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Of Apples And Dinosaur Ambition

book_logoI’m this close (*presses finger and thumb together*) to finishing this pass of revisions on Project Hermey and shipping it off to interested beta readers who have been ridiculously patient with all the extra time it’s taken me. Huzzah! for that! But, it means I’ve got very little time to post today.

I had leaving you all with nothing but excuses, though.

Instead, allow me to demonstrate one of the many unexpected benefits of having children around the house.  Sometimes, the kids will leave things laying around in places they don’t belong. Of course, more often than not, the practice means you’ll blowing steam out of your ears when you reach into the drawer for a serving spoon and come out with an uncapped glue stick. Every now and again, though, something a lot more entertaining than irritating happens. I’ll find something out of place, and my brain will, unbidden, concoct a caption or a story line to go with it.

I call this Unintended Domestic Toy Theater.

Last night, I found a lonely dinosaur in the kitchen long after all the kids had gone to sleep. The accompanying tale that popped into my brain demanded I get a picture so I could give you this installment of Unintended Domestic Toy Theater, a classic tale of hunger, misguided ambition, and disproportionately large fruit.

The others assumed that Manny the spinosaurus was just lazy because he always refused to join in the hunt. But he had ambitions they could never fathom. Anyone could go out and chase down a few gallimimus, but they would tremble before him when he mastered the Apples of Destiny!

Have a great Tuesday, or whatever day this happens to be for you!

And remember, an apple a day keeps spinosaurus away.

Pud’n

A Haiku For Well-Salted Winter Roads

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A white, snowy world
Roads of gray and slush
Washer fluid would be nice

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Snowy Days And Shovels

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Mother Nature must have heard me when I vowed I wasn’t going to spend all winter complaining about, well, winter. Because it sure seems like she’s given some of us a bit of respite this season all the way around. Sure, we’ve had a cold spell or two, but for the most part we haven’t been subjected to the kind of soul-crushing, spirit-draining, snow-days-beyond-count incarceration that made 2014 extra memorable.

You know, memorable the same way breaking your arm falling off the monkey bars in 3rd grade was memorable.

By that token, this year has been far less memorable, which has been fine with me. Because, really, snow is mostly only delightful during the holidays. Well, assuming you’re not a student or working in education. For this of us that aren’t either of those, yet still have to go someplace every day to make our hunk o’ bacon, snow is decidedly less “glittery unicorn Funtimes”.

So we’ve been lucky so far. But nothing good stays that way forever. Mother Nature wasn’t about to spend all winter away from us this year, off in Florida with the snowbirds, sipping piña coladas and playing shuffleboard. Nope, she came home today, and brought us a Texas-sized bucketful of snow to dump on us.

Clearly, then, I had to take a picture of the fluffy white stuff in the front yard. Well, or half of it anyway. A bunch more fell after I snapped that picture.

That said, I’ll be keeping my vow. At least for today. For now, I’m not going to go all Captain Icerage or chase anyone through the hedge maze with an ax. Instead, I’ll leave you with this one happy thought: yes, it might get a little scary when your kids start to grow up in pre-teendom and spend their days at a terrifying place called Middle School, but on snowy winter days, it’s awfully nice to have a few extra pairs of hands to help shoveling the driveway.

Which is how my driveway came to be mostly clear right now, and yet my back isn’t twisted up like a decaying swamp tree. The looming teen years might try both my patience and my grocery budget, but tonight I’m definitely not complaining that my two oldest sons are getting almost as tall as me.

Because that makes them quite tall enough to handle a snow shovel.

Pud’n

A Movie In 100, Err, 200 Words Or Less: John Wick

john_wick_ver3I don’t remember exactly when it was last week when I watched John Wick. It might have been Wednesday night, possibly Thursday, or maybe even during those sacred few hours after Friday ends and before Saturday truly begins, when a middle aged guy can enjoy a pint or two of IPA in a dark room while reclining before 40+ inches of glowing, high definition wonder. It was probably then, but the when here isn’t important.  What is important is that instead of continuing to my methodical near-nightly Netflix campaign through the whole of Parks and Recreation (yes, I’m watching it from the beginning), I decided to watch a movie.

And John Wick had just last week been released for streaming rental.

Perhaps it was coincidence.  I’m choosing to believe otherwise.

John Wick

John Wick isn’t a perfect movie. There are a few that defy reason, even in a movie where the suspension of disbelief is achieved so easily. But whatever its faults, I feel they’re but tiny criticism of a movie that was overall very well done. It’s not an original concept, to be sure: assassin is wronged and vows revenge, even though it requires dismantling an entire criminal enterprise. This movie, though, is a textbook example of how the presentation of a story matters almost as much as the story itself. The movie begins exactly at the moment necessary to tell it, rather than dumping backstory on us with immediate flashbacks or exposition. No, in John Wick, we start with only what we need: a vulnerable, deeply hurt protagonist. Doing so breeds sympathy for someone who easily could have been an anti-hero at best, or an unsympathetic character at worst. And that makes watching his almost bezerker-like charge for vengeance that much more compelling. Oh, and the action? Yeah, that’s pretty solid too. All things considered, this might be my favorite Keanu Reeves in a long time. In fact, I sort of forgot it was him for awhile. And if that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what else to add.

So if you happen to find yourself in possession of a couple of sacred hours , or it’s just Tuesday and you feel like an action thriller, I definitely recommend John Wick.

Pud’n

A Limerick For The Revision Quicksand In Chapter 30

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The latest of my books is called Hermey.
While revising, I’m mired in Chapter 30.
With great fury, I’m rewriting,
But the words, they are fighting!
If I don’t fix 30 soon, I’ll go loony!

The Saturday Afternoon View From My Porch

So here’s what I’m looking at right now.

At nearly 50 degrees this afternoon, I thought it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend a little time on my back porch, revising Project Hermey under an unseasonably crystal blue February sky. The Attitude agreed, at least about it being ridonkulously nice for the second month of the year. He opted for the swings, instead of work, though, and I dare say we can’t fault him for that decision.

Whatever your Saturday afternoon brings, I hope it consists of at least some of this:

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…and no so much of the white, icy stuff that’s  piled up over your mailbox.

Have a great weekend!

Pud’n

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Because I Don’t Have Time For No Flu

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We’ve been barely skating along at la Casa de Puddin this week.  To the horror of all of us, the Puddinette was beset by some rotten form of the dastardly influenza on Monday, and has been clinging to her last remaining shreds of humanity from our bedroom since. As you can imagine, leaving me in charge of keeping the household headed in something even remotely like the right direction while she’s been off her feet has been a dicey business at best. Let’s be honest, putting yours truly in charge of most things is like handing a can of gasoline and a box of matches to an adolescent nicknamed “Blaze”.

Thanks in part to the careful application of ibuprofen and her own stubborn refusal to let the family we’ve built together crumble into something more terrifying than Celebrity Apprentice, I’ve gotten enough guidance to keep it all mostly together and functioning. So far, so good. Even better, she’s thankfully started to seem like the most miserable parts of the illness are behind her.

So that’s pretty awesome.

Awesome except that…last night, before stumbling to bed, I realized I felt off. Admittedly, for me, that this isn’t saying much. Being somewhat “off” is generally consider one of my more notable and valuable characteristics. But it wasn’t a fun, wacky off I felt last night, it was, “Oy, I’m hella tired and feel weaker than a 3 hour-old spotted tadpole” kind of off.

You know, that dreaded haziness you get 24 hours before you slide deep into the grip of flu-inspired fever dreams about a Tyrannosaurus-like Da-Vinci flying the Wright Brothers’ plane from Kitty Hawk, NC, through outer space, past the asteroids, and ultimately to a new dinosaur art colony on Jupiter, never mind that the whole planet is basically a gigantic ball of gas.

Well, I’ve got a life to lead here and I don’t have half a week to give to the chilled sweat dreams. So I took to the offensive and instead spent the day praying to any higher power within earshot for my flu shot to block the microbial assault over Battleground Puddin. Figuring, though, that I had a better chance with a more active plan (aka, one less dependent on hopes, wishes, and nameless deities), I also began the regular application of what you see above.

At the moment, I am happy to report the today’s Zicam and Orange Juice Blockade seems to have largely had the desired effect. I’m not feeling “off” any more, and that’s gloriously delightful because the last thing I need is to go all weekend wondering when maybe, if I were lucky, I might not be repulsed at the concept of a few spoonfuls of chicken soup.

The weekend is coming, dammit. With a little luck, I’ll be up to taking advantage of it.

Because the weekend, see, is cookie time.

And I’m not letting anything get in they way of cookie time.

I recommend you do the same.

Pud’n

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A Haiku For The Baffling Devotion To Girl Scout Cookies

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Each year Girl Scouts rule.
O’er a Thin Mint reign
I’ll take nice chocolate chips, thanks

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Five Things For The Monday After

I would be remiss in not mentioning that the After in question above is clearly a reference to yesterday’s Super Bowl, which is arguably the single biggest TV-watching holiday on the American calendar.  Honestly, I think someone should probably just have the NFL file as a religious organization so we can recognize Super Bowl Sunday as a religious holiday and be done with it. Based on the lack of traffic I encountered on the way to work today, it seems like plenty enough people were staying home in observance of Hangover Monday anyway.

But, the Church of the National Football League isn’t the only thing I wanted to mention on today’s Five Things For Monday list.

  1. If you watched the game or commercials or basically have been paying any attention to the post Super Bowl media, I don’t have anything new to tell you.  The Patriots won, but more because the Seahawks lost the game for them than anything else. Pete Carroll and the Seattle offensive coaching staff seemed to have forgotten that you have to Have the Lead before you worry about Giving the Other Guys a chance. With 30 seconds left and down by a score requiring a touchdown, there’s no such thing as a “throwaway play”.  Well, unless the play you’re planning hoping to execute is intended to throw away the game. In which case, Achievement: Unlocked!
  2. Dear advertisers, don’t make commercials about dead kids unless you’re advertising a zombie TV show. Especially, you, Insurance Company I Won’t Name Because You Should Have Known Better, seriously, there are a ridiculous number of ways you could have gotten your point across without making the entire US football-watching and nacho-eating public go, “Maaaaaaaan, buzz kill, dude.” In fact, Ad Companies, listen carefully to my advice here: I might buy your stuff someday if you make me chuckle. I will not buy your stuff if you go fear mongering to the year’s largest TV-watching audience. PS: I think you’ll find today’s helicopter-trained parents are more than capable of finding plenty of things (usually more made-up than real) to be terrified about with regard to their children. They don’t need any more help.
  3. Good for AB Inbev for making a Budweiser ad that tries to unapologetically sell beer to the people that like their beer. That’s a much better idea than trying to convince craft beer drinkers you can make Bud styles that are maybe, kind of, sort of, craft-ish? (I’m looking at you, Bud Black Crown) But, uh, next time you wanna beat your chest and go “Yeah! Bud! Beer me, dudebro!” maybe consider not mocking the other brands in your multinational conglomerate beer portfolio?
  4. I have a headache today. No, it’s not because it’s Hangover Monday. It’s because I drink 500% more caffeine during weekdays than on the weekend and every Monday my brain has to send me a reminder that it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, stupid idea. But every Monday, I figure, screw my brain, what does it know anyway? Then I order 800 ounces of espresso.
  5. This morning, at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meetings in Chicago, the 2015 Youth Media Awards were announced, including the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, the Coretta Scott King Awards, and, yes, the Caldecott and Newbery Medals. I’m 110% certain that this presentation is a eleventy billion percent more important than any of the nonsense I wrote in items 1-4 regarding yesterday’s football game. So here’s a link to today’s ALA Youth Media awards, where you can watch the entire awesome presentation while simultaneously making a list of books to read and/or maybe suggest to whatever kids touch in your life in 2015.

Seems like a better idea, at the very least, than That Bastard Insurance Company’s plan of Convincing You To Worry About The Inescapable Death Coming At Children From Every Direction.

Meet you at the library.

Well, as soon as I get some ibuprofen.

And maybe some more espresso.

Pud’n

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Five Years Later, What Am I Even Doing Anymore? Well, Besides Cookies

Yes, contrary to what you’re probably thinking, I am aware of the elephant in the room. In fact, I’d say this tweet of mine from yesterday fairly well points out that elephant, paints it pink, calls it smelly, and nicknames it “Priscilla”:

Of course, complaining about it doesn’t change a damn thing. Case in point, later that same day, I was busy posting to Instagram about getting’ mah double chocolate on. But nary a blog post in sight. An Instagram, sure, but certainly not a blog post.

The point is, let’s be honest, I have posted more about baked goods in the past month probably than ever before in the history of the interwebs. Like, going all the way back to the dark times of 1993 when you had to be a pocket-protector-sporting Nerd-with-a-much-deserved-capital-N to have access to websites. And most of the websites were either glittery text or pictures of naked people from the Netherlands.

I mean, the website of naked people were from the Netherlands. I was never sure of the country of origin of the naked people themselves. It wasn’t, um, apparent.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t all naked people on Dutch websites and maybe I’m not posting baking posts quite that much, but it’s definitely been Bake-r-rama around here since November.  And considering that my PPW (Posts Per Week) stat is down to some miniscule value that I’d need a supercomputer, a team of mathematicians, and some irrational numbers with funky symbols to accurately define, I’m pretty sure that means my Cookies Per Post stat is through the roof.

I mean, really’? Cookies? Baked goods? Is that all I’ve got?

Admittedly, there’s surely nothing wrong with baked goods, per se. Hell, everybody who’s not a worshipper of the Fell Demonic Goat People enjoys a tasty baked thing from time to time. But I started this blog with the intent of writing about stuff that was on my mind, to practice for writing books that might someday end up on a shelf. Whatever happened to be on my mind at that moment of writing ended up in the posts, then, regardless of whether it was a genuinely thought about being a parent, or 473 rambling words about why Q-Tips are better than the store brands of…well, whatever you call Q-Tips and aren’t Q-Tips.

Wait, are they swabs, maybe? I dunno. If you ask me, “swabs” is a hundred times worse than moist. It’s way up there with “boner” in the pantheon of awful words. Which is why, no matter what brand goes in my ear, it’s a “Q-Tip” and not a swab.

Ahem. Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that I haven’t been posting posts in my post-posting space lately because of a weird subject/entertainment paralysis. See, I’ve attracted a few followers over the last five years, and there are enough people subscribed to Puddintopia on this day in 2015 that I honestly find myself fretting that I should try and write something worthy of your attention. And because I’m never sure what topic I think might be enertaining, I end up not writing anything at all.  Instead, I just stick to editing Project Hermey, or whatever book I’m working on instead.

But that’s as back-assward, if you’ll pardon the expression, as having a one-eyed parrot wearing a pirate.

So we’re getting back to basics around here. No more “topics” unless something happens naturally. Posts for the rest of 2015 are going to be streams of consciousness, pulling in whatever flotsam happened to be bouncing around in my noggin at that moment, no matter how ridiculous, poorly informed,  or random.  If I end up ranting about revising a book for 2 consecutive weeks because that’s all I’ve got on my mind, well, then, that’s what I’m going do.

My hope is that you’ll hop aboard a kayak with me, ready to brave the rapids of my daily thoughts.  If you choose not to, I’ll understand completely. Some people really prefer blogs that actually have a point, and the last thing I want to do is suggest I’ll always have one.  Likewise, I can’t promise whatever’s on my mind will be immediately illuminating.

But I do hope it mostly be entertaining.

Grab your Q-Tips, then, boys and girls, because I’m getting the band back together. It’s time to revisit the old playground and see what pops up along another 120,000 word-long adventure to nowhere.

What got me thinking about all this—besides being sick of looking at the same picture of the cookies from my most recent post, two embarrassing weeks ago—is that on this day, five years in the past, way back in 2010, I decided to take the first step of an adventure. It was the start of my long delayed life’s journey to find out if I could be a real writer or not.

Since then, I’ve written a ridiculous volume of words (well over a million), including not quite a thousand blogs posts (this one makes 998, to be precise) and six (!) novels. I’ve survived the query trenches and signed with a real, honest-to-the-ancients literary agent who believes in my voice and work and fights every day to get my words bound, printed, and put on shelves.  I’ve connected with more great writers than I’d have ever thought possible, a tribe with whom I feel a belonging I’ve seldom felt before.

And above and beyond all of that, I’ve worked day after day after day at the craft of making words, so that I’m confident enough to say that today, this day, I can make the best words I’ve ever made in my life.

But that’s not enough, just know that. I will keep working, too, because tomorrow’s words can always be an improvement upon today’s, and I will—not, I must—strive to make sure that they are.

After five pretty awesome years, I see that the post about the cookies put me at  crossroads I didn’t, until just this moment, understand I had reached. But now, seeing it, I see to only way across is to keep moving forward. No turning. No change of course. No veering to see if that turn might be the wrong left to make at Albuquerque. I want five more years and thousands of more readers.

From now on, then, while I might still make plenty of cookies—and I’ll certainly Instagram every last one that comes out of my oven—the only thing piping hot and aromatic around here will be blogs posts, not baked goods.

And you can take from that whatever understand you’d like.

Thank you for five years of rambling and nonsense, puddintopians.  I hope I’ve managed to give you a chuckle from time to time, and I hope even more that you’re looking forward, like me, to five more years of wondering what’s going to come out of my head.

Now get out there and have a great weekend…and try not to set the place on fire.

Pud’n

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