Saturday, August 28, 2010

Holy Crap! The Beach Boys!

I think I've probably pasted this across the Net, but MY HUSBAND'S BAND JUST SOUND CHECKED IN FRONT OF THE BEACH BOYS! 


Friday, August 27, 2010

A Public Safety Message

As you know, my friends, medical marijuana has been approved in Montana. I'd like to bring your attention to a little-known effect of marijuana. When ingested by juvenile bunnies, it impairs their judgment, making this look like a good idea. For our safety and that of the bunnies, I beg you, I implore you, DON'T USE MARIJUANA!

The point still stands, even though the video was shot in Texas. And also despite the fact that bunnies lack the opposable thumbs to hang onto a joint.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dad Life (Father's Day Opening 2010)

Sample from The Rider of Nealra

When a tragic accident forces musician Ellie Johnson to operate her family’s 7,000 acre farm and ranch in Eastern Montana, she soon finds the place plagued with unseen predators that can crush cow bones to dust and drain all fluids from chickens without any punctures.  Hopelessly accident prone, Ellie’s innate ability to be a smartass does nothing to find impossibly strong hooligan with very sharp, pointy ends.  With Stinky the mustang and the mouth-breather Sven as her only allies, she sets out to the Badlands to find the source of eerie blue lights that appear to the west, but instead tumbles into another world riddled with famine, disease, and the Necragii, the Death Priests of the Urtun.  

In the segment below, we find our heroine exhausted by weeks of calving and predation on her animals.  She finally decides to ask for help.  

After getting back to the house, I collapsed into the chair by the phone as dawn broke over the sky.  With a groan, I decided to call another neighbor with a couple of sons, knowing he’d be up milking cows by then.  I think the youngest might be a little sweet on me, and I was going to need to press any advantage I could whilst talking about dragon things with glowing blue eyes.
“Hello?”  Ole’s thick Polish accent was always apparent the moment you heard his voice.
“Ole?  This is Ellie, and...”
“Ellie!” he interrupted.  “Howzit going up der on da hill, der?”  Seems like the Polish folks around here end every sentence with, “der,” with was supposed to sound somewhat like the English word, “there.”
“Oh, better’n I deserve, Ole.  Say, you...”
“You remember watcha did last da last time you wuz here, der?” he said with a snicker.
“Yup.  Ran through the barn naked.” I sighed with a mental head slap.  I had stripped naked and run through his barn while Dad was buying mineral from him.  Whenever Ole tells that story, he always neglects to mention that I was five years old at the time, which could explain why his son is sweet on me.
“Oh,” he said, abashed.  “Well, den.  Wat can I do for ya?” 
Ooh, a sentence that didn’t end in, “der.”  “Ole, I’ve been having problems with some predators around the place...”
“Oh!  I know exactly watcha mean, der!  Der’s been some a-creepin’ around here, too!  Don’t know what it is, dough.  It’s always gone by da time I look out da window.  Whatever it is, it be out der spookin’ da cows at tree-tirty in da mornin’.  Da cows haven’t been milkin’ dat well lately, der.”
“Herman’s been seeing some things, too.  I was just wondering if you could call up here from time to time and make sure I’m still around.  I’m afraid I’ll get jumped by something while I’m out checking cows.”
“Oh, I can do better dan dat!”  He partially covered the receiver, but I could still hear him holler, “Hey, der, Lena!  Go get Sven!”  He removed his hand and said, “I’ll send Sven up now if you want, der, Ellie.”
“Oh, no, no, no!”  I said with a distinct note of panic.  “Not necessary, Ole.  Just send him up if you suspect a problem.  I’m just a little nervous being out there alone.”  Sven’s simple face hovered in my brain, saying, So, wat do ya say aboot comin’ over ta my place, der.
I had single-handedly delayed Ole’s dream of grandchildren. Considering Sven’s bad case of radio face (think about that one for a while), Ole’s dream was going to be delayed quite some time.  “Oh, ok den.  Just give us a call if ya need anytin’.”
“Thanks a bunch, Ole.”
“No problem.  Bye, der.”
I called Herman next.  “Hey, Herman.  You know anything new?”
“I, uh, no.”  He sounded nervous.  
“Did any of the neighbors see anything else?”
“Nope.  Not a thing.”  He swallowed.
“That’s weird.  I just talked with Ole, and he said he’s been hearing things in his dairy yard.”
“What kind of things?”
“He’s not sure.  He can’t get a good look.”
Pregnant pause.
“I got a look at one.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

He Who Laughs Last, Thinks Slowest

I often find myself agog at my own stupidity.  The following is one of those moments in which I have to laugh or I'd blush from mortification, though I usually do both anyway.

Finally! There’s light at the end of the tunnel! Due to numerous concerts and music festivals, I hadn’t really slept or been home regularly since the middle of March. I was absolutely exhausted, but thrilled that I was going to finish the year with an exemplary recorder program.

I had prepared for Murphy’s Law to the best of my abilities, but still had a busy day ahead. Have you ever herded 45 fourth graders onto risers without anyone falling off, puking, breaking their instruments, or bleeding? I’m convinced it can’t be done. To complicate things even more, Aaron and I needed to drive different cars to work because he had to be there at the butt-crack of dawn. I elected to sleep a little longer and drive my ‘87 Mercury Grand Marquis, a car, at least until that day, I loved probably a little more than was entirely healthy.

When I was ready to leave for school, I was really proud of myself. I had remembered to dress in my favorite spring pastels. I had gotten the program to the secretary to print a few days beforehand. I had sent notes home every week with how many practice minutes had not been turned in. I was pretty organized, considering how crazy things get by the end of May. Emboldened by my copious preparation, I practically skipped to the door, running perfectly on time as long as I immediately got into the car and drove off without stopping to do so much as fart. I stepped outside, locked the front door, turned around, and eyed my gleaming land yacht with dismay. A flat. Shit! Somehow, my husband walked right past it and didn’t see my car leaning more steeply than the streets of San Francisco.

I think, Ok, I’ve changed more flat tires than Mario Andretti. Farm Girl, you can handle this!  I unlock the door, intercept the escape artist (Dinah, the cat), and run inside to put on my winter coveralls. Hot, yes, but essential to protect the spring pastels, even if they left me smelling like a stockyard. I run back outside and immediately begin monkeying with the hubcap, which is steel and has an intricate locking system to prevent it from being stolen. As I worked, I remembered with longing the farm vehicles that hadn’t had hubcaps in twenty years. Reminiscing aside, ten minutes and several swearwords later I was jacking up the front end and removing lug nuts, now with a full understanding of why Andretti has a pit crew. 

The second I got the last lug nut off, I jerked the flat free of the axle and rolled it toward the trunk. Not a good idea, I soon found out, when some exposed steel sliced into my hand. I’m cussing, rolling, and bleeding, not necessarily in equal quantities. I check the time. I’m already going to be about 20 minutes late. SHIT ON A STICK! I whip out the spare, which turns out to be almost as bad as the flat. I slice my hand again and roll it over to get it mounted, grunting and grousing all the way. I put the tire on and really had to wrestle the lug nuts on, which I thought was weird, but I didn’t think about it because I was so FUCKING LATE! I took it off the jack, and viola, the spare goes almost completely flat as soon as the jack is all the way down.

Now I’m royally pissed. So pissed, in fact, that I couldn’t really relish the intrinsic comedic value of the situation. I called the school and told the secretary an abbreviated, G-rated version of my story. She sends my husband home to get me and I get to school about 40 minutes late. Thankfully, my principal thought it was hysterical. 

Ha. Ha, ha, ha. 

Despite the events of the morning, the recorder program goes off without a hitch. Go figure.

Two weeks later, my darling husband, the man who has burned two engines to death because he’s completely incapable of checking the oil, noticed that the tire I had changed wasn’t turning. Thank you, God! He can be taught! We couldn’t drive it anyway because of the state of the two flat tires, so we had it towed to the garage to fix the problem and install new radials. I’m relieved. I don’t use the old girl very often, but when I need her, I need her badly.

My relief came a little too soon. My brother stopped by later that day because his youngest had a doctor’s appointment in town. The phone rang and my husband answered it in another room while Devon and I visited. A few minutes later, he walked back into the living room, hanging up the phone and snickering. He said, “Shall I tell you this in private or embarrass you in front of your brother?”

I, thinking he had gotten a call from my gynecologist, said, “What?”

“That was the garage. Jack said you put the tire on backwards. He said he’s never seen it happen before and really didn’t think it could be done. Congratulations, honey.”

My brother thinks this is hysterical. Devon wasted no time calling my entire family to tell them all about what the flaky baby of the family did this time. 

I’m twenty-nine years old. I’ve worked in law, agriculture, medicine, education, and now I'm wrapping up my second novel. I’ve got degrees in anthropology and music education, and a Master's of Fine Arts. I sing or play in three different bands and choirs; in fact, I’m one of the founding members of Billing’s first professional-level choir. Hell, I even taught myself the concertina accordion with no help whatsoever, and I can play about 200 beats-a-minute on the damn thing. 

“What’s your point?” you may ask? When my family reminisces, what do you think they bring up? The backward tire. The time I shaved the shower curtain. The time I told a dirty joke IN CHURCH to elderly Mrs. Lynn, possibly contributing to her death a few weeks later. Yup. Scooter, the flake.

The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said....

I've been at this for years.  I've written some good stuff.  I've written a lot of crap, including a painfully awful first novel.  I've read countless agent blogs and how-to sites for writers.  I'm terrified, but I'm ready to take the next step, to go to second base, so to speak.

I'm lined up for my first writer's conference in October, at which I'm sure I will look like a complete idiot.  After the conference, I'm going to take what I learn to finish editing my novel and start querying agents.  I'm absolutely petrified, but the time has come for me to stop hiding behind my computer screen in the dark.

I'm afraid my ego is too big and my common sense too small, but I hope that good things will come of it.  I know publication may never happen, but it has a zero chance of happening if I don't try.