Tag-- Er, I'm It!

One of my writer friends, Whitney of the Write in Life blog, tagged me with something called "the 777 Challenge." This is a game where instead of pegging me with a dusty eraser in the head, as one does in an effective tag if I recall properly (I might not recall properly due to eraser/head impact), Whitney asked me to complete a feat of blogly derring-do...

A little like Festivus' feats of strength, really, but with sentences.

The task is to post seven sentences from my latest work in progress from either the seventh or 77 page of the book. And then tag seven other authors to do the same.

"Easy," you say. "Who can't type in a few sentences from something you've already written?" But see, usually I don't let people look, touch or even breathe on stuff I have in first draft form.

I mean, first draft work is so bad that even I don't really want to have to look at it. Only I do. Because, well, much like the dishes in my sink, no one will get it done for me. Also like crusty dishes, I feel it stinks more when I expose a first draft to air. Usually things have to have a good fifth draft or so before they're all all scrubbed and shiny enough to meet a friend or two.

So, I want it noted that I will probably be having heart palpitations about this, sending seven stinking crap, unedited first draft sentences out into the world to fight their own battles when they are so young and weak and smelly.

But because Whitney asked-- and also because I haven't posted in a while and have been feeling guilty-- here goes. This is from page seven of the second There Goes the Galaxy book I've been working diligently on, called The Purloined Number.

"So you know what this means, don't you?" mused the eldest being. "This means this isn't just any Protostar 340-K. This is Captain What's-His-Name's--" 
"Rolliam Tsmorlood," input Strah. 
"--Rolliam Tsmorlood's Protostar 340-K. This isn't just one of the worst ships ever made in the Greater Communicating Universe. This is a pivotal entertainment prop once owned by an historic Underworld figure who was exiled to Altair-5 for his crimes, and likely is at the bottom of a tarpit by now."

Phew! That hurt a little. And I hope you had your gasmasks on.

Okay, now, the second part of this mighty challenge is to tag seven other writers and task them to do the same thing. But, see, the thing is, most people I know really hate being tagged.

So here's the deal-- if the challenge seems fun to you and you're working on a writing project, I say-- feel free to tag yourself. This is like a blank check for tagging. Tag away.

I have no fulfilled my part of of the tag challenge. I'm going to go have a cold compress and lie down.

Oh, and if you're curious about There Goes the Galaxy, my thoroughly-edited book that does not make me nauseous or fearful to share, it's available in paperback and Kindle version here on Amazon, and for Nook here.

Sorry, Dolly-- 9 to 5 Star Wars Parody Spoof from Stormtrooper Perspective

Someone on G+ had posted the graphic above, and it got me feeling musical all over. So I couldn't help but try my hand at the song this image so desperately wanted to be paired with.

Please do not crush my trachea with your mind because of it. I need my trachea. It's been so good to me.

Tumble out of bed and you stumble to Cantina
Get yourself a bowl of farina and--
Look, it's laser fire!-- you'd better dive!
Jump in formation and your blood starts pumping
Darth looks your way and your heart starts jumping
When Friday comes you hope you're still alive...

Hope you're still alive
What a way to earn some space cash
Barely getting by
When there's not much rebel backlash
Want to march ahead
But ol' Darth won't recognize you
Dressed in uniform like all the guys do...

Well, you'd try lead but your neck might shatter
You're just one point in the Dark Side's data
But you've got schemes; those droids can't get away
You're in the same troop as a lot of your friends
Just a-waiting for an escape pod to retirement
But the tractor beam's on and it's all gonna tow you away

Hope you're still alive
What a way to earn some space cash
Barely getting by
When there's not much rebel backlash
Want to march ahead
But ol' Darth won't recognize you
Dressed in uniform like all the guys do...

The Hoveround as Commuter Vehicle

I'd written about this once before as a joke (in "Is there a way to speed up my Hoveround Powerchair?") where a speed-crazed grandmother soups-up her powerchair and hits the motorways with the zealousness of a NASCAR winner.

But yesterday, in five o'clock rush hour traffic, I saw my post come to life. Yes, across Pittsburgh's busy East Carson Street, a white-haired lady in a high-powered electrified chair went off-sidewalk and out-of-the-box with determination and a dream, careening down our chaotic streets like Dale Earnhardt Junior himself was hot on her tires.

I was stopped at the light, so I got to see her make a lane for herself on a two-way street, navigating through several major intersections, startling motorists stopped at lights, who undoubtedly looked over to see an elderly lady's head even with their passenger window and levitating on by...

The sidewalks have just been replaced through this area and there are shiny new sloped curbs, made for just these sorts of assisting devices. But the lure of hitting the mean streets and reliving one's racing days must just be too much to resist.

How can you say no to the smell of the asphalt, the clouds of exhaust, and the wind through your hair when you have such power right there beneath you?

So, to this undaunted driver I say, please-- stay safe out there, lady. And hey-- get a helmet, would you? (Because I'd kinda like photos of that, too.) :)

How to Write a Thriller Movie Title

I've been digging into Netflix's thriller archives lately, and I've almost caught myself renting the same movie twice because the names are all so similar.

Which got me thinking, there's a formula to choosing an appropriate title for a thriller movie. Here's my idea:

Choose any single noun but make sure it's vague. These words seem to fall into a few categories...

Architectural. Choose a location that's in the house, a part of the house, an item in the house, or the house itself. But make sure it's only one word.  (You can use "the" if you absolutely must.) Have fun with it! Here are some off the top of my head:
  • The Corner
  • Gutter
  • The Eaves
  • Playroom
  • Hamper
  • Cupboard
  • Icebox
Notice how menacing simple things like a playroom or hamper can be when it's only one chilling word? It makes you think:
  • What happened in the playroom that whispers of secrets and creepy toys that aren't even Tickle-Me Elmo? 
  • Does the stench of death surrounding the hamper include more than just your husband's balled up socks from his IM baseball team?
Now try it with multiple words in the same genre, and you'll find you give away too much. You want to leave something to the imagination. So you can't do things like:
  • Time-Out Chair
  • Lumpy Sofa
  • Streaky Windows
  • Gunky Fridge
  • Attic of Too Many House Centipedes.
Actually, I take that back. Attic of Too Many House Centipedes is friggin' scary. Have you seen those things? They're like two-inch long Amtrak trains on a roundtrip schedule to scare the crap out of you. They keep cornering me in my bathroom.
In fact, now I think about it, I can't believe no one's used house centipedes as the main feature in a major horror flick. Freddy and Jason versus Centipedo. I wouldn't sleep for days. 

Neither would Freddie. (He can dish it out, but he can't take it.)

But I digress. Aside from selecting a one-word, centipede-free architectural element, you also can go with a -tion word. Try words like:
  • Distraction
  • Potion
  • Elevation
  • Intention
  • Dentition
(Come on, dentition can be scary! Would Steve Buscemi be the same after braces? Do you not feel a chill run down your spine when Gary Busey smiles?) 

You can also choose a title that's directional:
  • Fallen
  • Risen
  • The Plummet
  • Reverse
  • Mirror
  • Above
  • Follow
  • After
  • Skid
  • Fishtail
And you seem to be allowed to break the one-word rule as long as you include time and/or a number:
  • Two Minutes to Die
  • Five Days and Three Hours
  • 40 Miles Per Hour
  • Six Feet
  • 27 Toes
(Well, okay, 27 Toes might have to be about a girl in a '30s carnival freak show, but I still think it could work.)

So, tell me, using the system above, what's your new thriller movie title? Just whatever comes to mind, please. :)

Father's Day Gift Ideas for Darth Vader

"Dear Dad- This Father's Day, I want to take a moment to say that even though you tried to kill me,
and convert me to the Dark Side, and you blew up my sister's home planet..."

What do you get the Dark Lord who has everything? How can a Sith celebrate Father's Day in out-of-this-world style?

At Of Cabbages and Kings, we want to make it easy for you to give Dear Old Darthly Dad the gift that won't get anyone's feelings--or tracheas--crushed.

Consider these can't-miss gift ideas:

  • Tickets to a Dark Side (of the Moon) laser light show
  • A gift certificate to Sacks Sith Avenue, for the latest in designer black cloak fashion and robot hands
  • New minions. Order 'em by the case, because you know he'll go through them.
  • Palpatine Mist, asthma treatment, in bulk. (It shows you care.)
  • A subscription to Evil Overlord Illustrated
  • George Foreman's new Bantha Barbeque Grill-- fun and heart-healthy! (Unless you're the bantha.)
  • Lightning protective gear
  • A crocheted lightsaber cozy with "Dad" embroidered on it
  • A box set of the long-running program, Space's Funniest Jedi Mind Tricks

And of course, the number one thing you can get your favorite Dark Lord for Father's Day is...

  • The droids he's looking for

Thank you, we'll be here all week folks. Enjoy the bantha steak!

Warning: Mad Beeper is Loose

My normally-pasty face flushed the kind of rich red that tomatoes want in a hot summer fashion. A buzzer sounded with nasty, tattle-tale glee.

The store worker rushed over to confront the issue. Soon a puzzled frown creased his brow, as logic set in. Wasn't I entering, not leaving? People didn't shoplift before they came into a store, did they?

And as he stood, lips trying to mold the right question, I explained. Explained the way I had at Kohls.

And at Target.

And at Barnes and Noble.

(It was a busy day.)

I explained that I am The Mad Beeper. And (regrettably) I cannot be stopped.

See, this is my accessory to disruption. Or rather, something in it is, since my mysterious Beeptasticness has followed me through two entirely separate handbags.

Oh, I have turned this particular handbag inside out like a frog in seventh grade biology. I have examined its guts. I now know its polyester and vinyl soul.

I have brought in an elite team of trained security tag sniffing animals. (Okay, my cat Alice, but she's very thorough.)

And as far as I can tell, there is no special sensor lurking as a part of this bag.

Which means, I have stowaway object, plotting my perpetual, so public embarrassment. I just haven't pinned down the perp yet.

I look accusingly at my lipstick, and it pouts at the injustice.

I eye the remote control to the gate of my office, but it remains unmoved.

I try to push my cell phone's buttons, in hopes of a confession, but it drops my signals.

Somewhere, within the satin blend lining of Kathy VanZeeland pastel snickers the source of my continued humiliation. And I will find it.

Oh, I will root it out.

Until then, I can only ask that my innocent appearance continue to serve me well... that any frisking be fleeting... and if not, that the security guards be mightily cute.

Cat Alarm Operational Instructions

Congratulations on your purchase of this finely crafted Cat Alarm, (10 pound, shorthaired white van model). We hope you will enjoy its exquisite functionality and streamlined style.

Your Cat Alarm will go off each day-- no need to set it; it is entirely self-setting.

Upon going off, the alarm will subsequently need to recharge using meat-based Kibble(tm) charging dock. (Sold separately)

You may expect your Cat Alarm to operate according to the following preset phases, assuring a timely wakeup each day, possibly several hours before you even need to rise:

  1. Gentle purring motor and Nuzzle(tm) motion 
  2. Level two Headbutt(tm) technology 
  3. Runaway locomotive racing action 
  4. Close proximity "purr blast" capabilities 
  5. Snuggle on-head wake-up features 
  6. Single claw to the cranium final phase mode 

We hope you and your handcrafted Cat Alarm will enjoy many years of efficient wake-up calls.

With Apologies to Edgar Allen Poe

The Sabre

Once upon a driveway weedy
Narrow, hilly, grass gone seedy
Sat neglected in the queue o'er many an indoor chore
Came a neighbor's Buick Sabre
Parked in haste and without labor
Parked across my driveway, right across my driveway's weedy floor
"Crikey! K-turns are a bore!"

But leaving, I did do that K-turn
Thinking that the lady'd learn,
Would at some point begin to learn
Just what the yellow curb is for
But then that evening and another
The same red Sabre, this same mother
(Of two children), she went blocking
Blocking my car's exit door
"Look-- at least two feet or more!"

So I began some heavy plotting
And quite soon I started jotting
Down a note, reminders gentle, courtesy I would implore
But as I wrote, the Rage said, "See here:
You've lived in this spot for years.
She's often seen you parking, parking up this driveway's weedy floor
It's a fact she just ignores."
And here my kindly note, I tore.

But funny thing, as I was leaving
This next day, and still quite seething
At the lack of care for others shown in this one woman's moor
On the side of the red Sabre, SOMEONE ELSE felt need to labor
Keying down the starboard side like nothing I had seen before.
Seems I was only one upon her blind and blustery tour.
Quoth Lady Karma,"I keep score."

Car's Stick Figure People Exterminated Through Dalek Invasion

Not a molecule of that stick figure family left!

This was a photo I took this morning driving into work. I think I made the driver a little paranoid as he/she looked in the rearview, but paranoia is the price one must pay when your car flair is entertaining and Doctor Who-centric.

I've Been a Bad, Bad Blogger...

My e-silence has been deafening. And the bony fingers of Mother Guilt have been clutching at my shoulder, poking me to action. She rasps in my ear, "It has been a month, and you have blogged of neither cabbages nor kings." Her breath smells of old burnt coffee and cigarettes, which is probably why her voice  sounds so much like Harvey Fierstein's.

I try to explain, I've been pulled in a number of different directions lately. Some of them good, like trying to promote my book while writing the next one. And some of them not-so-Cabbage-worthy. Like trying to wrap up my Dad's estate, a place from which humor posts do not easily come unless you enjoy laughing at a woman who wakes up at 2am freaking out that she forgot to submit some paperwork on the paperwork.

I am hanging in there. I am clinging on.

But Mother Guilt says to stop making excuses, my lack of productivity has forced her to come all this way, she's not getting any younger, and if I cared at all, I would get my posterior in gearior and write a damn blog post.

Mother Guilt is a taskmaster.

So I explain to her how I thought I was on the cusp of a post idea the other day. See, I keep getting these spam emails that make me wonder how many times they've been used as evidence in divorce court.

They're usually from a name like "Amber" or "Tracy" and they begin with "Hey, babe-- how come you don't answer my texts anymore?" They go on to tell an elaborate tale of how I, apparently, blocked this chick on Facebook, but we used to do a lot of flirting and now she's single again and going to be moving to my town, and she doesn't know anyone else here, and she would like to pick up where we left off.

My being neither male nor gay, I didn't find myself scouring my memories for some one-night-stand named Amber. But I keep thinking if I were a not-so-web-savvy wife and I noticed this in my husband's email box, I might have a pang of concern. And a print-out for the poor dude when he'd come home.

Mother Guilt took a drag of her cigarette over this and said this wasn't enough for an actually funny blog post; it had no real resolution or any exaggeration potential for true comedic value, and I agreed. It's good to agree with Mother Guilt now and then; the element of surprise gets her off my back for a minute or two.

So Ma Mere Guilt is apparently still ruminating about where to apply the bony finger of shame next. That's why I thought I'd intercept her and let you all know I'm alive and haven't forgotten about you, that I've just been stretched as thin as filo dough on a Greek grandmother's kitchen table.

The Greek grandmother is probably pretty good with the guilt, too. But at least with her, there would be flaky, flaky pastry.

Question of the day: so have any of you gotten these very personal-seeming spam emails from Ambers and Tracys?

Lost Braincells and Alien Abductee Tweeting

"So, what have you been doing lately?" you ask, since I obviously have been highly blog-negligent. "Well," I respond, "a mix of tasks that are entirely too boring for a humor blog, EXCEPT for two things. One is I've been working on the sequel to my novel There Goes the Galaxy. And the other is, I've been obsessing over a song I can't remember.

Probably more of Item B than A, too, if I were honest.

So maybe you peeps can help put me out of my misery. About 1:40 in to the Flight of the Conchords song in the video above there's this chorus of a few notes that I KNOW came from some other song. One that I think was popular in the 70s, was moody, reflective and sad (of the Cat's in the Cradle type genre) and for the life of me, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IT IS. It's been driving me nuts. I mentioned it on Facebook and while I got some great suggestions, they weren't the songs.

So I thought I'd open it up here. Remember: not the whole song. Just 1:40 in.

Amusingly, one of my Facebook folks suggested there was a phone app where you could sing notes of a song and it would give matches for it. I downloaded it immediately and sang the melody several times. As there's really nothing but "Ahhhhhhhs" by way of lyrics, I felt it didn't exceed my reach.

And according to the app the apparent close matches to the folky-sad song I am thinking must be:

Sun of Jamaica, by the Goombay Dance Band!

Um, no.

So before I leave you folks today, I had one last little bit of news I wanted to mention. 

For those of you who have read or are reading There Goes the Galaxy, you might be interested in knowing the tale's leading man, Bertram Ludlow, seems to have opened himself a Twitter account and is trying to help us people of Earth. It appears he's giving advice on what to do in case of alien abduction and how to succeed in the Greater Communicating Universe. You can Follow him at: https://twitter.com/#!/BertramLudlow

You never know when you might need tips like that. In fact, now I wonder if the reason I can't identify this friggin' song is because of some missing memories due to alien abduction?

Have a great weekend, folks!