Friday, October 12, 2007

State Fair sins

I'm not proud of what I did earlier tonight. True, I enjoyed it, but I know it was bad for me, and I'll try to be better next time.

My sins? Eating my way across the midway--which, I must admit, is something I love to do.

Oh, sure, you might say, everyone has something bad for them at the Fair. How much worse could your eating be?

I'll tell you:

* footlong hot dog with cheese (whiz)
* four bites of a turkey leg
* 40-oz. (approx.) Diet Coke
* bite of a pretzel
* burger with cheese (whiz)
* bite of cheesecake on a stick
* large bowl of NC State cherry vanilla ice cream
* two sugar-coated mini-donuts

and, at the very end, to stabilize my blood sugar

* fried bologna sandwich with cheese (whiz)

I warned you. It's not a pretty sight. Right now, all I can hope is that I can drink enough water to somehow push the fat through my system before I lose too many arteries. It's a dumb hope, but it's all I have.

I'll be better next time.

Or not.

Narrow definitions

Many people seem to want to use absolutes to categorize everything and everyone. Those absolutes typically both define and exclude. Examples abound:

Definition / Exclusion
I'm a gourmand / I turn up my nose at fast food
I love action movies / I hate chick flicks
I read mysteries / I don't read SF
I'm a liberal / I'm not a conservative
I love rock & roll / I hate classical
I'm a literary writer / I don't write popular fiction

Okay, so I loaded the dice on all of these examples, because I embrace aspects of both ends of the spectrum of these and so many other categories. I've spent insane amounts of money to eat astonishing meals at some of the very best restaurants in the U.S., and I plan to do so again--but I have also cut at high speed across four lanes of I-95 to find out what hot dogs that ran two for a quarter would taste like, and I love eating the junk food at the State Fair. I read both mysteries and SF. I can quote all the key lines of the bad early Ahnuld movie, Commando, but I also quite enjoyed The Jane Austen Book Club. And on and on.

When we define ourselves or others narrowly, we're creating unreasonable and unnatural limits. We need to accept that people, including ourselves, are masses of contradictory feelings, tastes, and thoughts.

Oh, how life is the better for that fact!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Things that piss me off

People treating restaurant servers badly.

Sure, sometimes you get an abusive waiter or waitress, or a truly annoying or incompetent one, but not most of the time. Most of the time, the people serving your food are hard working, underpaid, decent people trying to do a difficult job well while frequently covering for kitchen mishaps, the fact that one of your party chose to head to the restroom just as the rest of your food was coming up, and so on.

Yet time and again, I see people yelling at their servers for problems that are not the servers' faults, talking down to servers, using cute but offensive nicknames for them, and so on.

I have no ax to grind here, by the way, nor any history; I've never waited tables. I'm sure I'd be bad at it. I've also not been perfect in this area; I've been a jerk to a server on more than one occasion--though not in a very long time.

Be pleasant to servers, tip them all--that's really practially all their income--and just be a decent human with them. You and they will be better for the effort--and I will be less pissed off.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If you have time to kill

and you don't already know about Popcap Games, you need to look them up online. They make Bookworm, a game that can suck down hours and hours of time, and other fun time-guzzlers such as Bejeweled.

I avoid Popcap like the plague, because it's so easy for me to let myself be sucked in--especially when I should be writing.

Which I will be momentarily.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Another reason Slanted Jack should be bigger than One Jump Ahead

Sure, we have all the conventional reasons, the ones Toni, my publisher, cited in contracting for each of the next three Jon & Lobo books to be at least 110,000 words (vs. One Jump Ahead's 101,000): readers appear to like thicker books, thicker books appear to sell better (related to the first), sales teams seem to like thicker books (to me, yet another aspect of the first), and so on.

Last night, though, I discovered another reason: Slanted Jack will be better for killing roaches. A huge roach, one of those Florida-style giants, was sitting in the middle of my writing office floor, taunting me. I used my plastic-bookcover-wrapped copy of One Jump Ahead, the one I take to readings, to hit it. The roach lived--though it was clearly hurt. I had to hit it a second time.

I'm betting that with Slanted Jack, that sucker will die in one hit.

Oh, yeah, for those who might come to future readings: I cleaned the active surface of the book very well before I put it back in its spot.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Why so many more people want to write than do write

I'm risking a blog theme with this and the previous two columns, but I figured I might as well reveal this dirty secret of writing while I was addressing the job.
The answer is simple: it's way cooler to have written than it is to write.

Writing is not an exciting activity to watch or, often, to do. You sit alone, you stare into space a lot, you concentrate hard, and you type or take pen to paper. Stamping labels on green bean cans might be less intellectually demanding, but it's also more active.

Having written, however, you get to show off your creation, discuss it, hope for praise (and cringe at criticism), and generally be a writer. Ooh. Aah.

As I've said before, if you can possibly not write, don't.

If you must write, however, then shut up and do it.

As I will now.


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