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.


A Limerick For The Revision Quicksand In Chapter 30

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:


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

Have a great weekend!


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Because I Don’t Have Time For No Flu


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.



A Haiku For The Baffling Devotion To Girl Scout Cookies

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


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.



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.



When Life Gives You Balance, Make Cookies

This week hasn’t been all sunshine and peacock glitter, I have to admit. I got some news earlier that gave me the unhappy feeling of being simultaneously shocked, mad, and hugely disappointed. It like was that thing where your stomach gets all cold and drops to your brand new argyle socks, yet you’re so mad you want to want to throw something, too. You know, like a Winnebago.

But then we got some goods news that outweighed the not-good news and my feeling of #HollowRage faded.

So…balance. That’s what I got this week, balance. And as we all know, balance means cookies!

I mean, not they’re exclusive to balance or anything. I’m pretty sure the Great Elders of the Old People in Yesterdaytimes dictated that Things such as it being Thursday, getting a Microsoft security update, the sun rising in the east, sending out a tweet, and hey-look-I’m-growing-hair-in-funny-places are all occurrences that herald the making of cookies.

Who am I to dispute the wisdom of the Elders?

So then, here’s to having your own Elders to tell you when it’s cookie time.

And just in case you don’t, I’m ready to offer suggestions.



A Haiku For Writing And Revising A Novel

Making words is hard
Sometimes, I wonder: Why not
just make beer instead?

An Open Post To The CW Executives

Dear CW Executives,

You got me. I am fully prepared to admit it and I’m don’t even feel bad.  I resisted, at first, because I’m a grown-up and have grown-up responsibilities. I have a job to work at and books and posts to write and kids to raise.  The stupid dishwasher still doesn’t empty itself after dinner every night no matter how many eyelash wishes I make, somebody (me) has to wander around my house and turn off all the unused lights because the kids (apparently) aren’t ever actually going to start doing it even if I nagged them a million times, and, well, and if I don’t make time to read every night before bed then I won’t read and that’s a life situation I’m not willing to consider.

So I really really didn’t feel like I had the time to invest in one more television show on a regular basis, superhero or otherwise.

But (you knew there was one of those coming, right?), then the Starlings aligned. At the end of last month, I took a couple of weeks off of work for the holidays and coincidentally had a novel manuscript that needed to cool a bit before I really started tearing into the revision cycle.  Which is to say, I had a few consecutives nights to myself between December 20th and January 3rd, with nothing obligating me to get up at 6:30 AM or any other dark, diety-forsaken times in the morning.

In other words, there was no requirement that I get to bed at a reasonable hour.

And if there’s one thing a nerd without any unwelcome time constraints knows how to do, its how to fit in a good dose of Netlix binge-watching.

Which is exactly what I did most every night from midnight to, oh, 3 AM, as 2014 wound to a close. And that is where you come in, CW Executives. Because you’ll be glad to hear that I devoted myself to devouring episodes of Arrow, one after another, until the wee hours night after night, when I’d find myself, holding the remote with a shaky hand, as I tried to manage the internal debate over whether or not I could squeeze in Just. One. More. Episode. before stumbling off to bed.

(Conclusion: Yes, yes I could).

I spent my holiday staycation gleefully speeding along, devouring episodes and whizzing past the daisies growing along the roadside of my feverish Arrow rampage.

Until it all came to a screeching end. No sooner than I’d watched the last episode of Season 2, I turned to the internet with an unquenchable need to catch up with the first half of Season 3 (the current one), before the show resumes with brand new episodes in two weeks.

And there, my joy turned to dust.

Because no matter where I look or how hard I search, no one, no service, anywhere—not Netflix, not Hulu, not my satellite provider, not your own online CW app, or even Schecky, the unsavory-looking half-elf who lives behind my chimney and records the neighborhood goings-on—offers a way to watch the first episodes of Season 3.  Sure, sure, I can watch the most recent 5 episodes, but that leaves 5 full episodes between where I am in continuity and where I can pick up.  I daresay something in those 5 missing episodes is probably pretty important to the overall story.

Besides, you don’t just skip ahead from Chapter 20 to Chapter 25 when you’re reading a book, do you? Of course not.  Because that’d be dumb.

So why are you making it impossible for me to catch up?

Look, I don’t think you get that you’re shooting yourselves in the foot.  My intention is to watch Arrow (and The Flash, too, now that I’m aware I need to follow his adventures as well), on time, in real time, during their regular, weekly, televised primetime slots. I want to boost the shows’ ratings and (gasp!) maybe even watch your revenue-producing advertisements.

But, see, I can’t, CW Executives, because you’ve restricted what I can watch of the most recent Arrow and The Flash episodes for the current season.  Whatever your theoretical reasoning, it’s just plain wrong, and silly torture to boot. This is worse than giving a kitten a saucer of milk and a plateful of sardines and then swiping it back, half-eaten. 

This is cruel and unusual.

Positively sadistic.

So, please, CW Executives, tell me how to catch up Season 3. That is, assuming you want me to watch your network this year and all.

Which, you know, kinda seems like the whole point to me.



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