Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another way I get in trouble

is late-night TV shopping. For this one, I have no one to blame but myself.

See, sometime in the middle of the night, usually around 2:00 to 3:00, I typically take a break and watch one DVD episode of some TV show. That limits the break to about 44 minutes, after which I either crash with a relaxed brain or return to work a bit refreshed. (The show currently on tap is season 2 of Saving Grace.)

Before I could get TV shows on DVD, however, I would sometimes watch whatever happened to be on. Late-night shows are full of ads, many of them with toll-free numbers, and that's when my trouble begins.

One real example: An ad appears for Sports Illustrated. I wasn't subscribing to it, and it sure looked good to my middle-of-the-night brain. Still, I was resisting it, until the announcer explained that if I would call right now, and if I would sign up for just six months of SI, I would get a sneakerphone! Childhood memories of Get Smart crashed through me. I have a big house; we can always use another phone. And a sneakerphone! Come on, who could resist that?

So, I picked up the phone, called the operator, gave her my credit-card number, and, boom! I was on my way to being the proud owner of a sneakerphone.

It did arrive, by the way, and I learned a great and terrible truth about the sneakerphone: It sucks! It's a lousy phone, and it's nowhere near as much fun to hold a sneaker up against your face as you (well, I) might think.

Another example: It's 4:30 in the morning many, many years ago. I'm on a break, watching TV. An ad for Rolling Stone appears. I liked RS and had even subscribed briefly. This deal, the announcer explained, was a great one: sign up for two years, and pay only half the cover price! Good enough for me. I called, ready to pay. The operator explained that though two years was indeed a good deal, three years lowered my per-issue cost even more. Sure, I said, sign me up! Sensing a real fish, the operator led me from year to year, showing me greater and greater discounts, and each time, with increasing glee as I contemplated my growing stack of savings, I said, yes!

By the end of the call, I was the proud owner of a seven-year Rolling Stone subscription at a cost something like a dime an issue.

At least that purchase was one I used.

Don't even get me started about the pirate shirt--which I assure you made good sense at the time.

And never let me watch TV ads with toll-free numbers after two a.m.

One way I get in trouble

I don't do all these tasty but bad things on my own. Other people enable me.

Case in point: Jennie and ice cream. She, after all, found Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams via Dean & Deluca, and then three orders later, I'm fatter and hooked on this amazing stuff.

Was she content to stop there? No.

She told me about the Bon Appetit article on the top ten artisanal ice cream makers in the U.S. She even tore out the page so I could read it, which I did. Fortunately, I'm too busy to bother entering into my notes all the URLs.

Then, teh Internets joined the enabling party by showing me the article online. What could I do? I had to cut and paste the key bits into my notes, and now my new iPhone 3GS beckons me constantly with the data and the ability to order these amazing ice creams.

I know I have to take full responsibility for my own issues, ice cream and otherwise, and I do, but I also have help, I really do.

Speaking of help, we're running low on Jeni's. I wonder which one we should try next....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fucked up wrestling match I want to see

This insane Russian dude (whom I've covered before) vs. this Goddess-seeking whack job (thank you, Eric, for the link) in a three-falls-for-the-championship match in a fifteen-foot-wide square of creamed corn.

Put that on PPV, and I'm treating!

Guest blog: Don't Panic

(Today's guest blog explores the serious and always fascinating topic of zombies. It comes from Ticia, initially my Balticon 43 handler and now my friend.)

All of my friends are speculating, at great length, about the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. They all seem to have elaborate plans with escape routes, meeting places, weapons stashes, and phone trees with the important contact numbers listed on speed dial. All know how to spot the undead immediately. They know which weapons will be effective and which will just create more moving parts, which leads this discussion to me.

I have no weapons stash, no elaborate escape routes, and I live in a rambling suburban sub-division where, when the shambling dead come to call, I will be the cheese in a zombie maze. My destiny is to suffer the same fate as every poor nameless red shirted Star Trek Security Officer that dies on an away mission. I am zombie fodder.

I know that if my family were threatened, wading in with my machete and taking care of business would be no problem. Give me motivation, and I can saw and hack away with the best of them. However, as any true Survivalist will tell you, although my heart may be in the right place, my machete puts me too close to the zombie action. The experts say a small-caliber high-capacity semiautomatic rifle, such as an AR-15 would be an ideal weapon choice.

Because knowledge is power, I purchased The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. It reveals that short hair and tight clothes are ideal protection. It also highlights many subjects and problems that have never occurred to me. The debate between weapon weight and accuracy at range is a real eye opener for this novice.

This is a great starting place for anyone who has concerns about how to actually survive a zombie infestation.

Do not accept your fate meekly, go forth and read.

Give those zombies a deader tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yesterday's signing

was both successful and fun. As you can see in this photo, which like all the others here is courtesy of Gina, we even had our own fancy poster in the window. Pretty cool.

We also had a pretty large audience, right around 40 folks, which was also quite cool. Linda and Buck and Butch of the Cary Barnes & Noble did a great job making the event happen, and we owe them a huge thanks. I worked off some of my debt by buying eight books and a magazine as I was scurrying off to dinner.

Here's the whole writer gang, resplendent behind our table and with our store-supplied microphone. In case you don't recognize us, from left to right we are Dave, me, James, and Lisa.

For those who want solo shots, here's Dave

and Lisa

and James, all in glorious writerly action.

I, on the other hand, spent most of the panel trying to perfect my imitation of a cat that has just awakened to find its tongue stuck between its lips and a temptingly tasty microphone right in front of its face and in desperate need of licking.

No, I did not lick the microphone; we had to share, so that would have been wrong.

But, as you can see from the look on my face, I did consider it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Not the signing report; a beg for charity money

As regular readers know, tonight I joined David Drake, James Maxey, and Lisa Shearin at a signing at the Cary Barnes & Noble. I'll talk about the signing--and maybe have some pictures from Gina--tomorrow night.

Tonight, though, I want to talk about something James is doing and ask you to help by giving some money. I don't do this often, and I'm not entirely sure what moved me to do it tonight, but so it goes.

In the interest of full disclosure, I barely know James. We've met at two signings, maybe one or two other times, and that's about it. I also know there are a zillion worthy charities. I'm asking tonight, I guess, because I think what James is doing is kinda cool, and because I have a personal tie with the charity.

In another of James' blogs, if you scroll down a bit, you can find an entry from yesterday entitled "Books for Breasts." Basically, James is offering free signed copies--really free, including postage--of his latest book, Dragonseed, to anyone who donates any amount, however small, to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. His blog entry will give his reasons for doing this. I'm doing it because, as I said, it's a cool idea, and because my mother lost both breasts in two separate rounds of breast cancer.

All you have to do is follow this link to his personal page on the Komen foundation site, donate any amount, and he'll send you a link. If you're broke and need something to read, drop in a buck, and get a new paperback; what a deal. A used book would set you back the same amount.

James set his original goal at $300 and then raised it to a grand. When I went over there a few minutes ago, the total was $565. I made it $665, and I'm looking forward to my book.

Tomorrow, as I noted, I'll get back to the signing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Come to the Cary Barnes & Noble Tuesday night!

The awesomeness starts at 7:00.

Don't come just for me.

Come to see David Drake, Lisa Shearin, and James Maxey.

Come to get books signed, participate in a discussion of the mating rituals of rabid weasels, ask questions and receive answers, buy books, laugh a lot, buy books, and hang where all the cool kids are.

See you there!

Today's guest blogger: Sarah

Apparently it’s time for a Sarah guest blog. I am sitting in our living room right now for my mother’s birthday party (Happy Birthday, Mom!), and we’re talking about how some people love computers and some people love cutting down trees. I would say I’m the former. I got a new MacBook Pro for college and am really excited. It’s on the last red bar of battery now and there’s an hour and nineteen minutes left. What? How can that possibly be?

My iTunes remain on the old computer, so I don’t have all my music, but I’ll still make some recommendations:

Kate Voegele, “Wish You Were”

Badly Drawn Boy, “Time of Times”

Regina Spektor, “Dance Anthem of the 80s”

The Rosebuds, “Shake Our Tree”

Catch the Rabbit, “Senses”

Old Crow Medicine Show, “Wagon Wheel”

Angelique Kidjo, “N’Yin Wan Nou We”

Sorry for having no links to the Rosebuds or Angelique Kidjo songs! They’re worth listening to even if you have to go and pay $1.98 for them on iTunes. You can find “Shake Our Tree” by searching it on Project Playlist; “N’Yin Wan Nou We” is harder to find, but one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a while.

This is a really nice summer. I might make strawberry pie tomorrow. Also tomorrow, my dad (the one you probably expected to be reading right now) has a signing at the Cary Barnes & Noble that you should go to, if you’re around! Other neat people will be there, too.

A side note: I heard “Mmbop” on the top 40 station today.

Another side note: I’m finishing this blog a couple hours later than I started it. My mom is now done opening gifts, and there is a gigantic blue beach tent sitting in our library. There have been multiple teams of people assigned to closing said beach tent. No success yet. Never a dull day.

Seriously though, go look at Dr. Tongues again. Then say it. Dr. Tongues. You’ll just laugh.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Best Father's Day card ever

It's from my amazingly awesome Sarah and Scott, of course, and a quick glance at these scans will prove my point.

This is the cover of the handmade-by-local-artisans (again, Scott and Sarah) masterpiece. I'm completely confident that the misspelling of "apocalypse" is an intentional in-joke related to the fact that the card involves brainless zombies. That clearly has to be the reason.

I also have to apologize to you now about the in-jokes I haven't explained (and might never explain). Those sorts of things happen, and there's simply nothing anyone can do about them.

I will say that Oscar and Tilly are the household froglets, and they are well and truly indestructible, particularly Oscar, who has survived five days in the house in an ice storm with no heat or food, as well as almost a week in the house in a hot September with no AC and no food. He is super-froglet; zombies fear him.

You'll note that the list does not mention any people (other than me at position of honor 100). That's because, as the above two-page spread shows, the kids correctly assume I will save them, our family, and our extended family.

Finally, in true storyteller fashion, Sarah and Scott made the back cover add tension and pressure to the card's tale, with the always attractive Dr. Tongues on the way--and about him, we shall say no more.

Did I mention my kids were awesome?


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