tyler, 17; Kinsey, 15ish; and Bode, who doesn’t seem to go to school) are in danger, I worry about them because I LIKE them. Yes, I know they’re fictional. I occasionally have problems with that.

When the story starts, the Locke family experiences a horrific tragedy. The ragged remnants of the family pack up and move back to the childhood home of Rendell (father/husband). Wizard’s First Rule: Class, do not move to a town named Lovecraft. Never. You are better off living in a refrigerator box in the middle of the Serengeti. (Have you read what Lovecraft wrote? Creepy. Brilliant, but you’ll be sleeping with the lights on for days.) Probably not the best place to raise a family. Which leads us to…

…There are some mysterious goings-on at this house, and they seem to feed people’s weaknesses. Depression? Doubled. Feelings of uselessness? Tripled. Weakness for alcohol? Quintupled. Even scarier? Something in the house wants Bode. Badly. You see, Bode can find keys that open special doors–some that lead to incredible places; some that do horrible things. These keys seem to find Bode. It’s like they need him. And something horrible–something that may or may not have had a reason for wanting Bode’s father dead–wants to use Bode to master all the keys.

How did I miss out on this for so long?

An Eye on Health Care (or: Thank goodness for good nurses)

My apologies for being lax in my blog again. That laxity leads directly into today’s blog.

Friday, my grandfather was admitted to a hospital in Florida. His symptoms: severe chest pains that radiated into his left arm, nausea, light-headedness, and shortness of breath. These are the classic symptoms of heart attacks in men. (The symptoms for women can be quite different. Both men and women can also experience extreme fatigue over several days or weeks.) My grandfather is 75 years old. He has an incredible constitution. However, he also has a history of diabetes and frequent bronchitis and pneumonia. He smoked for decades, though he has not smoked in more than twenty years. When he arrived at the hospital, the first responders administered nitroglycerin which eliminated the chest pains.

All of the above should have fast-tracked him into serious care. But no. My grandfather, and therefore my grandmother, mom, uncles, and aunts, have all been trapped in clinical limbo. After running a battery of tests on my grandfather, the doctors failed to call in a cardiologist to examine him. The only cardiologist native to that hospital was away for the weekend. (Yes, doctors need vacation, too, but you’d think the hospital would have more than one cardiac specialist on duty.) The cardiologist on-call (from many miles to the south) didn’t arrive to see my grandfather until 5 o’clock Saturday evening. That’s almost 36 hours after he was admitted.

My granddad is all hooked up to all kinds of monitors and such, so it’s not as though they’ve shunted him off to some closet somewhere, but many of the doctors seem to be just too busy to care for him. And they lose his test results. Now, he has to wait until Monday to see the hospital’s cardiologist to see whether they’ll give him a stress test (designed to push his body to the verge of a heart attack; which seems like an absolutely TERRIBLE idea), or perform a catheterization. The on-call cardiologist who visited my grandfather yesterday recommended a catheterization immediately, but because of the way the hospitals and insurance are set up, she can’t actually do anything. She can only make recommendations.

It’s a miracle anyone even called her. Whoever read my grandfather’s myriad test results got stuck looking at his lung -xrays and decided that they needed a pulmonary specialist. My grandfather does have a history of bronchitis and lung ailments, but that was not the main issue. The main issue was the probable heart problem that got him admitted in the first place. If my grandfather’s nurses hadn’t noticed that no cardiologist had been contacted, Granddad might still be waiting to be seen. …Except that my family has never been known for being quiet, bless them. They would have made some kind of fuss, that’s certain.

Happily, the nurses providing care are brilliant, hard-working, and adept at finding the proper help whenever necessary, no matter whether they might get in trouble for stepping on toes. The nurses explain all the charts and all the equipment. They have been keeping my grandfather–and my grandmother who has been there with him almost the whole time, and their children–as comfortable as one can be while sitting in a hospital, awaiting answers.

Nurses–good ones–provide hope.

Video Games and Me

I’m a writer. That’s what I do. And I am a concierge-style personal trainer.

So why am I spending so much free time running around a virtual world?

Because Pandora is like crack, that’s why. (Or at least what I understand crack to be like. Having never tried any, I can only guess how addictive it truly is. I hope I never have to learn. There are too many people in my city who are fighting that kind of addiction.)

Anyway, I started playing Borderlands when my husband bought it a few months ago. Yes, I know it’s been out for years. I never claimed to be entirely hip. If I tried, that would be a dirty, dirty lie. One of his best friends recommended it to him, and we lucked into a Game of the Year edition (with the four expansion packs–yippee!) for about $17. Depending on the day, I consider it money WELL spent, or the worst investment ever.

I play as a Siren–physically weak, but with a Phasewalk capability that regenerates health and deals massive damage to massive enemies. Awesome. I have probably sunk 40+ hours into this game, and I am not done. I don’t think I ever want to be done. The game is immersive, the NPCs are fun, the dialogue is hilarious. The game is cell-shaded, the way the Sly Cooper games are, and it is beautiful. Cell-shading makes this nearly lawless, renegade, backwards planet absolutely breathtaking. The sets are made up of cast-offs: both material junk and cast-off people who wouldn’t be allowed on any other planet. Imagine the TV show, Firefly. Now imagine the band of renegades without the benefit of the preacher man.

Awesome.

And that is where my time gets sunk. Maybe I need to install one of the digital nanny things on my PS3…